When it comes to wood repairs, wood filler is one of the best tools you can get. Usually made from sawdust and glue, this substance gives you a way to fill voids and cracks with something that can easily be sanded and painted.
Wood filler is especially handy when working with reclaimed wood, which is more likely to have flaws. In this article, we will take a look at the best wood fillers that we found online.
Best Wood Fillers in January, 2020
|#||Wood Filler||Dry time (minutes)|
|1|| Famowood |
|8||Minwax Wood Filler||15|
|9||Elmer's Stainable Wood Filler||20|
|10||Minwax Wood Putty||20|
This filler is very versatile, as it is available in quite a few different colors. All of these colors are meant to match natural wood tones, making it so that this product may not even need sanding or painting. If you do a good enough job of matching up those colors, you have a chance to save yourself some work.
Pros And Cons Of A Solvent-Free Filler
This is a pretty strong filler, which is impressive when you consider how it is made. This is a solvent-free putty, which means that it doesn’t contain the kind of harsh and foul-smelling chemicals that are often seen in products of this type. It doesn’t reek, and won’t require you to wear a safety mask when applying.
The only problem is that solvents are added to wood fillers for a reason. That reason mostly comes down to storage life. The solvent normally helps the mixture to keep from drying out during storage, so this product won’t have a very long shelf life when compared to brands that contain a solvent. However, the lack of solvent does not appear to have any effect on the strength of the product.
Nice And Tough
Most reviews seem to agree that this putty provides a durable repair that won’t be prone to cracking, shrinking, or other deformation. Speaking of which, it is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, making it a pretty durable product overall. However, these reviews do show some complaints, and those complaints are kind of consistent.
May Not Stain Well
Some of those who have purchased this product claim that it will not stain properly. They say that the coloration of the wood filler interferes with the stain, creating an ugly spot that stands out because of its different coloration. I also like the fact that it’s water-soluble because this makes cleanup much easier. Also, it allows you to reconstitute dried-out filler.
This wood filler is defined by one feature above all, and that is its ability to change color. It might surprise you to learn that this stuff has a purple color, which might seem like a terrible choice considering that wood is never purple. There is a type of wood called “Purple wood”, but it is rare and expensive.
The purple color is meant to stand out because it will indicate when the product is dry. When the filler changes from purple to white, you immediately know that it’s time to sand, paint, or otherwise finish the surface. I find this to be a very handy feature that also helps to save time by taking the guesswork out of dry-time estimation.
Like all Elmer’s products, this one has little to no toxicity. There is no harsh chemical odor to burn your nose, and you don’t have to worry about getting it on your hands either. It dissolves in water much like the last product we examined, and it has the same advantages: Easy cleanup and easy rejuvenation of dried material.
This is a trusted product that has been on the market for a long time, and which has a proven history of effectiveness. However, it’s not the strongest filler in the world. As such, it might not be the best for heavy-duty projects. Also, this stuff dries a pale, milky color that tends to stand out unless it is painted or stained. Thus, you will always need to paint or stain this filler to keep it from looking junky.
This is probably the most distinctive and unique product on our list. Instead of just making a wood filler product, System Three went a step farther. This product is meant to be a full-fledged moldable wood substitute.
Looks, Feels, And Works Like Clay
This stuff is meant to be kneaded, just as you might do with a lump of bread dough or a ball of modeling clay. In terms of its consistency, it feels a lot like clay, which was obviously the intent of the manufacturer. As such, you can mold it into any shape that you want.
One of the best things about this clay-like consistency is that it opens up new possibilities. Of course, you can use this product to fill gaps and cracks in a piece of wood, but it can also be used for more decorative purposes. For instance, you might choose to mold the image of a small animal or a symbol that has meaning for you. Once made, this can be firmly attached to any wooden object, and can even be painted so that it doesn’t stand out too much. In short, you can combine the arts of woodworking and sculpture.
Tough And Easily Bonded
I like the waterproof nature of this putty, as it makes this product suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Despite this, the product doesn’t seem to be waxy or plastic-like. That’s good because wax and plastic do not bond with other surfaces in the way that this product does.
On the negative side, this product is kind of expensive. Also, it is an epoxy-based formula, and that’s why it comes in two bottles. It has to be mixed before it takes on the desired consistency. This does increase the shelf life but is also a little bit inconvenient.
When you think of Bondo, you probably think of old junky cars. However, they make a lot of other products besides their trademark auto repair mixture. As you might expect from a company that normally makes auto repair products, this one produces an extremely strong bond. In this regard, the product definitely lives up to its name.
One of the most distinctive features of this product is the quick drying time. Like most wood fillers, it will take a full 24 hours to cure fully. However, this stuff is ready for sanding, painting, and/or re-coating after only 15 minutes. For those who are rushing to get the job done in time, this can be an excellent time-saver. It’s also great for use on vertical surfaces where a less chunky product would slip or drip.
The downside of this feature is the fact that you don’t get a whole lot of time to finish the job. Once you begin using this stuff, you have (on average) less than 15 minutes before it starts to harden. When this stuff hardens, it hardens in a very serious way. Thus, you should use good planning and figure out exactly how the job will be done before you even open this product.
Ugly and Unstainable
Just like their auto repair compound, this stuff is ugly. It looks nothing like real wood and presents a significant eyesore. However, this won’t be a problem for painted wood. You should not choose this product for treating anything made of stained wood, because it cannot be stained.
This product behaves a little bit differently from the others, but that’s mostly because it’s made of a unique mixture of latex and wood fibers. This gives it many of the same properties as wood, but with the waterproof and impact-resistant nature of latex. This stuff is cheap and readily available, which counts for a lot.
Made With Real Wood
We like the fact that this filler is made with pieces of real wood because that makes it easier to blend it with the existing finish. Obviously, a wood filler will always require some sanding, painting, or other finishing work, but this product should make it a little easier.
On the label, we can see that there are some harsh chemicals in here that make it necessary to avoid breathing the fumes too deeply. Thus, it’s better to use this product outside. Because of its waterproof and flexible nature, latex will hold up to outdoor use much better than other materials. The sun can have a degrading effect on latex over time, but this can be avoided with a thick coat of paint.
We aren’t really sure how this product can be water-soluble and waterproof at the same time, but it seems to be both of these things. It’s water-soluble before curing (for easy cleanup) and totally waterproof once cured. That’s a nice touch indeed.
There are just a few problems with this product. First of all, it has a long drying time. The label says that you have to wait 2-6 hours before sanding, and the full curing process will take about three days. Not so great for people who are in a hurry, but no big deal for those who are not. Also, there is a warranty mentioned on the label, but it doesn’t seem to be very helpful at all.
This product is one that has a very good reputation, and there are reasons for this fact. First of all, the cost is quite reasonable. However, I can tell that this filler is suited for those who need to buy in bulk. They do offer an 8-ounce size, but you will get a much better value by buying a quart or more. This makes it a great choice for professionals who have large jobs to accomplish.
Unlike most wood fillers, this one has a money-back guarantee with a very long term. They will guarantee the results of the product for up to a year, and that means that they have a lot of confidence in the product. Of course, all such guarantees come with conditions. Therefore, you should always make sure to read the fine print.
Another great thing about this product is the fact that its shelf life is extremely long. In fact, I would say the shelf life is almost infinite because of one simple fact: When the product dries out, you can easily refresh it by adding a little water and giving it time to soak into the filler. That’s another reason to go ahead and buy the larger bucket.
Of course, there are some downsides to this water-solubility. Because this filler can absorb water (even after it has fully cured), it is not well-suited for outdoor projects. It also might cause some issues in humid environments. This filler also doesn’t cure as hard as most of our other products, so it might have trouble holding a screw or other anchoring device.
Resists Temperature Changes
Although it is not that resistant to water, this product does do a good job of resisting temperature extremes. It does not expand and contract like many other fillers, and this means less chance that it will come loose. Because of its relatively soft consistency, it is very easy to sand, and that makes it great for cosmetic repairs.
Elmer’s is known as one of the most trusted manufacturers of glue, so I have high expectations for this product. Overall, it is a very good product. First of all, the price is extremely reasonable…in fact, it’s the cheapest item on our list in terms of cost per ounce.
Strong And Hard
This is a very strong wood filler that dries very hard. Once cured, it will probably be harder than the surrounding wood. This hardness is very handy for those instances where the filler has to be carved. For instance, let’s say you are fixing some decorative trim. If your filler is too soft, it will deform and break off in chips when you break out the carving blade. If you try to use an electric tool (like a Dremel), it will absolutely fall to pieces. However’ Elmer’s filler is strong enough for even the finest of details.
One of the reasons for the high strength of this filler is the fact that it contains real wood. No, it doesn’t contain chips of wood, as that would be a pain to use. Instead, it contains wood fibers that have been separated, allowing them to be mixed easily with the filler.
I can also tell that this product contains some glue (not surprising when you consider the maker), and this is a very good thing. Unlike some wood fillers, this one is very sticky and wants to stay firmly in place once applied. This stickiness has a price, however. When you try to fill a deep hole (meaning 2 inches or deeper) with this putty, the thick and sticky consistency makes it very hard to fill the hole.
A Couple Complaints
One frequent complaint with this product comes from its packaging. The lid makes an airtight seal, but the seal is completely ruined if you happen to get any putty around the lip of the container. As you might guess, it’s very hard to avoid getting filler on the rim of the package. Thus, I would recommend putting this stuff in a small plastic bag.
As the name of this product implies, it is intended for jobs that require maximum strength. They have prioritized that quality over others, and that is plain to see. If you need a filler that can hold a screw or nail in place, this one should do the job. Unless the anchor is holding some serious weight, you should have no worries. Usually, the harder varieties of wood filler will be more brittle and vulnerable to cracking, but this one seems to be an exception. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor jobs because it resists water like a champ and won’t expand or contract when the temperature changes.
Might Not Require Painting
Like most Mixwax fillers, this one is available in a wide variety of colors and shades. However, most people are probably going to paint over the filler anyway. Still, you might be able to save yourself some time and effort on painting if you choose the right shade. Speaking of saving time, this one is very quick-drying, and that gives it some real points in the convenience department.
Works Like Epoxy
This stuff dries very quick because it is a two-part mixture. Like an epoxy glue, it has to be mixed with a hardener in order to cure. The hardener is included with the package, so at least you don’t have to spend any more money. It is kind of a pain to mix, due to its thickness and the difficulty of estimating the right amount. Once you mix this stuff, it will begin to harden within 15 minutes and becomes hard enough for sanding in only 30 minutes.
Bonds To All Common Materials
This is a good choice for repairing things that are made of mixed materials. Of course, these products are mostly intended to be used on wood, but many products are made of a mixture of wood and other materials. This filler bonds well with metal, concrete, ceramics, fiberglass, and just about anything else.
Not A Great Bulk Value
There are some problems with this product as well. For one thing, it’s kind of expensive. You can only buy it in 6-ounce or 12-ounce sizes, and that can be a problem for large jobs. This wouldn’t be the best choice for a professional due to the way it is sold and priced. All that mixing will also take a little more time and introduces another chance for a mistake to be made.
This is one of the cheapest and simplest products on the list. It’s just a squeezable tube filled with a mixture of wood putty and glue. In many ways, it is quite similar to the Elmer’s product that we examined earlier. It is made with reconstituted wood fibers for maximum strength, is made from a non-toxic and non-irritating formula, and becomes very hard and strong once dried.
Stainable And Sticky
This one is advertised as a “stainable” wood filler, and it lives up to those claims. You can use virtually any kind of stain on this putty, and it should come out looking just like the surrounding wood. The sticky consistency is also a plus, as it bonds more effectively with the surface of the wood and won’t fall out during the drying process. A lot of fillers have a problem with falling out of place as they dry, especially when used on vertical surfaces like walls.
Because Elmer’s made this one from a non-toxic formula (just like their glue), you don’t have to worry about any noxious fumes or environmental hazards. Also, clean-up is very easy because this stuff can be dissolved by water until it cures.
Only Good For Small Jobs
This one is really good for small jobs, as it will give you just what you need with no wasted money. However, the bulk price for this product is very high. If you tried to get a quart of this stuff, you would end up paying about twice as much as the most expensive item on our list, so don’t buy this stuff if you need a bunch.
The applicator tip is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the thin point of the tip makes it easier to get this filler into narrow cracks and crevices. On the other hand, the lid does not create an airtight seal. As a result, this stuff will dry out pretty quick once it is opened. Without additional steps from you, this is basically a single-use container.
This filler is by far one of the cheapest products on the list and is only sold in small containers. However, it cannot be used in the same way as other fillers. When you need something that will fill an unsightly crack or hole, you don’t really need one of these super-strong wood fillers. That’s where you can save some time and money by using this one.
Does Not Harden
The most distinctive thing about this product is the fact that it is a non-hardening filler. Unless you mix it with some kind of glue, it will not maintain a putty-like consistency. By itself, this putty cannot be painted, but it will adhere to a primer, which will then allow you to paint over the product.
Unlike some products on the list, this one comes in a container with a threaded cap that seals very easily. As long as you are careful not to get any putty in the threads, it will create a good airtight seal every time. Also, since it’s non-hardening, you don’t have to worry about the product drying up anyway.
Lots Of Colors
Like the other Minwax product we saw, this stuff is available in a wide variety of colors. This allows you to match your product with the existing color of the wood and avoid the need for painting. Since this filler requires an extra step (adding primer) in order to paint it, that is a very good thing.
Handy, But Limited
Of course, this product is not well-suited to anything except cosmetic repairs. It will work fine if you just want to fill in some unsightly nail/tack holes, but don’t expect it to take any real weight. Don’t try to put nails or screws in this stuff, as it will not hold. Of course, there is no reason that you could not mix this stuff with some kind of glue so that it can be used for tougher jobs. If you feel like experimenting with different types of glue mixtures, this is a great raw material with which to do so.
It would be far too long and boring to list all the ways in which wood filler can be used. When you consider all the things we use that are made of wood, you realize that such a list could go on for a very long time. Not only can it be used to make damaged wood look new, but it can also make a weakened piece of wood strong again. Of course, it’s not a good idea to trust wood putty when you are dealing with load-bearing timbers. Even for these, however, a wood filler can be used to strengthen and beautify the surface. We thank you for reading this article all the way through, and we wish you the best of luck.