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Wood Filler Vs Caulk Vs Wood Putty Vs Spackle – Which To Choose?

When filling and sealing cracks, gaps, and holes, there are different types of fillers that you can use. Some of these fillers are wood filler and caulk to name a few. Someone who has never used them before might think they don't have much difference, but each has its specific purposes for application and repair. We have thoroughly researched each option to help you distinguish one from the other, and here is what we have found.

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There are different types of fillers, with each having different characteristics that make it suitable for specific cases:

  • Wood filler: For unfinished wood and flat interior surfaces.
  • Caulk: Used on corners and edges of walls and ceilings.
  • Wood putty: For finished wood and exterior surfaces.
  • Spackle: Used on drywalls.

Read more as we explore further details about these repair materials, compare and differentiate them, and tackle some advantages and disadvantages of using each.

collab photos of wood filler, caulk, wood putty and spackle, Wood Filler Vs Caulk Vs Wood Putty Vs Spackle - Which To Choose?

Types Of Fillers

You can use a variety of fillers to fill and seal cracks and holes in different materials. Here are the different types of fillers possible for use:

Wood Filler

young carpenter work clothes face mask

Wood filler comprises wood particles such as sawdust, varnish, lacquer, or glue. In a nutshell, it is made up of a binding agent and a filling substance. Some wood fillers use pulverized wood fibers with a solvent-based hardening resin. In contrast, others use gypsum or limestone in conjunction with a solvent- or water-based hardening resin.

Wood filler comes in two primary varieties: water-based and petroleum-based. A water-based filler is typically dry, so you might need to add some water to get the right consistency. Petroleum-based ones have a smoother texture and is simpler to work with. Water-based fillers can be cleaned with soap and water, in contrast to petroleum-based fillers, which must use chemical solvents.

Check out this wood filler on Amazon.

Caulk

mans hand caulk skirting board caulking

Caulk is typically made of flexible polymers like latex, silicone, rubber, or a combination. The majority of caulking compounds are sold in disposable cartridges that are designed to fit half-barrel caulking guns. These guns are typically used to apply caulk to surfaces that need waterproofing, although some pressurized cartridges do not necessitate these. They can also be purchased as ropes, aerosol cans, and squeeze tubes.

Numerous types of caulks are available based on the location they are applied to, such as the bathroom, kitchen, windows, roof, interior, and exterior. Butyl rubber, pure silicone, acrylic latex caulk, vinyl latex caulk, and others are some kinds of caulk that are most frequently used.

Check out this caulk sealant on Amazon.

Wood Putty

woodwork close putty cans mans hand

Wood putty is a combination of plastic and oil-based solvents. It is denser than wood filler and remains pliable even after drying. This will not shrink or crack because it does not harden like wood filler but cannot be sanded, making it ideal for woodwork that expands and contracts in humid environments or outdoors. You would need a putty knife when applying wood putty.

It will not accept staining the same way as wood does and will dry a different color, highlighting the spot. However, staining is not required because they are colorized to match other wood tones. That's why it's recommended for wood to be already stained or varnished before applying wood putty.

Check out this wood putty on Amazon.

Spackle

hand putty knife repair wall spatula

Spackle, also known as drywall compound, is a broad term for almost any material used to patch, install drywall, decorate, or level a surface. Gypsum powder and binders are used to make spackle. It also has a similar consistency to toothpaste.

It is available in paste form, the most widely used and recognized powder form that must be combined with water before application. Spackle comes in a pre-mixed tub container and is sold in various grades for different uses.

There are various spackling compounds available, some of which can be used on different surfaces or outside. Examples are:

  • Lightweight spackling compounds.
  • Standard/all-purpose spackling compounds.
  • Vinyl spackling compounds.
  • Acrylic spackling compounds.
  • Epoxy spackling compounds.

Check out this tub of spackle on Amazon.

When To Apply Wood Filler, Caulk, Wood Putty, And Spackle?

repairing wall man putting spackle on

Here are some tips on when you should use wood filler, wood putty, caulk, and spackle:

Wood Filler

Wood filler is used to repair holes and smooth the surface of wide-grain wood to ensure an even stain on the wood and for the finish to absorb fully. They are also used to:

  • Fill in significant damage to an indoor wooden structure.
  • When refinishing a hardwood floor, fill gaps between the flooring boards.
  • In unfinished furniture, repair dents, gashes, and gouges.
  • Before installing unfinished trim, cover any scratches or cracks.

Caulk

This is a pliable material that seals air leaks between building components and joints less than an inch wide. The strength, properties, and cost of caulking compounds vary. It is also a sealing agent used to prevent water and air leaks.

When used around faucets, water pipes drains, and other plumbing fixtures, caulking can prevent water from passing through the joints and help prevent water damage inside and outside the home. Caulk is used to:

  • Seal all cracks between walls and ceilings, and wall corners.
  • Put in crown molding. Crown molding installation will leave you with corners and gaps needed to be filled.

Wood Putty

This can cover nail holes and repair holes, gouges, and nicks on finished surfaces. It is used to:

  • Fix minor holes, cracks, and dents in flooring and finished furniture.
  • Repair exterior woodwork gouges and cracks.
  • Fill small holes and repair dents and cracks in interior trim.
  • Repair cracks and holes in woodwork that may expand or contract due to humidity exposure.

Spackle

Some spackles can be diluted and used as a surface wall application to create a variety of wall surfaces. Apart from that, it can repair minor holes, cracks, and other flaws like dents. It is used to:

  • Fill minor dings, holes, and cracks in walls.
  • Repair minimal drywall or plaster damage.
  • Cover screw or nail holes in the drywall.

Advantages And Disadvantages

Each different type of filler has its own set of advantages and disadvantages:

Wood Filler

Wood filler is probably the most known of all filler types, especially if you are into woodworking. The advantages and disadvantages of using wood filler are as follows:

Advantages

Wood filler is a versatile filler with the following advantages:

  • It is generally advised for interior use.
  • It can be sanded.
  • It can be painted or stained to match a variety of wood tones.
  • As it cures, it hardens.
  • It dries rapidly. It usually only takes 30 minutes to dry.
  • It can be tinted before use.

Disadvantages

While wood filler is great and all, it also comes with the following limitations:

  • It should not be used outside.
  • It is usually only available in one color.
  • Stained or painted finishes are difficult to adhere to.
  • It does not comply with the wood.
  • It is easily affected by temperature and humidity contractions and expansions.

Caulk

If you have renovated your home at one point or another, you may have already come across caulk and its use for sealing gaps in your home. The advantages and disadvantages of using it are as follows:

Advantages

Caulk has the following advantages for its use:

  • It has numerous applications.
  • Applying joints between surfaces such as architraves and walls is simple.
  • It is highly adaptable and has good weather resistance.
  • Silicone types are excellent for keeping water out.

Disadvantages

Meanwhile, here are its following disadvantages:

  • It can be easily moved.
  • It must be precisely applied because it cannot be sanded and is not usually painted over.
  • The drying process takes longer.
  • It should not be used in areas prone to expansion and contraction.
  • Silicone types are difficult to apply neatly.
  • It is not suitable for furniture projects.

Wood Putty

Wood putty is similar to wood filler, and is also a handy product for woodwork. It has the following set of advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages

Wood putty boasts of the following advantages:

  • Because it lasts longer, it is less expensive than wood filler.
  • It is available in various colors to easily match the finish of the wood.
  • It is suitable for both exterior and interior applications.
  • It is perfect for situations where the wood swells and shrinks due to the environmental conditions.
  • It has a long lifespan.
  • It is more durable than wood filler.

Disadvantages

While very useful, wood putty also has the following disadvantages:

  • The majority of paints will not adhere to it.
  • Because stains will not color properly, it is not recommended.
  • It cannot be sanded.
  • It takes longer to dry plus the color may change after drying.
  • Because it can harm unfinished wood, it is best used on finished wood.

Spackle

uniformed worker applies putty drywall ceiling

Spackle also has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, which can be seen below:

Advantages

Spackle has the following advantages compared to its counterparts:

  • It can be sanded smooth.
  • It is compatible with paint.
  • It is sold in smaller quantities, such as a small tub or a tube.
  • Usually is water-based, making it simple to remove.
  • It is a ready-to-use formula and is simple to use.
  • Dry shrinkage is minimal and dries rapidly.

Disadvantages

While having its fair share of advantages, spackle has the following disadvantages:

  • It does not work well on larger holes or damaged areas. Use it only for small spots and blemishes.
  • It cannot be used to seal a surface properly. Spackling should not be used for sealing but for filling gaps.

Conclusion

collab photos of wood filler, caulk, wood putty and spackle

You can use various types of fillers to fill in gaps and holes in your project. These fillers are wood filler, caulk, wood putty, and spackle. Each of them is best used in different situations, with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Using the right type of filler for your needs is an important consideration, making it easier for you to choose.

If you found this helpful, do check out other related articles:

Does Wood Filler Act As Glue? [And Which To Choose]

How To Fill Gaps Between Tiles [Using Grout, Caulk, Gap Filling Powder, Or White Cement]