The Best Wood Grain Filler I Use for Kitchen Cabinets

By MWB-Team •  Updated: 12/31/23 • 

If I want a super smooth and professional-looking cabinet finish, my best option is a wood grain filler. This applies especially to grainy woods such as Oak, Ash, Mahogany, Walnut, and other porous woods. A grain filler helps seal the pores before painting, ensuring an even and smoother finish. In this article, I’ll explore the best wood grain fillers available and provide information on protecting and enhancing kitchen cabinets with top coats.

My Best Wood Grain Fillers

Aqua Coat White Cabinet Grain Filler Gel: The Aqua Coat grain filler stands out as the best choice due to its minimal shrinkage and strong adherence to wood. It has an easy-to-apply, spreadable consistency. After application, it takes about 40 minutes to 1 hour to dry before sanding and applying a second coat. The Aqua grain filler effectively fills pores in oak, mahogany, and other porous woods for a smooth, mirror-like painted finish.

Aqua Coat Water-Based White Cabinet Grain Filler Gel
$26.90 ($1.68 / Fl Oz)

The Aqua grain filler has a good consistency that is easy to spread and apply. It's also easily sanded down and adheres well to wood. It also has very minimal shrinkage for an overall smoother finish.

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Old Masters Woodgrain Filler: The Old Master wood grain filler, an oil-based option, effectively fills open-grained woods for a perfect and smooth finish. It has a thicker consistency but can be thinned with a solvent or natural-colored stain for customization. Drying time is longer (around 4 hours) compared to Aqua Coat, but it provides a quality finish for open-grained woods.

Old Masters Woodgrain Filler Natural Tone

If you want an even and perfect stained surface on open-grained woods, the Old Masters Oil-based wood grain filler is a great option you can check out. It's easy to spread, and you can customize the color to match your stain for the best results.

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GoodFilla Wood & Grain Filler: For a more budget-friendly option, the GoodFilla wood & grain filler comes in various colors to match different wood types. It is pre-mixed and can be adjusted with water for the right consistency. While it takes a bit longer to dry, it offers customizable colors for different woods.

GoodFilla Wood & Grain Filler
$25.99 ($0.81 / Fl OZ)

The Goodfilla wood & grain filler is cheaper, budget-friendly, easier to apply, and easily sanded once dry. It also comes in various customizable colors for different wood species.

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Wood Grain Filler Buying Guide

What is a Wood Grain Filler?

A wood grain filler is a paste-like product that fills the pores and grain in porous woods. These woods include oak, ash, mahogany, alder, cherry, etc. With a paste-like consistency, the wood filler gets into the pores and grain of the wood for a smoother surface.

Before and After Applying Wood Grain Filler

Before and After Applying Wood Grain Filler

Once applied and properly sanded, you can paint or stain your wood for a perfect and mirror-like appearance. A good wood grain filler like the Aqua Coat White Cabinet Grain Filler Gel does not shrink much. This guarantees the best results even after you paint or stain your cabinets and other wood projects.

Difference After Applying Wood Grain Filler To Kitchen Cabinet Door

Difference After Applying Wood Grain Filler To Kitchen Cabinet Door

Wood grain fillers come in different materials, from silica, clay, micro-ballons, or calcium carbonate. The materials are mixed in a binder, like an oil or water-based finish, to adhere to the wood.

Water-based Grain Fillers Explained

Water-based wood grain fillers are best for raw and bare wood before you apply a finish. They dry faster than oil-based grain fillers and don’t require much preparation before application. They are also easier to sand to get a smoother wood surface.

Aqua Coat White Cabinet Grain Filler

Aqua Coat White Cabinet Grain Filler

Once you’ve sanded your water-based grain filler, you can apply paint for a smoother appearance. Most water-based grain fillers come in white, but you can also get clear grain fillers if you want to apply a clear top coat. Read more about water-based grain fillers.

Oil-Based Grain Fillers Explained

Oil-based wood grain fillers use solvents and are mostly applied to stained wood surfaces for an even and better-looking stained finish. Different solvents like naphtha or mineral spirits thin them. Although the drying times of oil-based grained fillers differ depending on the binder and solvent used, they usually take longer to dry than water-based grain fillers.

Old Masters Oil-Based Wood Grain Filler

Old Masters Oil-Based Wood Grain Filler

Oil-based grain fillers can also be pre-mixed with a stain to make a stained surface more uniform. However, oil-based grain filler can darken the wood, so test it on a small piece of wood to see the results. Read more about oil-based grain fillers.

Wood Grain Filler vs. Wood Filler

Both wood grain filler and wood filler are used to fill holes, cracks, and voids in wood. However, wood fillers have a thicker consistency, which makes them better for larger holes and cracks on a piece of wood.

There are also different wood fillers, like epoxy, cellulose, two-part, and homemade wood fillers. A wood filler is your best option to fill large holes, cracks, voids, and checks.

However, if you’re looking to fill wood pores and grain, a wood grain filler is the one to use. The watery consistency penetrates smaller-sized pores and seals them perfectly for a smoother surface.

Grain Filler vs. Sanding Sealer

A sanding sealer is used on wood before you apply a lacquer or varnish finish. It is usually a lacquer or varnish finish with zinc stearate added.

The zinc stearate makes lacquer or varnish powder up when sanded rather than clogging up the sandpaper. This helps create a smoother surface so that other coats of lacquer or varnish can go on smoothly.

Applying GoodFilla Clear Grain Filler

Applying GoodFilla Clear Grain Filler

Wood grain filler also helps a finish go on more smoothly. However, it does that by filling the pores and grain. A sanding sealer also fills the wood but soaks into it for a smoother surface. It is then sanded, and you apply your desired finish, lacquer, or varnish. Check out our article on


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