The liquid film re-growth behaviour resulting from pulsed laser surface melting (LSM) has been investigated for typical 2xxx, and 7xxx aerospace alloys, both on parent plate and friction stir welded (FSW) joints. In Zr free alloys, as a result of the high growth rate and steep thermal gradient, the melted layer re-grew with a stable front, epitaxially, from the parent subsurface grains. This caused a thin coarse grained solidified layer to form over the parent material, thermomechanically affected zone (TMAZ) and heat affected zone (HAZ), and fine columnar grains to develop over the FSW nugget zone of the same order in width as the nugget grain size. In the case of the Zr containing alloys, a very fine columnar grain structure was found over the entire surface, independent of the subsurface grain structure. This has been shown to occur by growth selection from a band of nanoscale Al grains epitaxially nucleated on Al3Zr dispersoids, at the melt solid interface, that had not fully dissolved in the melt.