When wood, whether in a cabinet, floor, or furniture, is exposed to moisture and general wear-and-tear, it can develop cracks, holes, scratches, and other imperfections. That's when you need a wood filler like our top choice, DAP Plastic Wood, which fills in damage, and then can be sanded, stained, or painted as you choose.
Carl Lewis, qualified joiner and owner of DIY website thediyfix.com, recommends, "When picking a wood filler, your choice will depend on whether you intend to paint the wood or stain it. For wood that will be painted, a standard white wood filler is fine. If you intend to stain it, you will need to use a stainable filler. Finally, for repairs on wood that is already stained, you can use a wax or putty filler. You will need to color match these, however, in order to get the best results.”
We evaluated wood fillers based on effectiveness, ease of use, value, and versatility. Here are the best wood fillers you can buy today.
Best Overall: DAP Plastic Wood All Purpose Wood Filler
Contains real wood fibers
Can be nailed or screwed
Can be hard to squeeze out of tube
Few complaints about colors not being as described
What do buyers say? 89% of 3,600+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Coming in as our number one pick is DAP Plastic Wood. This all-purpose, water-based latex wood filler is formulated with real wood fibers. It looks and acts like actual wood, except once it hardens, it's three times as strong. You can sand, drill, cut, stain, and paint it without worrying about splitting, shrinking, or cracking. It even works as a sturdy anchor for nails and screws.
DAP's heavy-duty, professional-grade filler comes in multiple finish colors, including natural, golden oak, red oak, walnut, and white. The no-mix formula makes it easy to spread in an even, smooth layer on your furniture, doors, windows, or woodwork. Because it has little objectionable odor, it's a great choice for interior projects in rooms without windows that easily open. And once you are finished, this wood filler cleans up easily with just soap and water.
Price at time of publish: $10
Best Multi-Use: Minwax Color-Matched Wood Filler
Easy to use
Dries to a natural appearance
If carefully applied, little need for sanding
Somewhat slow dry time
Few complaints that colors didn't dry as described
If you've got multiple projects in mind, reach for Minwax Color-Matched Wood Filler. The reliable no-sand formula fills in cracks, nail holes, gouges, and other defects in finished or unfinished wood both inside and outside your home. It's super-easy to use; just spread it over the damaged area with a putty knife, wait 5 minutes, and then wipe away the excess with a damp cloth. No need for tedious sanding or scraping. Once it's fully dry, which takes two to six hours, depending on the depth of the fill, you can treat it just like regular wood: stain, paint, cut, drill, lacquer, or sand it as you please.
This solvent-free wood filler can be used indoors or outside on a variety of surfaces, like flooring, baseboards, furniture, cabinetry, decking, and doors. It cleans up with soap and water once you've finished your project. Minwax Wood Filler comes in various wood grain colors, as well as plain white.
Price at time of publish: $8
Best Exterior: 3M Bondo Wood Filler
Very strong bond once dry
Resistant to moisture
Can irritate skin, wear gloves when applying
Only one color
For exterior projects, we recommend Bondo Wood Filler. The two-part formula mixes into a wood-like medium-brown hue, and then restores and rebuilds rotting or otherwise damaged wood. You can even use it to fill in entire missing pieces. Once cured, which only takes around half an hour, it is fully bonded to the wood, creating a permanent repair that won't shrink or warp and is resistant to moisture.
Within 15 minutes of application, you can sand it by hand or with a power sander. Wait another 15 minutes, and now it's ready for you to stain or paint as you desire. The acrylic-based wood filler requires lacquer thinner for cleanup. It should be used in an area with good ventilation, whether indoors or outside. Wear gloves while working with this product, as it can irritate your skin.
Price at time of publish: $23
Best Budget: Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Filler Interior
Very easy to use
Thick enough to easily fill deep holes and gouges
Not for exterior use
Can dry and clog inside the tube once opened
If you need to patch damaged wood inside your home, and want to watch your budget, the best choice is Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Filler Interior, which is a solvent-free, low-odor wood filler that dries to a smooth finish within 12 to 24 hours. This little tube makes it easy to apply to cracks, splits, and holes on your wooden surfaces, whether furniture, trim, or floors. It has a thick texture, which makes it suitable for holes or gouges that are fairly deep, but can be a little trickier over shallow scratches.
It's formulated to resist cracking and shrinking and can be sanded to a perfectly smooth finish. Once dry, you can paint over the white color to match your floorboards, molding, cabinets, doors, or furniture. You can drive nails or screws into it, as well. This reasonably priced wood filler cleans up easily with soap and water.
Price at time of publish: $5
Best for Flooring: Coconix Professional Floor and Furniture Repair Kit
Can mix to match just about any color of stain or paint
Excellent for covering scratches in floors and furniture
Slow to dry
Not the best for deep, large repairs
Hardwood floors have a beauty that can't be matched by man-made materials, but unfortunately, wood does scratch, especially if you have pets or kids who roughhouse indoors. Luckily, there's Coconix Floor and Furniture Repair Kit. This easy-to-use wood filler is great to have on hand for when you need to tend to chips, dents, and scratches on your hardwood floors. The kit includes ten mixable colors, including five common wood stains, black, red, blue, yellow, and white, allowing you to mix the perfect shade to match your flooring or other wooden item.
The product brushes onto small scratches, but the kit also comes with wood putty for mending deeper cracks and divots. As the name suggests, you can use the kit to fill in imperfections on furniture as well. The kit includes helpful instructions for mixing the various included colors to match any wood tone, whether natural or painted. However, once dry, you can paint over this product if desired.
Price at time of publish: $20
Best for Kitchen Cabinets: Aqua Coat Water-Based Gel Cabinet Grain Filler
Covers wood grain very smoothly
Quick dry time
Covers wood grain, does not fill large blemishes or cracks
If your wooden kitchen or bathroom cabinets have seen better days, and you want to cover up the wood with paint, here's the product you need to create a smooth, perfect surface that hides the wood grain beneath. Note that this isn't wood filler for treating cracks, holes, or other obvious damage; it's a grain sealer. That means you'll need to first fill any large damage with regular wood filler before applying Aqua Coat Cabinet Grain Filler.
The product is a water-based, low-VOC, and low-odor filler, so you can work in the kitchen comfortably. It dries within an hour or so, after which you can apply another coat if needed, or go ahead to lightly sand the cabinets, apply primer, and then paint as desired. The Aqua Coat product itself is white, which makes it easier to see how effectively you're covering the wood grain, but it can be painted any color you choose once dry. It cleans up with soap and water once you're done.
Price at time of publish: $47
Best Stainable: Elmer's Carpenter's Stainable Wood Filler
Contains real wood fibers for realistic look and performance
Bonds very hard
Can be nailed or screwed
Once opened, it tends to dry out inside the container
Elmer's Carpenter's Stainable Wood Filler is an impressive product. Containing actual wood fibers, it looks and acts like the real thing, only stronger. The non-structural formula effortlessly fills in gouges, cracks, and holes on indoor and outdoor surfaces, including furniture, trim, and floors. Shallow repairs can cure in as little as 15 minutes, but deep holes and gouges should be allowed to cure for up to 8 hours before proceeding to sand the area.
Once dry, Elmer's Carpenter's Stainable Wood Filler can be sanded by hand or with a high-speed sanding tool. Then, go ahead and cover it with stain or paint; it will adhere to either just like real wood. Plus, it sturdily holds nails and screws and resists cracking and shrinking over time. This solvent-free wood filler cleans up with soap and water.
Price at time of publish: $15
Best for Big Jobs: Gork's Goodfilla Water Based Wood & Grain Filler
Large range of colors, plus can be painted, stained, or tinted
Can be nailed or screwed
Dries to very hard bond
Very thick, so can be tough to spread
For bigger projects, such as a wood floor with heavy damage, furniture that's seen better days, or wooden trim that's been attacked by woodpeckers or water, we recommend getting a tub of Goodfilla Wood & Grain Filler. The water-based formula fills and conceals cracks, holes, knots, and splits on a variety of surfaces. It comes in three sizes (8 ounces, 1 quart, or 1 gallon), so you should have plenty to cover one or more large jobs. It's available in several different wood tones.
This amazingly versatile wood filler does just about anything you need it to; smooth it over light damage, use it to fill in holes or deeper blemishes, or water it down to use as a grain concealer before painting wooden surfaces. However you use it, it dries quickly, it's easy to sand, and you can rest assured it won't crack, sink, or shrink. Additionally, it can be stained or painted once it cures. You can even tint it before it's applied.
Price at time of publish: $55
Best for Small Jobs: Rust-Oleum Varathane Fill Stick for Wood Repair
Wide range of realistic wood tones
Very easy to use
Won't cover large holes or damage
For smaller projects and touch-ups, your best bet is a Varathane Fill Stick. It comes in ten realistic-looking colors to match most wood grains and finishes. This isn't a wood filler for deep gouges or holes larger than nail holes; it's for smoothing over scratches and other surface imperfections, including nail holes, on wood floors, furniture, trim, and cabinets.
This pocket-sized wood filler applies like a marker or crayon. It's wax-based formula dries in as little as 10 minutes, leaving smooth realistic results that make it hard to know there was ever any wood damage at all. It's perfect to keep on hand for touching up any wooden surfaces in your home, especially if you have active children or pets prone to scratching the floors or furniture.
Price at time of publish: $10
Best for Painting: FamoWood Wood Filler
Wide range of realistic colors
Dries very hard
Can be difficult to open container
FamoWood is a professional-grade latex wood filler. It can be applied to both interior and exterior surfaces and dries in just 15 minutes. Whether you are filling in a large gouge in a wooden floor or table, or smoothing over smaller scratches and cracks, you'll appreciate how effectively the product erases damage, spreading evenly into blemishes and then drying quickly. Once dry, it won't crack or shrink and can be sanded like regular wood.
This solvent-free product comes in various colors to match real wood species. You can also stain or paint over it in virtually any color, as it's formulated to accept different types of paint just like solid wood, and it dries with smooth and even results. It comes in sizes up to 1 gallon, making it a good choice if you are facing a large project, as well.
Price at time of publish: $17
DAP Plastic Wood is the best wood filler overall. This heavy-duty, professional-grade formula looks and performs like actual wood, only stronger, and can be sanded, painted, or stained just like the real thing. That said, Minwax Color-Matched Wood Filler is a close runner-up on account of its ultra-strong, multi-purpose formula that is very easy to use whether indoors or outside.
What to Look for in Wood Filler
Types of Wood Fillers
Wood fillers generally fall into one of two basic groups: Those with a water base and those with a solvent base.
- Water-based wood fillers are easy to use, generally don’t have strong odors, and usually dry quite quickly, some within minutes. Most contain gypsum, cellulose, or wood fibers. They can usually be thinned with water if needed, and clean up with just soap and water. Water-based wood fillers are quite versatile, but are usually best for interior projects.
- Solvent-based wood fillers are usually vinyl or epoxy. These fillers take longer to dry than water-based products, often an hour or more. They emit more VOCs and are smellier than water-based products, making good ventilation a must when using them. You’ll need a solvent-based cleaner to clean up after using a solvent-based wood filler, such as acetone or turpentine. However, these wood fillers generally are far more resistant to temperature extremes and moisture than water-based products, making them an especially good choice for exterior projects.
Wood fillers are intended for a variety of purposes, like filling nail holes, fixing baseboard cracks, or even helping to seal exterior siding. The right wood filler for your next project depends on how and where the filler will be used. If you are working on a small, specialized project, then it's a good idea to search for a wood filler that has the most accurate color, texture, and resistance for the job.
However, in many cases, the user isn't entirely sure where they will need to use the wood filler, so it may be more beneficial to opt for a light-colored, general-purpose wood filler that is resistant to water, dirt, and dust. This makes it possible to apply the wood filler almost anywhere and have it be suitable for the task. In addition, the light color means that it's easily paintable to match the wall, ceiling, baseboard, or any other surface.
One of the easiest mistakes to make with wood filler is to underestimate or overestimate the amount of time required for the filler to dry. Some products, like epoxy fillers, can take several hours to dry and will likely take another 24 hours to fully cure. These products can be beneficial for outdoor repairs, but it's important to check the weather ahead of time so that the wood filler doesn't get soaked before it has the chance to set and cure.
Latex, or water-based wood fillers dry at a fast pace and they even become water-resistant within an hour or so. This makes them a great option for outdoor repairs. However, if you aren't paying attention, the wood filler can set before you have the chance to smooth out the texture and create a flush surface. Before deciding on a wood filler for your next project, be sure to note the expected drying time of the product, typically provided by the manufacturer in the product directions.
How do you use wood filler?
Most wood fillers can be applied with a small putty knife. Use the wood filler sparingly, as it isn't as easy to sand off as drywall putty, so it's important to only use the amount that is needed to properly repair the hole or crack. Put the wood filler on the putty knife and use the knife to press the wood filler into the gap. Scrape away any excess wood filler, leaving a smooth, flush finish behind. Once entirely dry, most wood fillers can be sanded to remove any unwanted texture.
Can you stain wood filler?
Most wood fillers can be stained, but it's important to note that wood fillers absorb stain differently than wood, so the color, texture, and appearance of the repaired area could stand out from the rest of the surface. Avoid significant mismatches by first testing the wood filler on a small piece of scrap wood. Use the stain on this test piece to see how it will be absorbed, dry, and cure on both the wood itself and the wood filler.
How long does wood filler take to dry?
The drying time differs between products. The amount of wood filler used also affects the drying time; deeper patches of filler take longer to dry than shallow repairs. On average, shallow repairs take about two hours to dry, while deeper repairs can take up to six hours. Just keep in mind that dry isn't the same as cured and most wood fillers will take about 24 hours to fully cure.
Can you screw into wood filler?
Some wood fillers can be screwed into after they have been allowed to dry and fully cure. Typically, any wood filler that is made from epoxy will have a dense, firm composition after curing that make it possible to screw into the wood filler. It's recommended to create a pilot hole before screwing into the filler, however.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland is a freelance writer and homeowner with significant professional and personal experience researching, testing, and reviewing home improvement products. You can find more of her home-related writing on MyDomaine. Timothy Dale, a seasoned home improvement expert specializing in a number of topics, including plumbing, construction, and product recommendations, contributed additional research, as did Michelle Ullman, the home improvement/tools commerce editor for The Spruce.