Wood Putty vs Wood Filler [Ultimate Difference]

Wood putty and wood filler are like band-aids. Want to know why? Because they repair almost any wooden surface, you apply them. 

You can never go wrong when using these compounds for furniture making, home restoration, and improving the quality of wooden surfaces.

In this article, you’re going to know when to use wood putty and wood filler, filling holes in wood, how to use wood putty and wood filler, the differences between wood putty and wood filler, buying a wood filler, and the frequently asked questions about wood putty and filler.

When to Use Wood Putty

Picture this, you’re comparing wood putty with wood filters, and you don’t know which to buy for your woodwork projects. 

Don’t worry, because, in this section, we’ll discuss when you’re supposed to use wood putty and when’s the best time to use wood putty in general.

Before knowing when to use wood putty, it’s essential to learn what’s wood putty. Wood putty functions similarly to plastic wood.

It contracts and expands along with the wood. It has a clay-like structure and needs to be wet for long periods before it solidifies on wood.

The ideal use of wood putty is on finished surfaces. The wood putty is suitable for outdoor products since it works well in conditions where changes in temperature and humidity are frequent, and the compound and its expanding properties remain the same.

Because it works well outdoors, it’s ideal for small repairs and minor fixes in wood surfaces like small blemishes and minor joint mismatches, which can do a better job compared to a wood filler.

When to Use Wood Filler

Wood filler is a different compound when compared to wood putty. The wood filler is also perfect for indoor fixes since it’s not exposed to multiple elements such as temperature and humidity. Wood filler has much more of an advantage compared to wood putty.

So, what’s a wood filler? It’s similar to wood putty, but it dries out faster than wood putty. Wood filler can be used to fix wooden objects.

However, you should be aware that it’s used mainly for repairing minor defects like holes, cracks, and scratches.

If you’re looking to repair things made out of wood indoors, you can never go wrong when using a wood filler. Wood filler is ideal for indoor use because it dries out quickly, there are no elements to change the compound, and stronger than wood.

Filling Holes On Wood

Filling holes is easy. However, knowing how to fill gaps and holes may be one of the most complex parts of repairing or fixing wood surfaces.

Since you now know when to use wood putty and wood filler, maybe it’s time to understand how you can use and apply them to your projects.

You also have to keep in mind that the quality of wood filler or wood putty that you’ll be using will be a significant determining factor when it comes to choosing the suitable filler for your wood. The main thing we’re trying to accomplish is to fix the wood, not break it.

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Keeping that in mind, you also need to have an excellent place to store your wood putty and wood filler and make sure that they’re perfectly sealed so that you can still use them in the future.

How to Use Wood Putty

Between choosing between wood filler and wood putty, it’s actually much easier to use the wood putty because all you have to do is use it, and then you’re done! It’s that quick. It’s thicker than wood filler and can be used for home improvement.

You can watch The Restorer’s Wood Filler Putty for Wood Restoration, where he uses a 2k Putty Compound for restoring wooden surfaces.

YouTube video

For example, are you planning on repairing your wooden doorframes? Well, try using wood putty, it’s very effective in fixing these kinds of problems. Since they work well outdoors, you can basically almost fix everything made out of wood regardless of temperature and humidity.

Wood putty is something like leaving and forgetting about it, which you can’t do with wood fillers. To sum things up, it’s better for daily home repairs.

Using wood putty is like using a wood filler, but with some minor adjustments, here are some of the steps you can take when you use wood putty:

  1. Choosing the Right Wood Putty

Choosing the suitable wood putty is a crucial step when you’re going to purchase wood putty in the first place.

You’re going to be spending a tremendous amount of time matching the color of the wood surface you’re working on to match the putty’s wood stain.

Take time in choosing the proper wood putty—some dry faster, and some dry slower than other.

We also need to make sure that we get the most value out of our money. That’s why it’s better to take time in choosing rather than blindly spending it on something that’ll disappoint you.

  1. Preparing and Cleaning Out the Area

Aside from choosing the suitable wood putty that you’re going to use, it’s also essential that you’re going to clean the area beforehand.

This will ensure that your wood putty will get a better grip on the surrounding wood and perfectly blend in after hardening and curing.

You can clean out and prepare the area by blowing out wood residues in the areas you are going to repair (if you’re fixing something), brushing out your wooden surface, and/or smoothening out the surface before applying wood putty.

Overall, you don’t want dust and debris lying around while you work, use a clean rug or brush out all the dirt you can see on the wood surface and the area around it.

  1. Filling in the Wood Putty

People commonly use it while working with their wood putty, metal, or plastic sticks. It doesn’t matter as long as it gets the job done. When repairing something, make sure you spread the wood putty across the surface to fill in the void in the hole.

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Don’t be cheap when it comes to using your wood putty. Now, when we say this, it doesn’t mean you have to empty your entire wood putty bottle into a single crack, no.

What we mean by this is to have at least a little overflow on that crack and then scrape it off with a plastic scrape blade.

However, before scraping off the excess wood putty, give it some more time to settle in the crack to ensure that your wood putty sits perfectly in the crack with no air bubbles inside. You can then scrape it off with a scrape blade or an old credit card, whatever works for you.

  1. Allow the Wood Putty to Harden and Cure

Since putty is known for needing more time to harden compared to wood filler, make sure you give it more time to harden and cure. Giving it enough time will result in you having fully repaired wood furniture, surface, or whatever it is that you’re trying to fix.

How to Use Wood Filler


How to Use Wood Filler

Unlike fixing large-scale items in your home or using a compound for home improvement in general, wood filler is advantageous when it comes to fixing small wooden things.

It can be helpful, from fixing small wooden figurines to wooded chairs with cracks because of termites.

You can watch This Old House’s video on How to Choose and Use Wood Filler, and maybe you’ll get a better idea of how it’s being used.

YouTube video

What’s good about wood fillers is most of them dry out pretty quickly (depending on their brand). Give it a week or so.

You won’t even tell the difference between the original wood to the filler itself (if the colors of the fill match the wood) because of its incredible patching ability.

Wood filler is also a woodworker’s favorite when it comes to making types of furniture. Since wood fillers are sandable, they can make rough edges smooth and make holes on surfaces smooth again, with the help of sanding materials.

Without wasting any more of your time, here are some basic steps on how you can use the wood filler to make sure you get the most out of it:

  1. Choosing the Correct Type of Wood Filler

This has been mentioned in the previous ‘How to Use Wood Putty’ section, but we cannot stress this enough. The amount of money and effort you can save just for choosing the suitable wood filler will greatly amaze you.

For example, you need to choose a wood filler that can dry out quickly and work well indoors.

Speaking of working well indoors, we highly recommend a water-based wood filler, while for outdoor applications, you may want a tougher solvent-based filler.

  1. Clean the Working Environment

Again, this is similar to the ‘How to Use Wood Putty’ section. You have to make sure that you’re working in a clean environment. You don’t want to have debris in the holes and cracks while you’re filling it with the wood filler.

Cleaning can be simple, from blowing off the dust particles in the area you’re working on, maybe brushing it off with a brush, or cleaning it with a rug to make sure the work surface is free from dirt.

  1. Applying Generous Amounts of Filler

To make sure that you have the right amount of wood filler, make sure that you apply a generous amount of fill in the holes and cracks. A slight excess amount of filler isn’t harmful when you’re making the application itself.

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In fact, slightly overfilling a hole will greatly reduce the risks of having air bubbles or cavities in the wood from the wood filler you applied.

Most wood fillers also shrink after long periods, so it’s good to have extra wood filler in the holes to make sure that it will prevent shrinking issues.

  1. Scraping Off Excess Fillers

Scraping off excess fillers is essential for preparing your wood for the last step of applying wood fillers.

You can do so by using an old credit card or maybe a plastic/metal scraping blade to make sure that you remove the rough edges the wood fillers leave after hardening.

Since the wood filler hardens faster than wood putty, you have to make sure that you scrape off excess fillers not too early after the application and not too late when the wood fillers are hard to scrape off.

  1. Sanding and Painting For Better Appearance

Compared to wood putty, the wood filler is sandable, which makes it great when it comes to fixing wooden furniture.

You can easily repair holes in tables and chairs and make it look like nothing’s changed by smoothening the surface and painting it.

This is every woodworker’s dream. The ability to patch up holes in wooden objects and make it seem like nothing’s changed is the wood filler’s best ability.

Just smoothen out the surface with sandpaper, and apply some paint or even lacquer if you want that cozy vibe from wooden objects.

Difference Between Wood Putty and Wood Filler

So far, you should know when to use wood putty, when to use wood filler, the different compounds to filling holes in wood, how to use wood putty, and how to use wood filler. Now what you need to know is the main differences between wood putty and wood fillers.

According to TheHandymansDaughter, the choice between wood filler and wood putty can be confusing. Though both of these products are meant to fill holes and cracks in wood, they’re used for different purposes.

These are the questions that we are looking forward to answering in this section of the article. We want to start by saying that these two compounds may be different, but each has an advantage over the other.

Both of them also share a common goal. Both wood putty and filler’s goals are to seal wood holes, and cracks, improve quality, and repair wooden objects and surfaces in general.

Since both compounds have different characteristics, it’s important to know which compound is good for the job, so without wasting any more of your time, here are the differences between wood putty and wood filter:

Finished or Unfinished Wood

Primarily, you need to know what type of wood surface or object you’re going to use these compounds for. People generally use wood putty for finished wood while using wood filler for the unfinished wood.

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However, here’s the best part, the wood filler can also be used for finished wood. This means it’s not limited to one type of wood like wood putty.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Application

Different compounds mean different types of applications. Since wood putty is less unaffected by changes in temperature and humidity, it’s more applicable for outdoor applications and uses. Wood filler is better for indoor applications because it dries out quickly.

Generally, wood filler is excellent at handling indoor applications because it provides a sandable consistency.

On the other hand, putty is used to fill gaps, holes, and cracks because it provides slight flexibility making it great for home repairs.

For choosing a wood filler, water-based compounds will be soft when it makes contact with water. Instead, use a solvent-based wood filler, that way, it also can be used for outdoor applications.


If you didn’t know already, the wood putty adhesive is made from plastic, while wood fillers are made from sawdust and wood fibers that are perfect for blending it with unfinished wood. However, it needs to be stained or finished to have better results.

Staining and Painting

Most wood fillers are built to be stained and painted on once it hardens over long periods. Read the can’s labels, and do a quick test on a scrap of wood to make sure that the wood filler matches the wood you’re applying it on.


In terms of consistency, it’s essential to know that wood filler dries to a hard surface. The texture allows you to use wood filler for larger cracks in a project.

After applying it to holes and cracks, you can then scrape off the excess compound, wait for it to dry, then sand & paint it.

Wood putty, on the other hand, is like clay. It takes longer to dry out compared to the wood filler. This allows it to be more flexible and work on finished wood after it has been stained.


Between the two compounds, wood putty is not an ideal choice when it comes to sanding it after application.

However, the wood filler might just be the one you’re looking for. Since it dries out faster, it works well post-application.

This basically means that the wood filler will still work well even though the compound hardens.

This means if you’re planning to repair wooden furniture from tables to chairs, it’s ideal to use the wood filler to have better and more appealing post-production results.

Buying a Wood Filler

So, convinced on finally buy a wood filler for your woodworking needs? Then you might find the guide we will provide you practically in determining how to buy a wood filler. Many factors affect your decision to purchase wood fillers.

Things like price, reviews, and specifications (like the ingredients and its brand) are all critical when buying a suitable wood filler for you.

Nevertheless, here are some deciding factors and things to look out for when buying a wood filler:

  • The Right Price

This may be the best deciding factor in determining the wood filler you’re trying to buy. We understand that some people may be on a budget, but you also want to get the value for your money.

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This doesn’t necessarily mean that an expensive wood filler is always better, but it’s like that most of the time. Don’t be too cheap with buying wood filler, but don’t spend too much as well.

  • Strength of the Smell

If you can’t stand the strong smell of the wood fillers, then you must look for reviews online to make sure that you won’t be disappointed with its pungent odor once you use the wood fillers themselves.

  • The Amount/Size You Need

You must have a rough estimate of how much amount or the size of wood filler you need.

For smaller projects, 1 pint of wood filler could be enough, but if you’re renovating multiple wooden furniture in different sizes, consider buying a more considerable amount.

  • Reputable and Well-known Brands

Do your research on what brands are most reputable for the wood fillers they provide. There are many criteria when looking for a well-known brand, some are known for their quick dry times, and other brands are known for their reliability post-application.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does wood putty take to dry?

The typical time for wood putty to dry out is usually in hours. You can wait for about 3-6 hours before you can say that the wood putty is dried out and not gooey anymore.

Compare this to wood filler. It dries out after 30-60 minutes after application, impressive, isn’t it?

Does wood putty harden?

Yes, however, it takes a longer time to harden when it’s compared to a wood filler.

Can you screw in wood fillers?

Most of the wood fillers enable you to screw into it. The compound is mainly made out of wood fibers which are literally like wood, maybe more robust than the wood itself.

Don’t take our word on it, you can read what CreatorSkills has to say about drilling wood fillers. While the process of drilling into wood filler is pretty simple, a lot of its success comes down to if the wood filler was correctly applied and thoroughly dried.

How is it possible to fill large holes and gaps with wood fillers?

Wood fillers and wood putty are built to replace the missing wood in every wooden object that needs repair and fixing. Scientists created this compound to ensure that people could still use wooden things that they could repair with simple steps.

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