How Long Do Wood Filler and Putty Take To Dry?

Wood filler and putty are great to cover up all sorts of damages in wood.

However, these are different in terms of application and don’t have the same drying times. So if you’ve ever wondered how long for the wood filler to dry and how long does putty take to dry before painting, or how long does putty take to dry before sanding, you’ve come to the right place.

It doesn’t matter what kind of project you’re working on, it’s useful to have both of these fillers handy. And if you know how long the wood filler drying time is and the wood putty dry time is, you can carefully plan your project.

Here, you can find everything from how long does it take for the wood filler to dry and how long does it take for wood putty to dry. This will help you a lot with your projects, so keep on reading!

How Long Does It Take On Average?

filling with spatula

Woof filer and putty can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a day to fully dry.

To be more specific, a filler usually takes two to six hours to completely dry. Wood putty can take a bit longer, ranging anywhere from two to eight hours.

To find out more about the specific drying times, you can check below for more information.

What Is A Wood Putty And A Wood Filler?

Some people use the words wood putty and wood filler interchangeably to signify the same thing.

It’s actually not the same thing. Below, we explain it to you so you can pick the best one for the job you want to do.

Wood putty

putty for surface

Wood putty, aka plastic wood, is a non-hardening pliable paste that dries firm but not as hard as a wood filler. As you can tell by its name, it’s made from plastic chemicals but also oil-based compounds and sometimes a pigment to match the color of the wood you want to fix.

As for what you can use it for, you can use wood putty to fix small blemishes such as joint blemishes or nail holes. It’s usually used for small things on finished projects. Wood putty is very useful for small holes as it doesn’t dry completely hard. You don’t need a total cure.

Wood filler

wood filler differences

Wood filler, contrarily to wood putty, fully hardens. It’s made from fibers and wood particles mixed with a thinner and a binder. When you apply the wood filler, the thinner evaporates, which makes the filler harden and dry. This creates a very strong bond with the wood, unlike wood putty.

The hardening helps the wood maintain its integrity, but it won’t help improve the strength of joints because a wood filler isn’t a true structural material. In the same vein, it doesn’t replace mechanical fasteners.

Types Of Wood Fillers 

There are different types of wood fillers, and each of them has a different impact on drying time. There are water-based and oil-based fillers. Drying times can also depend on the depth of your application. Shallow repairs tend to try faster than deep repairs, which need multiple coats.

 Here are all the details about them so that you can pick the right one for you:

Water-based filler dry times 

type of putty and filler

Water-based fillers usually dry faster than oil-based ones. They can take between 30 minutes and an hour to dry for a single shallow repair to dry. If it needs a deeper repair with several layers, it can take anywhere between two to six hours for the water-based filler to dry.

Oil-based filler dry times

An oil-based filler takes longer to dry. For the surface layer to dry, it can take 10 to 20 minutes to fully dry, but it takes longer to do a full cure or for all the layers to fully dry. 

Once you apply the first surface layer, you can wipe any excess. Once that’s done, it can take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours to fully dry. 

What Affects A Wood Filler’s Drying Time? 

There are different things that can affect the drying time for wood fillers.  First of all, it depends on the filler types. Then, it depends on the filler amounts.

Filler types

There’s so much more than a wood filler or a putty. There are epoxy, latex, homemade powder, and acrylic caulk. Each material and mixture affects how long the filler will take your dry and what type of job you use it for, and what it will look like at the end.

Some fillers dry quickly in less than 15 minutes, but some are really moist. A moist filler can improve the look of your project but takes longer to dry, whereas it’s the opposite with a filler that dries quicker. It’s up to you to choose the best one suited for you.

Some quick-drying fillers can also shrink over time, crack and break. So if you want to use these types of fillers, simply overfill the holes a bit more to avoid that.

Filler amounts

drying time

Another thing that can impact drying time is the amount of filler you use. A thin layer doesn’t take long to dry, while a deep one does. 

Usually, you alternate the filler amounts depending on the surface you use it on. For example, large cavities or holes take much longer to dry. Avoid just using thin amounts to make it dry quicker.

The drying time is usually the time the thickest layer takes to dry. We advise you to wait for all the individual layers to dry before you sand the dry ones. It’s best to sand them all together.

How Can I Make Wood Filler Dry Faster? –

There are some tips you can follow to make wood filler dry faster. There are different methods and products you could use.


different filler types

First, you can apply your wood filler in thin layers. Instead of applying it in one thick layer, it will dry faster if you apply it in multiple thin layers.

Or, you could use a fan to make your wood filler dry quicker. This will increase the air circulation in your workspace, remove humidity, and make the filler dry faster.

Another trick is to apply wood filler during warmer weather, so it dries faster. The ideal time of the year to do such a project is during summer, especially around noon. 

Finally, you can heat the filler. You can do this by using a thermostat, a space heater, or even a heat gun. You could even point a cooling fan at your project. This speeds up the process.

There are also some wood fillers that dry faster than others. This should be indicated on the product’s label. However, be careful as some of the faster-drying ones can lead to cracks, breaks, and shrinkage. It could affect your end result. Sometimes, it’s best to wait a bit more and do things right than trying to rush the project.



There are methods you could follow if these tips don’t work. However, try all of the above before, as they’re usually efficient. 

First, you can clean up the area before you apply a filler to it. Debris and dirt can actually slow down the process, and the end result won’t be great either. You can use sandpaper and a cloth to make sure the surface is clean before you apply a filler. For holes, you can make sure they’re clean by using a screwdriver.

Another method is to use hardeners, which you can add to your filler. You can add a hardener and an epoxy resin to your filler mix. However, you have to be careful not to mix it too much. Otherwise, it won’t be a filler anymore. It will just be a hardener. Also, the filler could be more susceptible to cracks or breaks if you use too much of it.

In last resort, you could sand the surface. You just need a piece of paper to have a smooth, finished look. Sometimes, it can be hard as the sandpaper can stick to the filler if it’s not fully dry. We suggest you leave your project in the sun to warm up the filler before you apply it or to use a fan to make it dry quicker.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a quick FAQ where you can find all of the answers you didn’t find above about wood fillers, wood putties, and how long they take to dry.

How Do You Know When A Wood Filler Is Dry?

A wood filler that’s water-based usually takes two to four hours to dry fully. You don’t need to wait, and you can use a cloth to remove any excess material. Of course, some factors can affect how long the drying time is, as you saw above.

As for how to know when a wood filler is dry, you can test the dryness by using a medium or high-grade sandpaper. Ideally, use a 320-grit one. The surface has to be smooth so the sandpaper can go over the wood without a problem.

If the sandpaper sticks or even gums up try again in a few hours. It means it’s not fully dry yet. You then have to test this again until the wood surface is fully dry. It can require some patience, and it’s a learning curve, but it’s a very efficient to know when a wood filler is dry.

How Long Does A Filler Take To Dry Before Sanding?

How Long Does A Filler Take To Dry Before Sanding

A filler usually takes two to four hours to dry. Check if it’s dry with sandpaper. If it is, you can sand it. We recommend you add a stain to match the wood and give it a nice finish.

If you want to, you can sand the surface before you sand it. This creates an opaque look.

How Long Do You Let The Wood Filler Dry Before Painting?

This depends on the material you use. You can wait less than a day or several days, depending on the type of wood filler you use and the project you want to do. You have to wait for the wood filler to fully dry before you can paint it, and several factors could influence this.

Usually, what you do is that you fill any imperfections that need repairing with a filler. Once it’s completely dry, you sand it, clear up the debris, stain it and paint it. Choose wisely which type of filler you want, consider the different drying times and the factors that could affect how long you have to wait for them to dry before painting.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Use A Wood Filler?

The best time of year to use a wood filler is during summer. That’s because it will dry so much faster with the heat, especially if you do your project during the hottest hours of the day, around noon. 

You can leave your project under the sun, and it will dry much quicker than any other time of the year, even deep layers.


To sum it up, wood filler and putty have different uses and different drying times. A wood filler that’s water-based can try in 30 minutes to an hour. An oil-based wood filler can take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours to dry.

As for putty, it usually dries in 15 minutes or less, but it depends on what type of filler you use and how much of it you use. It can sometimes take a day to dry.

This will also wildly depend on how many layers you apply, the thickness of your layers, the temperature conditions, and humidity levels.

You can then test the dryness of the filler with sandpaper. If it doesn’t stick or gums up, it means it’s fully dry. Once you’re sure of that, you can sand your project, stain it and paint. Woodwork takes some time and patience, but doing things right will mean you will have great results!

Scroll to Top

Get tailored advice & exclusive content

Join our exclusive 2,500+ email list to get tailored advice, product roundups, and be the first to see our new content. No spam, we promise.