Rivets VS. Welding: Differences And Similarities

Rivets and welding are both ways of joining pieces of metals with each using different applications. Essentially, rivets are types of bolt used to put two metal pieces together, while welding is joining two metals pieces by melting them using high heat.  While the welds would look aesthetically pleasing, the rivets would not as they may look unfinished.  

Are you looking forward to joining two metals together and wondering how to go about it? You can do so through either rivets or welding. These two ways of joining metals are meant to achieve the same objective but in different ways. Here rivets vs. welding are discussed to help you make an informed decision.  Keep reading!

Rivets VS. Welding

Rivets VS. Welding: Differences In Terms Of Features


Joining two metals would mean combining their weight. It could even become heavier based on the methods used to put the parts together. Welding takes the upper hand in weight as the welded structures are usually lightweight compared to those riveted. Rivets, on the other hand, result in heavier structures as the bolt-devices add to the weight. However, riveted joints are very reliable as the rivets are made of tougher materials that keep the structure intact for a long time.


Welding results in permanent joints that cannot be separated unless the structure is tampered with. Conversely, rivets are semi-permanent as they can be detached or cut when needed. This is because rivets protrude from the joined parts that make it easy to remove. Welding, however, integrates two metals smoothly, resulting in strong joints.


Welding results in rigid joints that are very strong than the riveted ones.  The riveted joints can lose their integrity, depending on the metal material used. They tend to weaken over time and thus call for regular inspection to keep the structures intact. Consequently, the load-carrying capacity of the riveted structure degrades while that of welding remains unchanged.


Riveting requires one to drill holes where the bolt will pass through to make a joint. The process is time-consuming, plus there is the time needed to place and tighten the rivets. Conversely, welding is done with no drilling of holes. As long as the metals are in good shape, the welder uses the welding machine, and within no time, the welds would be done.

Cell Structure

Welding may damage cell structure due to a high level of heating involved. Rivets, on the other hand, do not need any form of heating. As a result, the cell structure remains undamaged.

Stability Under Vibration

There is a possibility of the welded structure failing under vibration. However, technological advancement has reduced its vibration vulnerability. Conversely, rivets are not affected by vibration, and this is the main reason this jointing is used on bridges.


The welded joints are smooth and appear good. In the case of weld spatters and beads, the welder can remove it by grinding to improve appearance. On the contrary, rivets protrude from the joints hampering the appearance of the structure.

Cost Of Putting Up The Assembly Point

It is simple and cheap to put up welding compared to the riveting assembly. This is because there are bulk calculations in designing the riveting one.  The process thus takes time and costs more.


Inspecting welded joints is difficult, while riveted ones are straightforward. You will have to examine the completed welds to check on the quality physically and whether the required specs were met. This is made complicated because the welded joints are far from chemically, metallurgical, or homogeneous. Besides, there are heat affected-zones and weld metals that need inspection apart from the base metal.  Inspection on riveted joints, on the other hand, is easy as the pieces of the material are not fused rather joined by the use of bolt like structures.

Ease Of Addition Or Alteration

Welding procedures are flexible, making it easy to alter or add to the structures welded. However, the riveted part involves drilling holes that could be hard to make any alteration once that is done. Besides, the process is not flexible, and one needs to plan diligently and be accurate when riveting. Any mistake could render the base material useless or reduce its effectiveness.

Skill Needed

Welding requires more skilled labor compared to riveting. Since the materials are prone to distortion due to the high temperatures involved, welders need to understand the properties of metals being worked on. For instance, welding aluminum is a difficult task as it can distort easily on high heat.


Welding has a wide variety of applications as it can be done on metals, plastics, ceramic, and composites. Besides, it can be used in joining various shapes such as elliptical and circular shafts. Rivets, on the other hand, can only be done on metals and specific shapes. There is a need for additional plates in case one wishes to rivets other shapes. 

Here Is The Summary Of The Difference Between Rivets And Welding:

 Adds weights to the joined structureThe weight of the structure remains unchanged
Semi-permanent jointsPermanent joints
Can lose its integrity over timeStrong
Takes much timeLess time needed compared to riveting
The cell structure is not alteredMay damage cell structure of the base plate
Stable under vibrationVulnerable to vibration
Costly to construct assembly pointsLess expensive to put up assembly points compared to the riveting one
Easy to inspectVery difficult to inspect welded joints
Very easy to add or alter the existing structureDifficult to make any additions or alterations
Does not require advanced skillsRequire advanced technical skills
Limited applicationWide variety of applications

Similarities Between Riveted And Welded Joints

1. No Chemical Reaction: Both riveting and welding are mechanical joining processes, and thus no chemical reaction takes place. This is unlike other joining applications, such as the adhesive technique where a chemical reaction occurs.

2. Result In Permanent Joints: Riveted and welded structures cannot be detached without breaking them. Though rivets are semi-permanent, disassembling the structure means tampering with the materials joined. The temporary joints include cotter joints, fastening, and press-fit, among others.

3. Both result in significantly strong and complete joints

4. Both can be used to join two or more metal pieces together

Which One To Use? Rivets Or Welding

Whether to rivet or weld depends on the structure worked on and aesthetics.  Check the table below for a wise-decision-making:

 CostVarious Part MaterialSpeedStrengthAesthetics
Riveting ✔ ✔ ✔  
Welding    ✔ ✔

Final Word

Assembling two or more solid pieces is part and parcel of the manufacturing process. This requires one to learn different types of joining that include riveting and welding. Each of the methods is commonly used and suits different applications. You will need to examine your needs and the structure before deciding on one. For instance, if you are more concerned about aesthetics and strength, welding will be the best. On the contrary, riveting would be fast and cost-effective. Choose wisely and make joint effortless!

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