I bought a brand new Corten Steel planter for the front of my house. It is the kind of metal that slowly oxidizes over time. I didn’t want to wait for that to happen and gave it a DIY rust accelerating treatment which created a beautiful rusted patina in a few hours.
In my previous home, I used to remove rust from exterior metal as it didn’t go with my suburban, classic brick center-hall colonial home.
When we moved to Lake Murray on a lakefront lot with towering pines all around us, I started seeking more natural finishes as they go with the house and natural setting.
We are not ready for any major updates to the exterior, but have been doing smaller, budget friendly, DIY projects to update the facade and bring out the modern vibe of the house and roof line.
Over the last two years, we have removed a lot of shrubs, painted all the exterior doors to look like stained wood grain, had the previous green color of the house painted using Glidden Exterior Primer and Paint in the color Khaki Beige, and added a stained wood slat wall to the front.
These updates have made a huge difference, but I still have 3 small items to add to the front.
One is a tall modern planter for the far side of the garage door. The area needed something to balance the rust brown color on the house.
When searching for a modern-style planter online, I found this one and ordered it. It was a little pricy, but I went for it since it was a perfect fit that will last a very long time. It is a Veradek Metallic Series Pedestal Corten Steel Pot Planter.
I also knew I do not have a green thumb and bought a fake boxwood to go in it. The metal planter is insulated and does have drainage so if I ever do plant something real in it, it will be ready.
What is Corten Steel?
COR-TEN® resists the corrosive effects of all seasons of weather by forming a coating of dark brown oxidation over the metal, which inhibits deeper penetration and negates the need for painting and costly rust-prevention maintenance over the years. In simple terms the steel is allowed to rust and that rust forms a protective coating that slows the rate of future corrosion.
Verdek Corten Steel planters are shipped in their raw steel state, gradually developing a rich rust patina finish over time. Mine started to oxidize after only a few days, but I couldn’t wait and sped-up the process.
How Long Does Corten Steel Take to Rust?
It only took a few hours for the steel to start taking on a rusted patina after I began spraying coats of a DIY rust accelerating mixture to the metal.
I made the mixture following the directions from Veradek (video below) and sprayed it onto the metal surface every hour until I liked the look.
At first the color was bright orange, but with each added coat of the rust accelerating mixture, the color got darker. :-)
This finish lasts indefinitely. Corten, if left alone, will take 2-4 years to reach its peak patina and then should remain in that state with very little change.
Here are the links to each item:
How to Patina Steel with Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide and Salt
The fast and DIY way to rust metal on purpose is to make a mixture in a spray bottle of white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and salt.
Spray the mixture onto the metal surface several times, letting it dry between coats and your metal will take on a rusty patina almost instantly.
This color was after I applied 4 coats.
In total, I applied 6 coats to get the deep rich brown and rusty colors.
Can I Seal Corten Steel?
You can seal rusted metal to prevent further corrosion and sealing will also prevent rust stains from getting on other surfaces around it or your hands.
Corten steel can be sealed with polyurethane or a product called Everbrite, for a more durable finish . The finish will be darker after applying than dry rust, but similar to rust sprayed with water or oil.
How to Remove Rust Stains From Concrete
I initially placed the planter in the yard, so the run-off would not get on the driveway. Once I finish rusting it, I moved it to the side of the garage and some rust did transfer to the concrete. In the directions, it did state this could happen. To remove it, here is what I did:
Pour white vinegar (or lemon juice for hard to remove stains) on the stains. Let it sit for several minutes before scrubbing it with a wire brush. Rinse away the rust with some cold water and repeat for difficult stains.
I love how the rusted finish came out. I am also very happy with how real the boxwood looks.
It is getting too cold to do anymore of my planned smaller outdoor projects this year, but I did finish the 2nd one last week. I will share that with you soon.
My 3rd outdoor DIY project will have to wait until spring.