Wood fillers help hide the appearance of cuts and nicks in wood trim and furniture, but they are also frequently used to fill in gaps that remain after putting up drywall or installing a new door frame. The best way to ensure that guests never notice is to invest in a stainable product that has a texture similar to that of the adjacent wood.
Here are some of the best stainable wood fillers on the market, one of which is bound to be perfect for your next project.
- BEST OVERALL: Minwax Stainable Wood Filler
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: FamoWood Latex Wood Filler
- BEST BUDGET: J-B Weld 8257 KwikWood Wood Repair Epoxy Putty Stick
- BEST FOR DECKS: Abatron WoodEpox Epoxy Wood Replacement Compound
- BEST FOR PINE: Timbermate Maple/Beech/Pine Hardwood Wood Filler
- BEST FOR RED OAK: Goodfilla Water-Based Wood & Grain Filler
- BEST GYPSUM BASED: Donald Durham’s 4-Pound Rockhard Water Putty
- BEST EPOXY BASED: PC Products PC-Woody Wood Repair Epoxy Paste
- BEST LATEX BASED: DAP 8135 Plastic Wood
- BEST CELLULOSE BASED: Elmer’s E887Q Stainable Wood Filler
Types of Stainable Wood Fillers
The four basic types of stainable wood fillers are categorized by their formulas: gypsum-based, epoxy-based, vinyl-based, and cellulose-based.
Gypsum-based stainable wood fillers are typically used for indoor repairs to fill gaps in baseboards and drywall. This type of filler is made out of gypsum dust that must be mixed with water to create the paste. Once the filler has dried, it is no longer pliable. Instead, it takes on a similar consistency to hardwood or even rock, in some cases.
Gypsum-based wood fillers are the most affordable type of filler. Because these fillers are susceptible to water damage, even after the filler has dried, they shouldn’t be used in locations where they may be exposed to moisture.
These stainable wood fillers are the most durable and resistant, but they also require the most preparation before they’re ready to use. For the epoxy to have the desired consistency and adhesion, the two parts must be mixed together following the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the epoxy is mixed, it can be applied to the affected area.
Epoxy-based wood fillers are ideal for use in outdoor conditions, as they can expand and contract with changing temperatures. Because of their natural water resistance, they’re also the best-suited fillers to seal the wall or foundation of a home against wind and rain.
Latex-based stainable wood fillers are commonly used for outdoor locations because they require less initial preparation than epoxies. They also set very quickly after they have been applied and are usually water-resistant within an hour. Latex fillers are also easy to work with, so they’re useful for fixing holes, repairing gouges, or even rebuilding portions of rotted wood.
When latex-based fillers have fully dried, they have a rigid consistency like hardwood. This consistency allows you to use sandpaper on the filler to create a smooth finish. You can also drive nails or fasten screws through it without damaging the repair, which attests to the durability of latex-based formulas.
These fillers are officially known as cellulose-based stainable wood fillers, but these terms are rarely seen on product packaging. Instead, cellulose-based fillers’ packaging will indicate that they contain real wood fibers. Compared to latex-based fillers and epoxies, these wood fillers are relatively inexpensive. Because they are water soluble, they can be mixed with stain to create a richly colored material before application.
Some cellulose-based fillers can be used outdoors, but others are strictly for indoor use. Be sure to consult the product’s directions to verify how and where the filler can be used.
What to Consider When Buying a Stainable Wood Filler
Before choosing a stainable wood filler to renew the look of old furniture or to fix baseboards, consider important factors like drying time and the quantity of filler required. Once you have a better idea of your requirements, you’ll be able to find the best stainable wood filler for your project.
The type of project will determine which stainable wood filler best suits your needs. Factors like preparation time, the amount of filler required, and any constraints about drying time (like impending rain) should all inform the product choice.
Indoor projects can range from filling a gap between baseboards to touching up a piece of fine wooden furniture. Though any suitable wood filler can be used for indoor projects like these, epoxy fillers would be the last-resort choice, as they take much longer to prepare and to dry after use than the other formulations.
Outdoor projects that require a stainable wood filler might include fixing gouges in a fence, repairing cracks in a deck, or sealing up holes in a home’s exterior wall to protect from the elements. The best choice for projects like these is an epoxy-based, stainable wood filler. For smaller repairs, it’s fine to use a latex-based filler or even a cellulose-based filler that is rated for exterior use.
Most stainable wood filler is sold in small containers, each with a specialized purpose for one kind of minor repair or another. If you’re in renovation mode and will need a lot of stainable wood filler to complete a long list of projects, it’s best to invest in a bulk wood filler product that has a wide range of applications.
Before purchasing a large quantity of stainable wood filler, confirm whether it’s suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Also consider how malleable the filler is before it dries, the manufacturer’s recommended uses for the product, and the consistency of the filler when it has fully cured. For instance, it’s a good idea to use an epoxy-based, stainable wood filler to fix a hole in an exterior wall because epoxy best adapts to temperature fluctuations.
The quantity of wood filler required will depend on the scope of the project. The good news is that wood-filler manufacturers sell their products in a variety of quantities, from miniscule to a bucketful, so you won’t have to pay for a ton of filler just to repair a few scratches.
For minor repairs, there are stainable wood fillers that come in a form similar to a crayon, allowing you to fill shallow cracks by simply swiping the filler material over them. Stainable wood filler packages between 8 to 16 ounces are appropriate for mid-size projects, like touching up the gaps after replacing the baseboards in a home. Any fillers that exceed this quantity are best for larger projects, like renovating an entire room or repairing an old deck or fence.
Be sure to note the approximate drying time of the stainable wood filler to determine exactly how long you have to complete a repair and smooth out the area before the filler hardens. Some products dry very quickly, which is convenient for outdoor applications, as it’s important for the filler to dry before it’s exposed to rain or snow.
When using stainable wood filler to repair a larger section of wood, it’s best to use a product that takes a while to dry; this will allow time to make the repair and form the filler into the desired shape. Drying time varies from product to product, so be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s directions to determine the drying time for a stainable wood filler.
Our Top Picks
The products below are our top picks for some of the best stainable wood fillers based on quality, price, and the shopping considerations mentioned above. Whatever your project’s requirements, there’s a stainable wood filler below that fits the bill.
Because this 16-ounce container of wood filler can be used with both oil-based and water-based wood stains, it’s possible to find a suitable stain color to match any wood. After application, the Minwax filler dries within 15 minutes. When it dries, the filler takes on the consistency of wood, allowing you to drill, stain, paint, sand, or fasten screws or nails through the filler.
This latex-based product comes premixed and ready to use, so you won’t need to spend time mixing ingredients together before starting on your project. To apply, simply scoop up an appropriate amount on a putty knife and apply it to the scratch or gouge that needs repaired.
Minwax is ideal for a variety of indoor and outdoor projects, including repairing fences, touching up baseboards, sealing window and door frames, and fixing furniture.
FamoWood’s latex-based wood filler is an excellent bulk pack of filler for finishing a basement or repairing old hardwood floors. Packaged as two 24-ounce buckets of latex-based stainable wood filler, it goes on easily and is resistant to cracking and shrinking. The filler is solvent-free, so there are no strong odors during application.
FamoWood filler can be used inside or outside of the home on a variety of projects, including touching up baseboards, fixing holes in a fence, or repairing wooden furniture. The formula is environmentally safe and dries in just 15 minutes. Once it has dried, the filler will mimic the strength and feel of wood. It can be stained, sawed, drilled, sanded, planed, painted, or have nails and screws driven through it.
Scratches, dents, and nicks occur frequently around the home, and they’re usually not large enough to warrant a full bucket of wood filler. However, once enough of those little imperfections have accumulated, you’ll want to fix them. This J-B Weld epoxy-based stainable wood filler is affordable and comes in a small quantity, so you won’t have to pay for a bucket’s worth of filler that will go unused.
The 3.5-inch-long tube of filler has two separate parts of an epoxy formula. Once kneaded together in your hands, they can be applied to wooden surfaces in need of repair. The filler takes between 15 to 25 minutes to set and a full hour to cure. Once it has cured, the filler can be stained, drilled, or sanded to achieve the look you want.
The Abatron WoodEpox epoxy-based wood filler will protect any deck from water damage. Because it’s resistant to mold, mildew, rot, and water, the holes, scratches, and gouges filled in the deck will not collect moisture.
The epoxy comes in two separate containers that are mixed in equal parts to produce 12 ounces of filler. Once the stainable wood filler is dry, it will remain permanently bonded to the wood around it and will not shrink over time or with changing weather conditions. The dried filler can also be sanded, painted, and stained to ensure a uniform appearance.
Instead of completely replacing your pine furniture, save time and money by repairing it with this cellulose-based, stainable wood filler. Because it contains real wood particles, it leaves a realistic wooden finish on pine, maple, or beech wood when it dries.
Timbermate wood filler dries just 15 minutes after application. However, it doesn’t dry permanently until you have applied a finish, like a stain or paint. If you’re unhappy with the first application, you can wet the filler to make it pliable again, reform it, allow it to dry, and then stain or paint it. This filler comes in an 8-ounce jar.
Red oak can be difficult to repair if not using the right product. This filler is a great way to touch up red oak surfaces, like hardwood flooring or fine furniture. The cellulose-based, stainable wood filler has a finish that resembles the grain and color of natural red oak. If the initial color doesn’t quite match the existing flooring or furniture, the filler can be mixed with stains, tints, pigments, or dyes to achieve the perfect shade.
The stainable wood filler has excellent adhesion to wood surfaces and dries within 15 minutes of application. Once dry, the filler doesn’t shrink or crack, so your red oak will always look great. This filler is intended for indoor use, though it can be used outdoors if mixed with water-based, weather-resistant glue.
This gypsum-based stainable wood filler comes in a 4-pound can and can be used to fix holes and cracks in wood. Because it dries to a rock-like consistency after having been mixed with water, it can also be used to repair plaster, stone, and even concrete. Once applied, the filler will not shrink, so there won’t be any gaps in the surface of the wood.
Donald Durham’s is durable and resists breaking and cracking. To achieve a great color that matches the appearance of the existing furniture, windows, doors, walls, or floors, mix in a stain with the filler powder.
Apply this epoxy-based stainable wood filler to a deck, fence, porch, mailbox post, door, window, or any other wooden surface that needs repair. It can also be used on some plastic surfaces, though it won’t bond to wax paper, Teflon, or polyethylene. While P.C. Woody can be used indoors, this product is best for outdoor applications, as it is resistant to mildew, dry rot, UV light, freshwater, and saltwater.
The epoxy-based filler comes in two separate cans that need to be mixed together before use; you should only mix as much filler as you need for a single use. The wood filler remains pliable for up to 40 minutes before drying, but takes a full 24 hours to completely cure. At that point, you can sand, paint, or stain the filler.
Touch up or repair narrow cracks, gouges, and scratches in your furniture, doors, floors, windows, and other wooden surfaces using this 8-ounce container of latex-based wood filler. It dries within 15 minutes of application and is resistant to shrinking, cracking, and crumbling. Once the filler has dried, it looks and feels like real wood, and can be further enhanced by staining to match the surrounding wood.
DAP’s Plastic Wood comes ready to use, so you won’t have to spend time mixing before starting a project. It has a thick consistency that is easy to apply with a putty knife. After the filler has dried, you can fasten screws and nails to the wood just as you would before the repair.
Cellulose-based, stainable wood fillers like this one from Elmer’s are excellent for repairing damaged wood because they are made using fibers that imitate the feel and appearance of real wood. This product can be used indoors for a variety of purposes or outdoors for minor repairs.
The stainable wood filler is durable when it dries and resists shrinking and cracking. Once dry, it can be sanded, stained, painted, or drilled, just as you would real wood. The filler is premixed and comes in a resealable tube, making it easy to take care of small jobs as they arise without the product drying up.
FAQs About Your New Stainable Wood Filler
If you still have questions about how to select the right stainable wood filler for your project, review the answers to these frequently asked questions.
Q. How do you apply wood filler?
The easiest way to apply wood filler is to use a putty knife. Begin pressing the filler into the top of the affected area and slowly press the filler into the repair, overfilling if necessary. After the crack, gouge, or scratch is filled, but before the filler dries, use the putty knife to remove the excess filler so it’s flush with the surface.
Q. How do you prepare a wood filler?
Some wood fillers, including epoxy-based and powder fillers, have to be mixed before they can be used. To prepare the stainable wood filler, carefully follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. This usually involves mixing two parts of an epoxy together or mixing water with a powder filler.
Q. How do you stain wood filler?
After sanding and preparing the repaired area, apply the stain directly to the filler using a small paintbrush, or stain the entire piece of wood and the filler together for a more uniform look.
If you have concerns about how the stain will look on the filler when it dries, test it out first on a scrap piece of wood. When the filler on the scrap wood is dry, test the stain so that you know how it will look before you commit to staining your furniture, floor, or any other wooden surface.
Q. What is the difference between wood putty and wood filler?
The main difference between wood putty and wood filler is that putty typically remains somewhat pliable, which allows it to shrink and expand with the cold. This makes putty suitable for filling large gaps in a wall. Wood filler hardens to a consistency that’s similar to wood because it contains sawdust and wood fibers. Wood putty is made primarily of plastics.