How do you apply wood filler?

When it comes to fixing up your home or getting the most out of a DIY project, there’s nothing quite like wood filler.

Wood putty and wood filler both have their purposes, but they’re very different products. So which one do you use—and how do you know when to use it? Read on for some expert advice on how best to apply wood filler in your home!

What is the best way to apply wood filler?

To apply wood filler, use a putty knife or small paintbrush to spread it in thin layers over the damaged area. If you need to remove excess filler after application, use a damp towel or cloth.

To ensure that your repair is as smooth and uniform as possible, allow each layer of filler to dry completely before applying another one on top of it.

This can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours depending on the drying time for that specific brand and type of wood filler (for example, some have faster drying times than others).

How do you smooth wood filler?

Once the wood filler is dry, you can use a steel wool pad or sandpaper to smooth it out. You can also apply a coat of shellac or varnish over the wood filler to protect it.

Do you need to add water to wood filler?

No! Wood filler is designed to be mixed with water, but adding too much can cause problems. Adding too much water will make the wood filler run down into the hole and out of sight, which makes it difficult to sand and finishes. It can also cause sagging as the mixture dries.

Adding too little water causes cracking or bulging when you try to brush or rub it onto your project because it hasn’t been mixed enough. If this happens, add more wood filler and mix again with a tool like an old credit card until it’s at the right consistency for application.

How do you apply wood putty filler?

The first step is to apply the wood filler. To do this, you’ll need a putty knife. First, take your putty knife and scoop out some wood filler from your bucket or container.

Then, apply it to the cracks by using gentle back-and-forth motions. Once you’ve filled up all of the cracks with wood putty filler, you can use it as an opportunity to smooth over any rough edges on your piece of furniture or project piece that has chipped paint or other imperfections.

The final step before painting is removing excess filler with another clean cloth so that there aren’t any lumps that would show through when you are done painting!

How big of a gap can wood filler fill?

Wood fillers can fill a variety of holes and gaps in wood, drywall, metal, and other surfaces. It’s ideal for filling any hole that’s less than 1/4 inch wide or deep and about 1/16 inch wide or thin.

This includes nail holes, gaps between the molding on furniture or cabinets, cracks in drywall, and even in concrete floors.

Wood filler can also be used to fill large gaps between pieces of wood when you’re building something like a bookshelf from scratch—but it doesn’t have quite as much strength as real wood glue would have, so it won’t work if you’re trying to reattach two pieces together that are already separated (like if your bookshelf fell apart after years of use).

What’s the difference between wood putty and wood filler?

Putty and filler are two types of compounds designed to fill gaps in wood. Putty is softer and easier to work with than the harder filler, making it more appropriate for smaller gaps.

A soft putty with a texture similar to clay can be smoothed into place using your bare hands or a putty knife, while hard fillers are typically mixed with water until they’re thick enough to apply without any tools at all.

Putty fills minor imperfections on the surface of wood; it also helps you conceal nail holes that didn’t get filled correctly when you painted them over.

A filler is used for larger imperfections in wood surfaces like gouges or dings from dropping furniture on your floorboards (useful tip: never drop anything heavy on a wooden floor).

Do I need to prime wood filler before painting?

Yes, you should prime wood filler before painting. Primer will help the wood filler adhere to the wood and make it last longer, as well as protect the wood from water damage and heat damage.

Does wood filler dry hard?

The answer to that question is: it depends on the type of wood filler you’re using. Some types will dry hard, while others don’t.

Here’s a quick rundown of some common types you might encounter and how they dry:

  • Oil-based fillers: These fillers are generally white and smooth, but they can be tinted with pigments for variety in color. They dry very slowly—and sometimes never completely—but require no sanding or preparation before use. Once dry, these fillers are sandable if needed; however, since they’re oil-based, sanding can loosen pieces of filler from your project and cause them to flake off over time.
  • Water-based fillers: These fillers are usually black or brown in color (though there are some other options) and have a more liquid consistency than oil-based products do; this makes them easier to apply with a putty knife or other tool without making too many lumps. Water-based fillers usually require no additional preparation before use except maybe wiping down the surface with dust cloths so there won’t be too much dust floating around while you work on it (this isn’t necessary with an oil-based product).


If you want to learn more about wood filler, check out our blog post How To Choose the Best Wood Filler. We also have a lot of other great tips for your next project, so be sure to check them out!

Photo of author

Martin Flood

Martin Flood has been working in the construction industry for over 20 years as a general contractor with expertise in remodeling projects that are large or small. He has furthered his career by specializing in epoxy resin flooring, providing excellent service to both commercial and residential clients. Martin’s experience enables him to offer professional advice on how to choose the right type of project based on your needs and budget.

Leave a Comment