Wood filler, or wood putty, is one of the most vital items in the arsenal of any home handyman. If you’re in a hurry, go directly to the PC Products 84113. It allows you to… well, fill in different pieces of wood. Whether it’s a chipped veneer or a hole in a favorite heirloom picking the right filler can allow you to make repairs ranging from substantial to minor while maintaining the overall look and texture of an item but picking the right one out with all the different products on the market can be trying for a novice.
If you want to preemptively handle any situation or have a wide variety of damaged items this kit is just about the only thing that makes sense to add to your toolbox.
Top 5 Wood Fillers
|PC Products 84113||Water and Solvent||Overall Repair Kit||Check Price|
|Elmer’s Carpenter’s||Solvent||Repairs for Painted Objects||Check Price|
|Minwax 21600000||Polymer||Repairs in Rotted Wood||Check Price|
|J-B Weld 8257||Polymer||Serious Repairs||Check Price|
|RamPro Total Furniture||Solvent, Pen-type||Superficial Damage||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Repair Kit
PC Products 84113
Of course, if you’re trying to make sure that you can handle any situation that comes up, a complete kit with tools and different putties makes a lot of sense. This kit comes with both a solvent based and a water based wood filler which will allow you to handle pretty much anything.
It also costs a bit more than when you buy a product directly for a single repair, so keep that in mind.
In this case, the water based filler is awesome for minor damage and you can stain over it since it’s comprised of real wood. Use the solvent based putty for more serious damage.
It also comes with gloves, brushes, and a putty knife which means you won’t have to run to the store at the last minute to make sure that you have everything.
Pros and Cons
- Comes with two wood fillers
- Comes with all tools necessary
- Water based putty can be stained
- Solvent based filler can handle major damage
- Not as good as highly specialized products
- Fillers aren’t strong enough for added hardware
2. Best For Repairing Painted Objects
Elmer's Carpenter's Color Change Wood Filler
This solvent based wood putty from Elmer’s is perfect for those situations where a painted piece of furniture or other object has been damaged. It dries rock hard with minimal shrinkage, making it suitable for even a novice.
It can be sanded and otherwise shaped once it dries as well, which is perfect for those who might be a little bit heavy-handed when it comes time to get their repairs done. In fact, you might even want to do it purposely since it’s easy to work with.
The main flaw is tied to the color changing capability, the wood putty lays on purple but turns white as a visual indicator of it drying. This makes it hard to recommend for those who want a natural looking repair, but it’s awesome for painted furniture.
If you’re repairing a painted wooden object, this is exactly what you’re looking for to get things back to their previous flawless condition.
Pros and Cons
- Lays on thick and even
- Suitable for minor and major repairs
- Can be sanded and shaped
- Minimal shrinking
- No wondering if it’s dry or not
- Dries white
- Very sticky, use a putty knife
3. Best for Repairing Rotted Wood
Minwax 21600000 High-Performance Wood Filler
Inevitably most people will experience rot in one of their favorite wooden pieces of furniture at some point. Since rot spreads, it’s important to make sure that the wood filler you use has anti-rotting properties to keep the damage contained.
Minwax’s High Performance Wood Filler is anti-rot and polymer based. This means you can lay it on after chipping out the majority of the rot without worrying about it and it won’t shrink as it dries like most solvent based putties.
It also hardens quickly, it’s able to be sanded in thirty minutes for most applications. Not having to wait for half the day to finish the job is a definite bonus over some of the other products on the market.
Use Minwax for any kind of rotted damage you might have to handle, this wood putty delivers and you’ll be pleased with the results.
Pros and Cons
- Hardens super fast
- No shrinking
- Hard enough to be screwed into
- Can be hard to work with
- Can dry too fast if you’re not careful
4. Best for Major Repairs
J-B Weld 8257 KwikWood
J-B Weld is best known for the ease of use of their metal repair objects, but their wood repair products are just as good. This stuff is suitable for even major repairs, but the rot-resistant qualities aren’t quite as good as some of the others on the market.
That said, it’s a non-shrinking, polymer based wood putty which hardens within an hour and even has roughly the same density as common wood. This makes it the ideal option for major repairs, since it won’t add weight.
It’s not really stainable, which is unfortunate, but it does dry to a tan color which will fit in well. It’s also strong enough to be drilled or tapped, holding its own as a permanent repair solution.
It’s super simple to use as well, simply cut off a chunk the size you think you’ll need and knead it until it reaches a consistent color and apply it to the workpiece.
This epoxy stick might just be one of the best options for major wood repair around.
Pros and Cons
- Hardens within an hour
- Easy to use
- Tool-less application
- Not super rot resistant
- Can’t be stained
5. Best for Superficial Damage
RamPro Total Furniture Repair System
Not all wood repair is going to be a major task, and in that case these pen type applicators are a great option.
This kit comes with a wide range of colors of fill and touch-ups that’ll let you make quick work of light scratches and even some small gouges without too much difficulty. Don’t bother with a second look if you’ve got serious damage to handle however.
The fill pens can be used to repair damage and come in six different colors to let you closely approximate the stain which already exists on the piece of furniture you’re repairing. The touch-up pens are great for areas where stains have been scratched off.
Be careful to test them on a different piece of wood first, as the colors on the caps aren’t quite true to the end result.
It’s not a good option for serious repairs, but if you want to get things back to looking the way they should then this pen set is the perfect option.
Pros and Cons
- Comes with six different colors
- Filler pens and touch up pens
- Easy to apply
- Instant results
- Not for serious damage
- Cap colors slightly misleading
When to Use Wood Filler
Basically, anytime you have relatively minor damage to a wooden item and want to get it back to looking spic and span, you’re going to end up going with a wood filler.
Many people are surprised that you can use them for some fairly extensive damage as well, but you’ll need to pick the right filler to use in those cases.
Scratches and gouges are one of the most common types of damage which are repaired with fillers but for cosmetic purposes even holes up to an inch or so in diameter can be handled as long as you’re careful with the selection and application of the compound.
Of course, there are limits to what a wood filler can handle, but if you’re on the fence and not looking at a hole the size of your fist then you might be able to make-do as long as you pick out the correct wood putty to handle the job.
Assessing the Damage
There are a few different types of wood filler on the market, but instead of just going over the types, let’s take a look at which type you need to consider.
For scratches and other surface damage a solvent based filler is ideal. These are a little bit thinner than other compounds, so they’re suitable for damage that goes all the way through or large chips but they can definitely let you get the smooth finish you desire.
Make sure that the product you’re using is stainable if it’s on a visible surface. A wood based solvent filler can be re-stained to match the original color of the item you’re repairing. In some cases, particularly scratches which aren’t wide, a wood-stain marker can let you match tones quickly and easily without needing to buy a whole can of stain.
For larger damage, including holes, a polymer based wood putty is the way to go. These are closer to a putty and a lot thicker and can be used to repair larger amounts of damage. They’ll also require more work to use properly, so don’t immediately jump to one of these for minor damage unless you’re willing to put in the work afterwards.
If things are rotted out, then you’ll need to make sure that you use a wood putty with a rot stabilizer. It does you no good to just cover up wood which is already rotting, since it will continue to rot even in anaerobic conditions.
Instead you’ll just be left with a chunk of putty on the floor when it finally gives. A rot stabilizer will help to keep things from continuing and it’s an essential compound to know about if you want to make sure that heirloom furniture piece stays whole, at least to the eye, over time.
Using Wood Filler
Using wood filler isn’t as simple of a fix as some would lead you to believe, but it’s definitely not impossible for even a novice in the DIY-realm.
In the case of larger repairs you’ll often be reshaping the putty after it’s been applied and allowed to dry. In all cases, allow the compound to dry before you begin to work with it. This often means waiting until the outside is hard then walking away for a few more hours.
Solvent based fillers are usually quite thin and stainable ones are ideal for matching tones. You can also opt to use a pre-tinted option and try to match things off as best as possible.
Of course, if you’re painting over it then you’re not likely to have much to worry about other than sanding it down when you’re finished.
One of the tell-tale signs of a repair is often that things are either smoother or rougher than the surrounding area. Don’t let this happen to you, instead you can do one of two things:
- Refinishing the whole surface is a good way to get a great new finish but requires a lot of work and more tools.
- You can carefully blend the grit of sandpaper you use to match the smoothness of the surface as a whole.
The one thing you can’t do is match the grain of the wood in the case of a stained item. Rough replication can be done but it’s outside of the skillset of all but the most dedicated DIYers.
Larger repairs can be a bit hit and miss for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, but it’s not something which is limited to professionals.
Instead of using a thinner, solvent-based wood filler you’ll be using a heavier putty and then placing it in and around the area that you’re looking to repair. Make sure you check for rot before you decide on which product you’re going to apply, rot will continue to spread unabated if you don’t use the correct putty.
From there you’ll be overfilling the hole or missing area of the workpiece, followed by smoothing it out to make it uniform with the rest of the piece.
Many of these fillers will not be able to be stained, so try to match the tone as best as possible if your item is stained. The repair will be a little bit more obvious and in some cases it simply won’t work aesthetically but it’s worth a shot most of the time.
The hardest part of the task is going to be fitting things properly afterwards, using sandpaper is usually your best bet as it will let you shave things down and get rid of any marks left with whatever tool you’ve applied things with.
Just make sure it’s all dry before you attack, however, and you’re well on your way to a fully done repair.