Wood Putty Vs Wood Filler [Ultimate Key Differences]

What is the difference between wood putty vs wood filler? Wood filler vs wood putty work well with wood-related structures and furniture.

Wood filler is mainly made up of wood fibers and sawdust that are suspended inside a binder. Wood filler dissolves in water; hence not waterproof. Unlike the wood filler, wood putty is plastic in nature (Polyurethane), so it is waterproof. This means you can use it on outdoor wood furniture. The manufacturers do use a particular pigment in wood filler to match with different types of wood. Wood filler cracks when the wood expands as well as when it contracts. Wood Putty does not crack; hence best for outdoor purposes.

Key Differences between wood filler vs wood putty

  • Wood filler is made using a mixture of sawdust and wood fibers, while Wood Putty is made using plastic. This difference in the material used to make them brings out the aspect of waterproof. Wood filler is not waterproof, whereas wood putty is waterproof.
  • Extending on the first difference, as a result of the material used, wood filler is not suitable for outdoor purposes. From experience, wood filler cracks when you heat and repeatedly cool by either sun or other heat sources. Wood putty, on the other hand, does not crack.
  • Wood putty does not harden by itself. It will require you to buy a two-part product to initiate a chemical reaction that will harden the putty. On the other hand, wood filler requires you only to mix the powder with the right solvent, and after some time, it dries up the crack.
  • The application time of both the filler and putty differ. You must apply wood filler before you finish the project or before painting. Apply wood putty even after the project is complete.
  • Wood fillers are mostly neutral in color. You need to use dye to change the colors, while the Wood putty is available in many colors.

What is wood putty?

What Is Wood Putty

I would recommend you to know the difference between the wood putty vs wood filler. You can also call wood putty as plastic wood. Any woodwork shop has wood putty as a vital component for wood finishing. After finishing your artwork, that is the time you apply the wood putty.

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One main reason you need to use wood putty after the wood is stained is that wood putty contains chemicals that can destroy raw wood. Components of wood putty differ from one manufacturer to the other. But one thing familiar with all brands is that all are oil-based, sodium carbonate, and a universal color pigment. The pigments make it possible to have different colors for different purposes.

Apply the wood putty using a putty knife. Otherwise, bare hands will not look good. Putty resembles resin and feels like clay when you add water. It takes a longer time for the wood putty to dry compared to the wood filler. Some types of wood putty require chemicals for them to harden.

Wood putty is suitable for outdoor use since it is waterproof. Again it does not crack when the wood contracts and expands. The only disadvantage of wood putty is the long time it takes before drying.


More cost-effective:

Wood putty is more cost-effective for carpenters as well as homeowners. Compared to the wood filler, wood putty lasts longer, does not crack when exposed to heat and cold. In case the wood putty dries in its container, you only require to add a thinner (acetone) to get it back.

Adhesive properties:

Wood putty does not require a seal, or stain, or varnish. Its adhesive properties make it possible to use it without the need for a seal. This fact makes it more advantageous to use the wood putty but not the wood filler as it requires a seal after application.

Best for outdoor furniture:

Wood putty is resistant to many harsh external conditions such as excess heat, rainfall, and cold. Unlike the filler, it does not crack/shrink when exposed to heat and cold. These aspects make it good for use with outdoor furniture and other wood products. Suitable for use with window panes, external doors, and wooden floors.


Longer drying time:

Wood putty takes a relatively long time to dry up. This occurs mostly when you use no chemicals with the putty to harden it. This will automatically delay other tasks such as painting as the wood putty has to dry first before painting.

What is wood putty used for?

You can use wood putty to erase imperfections on wood products and furniture. One of its many uses is to fill up cracks in wooden floors. You know how a crack on a wooden floor looks, awful, right? In some cases, if the cracks are too big, you can lose a coin in it.

To maintain the wooden floor’s tidiness, any crack or hole should be filled using the wood putty. Make it look as good as new.

You can use wood putty to fill up holes in furniture. It works well with outdoor furniture due to its ability to withstand harsh weather conditions. Its plastic nature makes it a viable idea for external use. A hole filled with wood putty will remain intact for a very long time.

You can also use wood putty with external window panes. It can attach the window panes to the window frames.

How to Apply Wood Putty

Application of the wood putty on any surface needs you to follow a series of steps for the best results. Some of you could be asking, what do I need to apply wood putty? You need:

  1. Wood putty
  2. A putty knife
  3. A sandpaper
  4. Piece of cloth
  5.  Furniture

It is a quick and straightforward process, and you don’t need to hassle.

Prepare the surface before using the wood putty; this is the initial stage. It removes any obstacles like dust particles and other substances that can hinder the task’s perfection.

Mix the filler and the hardener following the manufactures instructions. Blend the colors well to get the specified one that you need.

Apply the wood putty using a putty knife on the affected area. Make it smooth and even. Press the filler against the surfaces that need filling for the filler to fill in completely with your bare fingers. Wait for about 30 minutes.

Sand off excess wood putty slowly until the surface becomes smooth and flawless. Dust off the particles in the area.

Various shade selection

Wood putty comes in various colors. You can also mix different colors to get the required shade. Different trees produce different colors of wood. To match the colors of the various type of wood, manufacturers have designed many colors of wood putty to match the customer’s color needs.

When dealing with exterior furniture, you can match the colors with other colors present in the surroundings. Ask for expert help on what colors to mix to get the desired colors.

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No additional glues/adhesives are needed. 

Being an oil-based compound, wood putty does not require any additional glues/ adhesives. What are glues and adhesives used for? The main reason for using glues and adhesives is to stick the filling substance to the furniture.

Wood putty matches the glow of the furniture. Unlike the wood filler, wood putty is suitable for application on already finished floors and furniture. So there is no need to fear about new varnish to finish the product.

The fact that we do not need additional glues and adhesives makes it cost-effective. In painting, you can either pick a color that matches your floor or apply paint later. Its plastic nature makes it stick to the surfaces you apply. Some types of wood putty expand and contract concerning wood contraction.


In what ways is the use of wood putty cost-effective?

It lasts a long time when applied. You do not have to keep on re-doing the filling process. Wood putty is made using plastic-like material. It does not crack when exposed to heat and cold. Some fillers have a short life span and require frequent filling.

In case the wood putty dries inside the container, you do not need to buy a new container of wood putty. All you need is some drops of acetone or another thinning product, and you get your putty back.

Wood putty is available in many colors. When using wood putty, you do not need to buy glues, adhesives, and paints. This is because you can apply wood putty after the furniture is finished. The colors match with the coloring of the wood.

With the expenses cut, i.e., glues, adhesives, and paints, it becomes cost-effective. One container of wood putty eliminates extra costs.

wood filler vs wood putty

Advantages of wood putty vs filler

  • It does not crack or shrink when exposed to excess heat and cold. This means that it will last longer when applied.
  • Available in many colors, this implies that wood putty will match many wood products’ colors. Similarly, you can mix several colors to get the desired color to use.
  • Wood putty eliminates the extra expenses that you could incur with buying glue to stick and adhesives. Wood putty does not require adhesives or glues. This makes it cost-effective.
  • Wood putty is applicable across different stages of wood from growth to maturity.

Disadvantages of wood putty vs filler

  • ·, Unlike wood filler, wood putty takes a long time to dry. This hinders other tasks such as painting from running concurrently. This, in turn, increases the time taken to complete the tasks.
  • · Some types of wood putty have a disturbing and robust scent. Therefore, it can affect a person with an allergy.

How do they compare?

Wood filler vs wood putty compare in a couple of ways.

  1. Wood filler is made using sawdust and or wood fibers mainly suspended on a binder. On the other hand, wood putty is made of a plastic-like substance (polyurethane). Wood filler, therefore, is only suitable for indoor furniture. It cracks on exposition to heat and cold. Wood putty is suitable for outdoor furniture as it does not crack or shrink when exposed to harsh weather conditions.
  2. The wood filler dries up in a very short time after application. Wood putty requires a longer time to dry up and sometimes requires chemicals to dry. The longer drying time of wood putty slows down activities such as painting.
  3. Wood putty does not require adhesives or dyes to apply. When using wood filler, you will need to repaint the wood if it was already finished. Wood putty is an oil-based compound it will shine on the surfaces applied.

Applying to the wood

Have you drilled a hole at the wrong place of the wood? Are you wondering how to fill the hole and leave the wood as perfect as it was? Wood putty is a solution to your troubles. How to apply to wood:

Using a clean piece of cloth, wipe all dust particles on the wood’s surface to be filled. Dust particles can hinder the perfectness of the fill.

Use a putty knife to smear the wood putty. A putty knife helps in making the application smooth and even. After application, uses your fingers to stick it inside the hole.

Let the filler dry for some 30 minutes; after drying sand, the surface will make it smooth and even. After complete sanding, wipe off the granules from the surface of the wood.

The above process is simple and easy for anyone to follow without any carpentry skills. Do not sit around with messed up furniture.

Material type

The material of the wood does not dictate whether to use wood putty or wood filler. Wood filler is used with wood that you can sand. You can’t fill Medium-density fiber wood (MDF) using wood filler since it is hard to sand.

Wood putty, therefore, can be used to fill the wood that can’t be sanded. This is because you need to apply wood putty after the wood is finished.

Time to dry

Wood putty takes a longer time to dry compared to wood filler. In most cases, you can use a hardening chemical to dry the putty faster. The drying time of the wood putty depends on:

  • Type of fill.
  • Depth of the fill.
  • Lack of availability of hardening chemicals.

Shallow fills take a concise time to dry. The putty will dry within the first half-hour. When it comes to deeper fills, the putty will require a lot of time to harden. A deep filling may require over 48 hours to dry. In that duration, halt many things as you await the wood putty to dry.

Some types of wood putty require a chemical to harden. In case they aren’t available, hardening becomes an issue. Availability of the same chemicals ensures that the putty hardens very fast.

what is wood filler?

What Is Wood Filler

You can use wood filler in holes in the woods to create repairs for smooth surfaces. It smoothens surfaces on a wood grain to ensure even finish and stain absorption. This product is also useful when you drive a finishing nail into the wood, and the area directly on top of the wood requires refilling in to ensure concealing of the nail head.

You can patch inconsistencies and damages on wood surfaces using wood filler, resulting in unflattering properties on the end product. Any large area that you need to fill with wood filler requires painting using an opaque finish. Wood filler is a professional product grade with a filling substance and wood filler.

This makes it easier to work with as color options match the project making uniform finishing results. You can manually make wood fillers by mixing wood glue with sawdust making a filler mixture that matches naturally with the properties of the wood color.


Relatively fast drying 

Wood fillers take relatively less time before drying, depending on the depth of the area you are applying. Shallow areas tend to dry much faster than deeper holes. You can use a heat gun or hair drier to speed up the wood filler’s drying process. Wood filler is the best since you can sand and use it on unfinished wood.

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Available in various types 

The commonly used types of wood filler are petroleum-based and water-based. Petroleum-based fillers should be good for outdoor applications, while water-based wood fillers stand up well for indoor applications. The two types of wood fillers bond tightly on the wood if you apply to a suitable location, either outdoor or indoor, according to the type of wood filler.

More versatile 

Wood fillers are more versatile, making it possible to use them on various types of finishes. They can be put to use in a large variety of situations. It can be applied outside or inside, depending on the economic advantage of each. The choice of a wood filler depends on the size of the gaps and the area in which filling is taking place, inside or outside.


No adhesive property 

Unlike other fillers, the wood filler does not have adhesive properties, meaning a need to use steel on top of the filler after finishing a project. Wood fillers are therefore not expandable, which might cause breakage when the wood contracts and expands. Wood putty is consequently the best to use when it comes to adhesiveness.

Not expandable 

Wood fillers do not expand and therefore break when there are expansion and contraction of the wood. Therefore, this will be ideal to use outdoor products and furniture that will be directly exposed to an element. This will not be the best filler to use for indoor products because it will facilitate breakage.

Types of wood filler

Water-based wood filler

This is generally composed of wood fiber, gypsum, and cellulose, which tend to have volatile organic compounds and few emitted potent odor. This is the best wood filler for use indoors as it bonds the woods tightly and dries much faster, causing fewer emissions, which might cause health effects to the users.

Petroleum-based wood filler 

This is an easily prepared wood filler commonly used outdoors. This is cheaper and easier to apply. Re-sanding and sponging are unnecessary for this type of wood filling, which saves a lot as they do not raise the grain. This can also be used on thin veneers without there being any danger of loosening the glue.


Epoxy is one type of wood filler. It is designed for use on unfinished surfaces. You are required to sand the areas where you want to apply the epoxy. This will assure you of the very best results. This is one of the best wood fillers to use with indoor furniture.

This is one among many wood fillers that require a sealant to prevent the surface from being brittle. It is easy to handle. Mix it like a dough, and you model it like clay. When it hardens, you sand it like wood.

Epoxy wood filler is the best for making permanent repairs, window seals, and exterior molding that seems difficult to remove.


Latex wood filler is the most applicable wood filler. The main reason why they are commonly used is; they are water-based, and they are also easy to clean. Latex wood filler is mainly used to seal raw timber.

Latex designed wood filler acts like wood itself. You can use it to repair holes in perfection on furniture, plywood, painted surfaces, cabinets, and other woodwork projects. Latex wood filler dries up within fifteen minutes and behaves like real wood.

It does not crack or shrink when exposed to heat and cold. The amazing thing about latex wood filler is that you can drill or sand it. Additionally, you can paint and stain. Latex wood filler is great for interior and exterior purposes.


It is the most common wood filler used on furniture. It aids in sealing the outer surfaces of furniture. Polyurethane wood filler helps protect furniture from moisture, humidity, and other environmental elements.

Polyurethane wood filler is best for pre-finished furniture. This is because the polyurethane seal protects furniture. When used to fill holes in furniture, it looks like colored plastic on drying up.

To fix a crack with polyurethane, rub the area with some steel wool and follow the wood grains’ direction. Using a brush, apply a thin coat on the crack and allow it to dry. It is perfect for filling gaps and cracks on hardwood floors and other wooden furniture.

When Wood Filler Used?

Wood fillers can be used to fill cracks and holes after first having to prepare the inside of the crack or hole so that the filer can properly stick. Painting can be done on the finished surface to make the repair invisible.

Wood filler can also be used to fix damaged furniture, which should be done by first mending the furniture’s surface, then the cosmetic repair, and finally the load-bearing part. Gaps between boards are filled using wood filler. A special wood refill product provides a variety of colors, including black and white as well as natural-looking tones of woods.

Fast drying

Once the hole has been filled to satisfaction, the filler is left to dry completely. It takes time for the filler to dry on a deeper and large area compared to a small and shallow space. Heat gun and hair driers can be used to speed up the drying process. This can be done when one is in a hurry, but it is the best way to dry slowly.

You need to apply wood filler with a putty knife to the hole and then press in tightly on the area. Apply thin coats should go to the layers to make the coats dry faster. When a layer is a thinker, much water is left to be absorbed, which lengthens the drying period.

Perfect for surfaces

Wood fillers are suit porous surfaces. In case the surface is not working so well, you can try to smoothen the surface by sanding it. This will make it easier to apply the wood filler perfectly.

Always remember that wood filler is the best for use with unfinished wood. When you apply wood filler to an already finished piece of the project, you will realize that the surface is not even. So this will pose a great challenge when it comes to smoothening the piece of the project. Similarly, when using unfinished wood with holes on it, all you require to do is apply the wood filler inside the holes, and later after drying, use your sandpaper to smoothen the surface of the wood.

Ideal for filling big holes

When dealing with a woodwork project, sometimes we tend to drill larger holes than the intended ones. So how do we deal with this problem? Wood filler is one key solution to deal with this problem.

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If you ever need a solution for filling holes on wood and especially indoor furniture, use wood filler. Being an ideal solution, we need to know how to use it. In previous paragraphs, we’ve discussed how to use wood filler.

Before filling the big hole, I would recommend you to sand the wood before using the wood filler. Allow the wood filler to dry and then paint to achieve a smoothened and nice finish.

When not to use wood filler

As a woodworker or just a person who needs their wood-based furniture to be repaired, you need to know some general facts on wood filler. One most significant point is wood filler shrinks and expands when exposed to cold and heat, respectively. Wood filler has a shorter life expectancy when used on outdoor furniture. Therefore, this is one of the instances where the wood filler is not used.

Wood filler lacks the flexibility to adapt to wood expansion and contraction when exposed to heat and cold. As a result, wood filler cracks when those changes occur. This implies that wood filler is not suitable for outdoor furniture.

When using wood filler, we are also required to apply paint or varnish to finish the product. As a result, the use of wood filler will incur other expenses such as glue and adhesives. Therefore, wood filler is not good for use in repairing already made furniture.

ultimate FAQ on wood putty vs wood filler

Should I use wood filler or wood putty?

The decision for whether to use wood filler or wood putty depends on several factors such as:

  • Place of use
  • Weather conditions
wood putty vs filler

Wood putty is the greatest filling agent for use on outdoor products. Wood putty is made using plastic-like material (Polyurethane). This makes it suitable to use with outdoor furniture. Wood filler, on the other hand, is made up of sawdust and or wood fiber. This makes it only suitable for indoor uses.

Wood putty can be used with finished wood products, whereas wood filler is used with unfinished wood products. Hence when repairing readymade furniture, wood putty is the best. This is because it does not require you to paint after application.

What is the best filler for wood?

Wood fillers have one purpose to mend imperfections on wood and furniture. There are three types of wood filler that we have discussed in the article. Epoxy wood filler being one of them, is best for unfinished wooden surfaces. Though you will need a seal to prevent brittle surfaces, it gives the best results.
Latex wood filler is the talk of every woodworker. They are commonly used to repair scratches and holes on furniture. It is water-based and perfect for use with raw timber.
Polyurethane wood filler is best for pre-finished woodwork projects. It has a seal that protects the furniture.

Can you paint over wood putty?

Wood putty is used explicitly for filling the imperfections on wood projects. So can you paint over a wood putty? If possible, is there a set of rules that we must follow? The process of painting over wood putty is similar to that of painting standard wood. You have to consider that the putty must be dry to prevent it from mixing with the paint.
You have to consider that the color of the wood putty must be lighter than that of the paint. This will help ensure that we do not have the color of the paint over the wood’s surface being mixed up with that of the putty.

How long does it take for wood putty to harden?

The duration within which wood putty dries or hardens is dependent on various factors. These factors include; the depth of the repair and the type of repair. For a shallow repair, 30 minutes is enough for the wood putty to harden. As the depth of the repair increases, there is a relative increase in the wood putty’s time to harden.
Major repairs on wood will require more time for the wood putty to harden. Minor maintenance on wood projects will require a shorter time for the putty to harden. It would take up to over 48 hours for the putty to dry based on the above facts.

What is the best wood filler for large gaps?

Wood filler is used to fill holes and gaps in the wood. When dealing with woodwork projects, we might end up having large gaps between the wood. To deal with gaps well, we need a wood filler that is best suited for that work. Among the three types of wood fillers discussed above, we can conclude that Epoxy wood filler is best for large gaps between the wood.
You have an assurance of the best results. Epoxy wood filler is also a permanent wood filler. The fact that it can be sanded and drilled adds to the advantages of using epoxy wood filler.

What to use to fill gaps in wood?

As discussed earlier, the woodwork has many errors when it comes to the surface of the wood used. To eliminate these errors, we need to use wood fillers and wood putty to achieve perfection in our jobs.
The choice of whether to use wood filler and wood putty is controlled by factors such as place of use and type of errors. One product will be the best in some areas while another product will be the best in other areas.
Wood putty is best for exterior purposes as it is resistant to weather detriments. Wood filler is good for use indoors. This is because weather detriments affect wood filler negatively.

Final verdict & Recommendation

I hope this article has been of great help to you, our esteemed readers. Bid goodbye to imperfections on furniture. Do not live in a house with a wooden floor that has disturbing cracks and holes. It’s time you take action. You do not need any special carpentry skills to use the wood putty vs wood filler. You can do it.

As a summary of this article, I will highlight some specific things to always keep in mind. When it comes to choosing between wood filler and wood putty, first think about the place of use. For outdoor purposes, I would recommend you always to consider wood putty. This is because it is designed to withstand the external harsh weather detriments. If you use a filler, you will be repeating the same process over and over again.

We hope you make the right choice that will give you the desired results on your furniture solutions.

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