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Should You Prime Wood Filler Or Wood Putty Before Painting?

Generally, cracks and gouges in wood can be repaired with wood putty or fillers. These materials repair the damaged areas, so that's a good start to your project. However, if you're not sure whether or not to prime them before painting, you're on the right page! We have the answers (and more) below!

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Wood fillers should be primed along with the wood before painting. The wood filler could show through the paint if not primed beforehand.

On the other hand, Wood putty doesn't need to be primed for painting. Wood putty is usually used on finished wood, and its color should be matched as close as possible to the final product.

As we begin, we will cover the differences between wood filler and wood putty and why they should or should not be primed. Whether you decide which of the two is suitable for your woodworking project or need to know how to apply them, we're here to assist. With that said, let's begin!

close up of filler or filling paste and a scraper on a wooden board - Should You Prime Wood Filler or Wood Putty Before Painting

Priming Wood Filler Or Wood Putty Before Painting

Sealing cracks in old garden table with acrylic putty.

Wood filler or wood putty is used to repair damages such as cracks and gouges on wooden fixtures. If the product used for the repair is a wood filler, it should completely dry before you sand and apply a primer (and paint) over it.

Furthermore, using a primer prevents the wood filler from being visible through the paint. The wooden product will have an even finish upon painting, which is more attractive.

On the other hand, Wood putty does not need to be primed or painted over. It doesn't harden like a wood filler; hence priming or painting over it will cause the applied paint to peel off over time.

So if you choose to use wood putty, it is vital to make sure that the color of the putty is similar to the wood to be repaired since it cannot be painted over.

What's The Difference Between Wood Filler And Wood Putty?

The main difference between wood filler and wood putty is what they are made of. Wood filler is usually a suspension consisting of sandable material in a solution of hardening resin, while the wood putty is generally a mixture of plastic and oil-based solvents.

Wood filler can soak deep into wood fibers and bond with them.

They harden as they cure and are sandable and also mostly stainable. Wood fillers with natural wood fibers usually stain better than those with mainly mineral components.

Wood putty doesn't harden like wood filler, so it doesn't shrink or crack, but you cannot sand it.

It is also not possible to stain it. Hence wood putty usually is available in various colors, so it is essential to make sure that the wood putty you use is of similar color to the wood you will use it on.

Drywall Repair, Hand Tool

When Should You Use A Wood Filler?

Wood filler is best used for patching up unfinished or unstained interior woodwork. It can be used to fill in gouges and crack in unfinished woodwork that you will have to stain or paint on afterward.

It can also be used to mold damaged tabletops and shelves since it hardens after curing. Wood filler can also be used on hardwood floorings to fill the gap between the boards.

The wood filler can then be primed and painted over or stained to give the wooden product a more attractive look. Some wood fillers stain better than others due to the presence of natural wood fibers in their formula.

Check out this wood filler on Amazon.

When Should You Use A Wood Putty?

Wood putty differs from wood filler in that it doesn't harden as it dries, making it a good choice for exterior woodwork repairs. It will be able to expand or contract in different conditions without cracking.

The drawback of using wood putty is that it must only be used on finished wood since it is usually made up of various chemicals that can harm raw lumber.

It is also not suited to be painted over since the paint will flake off its surface once dried.

So if you would like to use wood putty for your project, you should also consider finding a wood putty color similar to the wood to be repaired.

Check out this wood putty on Amazon.

How To Apply Wood Filler

Wood filler can be easily used to repair damage to the wood in a short amount of time. 

Here are the steps to complete this task:

1. Clean And Prepare Your Wood Surface

Remove loose pieces of wood on the surface.

Then sand the areas adjacent to the damaged portion of the wood. Clean up the resulting dust from sanding and other particles by either wiping the surface with a cloth or using a vacuum.

2. Apply The Filler To The Damaged Areas

Apply the wood filler at the edge of the damaged areas. Push the filler into the cracks and spaces of the wood while allowing it to overflow slightly.

The slight overflow accounts for the fact that the filler will shrink a bit when it dries.

close up of filler or filling paste and a scraper on a wooden board

3. Allow The Wood Filler To Dry

The wood filler should be allowed to dry completely before you sand it down.

Wood filler can dry in as fast as 30 minutes or may take up to a few hours, depending on the application depth and the specific type of wood filler used.

Checking the manufacturer's information of the product will help to accurately know how long the wood filler will take to dry.

4. Sand The Filler To Be Even With The Wood

The wood filler should be sanded down to be the same height as the surface of the wood. This will allow for the subsequent finish to be even throughout its surface.

5. Clean The Surface Of The Repaired Wood

After sanding down, dust and other debris will be present again on the surface of the wood.

It is important to clean the surface by wiping it down with a damp cloth to remove any remaining debris and allow the surface to dry afterward.

6. Paint The Wood To Your Desired Finish

Apply a layer of primer on the surface of the repaired wood. Allow it to dry completely. If the color of the wood filler can be seen through the primer, apply another layer accordingly.

Finish by painting on your desired topcoat as the last layer.

How To Apply Wood Putty

Wood putty is applied in a similar way to that of wood fillers. Follow these steps to ensure that you can use the wood putty correctly on the wooden surface to be repaired:

1. Choose The Right Wood Putty

Wood putty is usually used on finished wood and cannot be painted. Picking the proper putty with a similar color to the wood to be repaired is an essential first step.

2. Prepare The Surface For Application

Remove loose pieces of debris and dust before the application of the putty. Wiping down with a damp cloth and then allowing the surface to dry is a good enough measure.

3. Apply The Putty To Your Wood

Apply putty across the crack or pits to fill the damaged areas. Allow the putty to overflow from the site, and remove the excess using a scraper tool.

the worker puts putty on a hole in a wooden wall

4. Allow The Putty To Cure

Most popular brands of wood putty do not harden completely upon drying. Allowing the putty to cure will change it from its gooey consistency to a more solid yet flexible material.

To Wrap Up

The wood filler should be primed before applying paint over it. This will prevent the filler's color from being visible through the layer of paint, showing a more attractive and even finish.

On the other hand, Wood putty does not need to be primed since it cannot be painted over. The color of the putty used should then be of a similar color to the wood you will use it on.

Made it to the end? Check out these related posts:

8 Best Wood Fillers For Large Holes

How To Repair And Smooth A Splintered Wood Deck