How long does wood filler take to dry? Get the detailed instructions and professional advice

Wood fillers are something people implement in woodworking all the time. It can be used to renovate wooden furniture, patch small cracks in wood, and other dents that might be there. Knowing the wood filler drying time will help you to determine how the whole project will go and when will it finish, which is quite crucial.

In this article, we want to discuss the wood fillers, what types are there, how long does wood filler take to dry, and what affects the final drying time. You will also learn how to apply wood filler correctly to avoid complications with the project. Another thing that we will tell you about is how to successfully remove wood filler from the wood. Let’s begin!

What are wood fillers?

Wood filler is a substance suitable for repairing imperfections in wooden areas. Usually, it consists of small pieces of wood, wood fibers, and pulverized wood byproducts, such as sawdust, mixed with binder.

You apply wood filler onto the area that has to be patched and make it the same level as the other areas around that spot. Wood fillers can be found in all sorts of colors, so you can match them to the color of the renovating wooden piece. It is also possible to add wood stain into it to make a new color.

The wood fillers aren’t used only for repairing something, they can also be used in modifying the structure of the wooden piece you are working with, such as shaping the sharp edges of the wooden table, for example. Just remember, it isn’t wood glue.

There are two types of wood fillers. Depending on the top layer you are working with, you either select water-based fillers or solvent-based wood fillers.

Water-based wood fillers

Water-based wood filler is often used for fixing the defectiveness of the wood. If the top coat of the surface, you are working with, is water-based, that is the exact type of filler you need.

Because of the content, it is not more harmful to the environment than other types of wood fillers.

It can be easily mixed with water if you need to change the consistency, which makes it easier to work with.

One of the advantages is almost no smell, so you won’t have to inhale it, risking developing a headache later on. Water-based wood fillers can be cleaned just with water.

It won’t hurt if some wood filler sticks to your skin, there is no risk of getting a rash. The only problem is it can dry fast, so it has to be washed off when that happens.

The water-based wood fillers drying process varies between half an hour to up to 6 hours. This is the quickest result out of all of them. It shortens the time of your renovation process and allows you to finish it in a day.

Solvent-based wood fillers

A solvent-based wood filler is not a commonly purchased type, as people move to water-based wood filler. They are not as affordable, but the consistency makes them attractive for renovation projects.

If you have large areas that need patching, or you are working on a wood piece that has to withstand harsh conditions such as high temperatures or has to be water-resistant, this is the wood filler you go after.

Epoxy resin is also a part of the solvent wood filler. The smell is quite intense and difficult to bear. In order to eliminate such wood filler, you have to use harsh chemicals such as acetone.

You should be cautious when dealing with the wood filler and always have protective gear such as a mask and gloves.

Unlike water-based wood filler, it can’t be removed easily, for example by using sandpaper. The drying process takes almost a week, depending on the environment and weather conditions. It increases the time of the whole renovation or fixing task, which is quite inconvenient.

How long does wood filler take to dry, and what can affect the drying time?

The duration for the wood filler to become dry varies. It counts on certain factors and can impact your entire project. The good case scenario is half an hour to six hours if you are dealing with a water-based wood filler.

They are the ones most people prefer for the woodwork. They are easy to deal with, and you don’t have to wait long. There is a big palette of colors and almost no smell.

You can finish your project in just a day. Sounds quite tempting. Sometimes you don’t even need to wait for long for the first coat to harden, and you can apply the next one straight after.

In about an hour, your wood piece is ready to be painted or varnished.

Oil-based wood fillers take more time to become hard. You are looking at anything between an hour to six hours. Don’t forget to take into account the fact, that you have to refrain from patching a new layer of wood filler for some time, up to twenty minutes.

How should you apply wood filler?

Knowledge of patching imperfections in wood with the wood filler correctly can save a lot of effort. Below is the application guide you can use:

Step 1. Choosing the right filler

Pick the appropriate wood filler based on the area you are going to patch and the color of the wood.

Step 2. Make the wood surface smooth

Get the area ready by smoothing it with sandpaper. Remove the remnants of the wood. Ensure the area is clean.

Step 3. Wood filler application

The application has to be done to the areas that have imperfections, such as wood cracks and very small holes. Purchase a putty knife for this task. You should apply thin layers of wood filler, one by one, to patch the affected area. Scope the excess amount of wood filler between the layers.

Step 4. Removing the excess wood filler

Once you are done, you have to wipe anything extra. Use a dry cloth to do that.

Step 5. Drying process

Take a break, at least for half an hour. Depending on the type of wood filler, it might take up to two hours before you can layer another coating. The larger the area, the longer it will take to patch it. If you still can feel wet filler, give it more time to become ready.

Step 6. Using sandpaper

Once it is dry, your task is to ensure it is even and smooth before you can paint it or varnish it. The final result will depend on how well you will even the surface. It has to be flat wood.

Step 7. Cleaning the surface

To ensure the result is perfect, remove any dust or dirt that is going to be on the wooden surface. Simply wipe the area with a cloth.

What can I do to make wood filler dry fast?

There are certainly a few options you can try if you want the wood filler to dry fast. When you are in a tight schedule and need to finish the job sooner, use one of them to help you to achieve the results you are after.

1. Choose nice warm weather

It is not a big secret that everything dries faster during warm weather. Wood filler and wood putty aren’t an exception. Check the weather report first before starting your project.

2. Coating in thin layers

A thin layer will become dry way faster, and you will be able to lay another coating sooner. That means the whole job will be done quicker.

3. Using a fan or a hairdryer

The drying process will take less time if you will set up a fan near your working spot. In some cases, you can use a hair dryer as well, as long as it sets up to blow cool air. Warm air might cause damage to the wood filler layer.

The heat gun can be used, but it is not recommended as the temperature of air blowing out is quite high.

How to remove wood filler?

Is it possible to remove wood filler or wood putty? Absolutely, but you have to be careful when doing so. Always protect your hands when dealing with wood putties and fillers. Rubber gloves should be sufficient.

If the wood putties or fillers are still moist, you can scope such ones with the help of some solvent.

If wood putties are fully dry and harden completely, it will be difficult to remove them, but still possible. You can try to drill it out of the crack.

What is wood putty?

Many of you mistakenly purchase wood putty instead of filler, thinking there is no difference. They are two different things. Wood putty is also called plastic wood because of its contents – plastic chemicals.

The purpose of wood putties is essentially the same. They help to renovate wood surface that has some defects on it. Wood putty is primarily used on vast areas like floors.

The colors of the wood putty can be different as well. You might encounter trouble trying to choose the one to suit the color of the finished wood.

Unlike wood filler, the wood putty has different properties, hence it is not the same.

What is the difference between wood filler and wood putty?

Even though they serve the same purpose of patching the defects, wood putty differs a lot.

Wood putty doesn’t become fully hard even after it is dry completely. It is ideal for woodworking projects that require some flexibility and wood expanding left.

You will not be able to flatten it by sanding. Take it into account when trying to decide between wood putty and filler.

Plastic wood is a water-resistant substance, which is why you should opt for it for your outdoor projects.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you can not paint over plastic wood. Since you can’t flatten it, painting over such a surface will not be successful.

The palette of colors is large. It is going to be difficult to find the exact match to the color of your wood surfaces.

How long does it take for the wood putty to dry?

An oil-based wood putty takes nearly a week to dry completely. You should avoid applying thick layers of oil-based wood putty, as it will just increase the time. Water-based wood putty is a different story.

It has a thinner formula, which decreases the time when it becomes completely dry to just a day.

If the weather is bad, the time increases to a couple of days. The other factors affecting the time are the outdoor conditions, such as direct sunlight.


How can I make wood filler dry faster?

In order for the water-based wood filler to dry quicker, you should allow air circulation around the territory where the project is being done. Make sure you conduct the renovation or repair on hot days so that the temperature also helps.

How do you make wood putty dry faster?

Narrowing the area by preparing the wood surrounding will result in using less plastic wood. The time for water-based wood putty to dry is around a day in the best-case scenario. There is an option to set up a fan for air circulation at the place you are working. Prior to layering an oil-based putty, you should be certain that the surface is prepared according to the requirements.

How long does it take wood filler to dry before sanding?

For the water-based wood filler to dry fully, it will take several hours, depending on the circumstances.

Can you paint over wood filler?

Yes, you can. Leave the wood filler to dry first. Then attempt sanding it down a bit, and paint the wood surface with whatever wood finish top you have chosen.

Does wood filler harden like wood?

Due to the content of the wood filler, it does harden and becomes almost as strong as wood, especially if you apply extra layers of protection on top of it.

Does wood filler dry as hard as wood?

Wood filler does dry pretty hard, but it is not suitable for the outdoor DIY project as it won’t be able to withstand harsh conditions.

To summarize

We hope this article has cleared everything up for you, and now you know what are wood filler and plastic wood. Additionally, how long do they both take to become fully hard, and how should they be applied the right way? Follow the information above to choose the correct product for your specific task, so you can achieve the desired result.

If you have found this information useful, share the article with your family and your friends. They must also know what are the conditions of patching furniture with wood fillers. If you have questions left, contact us through the comment section underneath.

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