A water-based formula that doesn't contain harmful ingredients, making it safe for the environment. Very easy to work with and sand. Doesn't have an offensive odor. Finished results look great; easy to clean up once project is complete.
Some stains may not work well with it. Colors can be challenging to match to wood.
Affordably-priced. A great pick for DIYers and novices, because it's very easy to use, sand, paint, and clean up. Doesn't contain extremely harsh ingredients or have an overpowering odor. Dries fast.
Difficult to seal the lid tightly, which can cause the filler to dry out quickly. If this happens, adding water can help. Colors are somewhat light.
Comes in a tube that makes it practical for filling just a few small imperfections like nail holes. Can be squeezed directly into small areas. Sets up fairly fast and dries firm.
Once opened, this product has a tendency to dry out quickly, and become difficult to squeeze out of the tube. Not easy to stain.
Easy to work with. Colors are easy to match to wood surfaces. Holds paint and stain very well. If this water-based filler dries out in the container, mixing in a bit of water brings it back to a workable consistency.
Has a strong, chemical odor. Using it in a well-ventilated area is recommended.
Versatile size options make it practical for DIY or building projects that require a lot of filler – available in quart or gallon sizes. Water-based; easy to stain.
Colors can be difficult to match, and may look different when dried. May crack over time.
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Is the wood around your home’s window frames water damaged and rotted? Is there a gouge or nick in your handsome hardwood floor? Scratched furniture, rotted wood trim, and chipped flooring are common household problems that can be time-consuming and costly to repair. Not to worry: if you are a handy do-it-yourself homeowner, you can use wood filler to repair dents, divots, voids, and blemishes quickly and affordably.
If you have not used this helpful product before, we think you will love it. Wood filler, also commonly known as plastic wood, wood jam, and grain filler, in a spreadable compound, filler, or grout used to fill imperfections in wood before finishing. Cabinet makers and expert woodworkers use wood filler to fill nail holes and open cracks in wood joints that require filling before finishing. Wood filler can be sanded, stained, or sealed to make wood flaws virtually invisible.
While you can fill holes, nicks, gaps, and scratches with wood filler or wood putty, the two products, although similar, have significant differences. Read on to learn about how to use wood filler and its diverse array of applications. When you are ready to make a purchase, consider our recommendations.
When shopping for wood filler, you will find several types. Some are formulated for general application; others are more specific. The type of wood filler you choose depends largely on the job.
Water-based wood fillers
Water-based wood fillers, also known as latex wood fillers, are specifically formulated for use indoors. They absorb stain similar to soft woods such as pine, and they resist shrinking and cracking. The product is inexpensive, easy to apply, and easy to sand.
Household applications include repairing cabinetry, wooden doors, trim, and paneling before staining and sealing. Water-based wood fillers are also useful when it comes to repairing surface damage to wood furniture and in filling imperfections on wooden household items such as photo frames, memory boxes, toys, shop art, and craft projects.
Solvent-based wood fillers
Formulated for outdoor use, solvent-based wood fillers (also known as petroleum-based wood fillers) are used for filling and repairing wood exposed to the elements: decks, siding, molding, and so on. Made from wood waste (wood scraps, sawdust, and wood dust) suspended in a petroleum-based glue-like resin binder, solvent-based wood filler dries rock hard.
Stainable wood fillers
As the name implies, this type of filler is receptive to staining. You can easily match the exact shade of the wood you are repairing with a stainable wood filler.
Prefinished wood floor filler
Prefinished wood floor filler is a product fairly new to the market. It is an excellent choice if you want to make minor DIY repairs to costly hardwood flooring. Damage from moving furniture, nail holes, and cracks disappear with a careful application of this easy-to-apply product. The filler is designed for use on floors that are already installed and finished and well as prefinished hardwood floors.
Prefinished wood filler compares to latex wood filler, except a polyurethane is used in the manufacturing process instead of water. It becomes waterproof after it dries. Therefore, it does not need a topcoat. The drawbacks to using prefinished wood filler are that it dries out quickly after the jar is opened, it becomes ruined if the product is allowed to freeze, and it is rather expensive.
Two-part epoxy wood fillers
Epoxy wood fillers, widely used in architectural conservation and restoration, can be a cost-effective and labor-saving way to repair wood flaws due to weather-related or pest-related damage. Areas that are difficult to replace, such as porch columns and brightwork, can also benefit from epoxy wood filler repairs.
Select an epoxy wood filler when the element cannot be easily repaired or replaced without taking apart other components. Pegged window sills and dove-tailed drawers are examples of home features where epoxy wood filler excels.
Wood filler has two primary purposes: to fill voids such as holes and dents and to fill pores and achieve a smooth finish when working with open-grained hardwoods such as mahogany, oak, walnut, and ash. The consistency of a product designed to fill large voids may not work well for filling small dents and porous grained wood. The reason: the wood particles used in the manufacture of the product may be too large to work into small nail holes and miniscule wood grain openings.
Apply wood filler with a small, flexible putty knife. Begin at the edge of the damaged area, pressing the filler into the void. Overfill slightly to make an allowance for shrinkage. Then, sand and finish the project. Small repairs are ready for sanding within 20 minutes. Deep or large repairs or patches may require up to eight hours to dry. Sand lightly to achieve the desired smoothness, stain, and finish.
When applying latex or oil-based wood filler, always follow the manufacturer's application instructions carefully to achieve the best results.
While most folks, when talking about household tasks, use the terms “wood filler” and “wood putty” as one and the same. However, expert woodworkers note that there are important differences between the two products. Once applied, wood filler dries to a hard, dense consistency that can be cut, sanded, and stained to blend smoothly, easily, and unnoticeably into the wood around it. Wood putty is a flexible material that remains somewhat pliable even after it dries.
Wood filler repairs dry rot, fills knot holes, fills voids in wood from insect damage, and covers cracks and gouges in wooden trim and molding.
Wood filler is packaged in half-pint, pint, quart, and gallon plastic, metal, or glass resealable containers as well as 3.25-ounce tubes.
Most wood fillers are a neutral beige color and can be stained to match any type of wood. However, there are some that are pre-tinted, allowing you to quickly select a filler that matches the wood you are working with.
High-quality wood filler contains real wood fibers for superior filling, sanding, high-speed sanding, staining, and painting.
From big jobs to small, wood filler fills scratches, gaps, and voids. Wood filler is easy to apply with a few simple household repair tools.
Sandpaper: Miady Assorted Grit Sandpaper
This value-pack of sandpaper contains assorted grits, from 120 to 3,000. It’s perfect for crafts and small jobs. The handy pre-cut sheets are ideal for wood applications including sanding, buffing, and polishing. Manufactured from premium waterproof silicon carbide for smooth wet or dry sanding, the set includes 36 sheets.
Putty knife: Warner Manufacturing Putty Knife
The Warner stainless steel putty knife is crafted from quality stainless steel and fitted with a solid rosewood handle. Flexible, lightweight, and durable, it should provide years of service and is an excellent value for the money. Designed with a full tang for maximum strength, this putty knife will spread wood filler with ease.
Budget-friendly: For general home maintenance and repair as well as craft projects, wood fillers in the lowest price range cost from $2 to $8 for a 3.25-ounce squeeze tube. For furniture touch-ups and small household repair jobs, this may be all you need.
Mid-range price: From $8 to $18 per pint, shoppers will find reputable brand name wood fillers with excellent adhesion. These wood fillers are unlikely to crack, chip, shrink, or sink.
Expensive: Artisans and professionals who work with expensive hardwoods can expect to pay $18 and up for a custom-blend pint of latex wood filler. High-end solvent-based wood fillers cost from $32 to $50 for fine grain wood filler blended from flour of the same hardwood the product is intended to repair. Prefinished hardwood floor filler costs $100 a gallon and upward.
Wood filler is permanent and fully paintable.
Aqua Coat Clear Grain Wood Filler dries in less than an hour for a crystal clear finish. An eco-friendly product that gets the job done quickly with little mess, this gel is an excellent value when you want to do the job right.
Aqua Coat White Cabinet Wood Grain Filler lets the user repair dents and scrapes to white kitchen and bathroom cabinets with ease. Repair molding and nicked white interior doors. The latex-based wood filler can be sanded, stained, or painted to match the material it is used to repair.
Old Masters Woodgrain Filler Natural Tone is ideal for working with fine grain wood. Use it to achieve a smooth, craftsman-quality finish on furniture and all your woodworking projects. This quality product is an excellent value.
CrystaLac Wood Grain Filler dries to a clear, smooth finish. Non-shrinking and non-toxic, this product is easy to use and can be applied to all shades of wood with good results.
Q. When filling gaps in crown molding, how wide of a gap can I fill with wood filler?
A. Wood filler can be used to fill gaps up to an inch wide and an inch deep. However, many woodworkers carve a plug or wedge from a solid piece of wood slightly smaller than the divot they are attempting to repair, glue the plug or wedge in place, and then use wood filler to fill the remaining void.
Q. I am repairing an antique dresser with a deep gouge in the front of one of the drawers. How can I match the wood color exactly?
A. For small touch-up jobs, several brands of wood filler package their products in premixed small tubes of white, cedar, red sandalwood, black walnut, red oak, mahogany, teak, and black and grey shades to match most any wood color. With this type of product, if you can find the right match, you can easily repair furniture damage by yourself.
Q. I heard that in a pinch, I can use auto body repair putty, also known as Bondo, to fill gaps in wood if I am out of wood filler. Will this work?
A. Yes, auto body putty will work for a temporary fix, but it is a waste of time. Over time, auto body putty will dry, crack, and fall out of the hole or crack it was used to repair.
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