Push Vs Pull Welding Explained

Push Vs Pull Welding Explained

Table of Contents > 1. What Are The Differences Between Pushing And Pulling?
    1.1 Push Welding
         1.1.1 Pros Of Push Welding
         1.1.2 Cons Of Push Welding
    1.2 Pull Welding
         1.2.1 Pros Of Pull Welding
         1.2.2 Cons Of Pull Welding
2. How To Choose Push Vs Pull?
    2.1 Material Thickness And Technique
    2.2 Material Type
    2.3 Weld Joint Design
    2.4 Welding Position
    2.5 Welding Process
         2.5.1 Do You Push Or Pull MIG Welding?
         2.5.2 Do You Push Or Pull Stick Welding?
         2.5.3 Do You Push Or Pull TIG Welding?
3. Conclusion
🧐Push Vs Pull Welding Explained FAQ

If you are a beginner welder, there are many things you need to master regarding the fundamentals, equipment selection, and welder setup. Still, technique plays a crucial role in creating high-quality welds. That's when the first out of many questions emerges: do I push or pull when welding?

Each method has its own advantages and challenges, dictating the outcome of weld quality and efficiency. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preferences, but there are situations where one is better than the other, so we'll thoroughly explain the difference in push vs pull welding.

Push Vs Pull Welding

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9sU20OmRuw

What Are The Differences Between Pushing And Pulling?

Arc welding processes, such as MIG welding, TIG welding, or Stick welding, use the heat of the welding arc established between the electrode and base metal to melt the pieces and filler wire and fuse everything. Once the heat of the arc melts the pieces, it creates a weld pool, which you control and move either by pulling or pushing.

Pull welding, also known as drag welding or backhand welding, includes pulling your weld puddle, and in backhand welding, that's from left to right. When pulling, you work in front of the pool, letting it fill behind the electrode. This allows you to perfectly see and control the puddle as you move through the joint. 

Push welding, also known as push technique or forehand welding, involves working behind the weld pool, pushing it with a welding electrode, and creating the weld bead as it goes. Working behind your welding pool allows you to see where you are going and perfectly manipulate your electrode.

Push Vs Pull Welding

Source: https://unimig.com.au/the-ultimate-guide-to-mig-welding/

So, let's talk more about the crucial differences, advantages, and drawbacks of pushing vs pulling.

Push Welding

As noted, push welding involves pushing the welding torch away from the weld pool. The torch is inclined at a travel angle of 5 to 15 degrees but pointed away from the direction of welding. In this method, the leading way of the welding arc faces the direction of travel, so as the name states, the weld pool is pushed along with the torch.

Push Welding

Source: https://www.wcwelding.com/mig-welding-tips.html

This technique is often known as forehand welding, but that term is more commonly used in Stick welding, brazing, and soldering. In brazing and soldering, pushing means your rod comes before your torch.

The most significant advantage of push welding is the ability to see the weld joint in front of the weld. This clarity is perfect when you need to weave your torch or create beautiful welds.

Push Welding Process

 Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtlOOOTpZYM&t=111s

However, the sole nature of this welding technique also has its drawbacks. Heating the pieces with the leading side of the arc means the overall heat is lower, which means you get more shallow and broader welds, and it can create some more spatter. In addition, as heat is directed in front of the torch, things can get hot, so you won't be able to rest your hands on the pieces for better control.

Pros Of Push Welding

  • It allows you to see where you are heading
  • It is a good choice for sheet metal welding that doesn't need too much penetration
  • It will enable you to weave and create more aesthetically pleasing welds
Welds of push welding
Welds of Push Welding
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtlOOOTpZYM&t=111s
  • Promotes higher welding speeds
  • It provides better shielding gas coverage that precedes the weld

Cons Of Push Welding

  • Not suitable for thicker pieces
  • It can be hard to control the weld pool
  • Can cause slag inclusions in flux-cored processes
  • Creates more spatter
Example of push welding spatter
Spatter of Push Welding
Photo by @wolfe_cte (TikTok)

Pull Welding

Pull welding involves pulling your torch away from the weld puddle so that your torch precedes the welding electrode as you travel. The torch is also inclined at an angle of 5 to 15 degrees, like in push welding, but in pull, it faces the direction of welding. In this method, the trailing edge of the arc faces the direction of travel, meaning the weld pool trails behind the torch.

Pull Welding Torch Angle
Source: https://www.wcwelding.com/mig-welding-tips.html

This method is often known as drag welding or backhand welding, and it is usually ideal for beginners and when welding steel. The most significant advantage of pulling is seeing and controlling the weld pool as you weld, which is essential when learning how to weld. However, even more experienced welds like to look at the weld puddle as they weld.

Additionally, in pull welding, the heat of the arc pre-heats and melts the pieces, and the welding rod or filler wire is dipped inside the pool. This results in somewhat better penetration and a deeper but more narrow weld profile, which makes drag welding a better option for thicker pieces. Since the torch precedes the heat, you can rest your hands on the weld joint without the risk of burns, and the amount of spatter is lower. 

Pull Welding Process
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9sU20OmRuw

Even though many welders prefer the pull welding technique, it has drawbacks. Pulling somewhat limits your ability to weave, and it is not suitable for overhead and vertical up positions since high depositions create a lot of potential molten metal that can drip or spat due to gravity. 

Pros Of Pull Welding

  • Suitable for thicker pieces
  • It creates somewhat better penetration, narrow and deeper weld
Welds of Pull Welding
Welds of Pull Welding
Photo by @wolfe_cte (TikTok)
  • It allows you to control the weld pool and monitor the deposition
  • Higher deposition rates
  • Excellent for steel and beginners
  • You can rest your hand for better torch control during the welding

Cons Of Pull Welding

  • Not suitable in applications that require lower penetration and deposition rates
  • It is more challenging to weave or achieve aesthetically pleasing welds
  • It can require some more post-weld grinding

How To Choose Push Vs Pull?

Most seasoned welders agree that the choice between push or pull welding comes down to personal preferences. In most applications, you can create solid and strong welds with both push and pull, so it all comes down to specific conditions, skills, and preferences.

MIG Welding Process
MIG Welding Process
Photo by @weldupmedia (TikTok)

However, when choosing whether to push or pull, you should first consider the following:

  • Material thickness
  • Material type
  • Joint design
  • Welding position
  • Welding Process

Material Thickness And Technique

As we noted, pull welding creates somewhat deeper penetration but at the cost of a more narrow weld bead. In various test results on pull vs push welding, there is a slight difference in penetration of the bottom piece of fillet weld during the pull welding. Deeper deposition makes pull welding a preferred choice when welding heavier materials that allow for a smaller weld joint V shape.

Meanwhile, tests showed that push welding produces broader but more shallow weld beads. That makes it a preferred choice when welding thinner pieces so that you can limit the risk of burn-through. The welding rod keeps the metal molten because the heat is reflected; therefore, the metal is uniformly spread to the edges.

MIG Push Welding Aluminum
MIG Push Welding Aluminum
Photo by @perfectwelders (TikTok)

Material Type

Each metal requires a unique approach during the welding, and the same rules more or less apply welding technique, including push and pull welding. As a beginner, you are likely to weld mild steel, stainless steel and aluminum, and there are slight differences.

When welding steel, you can choose either push or pull welding or whatever feels natural for you. The quality of the weld will likely depend on your skill, weld preparation, and welding parameters, so pushing or pulling will make little difference on steel, specifically in horizontal or flat positions. That's the case when you need to finish the job quickly, and don't worry too much about the appearance of the created welds.

MIG Stainless Steel Welding Process
MIG Stainless Steel Welding Process
Photo by @mrchevichevi (TikTok)

On the other hand, aluminum is a significantly more delicate metal that requires reasonable heat control, weld preparation, and cleanliness. Due to its thermal and corrosion-resistant properties, many consider it hard to weld and to avoid any contamination, you will need to push the weld. 

Aluminum MIG Welding with Spool Gun on Boat Repair
Aluminum MIG Welding with Spool Gun on Boat Repair 
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLPgKJt4DeA

Pushing the weld provides better shielding gas coverage, which is crucial for aluminum. Due to its thermal properties, you can quickly burn through the aluminum, so you want your heat directed away (pushed) and evenly distributed, not build up (pulled).

Weld Joint Design

Specific joint configurations and welding joint designs can favor one technique over the other. For example, pushing the weld in fillet weld is sometimes a better option, whereas a lap joint could benefit from the pull technique.

Fillet weld

Source: https://www.structuralbasics.com/fillet-weld/

In less critical applications, pushing or pulling won't impact the weld joint geometry too much. But in some cases, you will have to adapt to create the strongest results.

Welding Position

Welding in a flat or horizontal position typically won't have much difference whether you are pushing or pulling. You can achieve the strongest welds simply by using a favored method, but things get tricky once you have to weld in harsh conditions or vertically.

Vertical and overhead welding presents a unique set of challenges since you have to battle gravity. Gravity naturally pulls down the molten metal, so you will have to work fast, with a limited amount of heat and deposition, which makes pushing a favorable choice. If you try to pull the weld up, the weld metal will fall out.

Overhead MIG Welding Process
MIG Welding Process
Photo by @kvquangofficer2005 (TikTok)

Welding Process

Finally, the choice often comes down to the welding process you are using. Some processes, like MIG, can successfully use both, while some, such as TIG or Stick welding, favor either push or pull. So, let’s overview the preferred choices with the four most popular welding methods you are likely to use as a metal fabricator, new welder, hobbyist, DIY lover, or welding enthusiast.

Some Types of Welding Process

Source: https://www.electronicshub.org/types-of-welding/

Do You Push Or Pull MIG Welding?

When it comes to MIG welding, pushing or pulling is a matter of personal preference, but most welders prefer to drag or pull. Since MIG is a beginner-friendly method, pull welding will allow you to learn how to control and observe the weld puddle. Since it doesn't require too much weaving, pulling the stringer beads (straight beads) will be your best friend when learning how to weld, but also in the future.

However, the truth is that, more often than not, the strength of your MIG weld will be determined by other factors, such as torch movement, angle, welding speed, welding parameters, and weld preparation, so you can choose whatever feels more natural for you. As long as you produce sound welds with proper tie-in and penetration, whether you pull or push your MIG gun throughout the weld is not essential.

Push and Pull MIG Welding Effect
Push and Pull MIG Welding Effect
Photo by @ezweld (TikTok)

Do You Push Or Pull Stick Welding?

Stick welding requires a pull welding technique to reduce the risk of slag inclusions. The Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) or Stick welding uses self-shielded electrodes covered with a flux layer. As the flux melts, it creates a layer of slag that protects the molten weld puddle from atmospheric contamination and allows you to weld without an external shielding gas.

Now, if you push the stick weld, this slag can melt and get trapped inside the weld, creating a defect known as slag inclusion. The slag has a different composition than a base metal, and inclusions can make weak spots in the weld, ugly welds, or cause porosity and cracks. When you drag, the slag is evenly distributed and melted as you move, so the risk is minimal.

Stick Welding Process
Stick Welding Process
Photo by @elmayojr (TikTok)

The same rules apply to Flux-cored arc welding, submerged arc welding, and electroslag welding. FCAW, a variant of MIG welding, uses a self-shielded flux-cored wire that is filled with flux. The flux also creates a layer of slag that protects the weld pool from atmospheric contamination, so you also pull when Flux core welding.

If you are ever in doubt about what to do when Stick or Flux core welding, remember: If there is a slag, you must drag! 

You will only push with Stick welding or Flux-cored arc welding when you weld vertically up. As noted, dragging in vertical-up Stick welding or uphill welding will cause molten metal to fall out and drip out of the welding joint, so you will want to push, but it shouldn't be at a steep pushing angle.

Vertical Flux-cored Welding
Flux-cored Welding 
Photo by @datboimiggz  (TikTok)

Do You Push Or Pull TIG Welding?

While both techniques can be used, most welders prefer and recommend pushing when TIG welding. The sole nature of the Gas Tungsten Arc Welding or TIG welding will dictate the need for pushing.

Push TIG Welding Process
Push TIG Welding Process
Photo by @grumpyweld  (TikTok)

First of all, TIG is all about cleanliness, and it requires high-grade pure inert shielding with good coverage. When pushing, you provide a better shielding gas coverage to the weld you are about to make, rather than just cooling the weld you just did with pull welding.

In addition, move and dab action is significantly easier when you push the welds. Dipping the filler into the back side of the puddle can be challenging and, in many cases, inefficient, which once again emphasizes the need for pushing.

Finally, TIG welding is often preferred when welding thin sheets and delicate metals that can be challenging to weld, such as aluminum, magnesium, nickel alloys, etc. These metals usually require excellent shielding gas coverage and enough heat to melt, but even the slight heat build-up can cause a burn-through. Both can be achieved by pushing, and a broader, somewhat more shallow bead will perfectly cover the gaps.

TIG Welding Aluminum Process
TIG Welding Aluminum Process
Photo by @grumpyweld  (TikTok)

You can get away with pulling in TIG welding, but only in certain circumstances, like if you were out of position or couldn't be bothered moving. You can also pull with autogenous TIG or welding without a filler rod. But, most seasoned welders will recommend pushing when TIG welding.


The choice between push and pull welding techniques depends on various factors, including weld joint configuration, material type, and desired outcomes. Both methods offer distinct advantages and challenges, influencing weld quality, efficiency, and productivity. 

Understanding the nuances of each technique empowers you to select the most appropriate method for specific applications, ultimately leading to optimal weld results and enhanced fabrication processes, and this was the final goal of our article.


🧐Push Vs Pull Welding Explained FAQ

1. How To Choose Push Vs Pull?

Experienced welders often view the choice between push or pull welding as a matter of personal preference. Both methods can produce strong welds, with the decision depending on factors like material thickness, type, joint design, welding position, and process.

2. What are the differences between pushing and pulling?

Arc welding processes like MIG, TIG, and Stick rely on the heat of the welding arc to melt the pieces and filler wire. This creates a weld pool, which can be controlled by either pushing or pulling.

Pull welding involves dragging the weld puddle, typically from left to right, allowing for better visibility and control as you move through the joint.

Push welding, on the other hand, involves pushing the weld pool with the electrode, offering clear visibility and manipulation behind the pool.


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