Different Types Of Welding Rods – Size Guide And Uses

Welding is a job that appears differently based on your knowledge and skills. It is simple when you are experienced and can choose the right equipment for your project. However, it will be a complex thing if you have little idea about those instruments. While buying different tools like helmets, welding machines, gears, welding clothes, electrodes, and other parts, you will have to get the right size and type depending on your application.

Different Types Of Welding Rods

For a novice, it is not mandatory. But to become a pro, you must get this information. Welding rods are one of these items. This article will show you the different varieties of welding rods and talk about them in detail.

Definition of a Welding Rod

 A welding rod is mostly called an electrode. It is a rod that stays connected to the workpiece and the electrode cable. The cable then attaches the electrode to the welding machine to get a steady flow of electricity. Thus, the electrode gets heated and melts down the workpiece. There are two major types of electrodes based on their working type. They are the-

  • Consumable Welding Rod
  • Non-consumable Welding Rod

Both types have their own advantages and usages. You cannot use one in the place of the other. But that is not the only way one can categorize electrodes.

Usages of a Welding Rod

As mentioned above, the two types of electrodes get used in different types of welding. They are the-

Stick Welding or SMAW

For stick welding, people use consumable electrodes. As the general rule of stick welding, these electrodes melt along with the workpiece. So, they are shielded with flux to prevent any other particle from mixing with the melted rod. Hence, they are also called shielded metal arc welding.

TIG Welding

The non-consumable rods are made for TIG welding. In this process, the electrode doesn’t melt but gets heated. Non-consumable electrodes are made of tungsten due to their high heat-resistance. Hence, they are called tungsten inert gas welding. The different types of inert gases are the elements that protect the rod from foreign particles.

You can differentiate or categorize electrodes based on the materials that have been used to reinforce them. Moreover, for special cases like welding manganese parts, there are also vulnerable welding rods. More descriptions of the two types of electrodes are below.


Consumable Electrodes

 You should already know the basics of the consumable electrodes. They are mostly used in stick welding. Based on the level of coating put on them, they have two types. They are called the-

  • Light-coated electrodes.
  • Heavy-coated electrodes.

Light Coated Electrodes

Any consumable electrodes that have a thin coating on them are called light-coated electrodes. These welding rods are mostly coated with the same elements as the workpiece. As a result, when the electrode melts and is part of the welding, it makes no issue. Light-coated electrodes have some great benefits-

  • They have little to no impure materials on their coating.
  • With a perfect sized metal tip, they offer clear welding.
  • They are much versatile and works faster.

Heavy Coated Electrodes

Also known as shielded-arc electrodes, they provide a better outcome in high-demand welding processes. Their coating is thicker than light-coated ones and grants high protection on the welding spot. Based on the coating materials, you can also divide them into three types.

Cellulose coating

Coated by cellulose, they stay protected by gas layers. Being protected by gases, these welding rods prevents oxygen or nitrogen from brittle the workpiece.

Mineral coating

Coated by minerals, they create a layer made of slag. Due to their slow cooling effect, they offer a better welding result.

Hybrid coating

They are coated with a mixture of cellulose and minerals.

Heavy-coated electrodes have the same types of advantages as a light-coated electrode.

This diagram shows how a consumable electrode works-

how a consumable electrode works

Non-Consumable Electrode

If you want to go for TIG welding, non-consumable electrodes are the welding rods for you. They come with two types-

Carbon electrode

Created from mainly carbon, the carbon electrodes are a suitable item for cutting material. They are also ideal for arc welding. Even though most non-consumable electrodes stay vulnerable, some carbon electrode may have copper coatings on them. Manufacturers sometimes add little amounts of thorium and zirconium to increase the capability and durability of the electrode.

Tungsten electrode

Tungsten electrodes are famous for their capability at providing good results in light-duty welding. They cannot conduct high current, making them unsuitable for heavy-welding. Not to mention, they lack steadiness. Although, they also often get some thorium and zirconium to solve these issues. Tungsten electrodes are a must for TIG welding.

The diagram below shows how tungsten electrodes work-

how tungsten electrodes work

Other Factors of Electrodes

Aside from all these, there are some other factors that you cannot overlook while getting a suitable electrode for your project. Have a look-

The diameter of the electrode

While you are going for stick welding or anything that requires consumable electrodes, the welding rod must be thinner than the workpiece. For this reason, you can find consumable electrodes with different diameters. But 3/32” is the most common size.

Metal Strength

If the welding rod material is weaker than the workpiece material, then the welding will be improper. For gaining perfection, choose an electrode material that has more tensile strength than the workpiece.

Iron Powder Amount

The more iron powder in the electrode, the better. If they are less in percentage, there will not be enough molted metal for the job. So, you got to check it.

Electrode Code

You will see a code on the electrode as you buy it. For instance- E6013. It indicates the traits of the electrode.

This chart below shows some of them

Factors of Electrodes

To understand these codes better, check out this video-

Also, this video may help you in picking the ideal electrode for different applications

Final Note

While getting an electrode for your required welding task, you also should consider the type of connection you will use. There are three connection types- DCEP, DCEN, and AC. Not all electrodes are suitable for each of them.

All these details are probably coming to you as pretty complex. But once you get the hang of them, it will be worth the effort.

Last Updated on 1 year by Richard Boyer

  • June 8, 2022
Richard Boyer

Richard Boyer has been a professional welder for over 27 years of his life, and now he is a trainer and blogger providing critical information to anyone interested in welding. He is helping out both hobbyists, novice and professional welders to learn newer and better techniques. Read more about me

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