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Wood Putty vs. Wood Filler; Is there a Difference?

Learn the difference between wood putty vs. wood filler and how and when to use each.

Up until I started repairing wood furniture, I thought that wood putty was wood filler. After all, they are both a putty like substance that fill holes in wood right? I have made the mistake of using them interchangeably and I’m here to tell you the right way to use each so you won’t make the same mistakes I have.

What is the difference between wood putty vs. wood filler

Wood filler is used to “fill” large gaps in wood and maintain the integrity because it hardens as it dries. Think of wood filler as something used to fill a large imperfection in a wood piece. Wood filler is sometimes called plastic wood because it hardens and acts like real wood and can be sanded, stained and finished like real wood.

Wood putty on the other hand, is a non-hardening, pre-mixed putty that repairs small holes and other minor imperfections. Wood putty comes in an array of different colors and finishes that will match the color of the existing wood. Because it doesn’t harden like wood filler, it won’t shrink or crack. The downside to this is that you can’t sand it or refinish it.

When to use wood putty

Wood putty is best used for smaller jobs like covering nail holes and small cracks in the wood. The one good thing about it not completely hardening is that it will expand and contract with temperature changes. This makes it a good choice to use on outside wood projects.

Keep in mind that most wood putty comes in an already mixed color that’s not sand-able or paintable (for the most part).

When to use wood filler

Wood fillers should be used for larger, indoor wood projects like filling large holes in a wood floor or a decent sized dent in a piece of furniture.

It works great on unfinished projects because you can sand it down, stain it or paint it as you finish the entire piece of wood.

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Is Bondo a good wood filler?

Bondo was originally created for auto body repair. That being said, its ability to mold to any shape and dry hard make it a fantastic product to use to repair furniture.

Bondo also can repair rotted wood! It comes in a stabilizing liquid that penetrates soft, spongy, rotted wood fibers and transforms it to a hard surface.

Wood filler products

When looking for fillers for wood projects, there are a ton of products on the market. Here are a few of my favorites and the best wood fillers.

  • FamoWood Latex Wood filler– This is a quick drying latex wood filler that can be sanded, painted or stained. It comes highly recommended with great reviews on Amazon.
  • Goodfilla Water Based Wood filler– This is also a highly rated water based, sandable wood filler that accepts any finish or stain. Because it’s water based, it’s a green product; Zero VOC, zero waste and non-toxic.
  • Minwax stainable wood filler– This is another great stainable and paintable wood filler. It is a latex formula making cleanup easy. You CAN use this to hold screws and nails.
  • DAP Natural Latex Plastic Wood– This wood filler is created from a plastic compound which makes it a great choice if you need a super durable finish. It has a dry time indicator meaning it goes on pink and dries white so you know exactly when it’s dry.

Wood putty products

Below are a few of my favorite wood putty products.

  • Bondo glazing and spot putty– This is a versatile formula that repairs scratches, pinholes, and nicks. It’s fast drying and sandable in 30 minutes. You can paint over it but it’s NOT stainable.
  • Color Putty Color blend kit– If you are looking to repair wood floors or wood furniture and need to match the finish perfectly, this color blend kit works great. This is an oil based product so cleanup isn’t as easy. The colors can be blended to create a custom finish.
  • Mohawk Fill Stick Furniture and cabinet touch up putty- These putty sticks are great for small nicks and scratches on wood furniture and wood floors. These putty sticks are NOT sandable or paintable as they already come in premixed colors.
  • Minwax Wood Putty– This is a NON hardening wood putty product that is made to match the Minwax wood finish stains. It comes in a variety of colors that match the Minwax stain colors. This product is NOT stainable or sandable.
Wood filler vs. wood putty

Creating and maintaining beautiful wood is all about choosing the right products. I hope I’ve shed some light on the difference between these two compounds. It’s easy to get them confused (as I’ve done).

Thanks for stopping by,


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