It’s overwhelming trying to choose from a diverse pool of wood fillers in the market. The available brands vary in application technique, product formulation, or even in usage.
The good news, here’s what you need to know before choosing a wood filler:
#1. The Application Environment
Wood fillers can either be water-based or solvent-based. To explain, solvent-based fillers are made from epoxy or vinyl. In contrast, water-based fillers are a combination of wood fibres, cellulose and gypsum to form a solid, organic compound.
Water-based wood fillers are suitable for indoor applications while solvent-based fillers are preferable for outdoor uses. To know the difference, water-based fillers often require water as the solvent for cleaning up tools. On the other hand, acetone, mineral spirits or a chemical spirit is used when working with solvent-based fillers.
#2. The Task at Hand
Different jobs require varying wood fillers.
To put it differently, some fillers are better suited for jobs such as covering pores, fixing gouges, fixing holes and other minor defects. On the other hand, filling divots calls for a filler with coarse particles. In other words, a product that comprises of large particles is ill-suited for open grain wood.
#3. The Drying Time
Wood fillers have varying drying times. This can be as low as 15 minutes to as much as a few hours. For instance, vinyl-based fillers have a short drying time.
Also, always remember that thick layers of filler typically take longer to dry than thin ones. As a result, your DIY wood repair skills will determine the type of filler you will choose. The more experienced you are, the better you can handle fillers with faster drying times.
#4. The Consistency
Wood fillers can either have thick or thin consistencies.
Putty-like (thick) fillers are suitable for filling holes while the pancake-batter thin are used for covering pores in open-grain woods. As mentioned earlier, the thicker fillers have coarse particles that can’t fit into the pores of open-grain woods. On the flip side, the particles in thinner fillers can’t adequately fill voids in wood.
But remember this: Sometimes a thicker filler can be diluted with water whenever a thin consistency is required.
#5. The Type of Packaging
Wood fillers can be packaged in tubs, squeeze tubes or sticks.
First, since tubs hold the most product, they’re economical and suitable for larger projects. Additionally, a tub can contain a no-mix filler that can be applied with a spreader or putty knife. Alternatively, the contents could involve a two-part filler that must be mixed before application.
Second, squeeze tubes usually dispense a small amount of filler to fill voids and pores. Lastly, sticks are perfect for minor jobs such as filling tiny nail holes in polished wood.
#6. The Colour
Ideally, a filler should blend seamlessly with the surface without compromising the natural look of wood.
That said, most fillers are either white or are in wood-inspired shades. And if you plan to paint or stain the filled area, then it’s important to consider a filler’s colour. Also, make sure that the packaging is labelled ‘paintable’ or ‘stainable.’ Alternatively, if you don’t plan to paint then you can choose a filler that matches the wood surface.
#7. The Strength
The harder the wood is, the stronger a filler it requires.
Please note that some fillers tend to be powdery when dry and as a result, aren’t as strong when compared to others. In that case, such fillers are suitable for small interior jobs such as filling holes and cracks that are under minimal pressure. On the contrary, a strong filler is required for exterior applications such as decks.
What is The Best Wood Filler to Use?
As seen above, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing the best wood filler. Whether it’s cracks, gouges, holes, rot or divots on wooden surfaces, there’s a specific product that caters for each of the defects.
And if you’re still stuck, we are here to help. So please feel free to reach out.