Wood Putty Vs. Wood Filler

If you are not an experienced woodworker, wood putty & wood filler may appear to be the same.

They both are used to fill holes or repair damage in the field of woodworking. However, while many people use the terms interchangeably, they are genuinely distinct. And being able to differentiate one from another will assist you in avoiding the pitfalls that many others have fallen into before you.

Wood filler is different from wood putty because it is often composed of sawdust or may be of wood fibers which suspended in such a binder. In contrast, the wood putty is typically composed of a plastic-like epoxy, fiberglass, or polyurethane. Additionally, putty, unlike filler, does not solidify it expands and contracts with the wood. Wood filler is not weatherproof and will deteriorate over time if left outside.

When repairing or constructing furniture and other wooden things, there are several situations where holes must be filled. These holes may be caused by flaws or irregularities in the wood or the location of the nails.

Furthermore, when it comes to filling holes in a workpiece, a wood filer or wood putty is always the best and, in most situations, the only answer.

Woodworkers frequently use the terms “wood putty” and “wood filler” interchangeably to refer to the same substance. While they perform a nearly identical purpose, they are nonetheless distinct materials best suited for wood filling jobs. We utilize putty or wood filler to fill in cracks and imperfections on the surface of wood and gaps between joints. While we use these two materials for similar reasons, they are somewhat dissimilar.

Wood Putty: Pros and Cons


  • More affordable. A tiny quantity of wood putty has a long shelf life, making it a more economical filling ingredient. Even if it becomes dry in the bottle, just a few drops of acetone will suffice to rehydrate it.
  • Adhesive characteristics. Because wood putty possesses adhesive qualities, it is not always necessary to employ a seal. This will, however, only work on oil-based finishes.
  • Ideally suited for outdoor furnishings. Compared to wood filler, putty resists shrinking and is more resistant to the sun and rain, making it the finest choice for outdoor furniture. Most woodworkers choose to use putty over fillers because it is more adaptable to a range of finishes.


  • Increased drying time. Many wood putties take longer to dry than wood fillers and won’t fully harden. The primary drawback is that a light-colored wood putty can gather dust and darken with time.

Wood fillers: Pros and Cons


  • Relatively quick to dry. Wood filler begins drying around ten minutes after application and should cure entirely in most cases within 24 hours.
  • Available in a variety of types. There are more sorts of wood fillers than there are varieties of wood putty. From stainable wood fillers to latex, epoxy, and polyurethane varieties, you can be sure to find one that meets your specific demands.
  • More versatile. Due to the variety of types of wood filler available, it is more adaptable than wood putty. And there are many applications for it when creating indoor furnishings.


  • There are no adhesive characteristics. Unlike wood putty, fillers lack adhesive qualities, meaning you must still seal the workpiece after applying the filler.
  • This item is not expandable. When wood expands and compresses, wood fillers do not expand and instead shatter. As a result, it is not recommended for outdoor furniture or other goods exposed to the weather.

How to Choose and Use Wood Filler | This Old House

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The best substances for plugging holes and filling cracks, with This Old House general contractor Tom Silva.

What’s the difference between Wood Putty and Wood Filler?

The primary distinctions between Wood Filler and Wood Putty are as follows:

  • Wood filler is often a water-based product, while the wood putty is typically an oil-based one.
  • While wood filler is sandable and generally used on unfinished wood, wood putty cannot be sanded and is excellent for finished wood.
  • Wood fillers should be reserved for indoor woodworking tasks, but wood putty may be utilized in any climate.

Indeed, there are plenty. However, one significant distinction between wood putty & wood filler is their makeup. The former is composed of plastic chemicals and molecules derived from oil. At the same time, the latter is composed of wood particles and fibers that have been combined with a binder. Therefore, wood filler solidifies in comparison to wood putty.

To restore the wood from the inside, wood filler is used. As it hardens, it aids in the preservation of the wood’s integrity. At the same time, wood putty is often applied only when the finishing process is complete due to chemicals that may cause the wood to deteriorate.

Additionally, most manufacturers provide wood putty in a variety of hues to complement various wood stains. As a result, it generally merges in with the wood. This cannot be said of wood filters, which are often only available in a single hue.

Putty Wood Filler HEAD-TO-HEAD | Which Is The Best Wood Filler?

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Putty wood filler is an extremely common product in most woodworking shops, but which is the BEST wood filler? In this video, I’ll go over 7 of the most common wood fillers and which I think I personally think is the magic-silver-bullet-unicorn putty wood filler we’re all looking for.

What is wood putty used for?

Most woodworkers utilize wood putty on outdoor projects because of it’s flexibility and to make small repairs and conceal minor flaws. This comprises nail holes, minor imperfections, and slight misalignment of joints.

We are all aware that temperature and humidity fluctuations may cause wood to expand and contract. Outdoor wood constructions are significantly more prone to rot due to their exposure to all types of weather. When wood expands or contracts, the wood filler will crack. On either hand, wood putty will remain unchanged even if the wood is twisted.

Can you paint over wood putty?

Yes specific wood putty products are made to stain or paint over but in a lot of cases you don’t have to. Wood putty is available in a variety of hues to complement various wood types and stain colors. Additionally, you may combine colors to make a unique match that will merge seamlessly!

Does wood putty get hard?

No, most wood putty doesn’t dry to a sandable finish. Certain two-part putties harden; nevertheless, they must be painted to match the wood’s surface.

Is wood putty waterproof?

Wood putty is the ideal filling agent for outdoor furniture because it resists shrinking and is also more resistant to the impacts of natural factors such as sun and rain.

What to use to fill large gaps in wood?

If you’re trying to fill a huge hole or gap, a two-part epoxy may be the way to go. This is a modern method for repairing larger cracks. Epoxy is ideal for repairing doorjambs, wood trim, moldings, and baseboards.

What is wood filler good for?

To restore the wood from the inside, wood filler is used. Since it hardens, it aids in the preservation of the wood’s integrity. While wood putty is often applied immediately after the finishing process is complete due to the presence of chemicals that may cause the wood to deteriorate,

Is wood filler stronger than wood?

Indeed, when filling a softwood (such as pine), the filler could become stronger and harder than that of the wood itself, making sanding extremely difficult. Apply the filler sparingly with the putty knife to the joint or crack; you can easily add more if it shrinks somewhat as it cures.

Should I use wood filler or wood putty?

Wood putty is the ideal filling agent for outdoor furniture because it resists shrinking and is also more resistant to the impacts of natural factors such as sun and rain. Additionally, it is more cost-effective than wood filler due to its longer lifespan.

Does wood filler work outdoors?

Wood filler is not ideal for outdoor projects because with the weather outside the wood will expand and contract through the year and the hardened wood filler will crack. If you’re going to use it outdoors, wood putty is your best choice because it’s oil-based, whereas wood filler remains water-based. Wood filler, in general, solidifies to a sandable consistency. While this method works well for indoor crafts, outdoor projects frequently detach from the wood filler due to the wood’s seasonal expansion and contraction.

What is the best exterior wood filler?

The best wood filler is the one that is appropriate for the project at hand. Minwax, Elmer’s, and DAP are all high-quality products that I’ve used successfully in the past.

Wood Filler. Putty for Wood Restoration. DIY Wood Repair

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What can I use instead of wood filler?

Latex filler is a popular kind that is water-based for simple cleanup. Additionally, latex fillers blend well with dyes, making them an excellent alternative for filling big holes and cracks in unpainted wood. Other types of fillers, like epoxy and polyurethane, are also beneficial to have on hand in the workshop. However, epoxy fillers should only be used on untreated wood, as they need extensive sanding, which can damage the wood surface.

Is Bondo a good wood filler?

Yes, it could be used to rebuild or restore decking, fence, siding, and other external outdoor wood surfaces rotted or damaged. We suggest Bondo Wood Filler for outdoor work. The two-part recipe dries to a medium brown color reminiscent of wood and then repairs and rebuilds decaying and otherwise damaged wood. You may also use it to complete missing puzzle parts.

After 25 minutes, you may plane, drill, route, or saw this non-shrinking filler as required. Not just that, but cured Bondo may be stained or painted just like genuine wood. Although it was designed for vehicle body repairs, it performs very well as a wood filler. This product adds structure and allows for the reconstruction of chunked corners and big gouges. It comes in a quart container and requires mixing with a cream hardener before application.

When should I use a wood filler?

Wood filler is like a first-aid kit for woodworking tasks. If a split occurs during construction, you can fix the crack with your filler. Additionally, it may be used to conceal nail and screw holes, ensuring that your painted product seems immaculate. When painting or staining a job that requires a substantial repair, use filler. You may repair nail or screw holes with filler, gaps among boards, and even dent repairs!

Can I use wood filler on rotted wood?

Not only may minor damage be repaired, but the power of this two-part wood filler enables you to restore rotten or missing wood and make long-lasting repairs.

Wood Filler – Buy it or Make it? / DIY Wood Filler

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In this video I show you guys how you can make your own wood filler that will match your project perfectly! Also I compare it to bought canned wood filler.

What if it rains on wood filler?

Wood Filler is not weatherproof and will deteriorate over time if left outside. Wood filler is distinguished from wood putty because the former is often composed of sawdust or wood fibers suspended in such a binder. The latter typically consists of a plastic like fiberglass, epoxy, or polyurethane. Additionally, putty, unlike filler, does not solidify.

Can you use wood filler for large gaps?

No, you can fill cracks with wood fillers but not large gaps. Caulk, sealants, and expanding foam should be used to fill gaps. Attempting to use wood filler will not work. Not to mention that it would take an eternity to perfect and would be prohibitively expensive.

Thus, we’ve defined wood filler & wood putty and explained when and when not to use each. Now you must decide which option makes the most sense for your woodworking. Both wood putty & wood filler are materials that perform as intended, sealing the wood surfaces of your project. Each also serves an excellent job of concealing and fixing wood flaws.

However, bear in mind that you may have to use filler or wood putty, depending on the sort of wood you’re dealing with. Additionally, it’s critical to keep in mind that you’ll like to use wood putty if you’re working on an outside job.

Whatever sort of project you’re working on, it’s great to know that alternatives are available to assist in concealing flaws and defects, resulting in an excellent completed product.

Kevin Nelson

I will always have a special place in my heart for woodworking. I have such fond memories working on projects with my parents on the weekends in the garage growing up. We built tables, shelves, a backyard shed, 10' base for a water slide into the pool, 2 story fort playhouse with a fire pole, and so much more. This woodworking blog allows me to write helpful articles so others can enjoy woodworking as much as we have.

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