Best Wood Filler For DIY – 2020 Buyers Guide & Reviews

Best Wood Filler for DIY and Woodworking in 2020

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Wood’s natural look and texture add warmth and grace to any setting both indoors and out, but it’s not uncommon for wood to get dinged, chipped, or nailed full of holes. Such an event demands the intrepid DIYer to roll up her sleeves, find the best wood filler, and fix what time, elements, or clumsiness have ravaged. This review and buyer’s guide answers all your questions, including how to use wood filler.

PRODUCT FEATURES
Minwax 21600000 Wood Filler - Best Wood Filler for DIY and Woodworking in 2020Minwax 21600000 Wood Filler
  • Indoors and outdoors: Both
  • Stainable: No
  • Dry time: 15 minutes
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Bondo 20082 Wood Filler - Best Wood Filler for DIY and Woodworking in 2020Bondo 20082 Wood Filler
  • Indoors and outdoors: Both
  • Stainable: No
  • Dry time: 15 minutes
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FamoWood 40022126 Latex Wood Filler - Best Wood Filler for DIY and Woodworking in 2020FamoWood 40022126 Latex Wood Filler
  • Indoors and outdoors: Both
  • Stainable: Yes
  • Dry time: 15 minutes
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Elmer's E855 Carpenter's Wood Filler - Best Wood Filler for DIY and Woodworking in 2020Elmer's E855 Carpenter's Wood Filler
  • Indoors and outdoors: Indoors
  • Stainable: Yes
  • Dry time: 12-24 hours
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DAP 00585 Latex Wood Filler - Best Wood Filler for DIY and Woodworking in 2020DAP 00585 Latex Wood Filler
  • Indoors and outdoors: Both
  • Stainable: Yes
  • Dry time: 2-6 hours
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Benefits and Applications of Wood Filler

Different wood fillers can be used for different applications. Here are the main reasons you might want to use it:

  • Clean-up: Wood surfaces get dirty; water-based wood fillers act as a safe and effective agent to clean wood without damaging the texture or coating.
  • Covering Scratches: If you have pets, your wood furniture might have a few claw and bite marks.
  • Smoothing Pores. A thin layer of wood filler is a first step to smooth rough surfaces and coarse wood grain. Once it sets, a good polish takes care of the rest. In most cases, you’ll be doing that as part of the regular wood maintenance work to keep your furniture looking its best.
  • Fixing Rotten Wood. This is where plastic wood filler can come in handy. It covers the rotten parts and can even hold a screw.
  • Filling Holes. When it comes to filling holes, a 2-part epoxy filler gets the job done. It bonds with the wood and maintains a uniform structure and looks even after a good sanding or staining.

Wood Filler vs. Wood Putty

Wood Putty on a scraperIf you have never used wood filler before, you might confuse it with wood putty. Or you might use one when you should be using the other. In a nutshell, wood putty is a calcium carbonate and oil compound that can only be used on oil-based finishes.

Wood putty isn’t as versatile as wood fillers and it takes longer to set. It’s more suitable for outdoor applications as it is weather resistant. Another advantage is its low cost. If you have a large wooden floor project, you would often turn to wood putty since it’s cheaper compared to filler.

Wood fillers work with just about any type of wood scratch, blemish, gouge, rot, or hole. They spread easily over wooden surfaces and their cure time is relatively short. All of this points to the simple fact that in most cases, wood fillers will be your first choice when you want to smooth, heal, fix, and cover wood flaws.

Key Features In Wood Filler

The sheer number of filler products can be overwhelming. It’s not easy to know which would work best for your specific repair job. The following features should guide you.

Dry Time

The more experienced you are with DIY wood repair, the better you can handle a filler with quick dry-time (like vinyl-based fillers). Dry time varies widely: as short as 15 minutes or as long as a few hours. You should also keep in mind that thick layers of filler take longer to set than thin ones.

Color

Color is something to consider whether you plan to paint the filled area. If not, you should choose a filler with a color that matches the original piece. If so, aim for one that is either white or comes in a hue lighter than the color of the wood and make sure the package is labeled “paintable” or “stainable.”

Consistency

Wood fillers come in two consistencies: either putty-thick or pancake-batter thin. You should choose the right consistency for the job. Thick fillers are good for filling holes while thin ones are for covering pores and wood blemishes. That said, if you only have a thick filler when a thin consistency is needed, you may be able to dilute with water or other solvents.

Task

Most wood fillers in the market are job-specific. That means they are more suited for certain tasks such as filling holes, fixing gouges, or covering pores and minor flaws. A filler geared toward filling divots, for example, has coarse particles that don’t fit well when used on a gouge or open grain wood.

How To Use Wood Filler

Wood Filler Repair

The process of applying wood fillers is simple, although it involves several steps and, because of the nature of filler, time is of the essence. Make sure you’ve prepared everything, including the filler, solvents, a putty spatula, and a putty knife, before starting.

  1. Sand down the surface thoroughly to ensure a tight bond.
  2. Before you apply the wood filler, you’ll need to prepare it first. This involves mixing your filler of choice with the right solvent. You can use a putty spatula to make sure the filler and solvent are well-mixed. Aim for a malleable and consistent substance that suits the task. If it’s too thin it won’t cure well, and if it’s too thick it won’t fit and might crack.
  3. Keep in mind that most fillers harden quickly, so you only have a small window of time between preparing the filler and applying it.
  4. Use the putty knife to apply the filler on the surface in the right amount. Don’t use pressure on the filler. Let it seep into the holes or cracks naturally.
  5. Let the filled wood dry.
  6. Give the surface a good sanding to smooth the rough edges and remove any excess filler.
  7. Apply paint or stain as needed.

As a pro tip, it’s always better to give the filler enough time to dry regardless of the time advertised on the package. A good bet is 24 hours from the time you’re done applying the filler. This gives the cured filler enough time to bond with the wood and prevents cracking.

Top 5 Wood Fillers

Minwax 21600000 High-Performance Wood Filler

Minwax works indoors and outdoors. It is durable, dries quickly (between 10 and 15 minutes to fully set), and can be sanded. In fact, you can start to sand it as soon as half an hour after it has hardened, so you won’t have to wait days to finish your repair job.

You can drill it, carve it, screw into it, or plane it just like a piece of wood. And because it is weather-resistant you can use it with outdoor furniture. In addition, the filler doubles as an adhesive, which comes in handy when repairing different materials such as metal, concrete, or tiles.

Minwax 21600000 High-Performance Wood Filler
    This filler is extremely versatile. You can use it to repair and glue different materials, not just wood which saves you time and money. It also comes in different colors and shades so you won’t have to paint the cured filler.

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Bondo 20082, Quart Home Solutions Wood Filler

The Bondo 20082 is good for large repairs as it can be molded to any shape. It won’t crack. It might shrink a bit, which means you will need multiple applications. But that’s not atypical for wood fillers on big jobs.

Its low viscosity means it finds its way into cracks and holes without you having to apply pressure. It sets within 15 minutes, and you can work on it after about 25 minutes. Of course the downside of quick-dry is that you only have a few minutes to use the product after you mix it.

Bondo 20082, Quart Home Solutions Wood Filler
    Bondo’s formula makes it easy for you to repair rotted and damaged wood with less hassle. This non-shrinking filler takes the shape of the missing piece and dries up within 15 minutes. You can use it to fill large holes or small pores and gouges.

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FamoWood 40022126 Latex Wood Filler

FamoWood comes in several colors. What this means is that even though you can paint the cured filler, you may save yourself the trouble by choosing the filler color that matches your job. It’s also a solvent-free filler, which means no awful smells.

FamoWood is also very strong; it resists the weather, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor repair jobs. The lack of a solvent-base doesn’t seem to impact its durability or strength. And since it contains latex, the filler comes ready to use out of the container with no prep or mixing. The set time is 15 minutes, and it cures in a half hour. Once it hardens you can sand it and drill it like you would with normal wood. 

On the downside, FamoWood might not paint well. This has to do with the natural color of the filler interfering with the paint you apply. If you do need to stain it, you should choose a color that matches your piece of furniture but with a lighter shade.

FamoWood 40022126 Latex Wood Filler
    This is a stainable, odor-free, and solvent-free filler that works both indoors and outdoors. It comes in different colors and doesn’t require preparation or premixing. As a latex wood filler, it’s easy to apply, ready to use out of the box, and cures within half an hour.

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Elmer’s E855 Carpenter’s Wood Filler

Elmer’s E855 is filler for beginners. It comes in a small, inexpensive tube, and it’s odorless. It’s paintable–the white is a true, bright white–and it’s absolutely perfect for small jobs. That said, it takes 12 – 24 hours to dry, and might not be the strongest filler on the market. If you’re looking for something heavy-duty to repair a large hole or fix a piece of furniture that is rotten or damaged, Elmer’s E855 isn’t your first choice.

Elmer's E855 Carpenter's Wood Filler
    Elmer’s E855 is an easy to use wood filler. It’s safe and odorless making it the right wood filler for any level of DIY experience. You’d choose it for small wood repair jobs especially if you plan to paint the finished work.

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DAP 00585 Latex 6oz, White All Purpose Wood Filler

What sets the Dap 00585 apart from the rest of the pack is that while it’s latex-based, it also adds wood fibers to the formula to make it as close to wood as possible. The end result is a cured filler that has the appearance and texture of wood but also the water-resistance and sturdiness of latex.

It is strong, durable and it resists shrinking or cracking. You can easily clean it with water before it cures, and once it sets it becomes waterproof.

All that said, the chemicals in the filler have a harsh smell, so please apply it outdoors for better ventilation. Another downside is the long time it takes to dry and cure compared to other products on this list.

DAP 00585 Latex 6oz, White All Purpose Wood Filler
    This product combines both latex and real wood fibers to give you a cured filler that is similar to wood but with the water-resistance qualities of latex. You can use it for outdoor and indoor repairs although it needs hours to harden and a few days to cure.

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Conclusion

While each of the reviewed products have advantages/disadvantages, I recommend the FamoWood 40022126 Latex Wood Filler. Both the FamoWood 40022126 and Elmer’s E855 are odorless but the FamoWood offers various colors and shades. This might save you the trouble and cost of painting the finished wood piece.

Unlike the Minwax, FamoWood 40022126 doesn’t require any complicated preparation and is ready to use out of the container. It hardens in 15 minutes which is faster than both Dap 00585 and Elmer’s E855, and within a half hour you can start working on it.

We would like to hear your thoughts and feedback about your own experience or wood filler preference. Please let us know in the comments section below.

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