September 13, 2023
There’s one thing we can’t foresee: accidents. No matter how much we try to be safe and sure with our daily lives, something will happen out of the blue causing a large holes on the wood.
Consider the state of your wooden surfaces. Any damage they might suffer – or already suffered – wasn’t planned, nor foreseeable.
Thankfully, we have wood fillers to turn back time. As they go into gaps, holes, gouges, and grooves, the surface will look brand new!
You don’t have to worry about the filler breaking down again. Many wood fillers can rebuild themselves through broken edges.
After you finish up, no one else could have a hint that a large, gaping hole was in that wooden surface earlier.
However, wood fillers aren’t one-size-fits-all. There are diverse wood species, finishes, and techniques. When you go shopping for wood fillers, you want something that matches your unique situation.
Before we give you some recommendations for large gaps and holes, let’s focus on knowing the different kinds of fillers first!
The Different Kinds of Wood Fillers
So, it’s best to know all the types of wood fillers so you know your best bet. Let’s go through each one below.
1) Latex Fillers
For small holes and cracks, use latex fillers.
When you redecorate or move into a new home, you might find nail holes from previous hooks, pictures, or paintings hung on the wall. Or, if it’s an old home, you may find cracks in the cabinets or wooden trims.
When choosing latex fillers, keep in mind that these are mainly for cover-ups. They don’t have that much structural integrity! They might crack, sink, or become unusable if you force them on large holes.
You can use latex fillers for minor damage. As these fillers come with set colors, you can choose the best tone that matches the wall, trim, or cupboard.
You can easily apply latex fillers with a putty knife. Remove the excess after drying, sand the spot, and use a finish. You’re all done!
2) Epoxy Fillers
If you want something more durable, consider epoxy fillers.
Unlike latex, this type of filler can bind onto the wooden surface, extending to where the missing chunk used to be. So, unlike latex, you can drill, paint, and stain epoxy fillers!
After filling in the missing chunk, you can sand, saw, or shape the filler. The material is a bit like dough before and after it dries. You can mold it how you want.
There is a downside, however. Epoxy looks a bit plastic and distinct from the rest of its environment.
Still, it can camouflage pretty well if you use the right paint. Wait for at least 24 hours to see the final result.
You can use epoxy fillers or two-part epoxy for large holes. If there’s a lot of damage to your sills, door jambs, trims, and moldings, you can rely on this filler to fix them!
3) Polyester Paste
The polyester paste is a lot like a two-part epoxy. While most commonly used in repairing holes in car bodies, you can also use it for large gaps and holes in wood.
Like epoxy, the polyester paste can withstand drilling and painting. However, it’s much less flexible when applied.
For one, it requires a hardener. Hardeners can be toxic, so exercise caution when applying them with a brush. After, you have to add resin.
To make sure your polyester fillers stick, add an extra coat. It can harden quickly – within 15 minutes, at least! – so make sure it’s in the shape you desire before then.
You can sand and paint it as you wish after applying. Make sure to get paint that matches the tone of the wood!
4) Powder Fillers
If you want a high-quality filler for surface damage, consider powder fillers. Powder fillers are sawdust and wood shavings, and it becomes a “paste” once mixed with water.
Remember “surface damage” is the working phrase here. Powder fillers can’t withstand drilling or any kind of heavy impact after it dries!
Some brands have hardeners to create more strength in their wood fillers. However, don’t assume it’s enough for heavy impact.
If you have surface damage that you’re just itching to color-correct, powder fillers can be your new best friend. You can mix in pigments as you wish to create the most matching tone.
After you put it on, leave the filler be and come back to it now and then. There isn’t any specified drying time. It can depend on how much of the filler you used.
5) Homemade Wood Fillers
Want to make your wood fillers? It’s easy. Like powdered fillers, you can use sawdust and mix it in with white wood glue. Make sure you use equal parts until paste forms.
When making your homemade filler, try to get the same wood species as the damaged wood for your sawdust. That way, it can match up the color easily.
A note of caution: too much white glue can make the end product white, too!
There are other considerations to homemade fillers. Though it’s cheap and can sand easily, you may have to reapply the filler several times. It can shrink, so it needs your complete attention to make sure it’s at its most effective.
6) Spackling Paste
For interior wood – everything from jambs to trims – you can use spackling paste.
Spackling paste has gypsum plaster. Gypsum plastering is an environmentally friendly alternative to sand and cement! It’s durable with a premium finish, and can also patch up drywall.
After it dries, you can sand and paint the spackling paste as you wish. However, using this filler comes with a few drawbacks.
It may require more than one application, and tends to shrink. Choose paints over stains – it doesn’t hold the latter very well.
7) Cellulose Wood Putty
A putty is a premium option for those who want to fix up large gaps and holes. For one, it has real wood! It won’t have a problem with shrinkage like other fillers do.
However, it does have its limits with how much it can cover. Anything more than 3/8-inch isn’t advisable.
Aside from that, you can sand, paint, and stain wood putty after it hardens.
8) Acrylic Caulk with Silicone
Another great option is acrylic caulk with silicone. It’s best to use for exterior wood as it can resist moisture.
During application, it stays flexible and sticks to the surfaces quickly. You can pick out a color that matches the wood tone or use paint!
Some Factors To Consider Before Buying A Wood Filler
There’s no uniform drying time for each product. While you may want a fast-drying filler, you may find yourself wishing the opposite. The damaged area might not have been ready by the time it dries, leaving you with a lot of frustration.
Plus, fast drying times mean your solution’s container has to be watched. You might leave it and find that the entire product has dried itself out.
One of the fastest drying products we mention above is the polyester paste. To be more aware of how fast products dry up, look for their hardening times.
How much wood filler should you buy? It can be a hard question. The practical solution is to base it on your job.
Are you a professional wood-worker, or are you buying wood fillers for some damage in your home?
If you’re the latter, move on to assessing the concerned area. Four to sixteen ounces is enough for a little damage. It can fill in cracks and holes easily.
Beyond small cracks and holes, consider getting at least thirty ounces.
However, if this is your profession, get wood fillers in bulk. This way, you know you have something ready for edges, gouges, and large, gaping holes.
If you can, get large bags of powdered filler. They have a longer shelf life, so it’s an investment! Plus, you can make the amount needed instead of potentially wasting extra fillers. This leads us to the question…
Should You Use Powdered or Ready-Made Paste Fillers?
There are several advantages and disadvantages to both types of fillers.
To save time, the paste solution comes in handy. It’s already a ready-made mixture. You can apply as you like!
If you’re in a time constraint or you need a quick fix, consider the paste solution.
However, you also have to be fast in your application. If you leave it out as you paste it over cracks and holes, you might see it completely dry out.
In contrast, powdered wood fillers give you control over the quantity of the product. You can mix large or small amounts without worrying! Plus, you can leave powdered fillers idle and not have to watch out for the drying up.
It does make you mix it first, so it might take some time. If you don’t mind measuring out powder fillers and mixing them for several minutes to an hour, then, go for powders.
As always, it’s best to adjust the product you use with the size of your project. A larger, commercial task may take a lot of time. You don’t want to risk paste drying out, plus you need something around for a long time. Buying powdered packages in bulk is better.
If you have small cracks, holes, and gaps, consider a paste. Apply quickly and make sure you bought enough for your project.
There are many wood filler options, so we’re here to help you narrow it down.
In general, large holes and gaps can benefit from wood fillers like:
- Epoxy fillers
- Powder fillers
- Acrylic caulk with silicone filler
These three are durable, won’t dry out, and don’t risk shrinkage.
Spackling paste, wood putty, and polyester paste are all good options after the first three. However, they can dry, shrink, and require reapplication.
Use latex filers only for small cracks and holes.
Now, the rest is up to you. Choose the best wood filler that fulfills all your needs!
Make sure you meet your budget. Factor in the type of woodworking you’re doing, plus the time you need to invest.
That wraps up our article on the best wood fillers for large gaps and holes! We hope you enjoyed it. Use the ideal pick for you and your project!
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Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.