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Best Stainable Wood Fillers 2020 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

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a stainable wood filler

Do you do woodwork? Has any of your wooden workpieces gotten scratched or nicked somehow? If you answered yes to either, or both of these questions then having a stainable wood filler in your home is an absolute must.

If you have any scratches or holes in your wood, filling them can be just what the doctor ordered.

That is where the wood filler comes in. They fill your holes and even allow you to re-stain it.

We have put a list together for you of our top four picks for the best stainable wood fillers on the market. We will give you a quick review of each, including the good and the bad. We want to make sure you know what you’re looking at before you start shopping. We will also include a buyer’s guide, in the end, to get you started.

A Comparison of our Favorite Products:

ModelPriceQuantityEditor Rating
FamoWood 40022126
FamoWood 40022126 Wood FillerBest Overall

Check Price
Minwax 42853000
Minwax 42853000 Stainable Wood Filler

Check Price
Elmer's (E917)
Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Filler (E917)Best Value

Check Price
3M Bondo Home Solutions
3M Bondo Home Solutions Wood Filler

Check Price

4 Best Stainable Wood Fillers – Reviews (2020)

1. FamoWood 40022126 Stainable-Wood-Filler – Top Pick

FamoWood 40022126 Wood Filler

The FamoWood 40022126 wood filler is a wonderful product and our number one choice.. This is a solvent free latex based product that you will be able to use indoors or out.

This product is good for any project that you have. It’s good to use on small nail holes or larger scratches.

Unfortunately, though, the FamoWood wood filler can be difficult to spread at times because it’s really thick. When you are applying this product, you will need to make sure that you get it spread the way you want it fairly quickly since it only takes about 15 minutes to dry.

Once it is completely dry, it can be sanded, drilled, or planed to match the rest of your surface. This product holds us well. It doesn’t shrink or crack once it is dry either.

As always, there are also a couple of problems with this product.. One is that the lid is tough to get off. You have to use a tool because fingers just can’t get a good hold. That is only a minor inconvenience, though. It also tends to have a short shelf life.. If you just do small jobs, definitely make sure that you get a small can as this product hardens on the shelf  quickly.

  • Latex/solvent free
  • Dries in 15 minutes
  • Won’t crack or shrink
  • Can be sanded, drilled, & planed
  • Most workable filler
  • Interior & exterior use
  • Lid hard to get off
  • Thick
  • Short shelf life

2. Minwax 42853000 Wood Filler (Stainable) – The Runner-Up

Minwax 42853000 Stainable Wood Filler

Minwax has been around for what seems like forever, so it isn’t surprising that they are number two of our top four. Even though this Minwax 42853000 stainable wood filler was explicitly made to be used with Minwax stains, it also does well with other brands of stain and paints.

It doesn’t even matter if the stain or paint is water-based or oil-based. It’s also suitable for interior, as well as exterior use.

This product is easy to use, but it dries in about eight to ten minutes. If you have a smaller job, this could be a great thing, but if you have a larger project, you may not have enough time to get it all spread out before it gets hard. Once it is completely dry, it is sandable, and it’s actually stronger than the wood itself.

The only significant drawback we found with this product is that the directions for mixing it with the hardener are not clear about the ratio that needs to be used.

  • Use with water or oil based stains
  • Fast drying (8-10 minutes)
  • Sandable
  • Stronger than wood
  • Interior & exterior use
  • Dries too fast
  • Does small jobs only
  • Unclear mixing instructions

3. Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler (E917) – Best for the Money

Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Filler (E917)

The Elmer’s carpenter’s wood filler is probably the easiest wood filler to use for one very unique reason. When you apply it, it is purple. When it is dry, it is white. There is absolutely no room to question if it is dry enough to sand or not. Once it is white, go for it.

Sometimes this product can be a little thick so it may take a little bit to get it spread out the way that you want it, but it will get there.

You should have plenty of time, though, because even though it still dries relatively quick, it still takes longer than a lot of the other fillers do. It is effortless to use, though. Just open the can, dip your putty knife in and pick up some filler, slap it on and spread it out on the surface where you want it, and wait for it to dry.

When the Elmer’s carpenter’s wood filler is dry, it can be sanded down and has only a minimal amount of shrinkage. It works great on small projects, like filling nail holes, but not so much on the more significant products.

This filler isn’t quite as hard as some of the others on our list, and can become crumbly once dried.,  For this reason, it is better used on smaller projects only.

We did find a couple of minor setbacks with Elmer’s brand filler, though. It is different than the others because it is only recommended for interior use which does limit its application potential.

It also doesn’t blend well with dark colors but will complement a light stain very nicely.

Overall, we have found that Elmer’s carpenter’s wood filler is the best product of its kind for the money.. It has a few drawbacks, but for the most part, it is a good choice.

  • Easy to apply
  • Dries fairly fast
  • Sandable
  • Great for small holes
  • Minimal Shrinkage
  • Interior use only
  • Too thick
  • Powdery when dry
  • Doesn’t dry hard
  • Doesn’t blend with dark stains

4. 3M Bondo Home Solutions Stainable Wood-Filler

3M Bondo Home Solutions Wood Filler

3M Bondo solutions wood filler is a decent alternative if you don’t have quite as much money to spend filling holes. This product is a little different though because it works well on larger projects. Let’s say that you are trying to fix some wood rot on a pole. The 3M wood filler will quickly take on the shape of the pole, and it will maintain that shape.

It is effortless to use, and when it is dry, it’s hard enough that you can treat it just like you would any other piece of wood. That includes sanding, drilling, planing, etc. Almost all fillers are sandable, but you can’t do the rest of that stuff with a lot of the other brands.

You do have to be careful to use it in a well-ventilated area, though, because the smell is extremely strong.

You also need to make sure that you are completely prepared to finish the job once you start it because this filler is very thin, and it dries very fast. It only takes about five to eight minutes before it is too hard for you to apply any more.

Because of the thinness, it can also be very runny which makes it difficult to apply and leaves behind a difficult to clean the mess. Once it is dry, it can have some slight shrinkage, but for the most part, it does the job.

One thing to be aware of is that the product settles in the can. This means that if you buy a pint-sized can when you open it, you may find that it is only ⅓ to ½ way full. That is just from the product settling. The weight is the same no matter how full the can is.

  • Easy to use
  • Good for large repairs
  • Strong
  • Can be treated the same as wood
  • Slight shrinkage
  • Too thin; drips
  • Dries too fast
  • Hard to clean up
  • Strong smelling
  • Settles in can

Buyer’s Guide

Wood filler is an essential tool to have on hand if you do any kind of woodwork. It is a putty-like material that is usually made out of sawdust and an adhesive filler of some sort. It gives you a way to repair any wood items that you have very quickly and efficiently. Wood filler is also known at times as plastic wood. If you have a surface other than wood, like plastic, you can still use the wood filler to fill in any holes that you might have. You can’t stain it, of course, but you can paint it, and it will turn out just fine.

There are four different types of wood fillers. They come in different consistencies and textures, and they all take different amounts of time to dry. The reason for the different kinds of filler is so you can find one that goes well with the grade and texture of your wood surface. The four different types are as follows:

1. Cellulose-Based:

Cellulose wood fillers are the most common on the market so you can find them in pretty much any hardware store.

When you purchase it, it comes as a dry powder that needs to be mixed with a solvent of some sort. You need to read the can to see what is best for the brand that you purchase, but many different solvents can be used.  Another big plus for cellulose-based filler is that it has an extremely long shelf life and stain takes to it very well, especially when used in thin layers.

2. Gypsum-Based:

Gypsum-based wood fillers are made out of mineral powders. That powder is mixed with water and is very hard and sturdy once dried. It’s also very transparent and will blend well with most surfaces.

The only problem with it being transparent is that it tends to stain over time. Therefore, this filler is better for projects that are painted, rather than those that are stained. Be aware of what you are using it on, though. It is not waterproof or meant to be used for projects outside of your home.

3. Vinyl-Based:

The vinyl-based wood filler very easy to use and spread. It also is known to dry faster than the other options.

It’s recommended that vinyl fillers are applied in thin layers. When applied thick, it tends to crack once it is dry. The biggest advantage of the vinyl-based fillers is that because they are plastic-based, they are waterproof and good for outdoor use. They do not stain very well, though, so paint is your best choice.

4. Epoxy-Based:

Epoxy-based fillers are becoming the most popular kind of filler on the market because it is weather resistant and very durable making it an excellent choice for outdoor use. Epoxy comes with two formulas that you mix to end up with a putty-type solution. The great thing about epoxy is that it can be used as an adhesive, as well as your filler, and it doesn’t take long to dry.

Wood Filler Applications:

1. Filling Holes:

You can use any type of filler to fill deep holes except for the vinyl-based since it cracks. You do need to make sure that the surface is clear of any old stain or paint, and that it is smooth. A piece of sandpaper will do the job nicely. Just make sure you wipe all of the dust off before applying the filler.

2. Flooring:

You can use wood filler to fill gaps in your wood floors. You don’t want to use water-based fillers, just in case, something gets spilled on it. You put a thin layer of filler in your spot and sand it smooth.

Depending on the type of filler used, it may or may not require you to apply more wood stain afterward, Follow the directions on your can.

3. Furniture Repair:

If you have a piece of furniture that rots, you can remove the bad area and fill it with a thick layer of filler. You do want to be aware of what you are putting it on.

If that piece of furniture will bear any weight, you want to make sure you get one that dries hard. The fillers that don’t dry hard will give when weight is put on it.

4. Material Bonding:

Wood fillers don’t have to be used just to fill holes. It can also be used as an adhesive that binds to pieces of wood together.

Wood Filler vs. Wood Putty

Wood filler is water-based and is made mostly of chemicals, like epoxy or polyurethane. It’s easy to maneuver and dries very fast. It can easily be used by almost anyone.

Wood Putty is calcium and oil-based making it suitable only for oil-based finishes. It can’t be used for the same range of things that wood filler can, but it’s tougher and water-proof, making it better for outdoor use.

Note:   To help extend the shelf life of your wood filler, get a spray bottle of water, spritz the top of the filler one to two times, put a piece of plastic wrap down on top of the filler so that there is no air, and then put the lid on.


So now that we have told you what kind of wood fillers that there are and the different things that each can be used for, let’s review our top four picks real quick.

1.    FamoWood 40022126 Wood Filler – Top Pick

2.    Minwax 42853000 Stainable Wood Filler – The Runner-Up

3.    Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler (E917) – Best for the Money

4.  3M Bondo Home Solutions Wood Filler

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what wood fillers are used for and how to use them. Make sure the filler you choose is suitable for exterior use if you plan on using it on something that stays outside. Also, make sure you have the ones that dry hard if you’re using it on something that is going to bear any weight.

All of the critical information that you will need is printed on the can.  Make sure that you read all of the details and directions before you purchase one.

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!