Wood Putty vs Wood Filler: The Key Differences

Wood Putty vs Wood Filler: The Key Differences


When it comes to fixing cracks, holes and missing chunks of wood around the home, many DIYers are unsure which product they should be using; wood putty or wood filler? It's a good question - after all, both products serve similar purposes and can fill in the gaps. But there are some differences between them that you should consider when deciding which one is right for your job. We will explain what those differences are and how to choose between the two.

What is Wood Putty?

Wood putty is a substance commonly used to fill any imperfections in wood such as small cracks or holes. The putty comes in different colors to match most shades of wood, making the final result virtually undetectable. It’s easy to spread, moldable, and dries with a durable finish making it an ideal product for touch-ups when working with wood pieces.

wood putty

When Should you Use Wood Putty

Wood putty may be used to:

  • Repairing flaws in wood such as cracks and holes in wood surfaces such as furniture, floors, and walls.
  • Filling exterior woodwork gouges and splits. It is usually necessary to paint it when utilized in this manner.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Wood Putty


  • It is less expensive than the filler.
  • It is available in a variety of colors to match the finish of the wood.
  • It's great for situations where the wood expands and shrinks with variations in temperature and humidity because it remains flexible and bends.

Note:  If it dries out while stored, a little acetone can bring it back to life.


  • Most paints and stains will not stick to it and will not color well.
  • It requires quite a while to dry.
  • It cannot be sanded.
tools on top of wooden flooring

What is Wood Filler?

A wood filler is often a combination of wood fibers and a hardening binder. The binder might be water-based or petroleum-based. A water-based filler is typically dry and may need a little bit of water to reach the proper consistency. The texture of a petroleum-based wood filler is smoother, and therefore easier to work with. Water-based fillers are easily cleaned with soap and water, but petroleum-based fillers need a chemical solvent.


When Should you Use Wood Filler

  • Standard one-part wood filler is excellent for repairing interior woodwork prior to staining and finishing. It is suitable for repairing cracks, dents, and splits in unfinished wood.
  • Repairing any gaps or holes in your wooden floorboards.
  • Restoring and shaping damaged tabletops, countertops, and shelves.

Two-part wood fillers  incorporate a hardener that transforms the filler into a rock-hard material ideal for drilling and holding screws. Two-part fillers may be used both inside and outside and are similar to wood putty as they are solid, non-porous, and typically can't be stained though they can be sanded.

a person using wood filler to fix cracks in wood

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Wood Filler


  • It can be sanded and painted.
  • It dries rapidly.


  • It cannot be used outside.
  • Unable to hold stains well.
cracked wood

Ultimately, choosing between wood putty and wood filler comes down to what your specific needs are for the project you’re working on. Both products offer an easy solution for repairing imperfections in wood furniture and other projects, but the type of repair will determine which type is most suitable. With the right product selection and some patience, you can make your wood pieces look brand new again in no time.