How Long Does It Take Wood Putty To Dry

How Long Does It Take Wood Putty to Dry?


Wood flaws like holes, gaps, and dents are an eyesore especially if you want to varnish or paint your wooden project. You just can’t have that awesome finished wood look if you have these unsightly marks. Woodworkers and furniture manufacturers use different techniques to hide these flaws and possibly one of the simplest is to use wood putty.

Here is a short article to give you an idea as to how wood putty works and how long it takes to completely dry.

How much time does it take for the wood putty to completely dry?

Wood putty is also known as wood filler and its use is not actually required. It is totally up to you if you want to use wood putty. Take note that varnish, polyurethane, shellac, and lacquer will work well even without using a filler but wood putty helps create a consistent finish. Wood putty will fill and flatten pores, holes, dents, and imperfections in the wood. But for the wood putty to completely work, you need to observe proper drying times.

Why use fillers?

Different types of wood have varying pore structures. Maple, birch, cherry, poplar and alder wood come with tight grains and usually don’t require fillers. Wood like oak, ash, mahogany, walnut, and fir have naturally open pores and would benefit from using wood putty for a flawless finish.

Regular paste filler is oil-based however, contemporary paste fillers are water-based. Wood putty contains three main ingredients: a bulking agent, binder, and carrier or solvent. The bulking agent is actually the filler and is usually made from gypsum, sand or silica.

This is the material that fills and blocks the pores of the wood. The binder is a resin and this is the oil-base; this is the ingredient in wood putty that needs adequate drying time. And the solvent or carrier is the mineral spirits for oil-based and water for water-based formulas.

When filler or paste filler — is added to porous wood, it closes and covers the pores. This creates a consistent flat surface which is ready for the application of stain, paint or varnish.

What is wood putty or filler made of?

Should you use an oil or water-based filler? Before you choose, decide what type of top-coat product you plan on adding. If you are going to use a water-based top coat then you must use a water-based filler or putty. If you want to use an oil-based top coat, then an oil-based filler is for you.

Oil-base filer dry times

Right after you apply an oil-based filler, wait between five and 20 minutes to let the filler haze over. Drying times can depend on the temperature and humidity in your area. As soon as the stain dries, wipe off the excess with a stiff cloth like a burlap cloth. Let the filler cure for around 12 hours and examine the surface afterward. You can reapply your filler if you are not satisfied with the results.

Allow the filler to cure or dry for at least 48 hours if you are satisfied with the initial application. You can check the surface by lightly sanding this with 320-grit sandpaper. You must observe how the sandpaper moves over the surface where the filler is. The sandpaper should move flawlessly but if it gums up or sticks then the filler is still not dry. This could take a week or more to completely cure and this is according to the humidity and temperature of the place where you are in.

Water-based dry times

After you apply water-based filler, don’t wait for the filler to haze over. Wipe it off ASAP after applying it. Let the filler dry for an hour and test sand it with a 320-grit sandpaper. The sandpaper should move flawlessly but if it gums up, then the surface isn’t dry.

The best sign that the surface is dry is that sanding should produce a fine, white powder. Wait for another hour, sand it again and repeat if you are not satisfied. You must add stain the next day so that the surface is completely dry.

You can apply stain if you wish. Stain can be applied before or after filling. You must apply a stain on wood before filling it so you can easily see the natural grain patterns on wood. The application of stain after you have added the putty results in an opaque appearance because the stain won’t penetrate into the filled wood.


You must wait for at least overnight for the wood putty to completely dry. There are different drying times for oil-based fillers and water-based fillers but all in all, you must be patient and test your filler using sandpaper before applying paint. Understanding wood putty dry times can help create the best finish for your wooden projects.

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