Best Stainable Wood Filler in 2019 [Reviews]

applying wood filler to hardwood floors best wood filler

Wood filler is an essential product for any woodworker’s wood project. It allows you to cover nail holes, fill scratches and dents, and repair rotted or damaged wood surfaces with ease. But, you need to have the right wood fill​ material for the job. This will give the results you are looking for.

Choosing the best stainable wood filler can be daunting as there is a variety of options available on the market. To help, we’ve created this review to walk you through the process of finding a wood patch that is right for you.

Stainable Wood Filler Reviews

​There are a lot of wood patches, puttys, and fillers on the market, many claiming to be great for staining. We've evaluated a lot of the options and found the best wood filler for staining out there. Read these reviews and find out ​what we chose for each type of application.

​Below our reviews, we include an entire section on the features you should pay attention to as you evaluate a good wood fill option for your woodworking projects.

Elmer's Carpenter's Color Change Filler

​​To kick off our wood filler reviews, we started with the ​​Elmer's Carpenter's Color Change Filler. ​Versatile and easy to use, Elmer's holds true to their reputable brand with this filler.

Best used indoors, this solvent-free product is great to use around kids, but when applying but also for long term usage.

​As its solvent-free, you can easily clean up this wood patch product after use with soap and water. The Elmer's Carpenter's ​Color Change ​dries fast when used in small holes, but does take some time to thoroughly dry when used in larger areas. 

Don't be alarmed when you first start using it: the Elmer's filler goes on purple, but dries white! We wouldn't recommend using this filler if you want the true wood color to show through, as it has a dull finish. However, for painting or staining, it works just fine.

​In the end, if you have a lighter colored stain you're trying to match, this Elmer's makes for a reliable solution. It is cost-effective, safe for children, and reliable for indoor use. Avoid this if you have more extensive work to do, or you need it for outdoor use. 

FamoWood 40022134 Latex Filler

​You might have never heard of this brand, but the FamoWood Latex Filler is all the rage when it comes to fillers on the market today. Best used for filling cracks and dents, a highlight of this stainable filler is that it is solvent free.

​Like the Elmer's filler above, this makes the product much less smelly and pungent than others we've reviewed, and perhaps a bit safer around children and pets.

Fast drying like the Minwax option below, the FamoWood dries in 15 minutes. This filler is both stainable and paintable, so it gets our vote for the best wood filler for painting. This kind of flexibility makes it a great product to keep stocked in your garage, as its versatile enough to handle a lot of your woodworking projects. 

It isn't as strong as the Minwax option, and so if you have some major wood repair work to do, we'd opt for it. Perhaps it is the fact that it is solvent-free makes it a little less strong. We DO like how it doesn't smell nearly as bad as fillers with solvent, so perhaps thats the tradeoff.

​Although it is rated for both indoor and outdoor use, ​we would recommend only using the Famowood option indoors. We have a few great recommendations below that work better for outdoor use.

Keep this product in its sweet spot: fixing scratches and dents on indoor furniture, where you want flexibility afterwards in how you want to finish it.  

You can drill, sand, stain, paint, and plane the Famowood material. It won't crack or shrink, and because it lacks a solvent, you can clean it up quickly with water and soap. For indoor use, we prefer this one over the Elmer's, as it is a little more robust and versatile.

​3M Bondo Home Solutions Filler

​​The ​3M Bondo Home Solutions Filler can fix any rotted or damaged areas you have throughout your home including doors, windows, fences, furniture, and more. 

It is a high-quality product that is durable and long-lasting. We know the "bondo" name for being tough and strong, and this filler is no exception.

​The product can be sanded, shaped, planed, drilled, routed, or sawed like any wood surface you have, after it has dried. This is because it produces a hard finish. It is a good wood floor filler as it can work on virtually any surface you have in your home.

When filled, your wood project can be stained or painted if you are using 3M Bondo Home Solutions filler. ​As it is solvent-based, this is one of the fillers we recommend for outdoor use.

This two-part wood patch will not shrink. It also dries quickly and is designed to provide added strength when applied. You can literally rebuild a wood area that is damaged or missing with ​it.

The ​only drawback we found in this filler is that it is a little clumpy out the can, making it a little hard to apply. If you're new at using a wood filler, you might want to avoid this one. But this is a very minor drawback, and you'll get the hang of applying it very quickly. 

Minwax 21600000 High-Performance Filler

Minwax is a name brand in the wood patch, putty, and stain business, and their ​Minwax 42853000 Wood Fill For Staining is a top of the line option. Featuring a fast 15 minute dry time, you can grab this stainable filler, quickly apply, and move on with your woodworking project.

It is reasonably priced and backed by a strong brand name in the industry. 


​With "high performance" in the name, it is right of you to have high expectations. Part of the reason for this claim is the versatility that this filler brings. It can be used for a variety of uses, including:

  • fix damaged wood such as doors, tables, nightstands, chairs, outdoor decking, and windowsills
  • strong wood adhesive for filling hardwood floors
  • restoring, repairing, and rebuilding​ damaged and broken wood

​As mentioned earlier, once applied, it only takes 15 minutes to dry. You'll be able to start sanding it ​soon thereafter. This Minwax filler takes to drilling, sawing, cutting, and planing really well.

Like many of the other options listed here, this Minwax High Performance filler doesn't crack or shrink. ​It is solvent-based, making it a fantastic option for using outside.

One bonus about this Minwax is that it can be used on a lot of materials beyond just wood, including ​ceramics, concrete, metal, and fiberglass.

​Final Votes

​In our reviews, we narrowed it down to two stainable wood ​fill options for indoor use and two for outdoor use.

In the end, we side with the FamoWood Latex Filler for as the top stainable wood filler for indoor use. It is flexible, versatile, easy to use, and can be used for a variety of products. Bonus - you can paint this with ease.

For the best all around wood fill material, we vote for the ​​Minwax 42853000 Filler for Stain. Use this product inside or out, as it can help you with any project, ranging from a simple nailhole fill all the way up to complete wood reconstruction.

It also gets our vote as the best exterior wood filler. This stuff is tough as nails and extremely durable. The bonus with the Minwax is that it can be used on virtually every material, not just wood.

​What to Look For in ​a Wood Filler that Accepts Stain

When looking for the best filler to use for your wood applications, you need to keep a few things in mind, so you don’t end up with Botox and fillers. We’ve developed this list of need-to-know items which will help you pick a good wood ​filler that will take stain nicely.

Knowing the difference between fillers, glues, and putty's will make all the difference in your selection. At first glance, the differences might be subtle, but it is vital you buy the proper product for your needs. 

Wood Filler

In order to achieve a wood look with filler, it is a good idea to mix it with sawdust or dye. Knowing how to make wood filler with sawdust can actually help you work with a greater range of wood surfaces, like we did when building this DIY dining room table.

  • You will mostly find filler in a plastic tub. It usually comes in a range of popular wood colors to help you match the surface you are looking to cover.
  • ​Filler is a more pliable solution than wood putty, which allows it to stretch and shrink with the wood. Some fillers dry hard. These are typically used in larger gaps or cracks found in dried wood slices.
  • You can also use fillers for wood to fill large damaged areas where a void has been created. This helps create a more finished wood appearance. A finishing coat can typically be applied on top of the filler. This type of filler is primarily used in indoor applications.
  • Lastly, filler is the only type to be capable of taking stain. Putty and glue completely cover the wood grain, rendering a stain virtually useless. With putty, you should opt to paint over the surface. But, by choosing a stainable wood fill option, you'll have to choice to paint or stain with many products.
A person applies wood fill to a hardwood floor

source: adler-kraski.ru

Wood Putty

Wood putty, on the other hand, is often used with oil-based surfaces. It is put on a wood surface before you complete the sanding, staining, and finishing steps. Wood putty dries hard and needs sanding to achieve a smooth look to it.

  • Wood putty is typically used to fill nail holes and cracks that create blemishes in the wood.
  • You’ll find wood putty most often comes in a can. It is a stiff mixture that has the consistency of dough. You need a putty knife to apply it.
  • Wood putty also needs a hardener added to it to get it to cure. It does, however, resist shrinking and is a good solution for outdoor wood.

You can use stain with wood putty. Keep in mind there is often a disguising mark where the wood putty was added, even after sanding.

​Wood Putty vs Wood Filler

​There are several key differences between these two solutions.

  • ​Filler usually contains either sawdust or individual wood fibers that are suspended in a binding agent.
  • ​Putty, on the other hand, usually consists of some sort of plastic (like polyurethane or expoxy).
  • The other main difference between filler and putty is that putty never really hardens. Filler will get very, very hard once dried. 
Woody putty can open with the cap off

Wood Glue

If you think you need wood glue, you are looking for an adhesive product and not a filler or putty. Wood glue adheres wood surfaces together and is not used to fill holes or gaps in wood surfaces.

Wood glue is a good product to use when you want extra strength between two wood surfaces that are pinned or nailed together.

Grain Filler vs Wood Filler

Wood grain filler is a thin material that is used to fill in grain pores in wood. It is not a standard filler or putty for wood that you normally find... it is quite a bit different.

Grain filler is a binding agent that includes silica and clay. Its consistency is more like that of a milky, pasty peanut butter. You use the filler to ​fill large cracks in wood.

​With certain types of open grained woods like mahogany or oak, its better to use grain filler rather than wood filler, so as to preserve the beautiful grain nature of the wood.

Mohawk grain filler can

Interior or Exterior Use

​As you can tell from our wood filler reviews above, knowing whether you will be using the product indoors or outdoors is very important. 

​Filler suited for outdoor use must be made with the strongest of chemicals so that it can withstand everything nature has to throw at it. Between sun, wind, rain, and snow, this ​exterior filler must be strong and extremely durable.

As such, most outdoor fillers for wood contain solvents that make them strong and long lasting. These solvents are very smelly when applied, and some would argue they are not particularly safe to put on children's products.

However, for that specific case, as long as you stain or paint over the filler, you'll be fine.

​Indoor wood fillers, on the other hand, typically don't have solvents in them. This makes them virtually odor-free, and much safer. It also means that they aren't as strong. Avoid using indoor fillers to try and "bond" wood together, or for major wood reconstruction work.

paint can paint brush paint roller white paint

Paint or Stain

In addition, fillers can act differently whether or not the wood is painted or stained. Some fillers are only designed for use with painted surfaces while others work better with stain. Using the wrong filler for your wood surface will not produce the results you are looking for and could end up ruining your wood project.

Be sure to know what your filler is rated for and what application it works best with. ​Some are rated for paint whereas some are rated for stain. Stainable fillers have a more sophisticated makeup than those capable of just being painted. 

​Lets also spend a moment talking about adding to stain to a wood filler. It is rarely a perfect solution, even when the filler is rated for staining. Some are better than others (which is why we have our review) but there are too many variables to guarantee that the filler will take to the stain perfectly.

We would say to test the application each time on a separate area, if possible. Determine the right amount of stain, and the right number of coats, before applying it to the affected area.

One of the best stainable wood fillers being used on hardwood floors

source: celticsustainables.co.uk

Dry Times

Dry times vary by product, and you need to adhere to them before you being sanding or covering your wood surface with paint or stain. Some wood putties and wood glue offer quick dry times, while others that are used in more extensive repair work may take longer to cure.

​Most of the fillers in our reviews dry quickly, as fast as 15 minutes.

Environmentally Friendly

You also ​might want to consider if your ​filling material is environmentally friendly. There are a range of natural products you can select from that are nontoxic and produce low odors. 

These products work well and are a good choice when you are creating a sustainable wood piece and want to finish it with an eco-friendly filler to retain its integrity.

Clean Up

Clean up of your filler is also a consideration you need to keep in mind. Water-based products clean up quickly with soap and water. Other solutions may need additional solvents for cleaning up after use.

​Conclusion

​Wood filler is a great product that suits a variety of uses. A good filler can fill holes created from nails or screws. It can also be used to touch up dents, dings, and ​chips on your wood products. 

At the extreme, it can be used to reconstruct wood that has rotted, weathered, or broken. It can be used to bond and join together, all the while being completely flexible to take stain at the end.

By staining your filler, you'll be able to match the color, look, and feel of your wood piece.