Can You Paint Over Wood Putty?


Wood Putty is specifically for filling imperfections of a workpiece. The question here is if using it will allow you to paint over a wood putty? If so, are there any guidelines to consider when painting over wood putty? Find out the answers as you go through this article.

It is possible to paint over wood putty. The process is almost the same as painting a standard wood. However, make sure that the putty is completely dry to avoid mixing it with the paint. Also, you have to match the color of the putty to the color of the wood and your makeup. Alternatively, at least make sure that the color of the putty is lighter in color, so it won’t the paint. Then, sand the putty after drying and apply the finish that you prefer.

This article is a guide for understanding how a putty works effectively and how you can maximize its use. You’ll also know what the difference between wood putty and wood filler is, and when to use them precisely.

What is Wood Putty?

Wood Putty has another name called Plastic Wood. It is a substance used for filling imperfections on wood. It may include nail holes and other relevant issues, which may occur before the final touches. Wood Putty is often a combination of wood dust, thinner, pigments, and binder that dries after application. It comes in various brands, types, and colors, but the purpose always remains the same.

What Is the Difference Between Wood Putty and Wood Filler?

Most woodworkers who are new to woodworking get confused between wood putty and wood fillers. They look alike and do the same tasks when it comes to filling the gaps in the wood. Generally, wood filler differs from wood putty in terms of their components. Wood Fillers mostly have plastic that acts as epoxy. On the other hand, Wood Putty hardens less, it is waterproof, and can last even on outdoors.

  • Wood Putty. It is calcium carbonate and oil-based, which makes it only applicable for oil-based finishes. It may not be as versatile as wood fillers, but wood putty is more resistant, especially outdoors. Its most significant advantage is that wood putty is cheaper and more readily available in most local hardware stores. Hence, its price makes it ideal for massive projects like wood flooring, and it requires at least 48 hours to two weeks to set appropriately.
  • Wood Filler. It is water-based putty, which makes it less durable in outdoor use. It consists of chemicals like latex, clay, lacquer, epoxy, or polyurethane. The great thing about wood fillers is that they dry and set quickly for approximately 10 minutes and more, which makes it easy to apply by almost anyone. Also, you can mix it with sawdust or pigments to give an aesthetically pleasing texture.

Wood Putty Applications

Wood Putty may be less versatile than wood fillers, but you can still use it in various filler applications. Most woodworkers prefer to use wood putty because of their price and durability. Here are some common usages for wood putty. 




  1. Hole Filling. It is the most common use of wood putty regardless of the hole. However, it may require sanding to smoothen the surface using high-grit sandpaper before application to remove debris and dust. 
  2. Flooring. Wood putty is excellent for wooden flooring, especially since of its oil-based component. Spread a thin layer of oil-based wood putty on the floor and allow it to set. Then use high grit sandpaper to polish and resurface the wooden floor.
  3. Furniture Repair. Wood putty is outstanding, especially on outdoor furniture repair. If the furniture has rotten parts, you can carefully remove them and reapply a thick layer of wood putty.
  4. Material Bond. Wood putty can also act as a durable glue to bond two pieces.

Can You Sand Wood Putty?

Sanding is beneficial before and after applying a wood putty. Before application, you have to make sure that the hole is free from dust and burr. Then, you have to smoothen the surface once after dry so that you can apply your desired finish. Fine-Grit sandpaper or a handheld oscillating tool equipped with at least 220-grit sandpaper can do the job of smoothing wood putty. 

What are the Types of Wood Putty?

Wood Putty comes in two types based on their primary components, which includes nitrocellulose-based and acrylic-based. Nitrocellulose-based wood putty dries extremely fast that it is ideal for quick projects. On the other hand, acrylic-based takes longer to dry, and it is easier to clean up with water before curing. The second type is ideal for projects when completion time is not essential.




How to Apply Wood Putty?

Using Wood Putty is as easy as 1-2-3. Applying is somehow the same as using epoxy. For your convenience, here are some simple steps to help you use wood putty effectively. Remember the goal here – to not be able to tell by anyone which part of the wood has wood putty.

  • STEP 1: Prepare the Surface. Before anything else, prepare the surface that you want to work by smoothing it. Use sandpaper to polish the hole or the area. Then, clean it with a piece of wet rag after sanding. This process allows the wood putty to set appropriately without cracking. Also, it helps in merging with the surrounding environment.
  • STEP 2: Choose The Type of Wood Putty. Choose between the two kinds of wood putty that you want to use. Take into consideration the environment that you want to place your workpiece, the material, and the time frame in drying. More importantly, determine the sustainable result.
  • STEP 3: Application of the Wood Putty. Apply the wood putty generously onto the hole using a putty knife. Smoothen it out, but avoid applying too much pressure. Let the wood putty work its way going to the crack or into the hole.
  • STEP 4: Let it Dry. Let the wood putty dry completely before doing anything else. Please don’t touch and place it in a well-ventilated area. The drying time depends on the type of your wood putty, the material, and the diameter of the hole. As a general rule, you have to wait for at least 24 to 48 hours and check again to see if the wood putty has settled.
  • STEP 5: Sand and Clean the Putty. Once the wood putty gets dry, use an orbital sander or hand sandpaper to smoothen the affected area. You will see that it blends well with the surrounding of the material after some sandpaper passes. Sanding also helps in giving the workpiece a better-looking finish.
  • STEP 6: The Final Treatment. Once you are happy with the result of dried wood putty, you can apply a layer of wood stain, veneer or paint. The decision depends on your preference and desired end look. Just make sure that it suits the workpiece, and can cover the wood putty.
  • STEP 7: Settling in Place. Once you have applied a layer of wood stain, veneer or paint, please keep it in place. Dry the color or surface and make sure it dries correctly to avoid the formation of little bubbles.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How Long Does Wood Putty Take to Dry?




Usually, wood putty dries after two to eight hours. However, it may take longer to get dry depending on the amount of wood putty that you put and the area that you’re trying to fix. To be sure, it’s better to leave it for at least 48 hours to make sure that the wood putty is completely dry and settled in. 

How Do You Make Paint Putty Dry Faster?

You can speed up the drying of wood putty, but only for a little bit. As you know, wood putty is oil-based. If you speed up the process too much, the result may not be as efficient as you thought would be. Using a hairdryer set on low can help you speed the drying time. Just be careful of putting it on the right distance and not too close on the wood putty.

Does Wood Putty Shrink?

Once wood putty gets dry, it expands more trying to fill the hole. It sticks into the patch, unlike most wood fillers that shrink as they dry. However, it is crucial to sand it smooth, prime, and paint it once it dries. It protects the dried wood putty against exposure to dust and other substances.




Final Words

If you are worried that you can’t paint over wood putty, then don’t. It is possible once it gets dry on the hole. Just make sure that you cover the whole area of the whole, and sand it smooth for seamless paint application. Also, make sure that the color of the wood putty matches your wood as well as your paint.

In choosing between wood putty and wood filler, the answer depends on your application. If you are trying to fill in a gap for exterior stuff, then wood putty is a better option. It is more durable because of its content, plus it is cheaper than wood filler. On the other hand, a wood filler will give you a more aesthetically appealing finish. It is expensive, and take note that it is better only for indoor purposes.

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