The original A242 alloy has a yield strength of 50 kilopounds per square inch (340 MPa) and ultimate tensile strength of 70 ksi (480 MPa) for light-medium rolled shapes and plates up to 0.75 inches (19 mm) thick. It has yield strength of 46 ksi (320 MPa) and ultimate strength of 67 ksi (460 MPa) for medium weight rolled shapes and plates from 0.75–1 inch (19–25 mm) thick. The thickest rolled sections and plates – from 1.5–4 in (38–102 mm) thick have yield strength of 42 ksi (290 MPa) and ultimate strength of 63 ksi (430 MPa). ASTM A 242 is available in Type 1 and Type 2. Both have different applications based on the thickness. Type 1 is often used in housing structures, construction industry and freight cars. The Type 2 steel which is also called Corten B is used majorly in urban furnishing, passenger ships or cranes.
A588 has a yield strength of at least 50 ksi (340 MPa), and ultimate tensile strength of 70 ksi (480 MPa) for all rolled shapes and plate thicknesses up to 4 in (100 mm) thick. Plates from 4–5 in (102–127 mm) have yield strength at least 46 ksi (320 MPa) and ultimate tensile strength at least 67 ksi (460 MPa), and plates from 5–8 in (127–203 mm) thick have yield strength at least 42 ksi (290 MPa) and ultimate tensile strength at least 63 ksi (430 MPa).
Weathering steel is popularly used in outdoor sculptures for its rustic antique appearance. One example is the large Chicago Picasso sculpture, which stands in the plaza of the Daley Center Courthouse in Chicago, which is also constructed of weathering steel. Other examples include numerous works by Richard Serra; the "Alamo" sculpture in Manhattan, NY; the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York; The Angel of the North, Gateshead; and Broadcasting Tower at Leeds Beckett University.
It is also used in bridge and other large structural applications such as the New River Gorge Bridge, the second span of the Newburgh–Beacon Bridge (1980), and the creation of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and MONA.
It is very widely used in marine transportation, in the construction of intermodal containers as well as visible sheet piling along recently widened sections of London's M25 motorway.
The first use of weathering steel for architectural applications was the John Deere World Headquarters in Moline, Illinois. The building was designed by architect Eero Saarinen, and completed in 1964. The main buildings of Odense University, designed by Knud Holscher and Jørgen Vesterholt and built 1971–1976, are clad in weathering steel, earning them the nickname Rustenborg (Danish for "rusty fortress"). In 1977, Robert Indiana created a Hebrew version of the Love sculpture made from weathering steel using the four-letter word ahava (אהבה, "love" in Hebrew) for the Israel Museum Art Garden in Jerusalem, Israel. In Denmark, all masts for supporting the catenary on electrified railways are made of weathering steel for aesthetic reasons.
Weathering steel was used in 1971 for the Highliner electric cars built by the St. Louis Car Company for Illinois Central Railroad. The use of weathering steel was seen as a cost-cutting move in comparison with the contemporary railcar standard of stainless steel. A subsequent order in 1979 was built to similar specs, including weathering steel bodies, by Bombardier. The cars were painted, a standard practice for weathering steel railcars. The durability of weathering steel did not live up to expectations, with rust holes appearing in the railcars. Painting may have contributed to the problem, as painted weathering steel is no more corrosion-resistant than conventional steel, because the protective patina will not form in time to prevent corrosion over a localized area of attack such as a small paint failure. These cars have been retired by 2016.
Weathering steel was used to build the exterior of Barclays Center, made up of 12,000 pre-weathered steel panels engineered by ASI Limited & SHoP Construction. The New York Times says of the material, "While it can look suspiciously unfinished to the casual observer, it has many fans in the world of art and architecture.