Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of electron beam surface melting (EBSM) on the properties of Plasma Transfer Arc (PTA) deposited Stellite 12 hardfacing. Design/methodology/approach For this purpose, structural characterization and dry sliding wear tests have been conducted on the hardfacings at room temperature. The wear tracks formed on the surfaces of the hardfacings were examined by a stylus-type profilometer and a scanning electron microscope. Findings Refinement of the matrix and the carbides following EBSM process led to about 15 per cent increment in hardness as compared to PTA state. Despite an increase in the surface hardness, EBSM'ed hardfacing exhibited about 50 per cent lower sliding wear resistance than PTA hardfacing against alumina ball. According to the worn surface examinations, reduction in the wear resistance of Stellite 12 after EBSM process has been associated with the extensive refinement of the carbides which made them easier to be removed from the matrix during the sliding contact. Originality/value The authors of current study have applied EBSM to PTA deposited Stellite 12 hardfacing alloy to investigate if the surface structure and properties could be improved. More specifically the dry sliding wear performance of PTA and EBSM'ed hardfacings have been focused in the scope of this study. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this approach, i.e. use of EBSM as a post deposition treatment of Stellite 12 hardfacings, has not been reported in open literature.