Wood Putty vs. Wood Filler

When you are building a project using wood, there will invariably be instances where you will see either the top of the screw head, or a small hole within the wood where you had to use a nail. When you have a finished project, there is nothing that will distract from it more than when you have open holes within the wood pieces you are using. There are a few different ways in which you can help eliminate the holes within the projects; the two main products used are wood putty and wood filler.How do you know which one is better to use for the project you are working on? Is there a significant difference between the two, and will those differences have a big impact upon how your project will look when it is complete? Let’s take a look at the characteristics of each product category, as well as providing reviews within each category. We’ll then provide a comparison table, so you can easily tell the differences between the various products.

ProductPriceProduct SizePainted and Sanded?Interior and Exterior?Available in Wood Colors?
Elmer’s Carpenters Wood Filler $6.73
½ PintYesNoYes
J-B Weld Epoxy Putty $5.78
1 or 2 ouncesYesYesYes
Dap Plastic Wood Filler $7.98
4 or 16 OuncesYesYesYes
3M Bondo Putty $11.97
1-QuartOnly PaintedYesNo

Wood Putty

This product can be comprised of a few different kinds of materials, but the typical ingredient found within Wood Putty is wood dust. This dust is very fine, and is easy to manipulate as a great compound to help fill in all the gaps of any hold found within the project. In addition to dust, the putty is helped kept together by using a binding agent as well as a thinner.
Wood Putty is also available in a variety of colors, which makes this filling agent a very versatile solution to your needs. Especially if you are attempting to fill the holes in after you have stained the wood, which is not recommended. But, if that is the situation you find yourself in, then you should be able to find a color which matches the stain color you have chosen.
When using Wood Putty, it is best to apply the putty before you stain the wood. This way, you can apply the wood putty and then sand it down properly and have it blend in to the wood better. If you wait to apply the wood putty until after you have stained the wood, your color will be close, but it’ll be nearly impossible to exactly match the color of the stain you choose. Even if you have the same brand of stain and wood putty, they are made out of different materials and therefore will not match exactly.

Wood Filler

A wood filler is typically made up of three different components, which include some form of a solvent, a bulking agent and an agent which will bind it all together. A wood filler can be used to fill holes, but it is actually better used to fill pores within the wood surface to create a smooth and clean surface. The wood filler is a great product to use for wood surfaces which are very porous, like an oak, walnut or an ash wood material.
If you have a wood surface which has a very tight surface which does not have many pores, than going with a wood filler is not the best option. Using a wood filler will cause your surface to be uneven, and if you have to sand it down, you could do more damage to the wood by digging down deeper into the wood. You should sand the surface lightly before applying any wood filler, so it can reach deep into the pores as possible.
The wood filler acts as a way to cover any blemishes within the surface of the wood. When you apply the wood filler, you can brush it on both with the grain, and against the grain. Once it has dried, it can be brushed off using something besides sandpaper. This is typically a microfiber rag, or some burlap which will help get the excess off without damaging the wood any further. You should not use steel wool or any other harsh or abrasive finishing tool, as you run the risk of damaging the wood further than what it was initially.

Product Reviews and Comparison Table

Here are some reviews of each type of product, with a Comparison table following so you can easily compare these products to each other.

Last update on 2017-03-24 at 03:07 PST - Details

Elmer’s Carpenters Wood Filler

Elmer's E848D12 Carpenter's Wood Filler 1/2-Pint
208 Reviews
Elmer's E848D12 Carpenter's Wood Filler 1/2-Pint
  • Paintable and sandable
  • Sands easily to a smooth finish
  • Resists shrinking and cracking
  • Easy water clean-up
  • This is an aftermarket of generic part

Last update on 2017-03-24 at 03:07 PST - Details

This wood filler product from Elmer’s is intended to be a carpenter’s best friend. It is easy to use and apply, and can be painted and sanded over. When you sand it, it will be as smooth as the wood surface around it, making it seems as if the filler is actually part of the wood. Over time, this product will not crack, nor will it wither, meaning you can have complete confidence in knowing this is a great long-term solution to help you with your project.

  • Pros
    • Can be applied with a putty knife or any other similar tool
    • Can be sanded to a smooth and clean finish
    • Is paintable, and will not look differently compared to wood material around this filler
    • Will not crack or wither over time
  • Cons
    • Will not mirror any kind of wood grain
    • Not for things with heavy use or traffic, like hardwood floors

J-B Weld Wood Repair, Epoxy Putty

J-B Weld 8257 KwikWood Wood Repair Epoxy Putty - 1 oz
165 Reviews
J-B Weld 8257 KwikWood Wood Repair Epoxy Putty - 1 oz
  • Sets in 20 minutes and paintable in 1 hour
  • Easy to sand and drill
  • Will not shrink or crack
  • Repair and rebuild anything made of wood
  • Fix window or door frames, insect damage, furniture and carvings, screw holes, dry rot and knotholes

Last update on 2017-03-24 at 03:07 PST - Details

J-B Weld has this Wood Putty within the marketplace, which is sure to help you find a solution for any of your wood projects. This putty will set very quickly, as it will ready to sand in 20 minutes, and within one hour you can paint over it. Because of the epoxy material, this putty will not shrivel over time, nor will it crack, giving you the confidence needed for your long-term use. This epoxy can be used to rebuild or repair any kind of wood project, no matter the type of wood that is used for the project.

  • Pros
    • Is paintable and sand-able in a very quick and reasonable amount of time
    • Because of how hard it sets, you can drill into it as needed
    • Can be used to fix projects which are within the exterior or interior of your living space
    • Is a great solution for any type of wood type
  • Cons
    • Only comes in one or two ounce packages
    • Remaining amount can be reused within only a short amount of time (typically a week)

Dap Plastic Wood Filler

Dap 21506 Plastic Wood Filler, 16-Ounce
163 Reviews
Dap 21506 Plastic Wood Filler, 16-Ounce
  • This product is a 16Oz Nat Plastic Woodfiller
  • Purpose of use for Glue, wood-fill
  • Manufactured in the United States
  • Top-selling wood filler
  • Handles as easy as putty and when it hardens, it's just like wood

Last update on 2017-03-24 at 03:07 PST - Details

This wood filler from Dap is a great solution for when you need to also bond a couple of pieces of wood together. While in the container, it will act very moldable and putty like; once it is applied to pieces of wood, it will harden just has hard as the piece of wood it is with. Not only can you sand and paint over this product, but you can also drill into it, plane it, saw thru it and even apply varnish as needed. Can be used on a variety of wood projects, including fences and furniture, and is great to help fill in cracks, gaps and gouges.

  • Pros
    • Can be used for both Interior and Exterior projects
    • Easy to work with, hardens as hard as the wood it is applied to
    • Not only can it be painted upon once dry, but it can be sanded and varnished as needed
    • Great for bonding pieces of wood together
  • Cons
    • Only available in 4 and 16 ounce cans (but does come with a lid similar to a paint can)
    • Will not match the grain within any pieces of wood

3M Bondo Home Solutions Putty

3M Bondo Home Solutions All Purpose Putty, 1-Quart
73 Reviews
3M Bondo Home Solutions All Purpose Putty, 1-Quart
  • Use on driveways, walls, damaged chimneys, gutters, knotholes, damaged tiles, shingles fencing, windowsills, doors and more.
  • 1 Quart Can

Last update on 2017-03-24 at 03:07 PST - Details

This putty solution from 3M is designed not only for wood, but can be used on a variety of different projects around the house. This putty is intended to be a permanent solution to the problem you face, and can be used across a large assortment of projects, including those which are found outside as well as inside your living space. This putty will not wither on you over time, so you can feel confident that when you finish the project the first time, there won’t need to be a second time.

  • Pros
    • Putty will not wither on you over time
    • Can be used across a large spectrum of projects
    • Available in a 1-Quart size, with a sealable lid
    • It is Paintable
  • Cons
    • This product will not produce a smooth finish once sanded
    • Because it is not wood specific, it will not match your wood color, so you have to have a project in which you will be re-painting or re-staining, otherwise the putty will seem very out of place


When it comes to figuring out which is the better solution for you between Wood Filler and Wood Putty, it truly depends upon how much time do you have, and how big is the hole you are attempting to fill? In addition to this, the type of wood you are working with is a vital component, as if you use the wrong type of product with the wood, it’ll make it look worse rather than better. Once you have determined if you are going to use a wood filler or a wood putty, you can check out the four products which are reviewed and see which one offers you the best solution to meet the needs of your project. Once you have picked one out and have used it, please let us know which one you went with so we can then share that information with others. Good luck to you on completing your next wood project!

Thomas Roberge

This website was created and is supported by a person who has been in the business of working with power tools, dedicated to home improvement projects both professionally and for the do it yourself type of person.

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