What is the Difference between Wood Putty and Wood Filler?

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    Among the commonly confused products are wood putty and wood filler. However, they are two distinct products, each having its own formula and applications. Instead of replacing wooden surfaces, you can fix the, using different methods. You can use wood filler or wood putty depending on your renovation needs.

    To get your renovations done perfectly, you need to understand the difference. Also, you need to understand the uses of each. Below is a comprehensive guide of wood putty vs wood filler.

    The major difference in terms of use lies in the time of application, as you will read below;

    Wood Putty

    ​Wood putty is commonly referred to as plastic wood. It is an element used for filling imperfections for example nails holes. It is made from wood dust and binder. Wood putty takes a considerably long time to dry. But after it dries it becomes hard, so you might need to sand it to make it smooth.

    After staining and vanishing of the wood, you should apply wood putty. Conversely, since it can be hazardous to raw wood, it is commonly used to fill cracks or nail holes. It is the best option for your outdoor furniture. This is because, it shrinks, and is resistant to rain and sun. Note that some types of wood putty remain visible even after smoothing it. Hence, ne careful on how you apply and finish it.
    It is a common option for many because it is affordable and offers adhesive properties. Also, it is long lasting and one can refresh it using acetone, if it dries before use.

    Wood Filler

    ​On the other hand, wood filler is a substance which is used in creating smooth surface repairs for example holes in wood. It is different from wood putty because it is applied before any finished or stains.
    It is made from clay, epoxy, latex or lacquer. Mostly, it has a neutral color. However, you can color it in a color that complements the project.Wood filler is ideal for finishing nails after they have been driven in wood.

    To give it a natural finish, you can mix sawdust with the filler. The most common is the latex filler. It is common because first, it is easy to clean. If you have pre-finished furniture, consider using polyurethane fillers, since they protect the surface.

    Since wood fillers are not expandable, they will crack or break whenever the wood contracts or expands. Therefore, wood fillers are not ideal for outdoor projects. Besides, the sunlight will make the filler dry and shrink. Moreover, unlike wood putty, wood fillers lack adhesive properties.

    Wood filler is the best if you need something that dries fast. It dries in less than 24 hours, which means, you complete your project fast. Moreover, wood filler beats wood putty in versatility. It is more versatile and suits different finishes.

    wood putty vs wood filler

    ​2. Wood putty vs. Filler Formulae

    Wood putty

    Putty is usually in a can. Its texture is similar to that of stiff dough. Nonetheless, it will quickly dry when you begin applying it. Most brands recommend the users to mix it with a hardener.

    On manufacturing, wood putty has solvents, which enable it resist shrinking. Also, it has natural wood fibers which make it suit specific wood species. Wood putty tolerates stains to a certain point. After applying it, it may be visible or invisible.

    Wood Filler

    ​Filler is usually in a plastic tube. Unlike wood putty, it is colored to enable it complement different wood species. Furthermore, there are formulas which you can color to enable the powder match stain colors as a camouflage.

    Since most filler are pliable and rubbery, they are ideal for small holes. They tend to be flexible to expand or contract together with the wood. However, the other proprietary formulas tend to dry at a harder consistency. Therefore, harder formulas are best for large voids, or when you are looking to paint the project on completion.

    There are wood filler putty that are solvent based, while some are water based. The latter are simple to work with since they clean up fast. On the other hand, solvent based fillers are ideal for massive use. Despite most fillers being suitable for interior use, there are some, especially those that are solvent based, which are ideal for exterior use.
    Under the wood filler is wood grain filler; which is used in preparing open-grained wood in preparation for final finishing. It is thick and has a liquid consistency like that of heavy syrup. You fill the liquid to pores and grain lines. Wood grain filler dries hard, and after sanding, it becomes smooth and offers a slick flat surface. Therefore, you can apply topcoat for instance varnish.

    Like wood filler, wood grain filler is in two formulas. Water based one which is simple to use because it is simple to clean. The second is a solvent based formula which is best for deep pores compared to the water based wood filler.

    ​3. ​Types of wood putty and wood fillers

    ​Latex wood putty is usually in a tube and is a little Volatile organic chemical product which has been in the market for decades. When using latex putty, it creates very tight bond between water and the wood. It is able to create a string bond between the wood and water. Besides, when applying it, you will need non-drying oils for example linseed oils.

    Painters putty is commonly used by contractors between coats of oil. It is made of calcium carbonate, linseed oil and a universal colorant.  Painters putty is unique because unlike the rest. You don’t need to coat it or finish it after using it. It dries slowly, hence collects a lot of dirt, especially dirt with bright colors. Using painters putty will feel the same as using the window glazing compound. DAP is among the painters putty brands; it is used for filling holes, cracks and as a glaze.

    Prefinished wood putty is a new product. It is ideal for use on floors that are prefinished, or already finished. However, it is quick to dry. Therefore, ensure you leave the container closed. When the filler gets exposed to freezing temperature, it freezes and gets ruined. Nonetheless, it has a low shrink rate. This prefinished wood putty is same as latex wood putty, the only difference being that it contains satin water-based-polyurethane.

    Lacquer wood putty is a type of wood filler. It contains fine edger sawdust. Therefore, it limits its user to have sawdust on their hand. Note that it is highly flammable and releases strong fumes.

    Epoxy wood filler, a two-part wood putty, is limited to unfinished wood; because they need massive sanding.  It is inclusive of two different components, a resin as well as a hardener. Most of epoxy fillers emit insignificant traces of odor and low amounts of volatile organic chemicals. It is quick wood filler, which is ideal if you are looking to fill knots. Also, it is uncommon on wood floors since it is costly.

    Silicone wood filler is a type of wood putty which is ideal for hardwood floors. This is because the silicone wood filler is able to expand and contract depending on the humidity. Usually, it is in a caulking tube. You can use the filler in a customary caulking gun. The advantage of using it is its simplicity to apply, and does a great job hiding small gaps and unwanted holes.

    Water-based vs. Solvent Based Water Putty

    Wood putties are either water or solvent based. They are simple to apply hence ideal for DIY enthusiasts and professionals too. Water based putty is becoming popular since it is environmental friendly and doesn’t emit any fumes like the solvent based counterparts.

    Water based putty offer best service. They are effortless to clean. Nevertheless, the downside is that it takes long to dry. Unlike solvent-based putty, it doesn’t dry when left exposed. Note that water-based putty is not ideal for use on prefinished floors.

     Solvent based putty needs turpentine or acetone for proper cleaning. Since it is heavy duty, it tends to dry faster than water based putty. Therefore, it finished exemplary well. Unlike water based putty, it contains wood hence shares similar characteristics as wood. As a result, it tends to stimulate real wood compared to wood fillers. Additionally, compared to water based putty, it shrinks less.

    Conclusion

    Now that you have understood the difference between wood putty and wood filler, you can pick the right one for your project. Before deciding on which is best, check the nature of your project, as well as the wood you are using. Select the best which suits your needs. When selecting the best wood putty, note that water-based and solvent-based wood putty are distinct. Not all of them have good adhesion, or similar quality.

     The best quality of wood putty is one that contracts and expands. On the other hand, good filler should be one that easily sands and retains a nice finish.

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