Stick vs. MIG Welding: Choose the Right One for Your Application

Stick vs MIG welding

Welding techniques have evolved significantly in the last decades. Nowadays, a professional welder has different options to choose from.

Depending on the particular requirement of a procedure, one or another technique may be more suitable.

In the past, stick welding was the only option available.

It remains one of the most used welding techniques, but the improvement of electrical technology led to the development of some alternatives. That’s the case of the so-called MIG welding.

Hence, a professional welder must be acquainted with the characteristics of each of these techniques. Knowing their pros and cons will help you decide which technique to favor for a given situation.

Hence, in this article, we will compare Stick and MIG welding techniques.  

What Is MIG Welding?

MIG welding is a simple, yet effective welding technique. Its name is a short version of Metal Inert Gas welding.

To operate, a MIG welding machine provides a high electrical current. You should connect one terminal of the MIG machine to the metal and the other to an electrode. In this case, a welding wire takes the role of the electrode.

When the electrode touches the metal, a high electrical current produces intense heat. This high temperature melts both the welding wire and the metal, which bond as a result and create a very resistant, clean weld.

To protect the weld from contamination with some particles in the air, a shielding gas is used while welding.

MIG Welding

Source: Youtube

Learning MIG welding is easy. The most difficult aspects are the selection of the shielding gas and the setting up of the welding parameters.

With the correct selections, MIG is ideal for welding a variety of nonferrous metals such as copper and aluminum. It is also widely chosen to weld stainless steel due to the superior finish it allows.

What Is Stick Welding?

It is one of the most used welding techniques by professional welders and DIY hobbyists alike.

Similarly, you must connect two cables from the welding machine to the metal and an electrode respectively. The electrode is a metallic stick that produces an electrical arc when it touches the metal. The resulting high temperature melts the metals, thereby joining the parts.

Unlike in MIG, there is no need for any shielding gas.

Stick welding is very versatile. It allows welding in practically any place and surface. Moreover, it allows you to weld in any position.

However, this technique creates large amounts of spatter. Hence, the resulting welds won’t be as clean as those created during MIG welding.

Stick Welding

Source: Youtube

Main Characteristics

Now that you know the operation principles of these two welding techniques, let’s discuss their characteristics. To facilitate the discussion, we list the pros and cons of each technique.

MIG Welding


  • It is suitable for welding thin metal;
  •  It creates little slag and spatter, which results in clean and good-looking welds;
  • The welding wire is fed automatically through a welding gun;
  • You can weld very fast using this technique, which translates into higher productivity;
  • Your MIG equipment can work for other welding techniques such as FCAW.


  • You must clean the surface to weld thoroughly. Traces of rust or any other contaminants will result in faulty welds;
  • You must fix the ground clamp on clean metal and not far from the welding point;
  • Wind can diminish the effectiveness of the shielding gas, which leads to faulty welds;
  • You need a pressurized gas tank, which is cumbersome to carry to on-site work.

Stick Welding

Stick welding, even though widely popular, has its advantages and disadvantages as well. Let’s take a closer look at them.


  • There is no need to clean the surface to weld. Rust or paint won’t deteriorate the quality of the weld;
  • You can attach the welding clamp in any place of the metal;
  • You can use this welding technique in windy conditions without any problem;
  •  It is suitable for any welding position in outdoor and indoor environments alike;
  • Available in AC or DC. The DC modality adds some functionality to weld thin metals.


  • Resulting welds from this technique have a large deposit of slag, which must be cleaned to achieve a better-looking finish;
  • This technique generates a lot of spatter while welding;
  • Not suitable for welding of thin metal;
  • Continuous replacements of the welding stick make this technique somehow time-inefficient.

MIG vs stick welding

Source: Youtube

Variety of Work

MIG and Stick welding have a good number of applications. However, because of the characteristics of stick welding, you can use it for a wider variety of works. Whether for enclosed or open areas, stick welding will get the job done.

MIG, on the other hand, has more application in the welding of nonferrous metals.

Welding Speed

The welding wire for MIG comes in a coil. The wire is fed automatically. Hence, there is no interruption while you weld.

With stick welding, you often have to stop to change the welding stick. Hence, you weld faster with MIG.

However, take into account that the preparation to weld with MIG generally takes longer. With stick welding, all you need is to connect your cables and choose the right setting on the machine.


The overall cost of operation is higher with MIG welding. For example, you need to buy a pressurized gas tank and its accessories.

Ease of Operation/Management

While welding with MIG is easier, setting up the equipment can demand a bit more effort. Besides connecting the electrical system, you must take care of the shielding gas system. Stick welding is easier in this aspect.

When Is It Better to Use Stick and When Would You Prefer MIG Welding?

MIG welding is preferred when finish is important, like in car manufacturing. It should be your first option for intricate welding designs and thin metal. On the other hand, stick welding must be favored when you need to work in the field. Stick welding is ideal for maintenance and repairs.

Stick vs MIG welding

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