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Wood Putty vs Wood Filler : Which One You Need | Key Differences

Wood Putty VS Wood Filler

Whenever you start making any product from wood, it is quite possible that there might be any presence of holes and scratches. But to make a flawless product must have to fill those holes or scratches. Therefore, you need to take some kinds of filling materials to fix the defects of wooden items as well as to repair them properly. These wood filling materials are known as wood putty, wood fillers and so on. Both wood putty and wood fillers are very much common names in woodcrafting and woodworking.

Though when it comes to the question of hiding the defects or inconsistencies in the wood or any wooden workpiece, both wood putty and wood fillers do the same job and in most of the cases the duo are the inevitable solutions. Yet there are some differences between the two. It is really important for every woodworker to be aware about the differences of the duo so that they would know their applications and which one to apply for specific kinds of wood fixing or filling.

Therefore, in this article we are going to profile up a few differences between wood putty and wood fillers along with their particular spheres of usage to make up the mistakes and imperfections in your woodworking.

So, let's dive in:

Common differences between wood putty and wood fillers

Wood Filler
Wood Putty

Most of the time wood putty and wood fillers are used interchangeably in order to fulfill the same purpose. Although they serve the same things by concealing the imperfections of the wood but still they are completely distinctive from each other and not both of them are suitable for every woodworking project. Let's figure out some basic differences between wood putty and wood fillers:

  • The very first difference between wood putty and wood fillers is structural difference such as wood putty is made of oil based plastic materials whereas wood fillers are mainly water based.

  • Wood putty can be used for any kind of wooden project and sometimes for some kind of interior and exterior surface repairment and also suitable for use in any kind of weather and environment. But wood fillers are only eligible for interior usage and because of its water based materials it is not applicable to use in wet surfaces.

  • Wood putty is ideal for repairing finished woods and it can not be sanded whereas wood fillers are only applicable to apply on unfinished woods and you can sand those as much as you want.

  • Wood putty never wash out, crack because of expanding or contracting of wood but wood fillers can be cracked eventually because of wood expansion, climate changes etc.

  • Wood putty can resist moisture and become hardened but it never loses its flexibility whereas wet climate and atmosphere can make the wooden surfaces or products moist as wood fillers are water based powder that is compatible to soak moisture from the atmosphere.

  • Wood putty is used for filling the small holes or scratches of the finished wooden products and a little bit of quantity can provide long lasting finishing but wood fillers need to be used in large quantities while applying on unfinished woods and to make up larger inconsistencies of woods as they come in powder forms and need to be made a dough like matter by mixing them with water before application.

  • Any kind of stain or color can not be applied upon wood putty because after applying wood putty on any wooden product gives it smoother finishing and oil based fillings can not hold colors or stains on it. But wood fillers are not as smooth as wood putty. Moreover after sanding those become coarse that make them eligible for holding the wood stains on them.

  • Wood putty comes in small containers with different wooden texture colors which make it a versatile filling agent but wood fillers come in white powder forms.

  • Wood putty takes longer time to be dried after its application but wood fillers take lesser time to get dry unless it is applied upon any moist surface.

  • Wood putty might accumulate environmental dust due to its stickiness and the surface on which the wood putty would be applied becomes dirty because of external dirt. So, you should cover the wooden pieces after filling them with wood putty to make them dry. But wood fillers do not hold external dusts and dirts. If somehow it gets dirty you can remove it by sanding.

  • Wood putty is cost effective whereas wood fillers need to be used in bulk quantity that is not budget friendly as wood putty.

  • Wood putty can be restored by using acetone in its container but wood fillers should be used at once after opening the pouches and they might be hardened if they come closer to the wet atmosphere. After getting stoned up once wood fillers' working ability became lapsed.

  • Wood putty has some adhesive properties which provide a fair grip on the applied wooden surfaces but wood fillers do not contain any kind of glue elements in them. You are required to add externally to make them long lasting.

  • Wood putty comes in cans with a stiff dough like texture so need to mix softener to it while starting application whereas wood fillers come in plastic tubes or pouches and you can control wood fillers consistency.

  • You can not be able to mix wood colors or varnishes to wood putty to create your desired wood stain as its oil based formulation neutralizes the color properties after applying them on wood pieces but you can create your desired wooden shades by mixing different wood stains to wood fillers.

  • Wood putties are only solvent based while wood fillers can be both water based and oil based. That's why some wood fillers are eligible to be used in external woodworks.

  • Most of the wood putties would be applied after staining or varnishing the wood pieces as wood putties contain lots of different chemical formulas that might damage raw woods. But wood fillers are far more safer than wood putties and can be applied on raw and unfinished wood pieces.

  • Wood putties can not be applied with bare hands because of their chemical properties which can cause permanent skin diseases, so you need to take the help of knife like appliance tools to work with wood putties whereas wood fillers are a bit less harmful than the former one and can be applicable with hands. For safety precautions, you can use rubber gloves while working.

Types of Wood Putties and Wood Fillers

Apply Wood Putty

There are various types of wood putties and wood fillers available in the market. The ingredients of wood putties and wood fillers vary from their manufacturers to manufacturers. Moreover, manufacturers follow various methods while producing both the filling materials in the factories.

Wood putties are made of primary components like boiled linseed oil, universal colorants, some kinds of calcium carbonates etc which give wood putty a clay-like consistency and you add water to make it soft. It is able to keep itself wet for a long time. Therefore, if you are working on a project that requires a very quick turnaround, wood putty would not be the ideal choice. You should look for some alternative methods for that. Additionally, wood putty can react differently on different types of woods because of its complex chemical properties, so woodworkers should be careful during its application on wood pieces. It would be better if it is possible to test it on sample wood pieces before applying on final projects. Furthermore, make sure to wipe off the extra residuals of wood putties from wood pieces and sand it finely to get smoother finishes.

Wood fillers are mainly used to camouflage the defects and imperfections of the wood pieces without leaving any visible impacts on them. These are the perfect solutions for concealing the holes, cracks, scratches or scrapes of the wood pieces. Porous woods like oak, ash or walnuts help us to have wood fillers. Wood fillers come in both solvent and water based textures. For larger and heavier woodworking projects you should pick up some oil based wood putties as those are sturdy enough and provide heavy duty longevity. Water based wood fillers are used for lighter and regular basis wooden product repairings. There are several types of wood fillers. You need to choose according to the wood surface or product you are planning to work on. Whatever the type is whether it is solvent or water based if you add some sawdust to wood fillers it will give more natural looks to your products.

Apply Wood Filler

Here are some of the wood fillers listed below:

  • Latex

    Latex is a water based wood filler and very much popular among the woodworkers because of its easier application method. It can be cleaned easily after the completion of the filling process. Latex is widely used for repairing wooden products.

  • Epoxy

    Epoxy is mainly used on unfinished raw timbers to fill their widened cracks and pores. To get the best results after applying epoxy on any wood piece, you are required to sand it well. These kinds of wood fillers might get brittle or crumbly sometimes, so it would be better if you use sealants while working with epoxy fillers.

  • Polyurethane

    Polyurethane protects furniture from moisture, humidity or any other kind of environmental detriment. It is actually used by the woodworkers to save the outermost parts of the wooden products.

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