MIG Welding: Push or Pull

Several welders hotly contest the MIG welding push or pull debate. With a consensus on technique more essential than pull or push techniques, some welders abandon the discussion altogether.

In this post, the argument gets heated up once again. But you can think of this as a deal-breaker.

Information on both techniques, where they function or underperform are in this piece. After reading through, it becomes less hassling to switch welding techniques without hassle.

Different Welding Positions and Their Ideal Weld Techniques

Overhead position

Welding overhead workpieces can be completed smoothly with push or pull techniques, as long as everything else is spot-on. Due to gravity, travel speeds have to be fast enough to keep weld metals stuck to the joint.

Weave beads may also need to be tiny, based on the metals’ thickness. Other factors involved to aid a smoother weld position include;

  • Lowering the amperage for controlling weld bead
  • Increased travel angle to keep a puddle from falling off mid-weld

Vertical position

Welding in a vertical position is tricky, regardless of your chosen technique. Two vital factors in getting this weld position to work are proper setting-up of equipment and combating gravity.

The vertical up technique has much to do with keeping the weld puddle on your workpiece and limiting slag.

Vertical up welding could involve excess melt-through, making slow-motion inimical to standard weld quality. Pushing your welds upwards in this position is most likely to reveal better results.

On the flip side, vertical down techniques are easier to handle and stunt massive workpiece melt through. The pull welding technique is much better for handling vertical down welds.

If you’re handling thin weld pieces, consider moving your welding gun in a brisk motion.

Flat position

When it comes to the flat weld position, it becomes easier to switch between pull or push techniques. But it could be tricky to maintain minimal slag without tweaking your work angle.

That’s why it’s essential to tweak your weld gun to an angle not exceeding 15°. Regardless of your chosen technique, results may be similarly based on the support from gravity.

What Determines a Push or Pull Weld Technique

Among many other factors, what determines which weld technique to follow is the angle – work and travel included.

Work angle

The welding joint in relation to a gun position (work angle) varies among weld positions. Placing your workpieces in a flat position may require no more than 5° ~ 15° for seamless join potential.

A 90° joint (one horizontal and vertical piece) requires the welding gun to remain at 45°. Using the weld gun at a pull or push technique could deliver different results based on travel speed.

Lap joints, on the other hand, may need angles fluctuating between 55° ~ 75° based on workpieces slope. Also, most thick workpieces require a tighter angle to elicit more penetration.

Travel angle

The position of your weld pieces in relation to the weld gun in a right-angled plane (travel angle) is another factor. Driving your weld gun at an angle greater than 25° could result in more spatter and poorer welds.

Advantages of Pushing Welds

Pushing your welds improves visibility in a forward position. Also, welders tend to push welds in metalwork operations where there are thicker metal pieces to join.

Welders looking to join metal pieces uphill prefer pushing welds based on their greater penetration potential.

Disadvantages of Pushing Welds

Thin metal sheets may not support push techniques. Since push welding techniques may enhance penetration potential, melt through is more likely.

Also, controlling your weld speed may be tricky with push welding techniques. With stunted speed control, it becomes challenging to get easier welds in tough positions.

An inability to maintain top welding speeds could result in weld puddle falling off in vertical welds.

Advantages of Pulling Welds

Welders keen on getting a better look at weld beads from a backward angle prefer pulling welds.

Pulling welds allows greater control over weld beads with increased travel speed support. You can conveniently pull a weld over a wider area than push techniques.

The pulling technique is ideal for steel welding processes. Also, trickier joins can get joined with greater ease with a pull technique.

Disadvantages of Pulling Welds

Penetration may be an issue with pulling welds. Welding thinner sheets are ideal for pulling weld techniques. But thicker metal sheets may yield underwhelming results.

Vital Factors in Determining Weld Strength

Travel speed

The rate at which your welding gun moves through a joint (travel speed) is integral to assuring weld strength. The travel speed of your gun influences its shape and bead quality.

Determining the right gun travel speed has to focus on a couple of parameters. Pro welders look at the girth of a workpiece in relation to intended puddle size for gauging travel speed.

With knowledge on how wide a weld should be, welders can determine how fast their guns should travel.

You need to consider how fast or slow you need your welding gun to travel for better results.

Not getting the travel speed right could mean underwhelming looking welds and poor join quality. And with the positions discussed above come separate requirements when it comes to travel speeds.

Arc placement

Placing the welding arc on the lead edge of its preceding puddle is another way to ascertain weld strength.

Maintaining such a position doesn’t allow the molten metal to go out of control. When welds remain in check, there’s a greater chance of final welds exhibiting strong results.

Joint thickness

Thicker joins may require lower travel speeds, and most importantly, a properly set weld technique. Moving through a thin joint with a pull or push technique may make no difference. But that may not be the case with thicker plates.

Welders usually work with a welding technique on thicker metal based on its positioning and ideal travel angle.

Conducting a Weld Test – How-To

Chances are, newbie welders may not know what technique works best when it comes to pushing or pulling. The only way to break the ice is through conducting a short comparison test.

Tack a joint

T-joints work better in determining differences in penetration between pull or push techniques. Set two sizeable plates with one in a vertical position and the other horizontal.

Tack the vertical plate onto the horizontal workpiece, making sure it stays rigid.

Use both weld techniques on each side of the joint

On one side of the T, use a drag welding technique from end to end. Go to the other end and use the pulling welding technique all through. Welding with both techniques on each side avails welders a chance for proper assessment

Cut joint in two

Use a band saw or portable grinder to cut the joint piece in half. Cut the joint in a way where both processes are laid bare enough to get properly checked out. With this cut, you’ll be able to assess weld depth and join quality.

Heat off the cut joint end

Heating the cut end of your trial piece makes both welding techniques appear clearer for better inspection.

Inspect penetration of both welds

If you’re looking for better penetration into two welded pieces, both cut parts will reveal a better result. Also, welders keen on getting a tighter join should make a quick choice from both processes.

But as stated above, experience and setting up your equipment right matters most. When your tools are set upright, it becomes comfier to achieve better welds, your desired orientation regardless.


Do you push or pull when MIG welding?

Slag-producing welds are better dragged than pulled. Other wire-based processes, like MIG welding, could be better for push welding.

Which direction does your MIG weld?

Forehand and backhand directions are the two ways to manage MIG welding. Both MIG welding techniques are ideal for peculiar tasks and may not perform well in some situations.

Is MIG Welding easy to learn?

MIG welding ranks as one of the easiest metalwork processes to learn. The welding process also has proficiency in joining stainless steel, aluminum, and light metals (.26 gauge).

Do you push or pull a stick welder?

Stick welder rods are covered in flux, making pulling the ideal welding technique to adopt. Pushing stick welders will lodge flux into several areas of the weld. Flux-lodged welds are weaker overall and may be dangerous over time.

Should you weave when MIG welding?

Weaving is ideal for vertical up or down MIG welding tasks. But it may not be the best for welding thin metal or creating passes in joints for thicker welds.

Final Word

The MIG welding push or pull techniques offer stellar results when used with every other factor in place. You need to consider all underlying factors (workpiece, angle, thickness, etc.) before undertaking any of both.

Tips in this guide focus on getting you the very best when selecting a weld motion are in play. And with the answers to pressing questions in this guide, you can be sure of correct weld orientations each time.