Best Stainable Wood Fillers – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

By MWB-Team •  Updated: 06/02/23 • 

A wood filler is a substance that contains sawdust/wood dust mixed with a water or petroleum base that acts as a binder. When choosing a wood filler, you need to decide if you’ll paint or stain over it. If you intend to stain wood afterward, a stainable wood filler is what you’ll use.

While most wood fillers can be stained, some will stain better than others. In this article, we’ll review the best stainable wood fillers you can check out. We’ve also included a buying guide for better understanding.

Our Top Stainable Wood Fillers

Best Overall Stainable Wood Filler

1. Minwax Stainable Wood Filler

Minwax Stainable Wood Filler
$12.48 ($0.78 / Ounce)

This Minwax wood filler has a good consistency that is easy to apply and sand down. This one had the best match on light and dark-stained woods compared to other wood fillers.

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If you’re looking for a good stainable wood filler, reach out for the Minwax stainable wood Filler. The wood filler looks like wet sand and has a sandy texture. However, it is soft and spreads easily when applied to wood. It slightly shrunk on larger holes after drying, requiring a second coat to fill it up evenly. Avoid overspreading the filler to avoid imparting color to the surrounding wood.

Once dry, the wood filler changes to an orange/yellow color. It’s easier to sand it down, but it still has its sandy texture. Make sure to sand it down properly to get a close match to the wood. When stained, this filler has the closest match to light-stained and dark-stained woods. Although it can stain a tad darker, it is one of the best matches to surrounding wood.

Another Great Option

2. Elmer’s Carpenter’s Stainable Wood Filler

Elmer's Carpenter's Stainable Wood Filler
$11.59

This wood filler has a slightly runny consistency but is easier to apply and sand down. Once dry, it holds up well and takes a better stain with a closer match to the wood.

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At first sight, Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler looks wet and has a runny consistency. However, despite its runny consistency, it is easy to apply like other drier wood fillers. However, spread it slowly to avoid popping it so that it stays put. Because of its runny consistency, make sure you also apply it adequately because it shrinks slightly.

Once dry, the wood filler is soft and has a greenish color to it. It is very easy to sand and holds up very well. When it comes to stainability, Elmer’s wood filler is slightly noticeable on lighter woods but makes a very close match on dark-stained woods. It’s also slightly noticeable on larger holes and looks a little darker. Other than that, this wood filler stains well.

Best for Darker Stains

3. DAP Plastic Wood Filler

DAP Plastic Wood Filler
$13.00 ($0.41 / Ounce)

The Wood filler has a smooth consistency and is easy to apply and sand down. It also takes a stain better on both light and dark-stained woods. However, its performance is best on darker stained wood.

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The DAP plastic wood filler has a smoother consistency but looks dryer and has a stronger odor. Although it is fairly easy to apply, it gets harder if you leave the container open. However, once you apply it, it dries hard but has a slightly powdery feel. The filler dries quickly, and sanding is easier by hand.

When the wood filler is stained, it is a close match on lighter wood. However, the filler perfectly matches darker stained woods and disappears once stained. Overall, the DAP filler will deliver better results if you’re filling nail holes, cracks, or larger holes on wood that you’ll stain dark.

Best Outdoor Stainable Filler

4. Bondo Home Solutions

Bondo Home Solutions Wood Filler
$24.95

The Bondo wood filler is one of the fastest-drying wood fillers. It's great for outdoor use and does not shrink or crack with time. However, mix small batches and don't use too much hardener to avoid fast drying.

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If you’re looking for a good outdoor/exterior wood filler, Bondo home solutions is a great pick. With the Bondo wood filler, you have to mix it up yourself as opposed to other premixed wood fillers. Don’t apply too much hardener, which might cause it to harden even before you apply it.

It also has a strong odor, so we recommend it for outdoor use. It dries quicker than most wood fillers but is a little harder to sand down. Although the wood filler is stainable, it is best to use it on lighter stains because it is harder to stain them.

Stainable Wood Fillers Buying Guide

Stainability Explained

Stainable wood fillers are made to absorb stains just as the wood and blend in without being obvious. Although most of the wood fillers in this list work just as advertised, no single wood filler will absorb stains as the surrounding wood does. As wood ages, it will eventually change color, and the wood filler will not change or take another shade.

This Minwax Wood Filler Makes this Maple Table Top Seamless

This Minwax Wood Filler Makes this Maple Table Top Seamless

Before choosing a wood filler, remember wood and wood filler will never match perfectly. As we said earlier, no wood filler will look great, and take stain as well as the wood you’re staining.

Types of Wood Fillers

There are different types of wood fillers, and they can be categorized into epoxy-based, latex-based, gypsum-based, and cellulose-based.

Epoxy-based wood fillers are the most durable but require more preparation time, depending on different manufacturers. They are great for indoor and outdoor applications because they expand and contract with temperature changes and are more water-resistant. Epoxy wood fillers are not stainable but can be painted over.

Latex-based wood fillers are easier to apply and dry very fast. They are also water-resistant once fully dry and can be stained. They are also sandable to create a smoother finish.

Gypsum-based fillers are usually used on baseboards and drywall. Gypsum wood fillers are very cheap, but water can easily destroy them even after they are fully dry. Because of this, they should not be used outdoors or where they might get in contact with moisture or water.

Cellulose-based wood fillers are mostly water soluble and can be stained or mixed with stain to create a perfect match. These are the most common stainable wood fillers because they use sawdust/wood dust and a binder. Most of the wood fillers we have reviewed are cellulose-based. Although they are mostly used indoors, some, like the Bondo wood filler, can be used outdoors.

Wood Filler Drying Time

The drying time of wood filler before you can sand it will depend on the brand you’re using. However, most fillers dry takes about 20 minutes to dry and sand them. After that, you can stain the wood filler in about 30 minutes once it’s fully dried. Water-based wood fillers will dry faster compared to oil-based wood fillers.

Bondo Wood Filler

Bondo Wood Filler

For outdoor applications, some wood fillers like Bondo will dry up very quickly. This is important because the filler gets to do its job before exposure to rain or snow. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on the drying, sanding, and staining times for the best results.

Wood Filler vs. Wood Putty

Wood putty, or plastic wood, is a mixture of plastics and oil-based solvents used as binders. Unlike wood fillers, wood putty does not take a stain and does not harden. It is malleable and comes in various colors to match the stain or paint on your wood. Wood putty is great for covering nail holes and cracks and working outdoors because it does not crack with time.

Check out our informative article on wood putty vs. wood filler.

Wood Filler vs. Grain Filler

Wood filler and grain filler are two different products, but both serve a common purpose. A wood filler has a thicker consistency and is great for filling larger holes, cracks, and other voids in the wood. A grain filler has a thinner consistency and is usually a binder mixed with silica, clay, or calcium carbonate.

Most grain fillers have a thinner consistency that is better to work into the grain of the wood but is still thick to fill the pores of a wood’s grain. Grain fillers are mostly used on woods with larger open pores, making it harder to get a smoother finish. Oak and mahogany are some of the woods where grain fillers come in handy to produce a smooth glass finish…Read more about wood grain fillers.

MWB-Team

Hello there! This is the Make Wood Better Team. Here, we share informative how-tos and guides focused on making wood better. Whether it's finishing wood, maintenance, or restoration, there's something on this website for you to learn and improve your skills.