Welding vs Soldering: Differences, Types, & Which is Better?

If you’re planning on getting started into the world of fabrication and metalwork, you’ll soon have an important decision on your hands: should you learn welding or soldering? You can learn both limited time, money, and requirements mean that you’ll probably be better off learning one over the other – at least initially.

In this article, we’ll take a look a deep into both welding and soldering, find out the key differences between the two, the different types of techniques available, and most importantly, which method is right for you?

What is Welding?

When you think of welding, you might imagine sparks, darkness, hard work, and of course, strength – but when it comes to welding, there’s a lot more than meets the eye.

For instance, there is a lot of science behind welding and the fact that we’ve known about welding for hundreds of years means that we understand most of that science. Welding works through fusion, wherein two metals are heated until they melt and create a pool of molten metal. This pool solidifies creating a very durable and solid joint.

Welding is a versatile skill that can be used for various types of projects and achieve different results. However, this also means that welding is a little more complicated than soldering and there are many factors involved. For instance, the way in which the welding machine reaches the required melting point depends on the specific welding technique, as well as on the metals used. And before you can even begin melting the metals, you’ll need to do an entire procedure known as the heat treatment, which isn’t necessary for soldering.

Perhaps, you’re thinking that welding isn’t worth all the trouble. But also take into consideration, the significantly stronger joints you’ll get through welding as well as the versatility of learning a skill such as welding. Let’s take a closer look at these pros and cons of welding so you can make your own decision.

Advantages of Welding

Modern features aren’t the only reason why you would want to pick up an inverter welder in 2020, there are many other benefits as well. Following some of the top benefits of using an inverter welder:

Stronger Joints

As we mentioned, one of the biggest strengths of welding is… its strength. The joints are physically fused together at a molecular level and the two metals literally become one at the joint.

The degree of rigidness and durability is hard to mimic in other forms of fabrication including soldering and in brazing.


Welding, as a skill is extremely versatile. Not only do you have the option to weld a very wide array of metals (albeit with different techniques) but you can also make different type joints – complete welds, partial welds, lap joints, cruciform joint, and butt joint being just a few examples.

Precise Joints

The arc produced in welding is extremely precise which allows welders to make very pinpoints joints. These precise and small welds are very common in different types of projects so this ability is guaranteed to come in handy.

Great for Mass Production

Welding becomes a great metal fabrication method for mass production and assembly lines as it is a very fast and efficient method of creating joints.

Disadvantages of Welding

Despite its popularity and myriad of use cases, welding suffers from inherent disadvantages that depending on your particular requirements, can become very glaring. Here are some of the main disadvantages of welding:

Inefficient at Joining Large Pieces

Nearly every kind of metal fabrication method requires some degree of additional finish – welding happens to be at the top of the list. When the molten metal pool solidifies, it creates jagged edges and bumps that are not aesthetically pleasing to look at.

Even if you disregard aesthetics, the additional metal in bumpy joints may cause functional problems, especially in projects with moving parts.

Technical Knowledge

As we said, welding requires most technical knowledge than most anticipate, especially if you plan on mastering this craft. The high number of variables and options might be overwhelming to a novice craftsman.

What is Soldering?

Soldering is another popular form of metal fabrication but unlike welding, soldering uses a metal alloy known as solder to join two metals. The solder is the filler metal here and this process is quite similar to brazing.

The solder is placed between the two metals and with high temperatures (around 600 degrees Fahrenheit) it is melted. When the solder cools down and solidifies, it creates a strong bond between the two. While welding uses the fusion process for making joints, soldering uses the capillary action.

The most popular use case of soldering is the electronics, especially circuit boards. While the welding arc itself is extremely pinpoint, it cannot match the precision that you get from soldering, mostly due to the much smaller (and easier to use equipment). Soldering can also be used on smaller items like jewelry and kitchen utensils.

Beginners can get started with soldering with just a standalone soldering pen and get a soldering station as they advance.

Advantages of Soldering

Although, not quite as popular as welding, soldering does have a healthy list of advantages.

Low Power Requirements

Unlike most welding machines that require high power sockets and consume a lot of electricity, soldering rods are much simpler, almost all of which can plug into your standard 120V home socket. As a result, energy consumption will also be drastically lower.

Suitable for Dissimilar Metals

You cannot weld metals that have vastly different characteristics (like melting points) whereas this isn’t an issue with soldering. You can solder copper to steel, aluminum to brass, cast iron to stainless steel, and more.

Easier to Get Started With

Soldering is 100% more affordable and less challenging to get started with. If you’re looking to pick up metal fabrication as a hobby, this is likely the way to go.

Base Material is Not Damaged

Since soldering does not change the base metals physically at all (only heats it up temporarily), the base material is not damaged. This is good news if you’re practicing or experimenting as you can easily disassemble joints by melting the solder again.

Disadvantages of Soldering

Soldering does suffer from a few characteristics that are also inherent flaws. For instance:

Low Strength

The biggest disadvantage of soldering is that the joint produced is not nearly as strong as the ones created through welding. This means that the joint may come undone under high-stress environments.

Not As Durable

Low strength also means that soldering is a good permanent solution as there is a higher risk of a joint breaking after continued stress. Solder fatigue is a very real concern that makes soldering unsuitable for projects that undergo cyclic loading.

Limited Use Cases

Even though you can join more types of metals with soldering than you can with welding, soldering is still more limited when it comes to practical scenarios mostly because of its weaker joints.

Welding vs Soldering: Key Differences

We’ve looked at both welding and soldering and their advantages as well as disadvantages – individually. But when we pit these two metal fabrication methods against each other, the decision boils down to a few key differences.

Skill Requirement

There is no doubt about it – welding has a higher skill requirement overall, with a tougher barrier to entry as well as a higher skill ceiling. What this means for the average person is that if you’re looking for a challenge and a long-term hobby, welding is a great option. If you’re not looking for either of those things, soldering is a quick and easy (relatively) way of joining two metals.

Expensive Base Materials

If you know you’re going to be working with expensive base materials or on projects that may need to be disassembled later, soldering is a much better option. Soldering beats welding fair and square in two aspects:

  1. It does not damage or deform the base materials.
  2. The joints can be made temporary.


If cost is a big factor in your decision, then you’ll be happy to learn that you can start soldering with a complete soldering kit that costs less than $50. However, if your heart is set on welding, be prepared to spend anywhere between $250 to $600 for a high-quality beginner welding machine.


If cost is a big factor in your decision, then you’ll be happy to learn that you can start soldering with a complete soldering kit that costs less than $50. However, if your heart is set on welding, be prepared to spend anywhere between $250 to $600 for a high-quality beginner welding machine.


Transformer welders can be very heavy and large in size which can be a deal-breaker or a non-issue depending on your use cases. If your work involves going into narrow spaces or being portable at all, transformer welders are out of the question. However, if you work in a dedicated workshop, transformer welders are great. Note that the issue here is that transformer welders are difficult to move, not impossible. 

Wrapping Up

And with that, you know have a strong grip on the basics of both welding and soldering. Now all you need to do is prioritize your requirements and you’ll know which metal fabrication method is right for you – welding or soldering.