How Long Does It Take Wood Putty to Dry

Having holes, gaps and dents on wood are very unappealing to the eyes especially if you want to paint your wood project. It may be impossible to get a perfect finished look if you don’t deal with these wood flaws. Different techniques are being employed to get rid of these flaws, and one of these techniques is the use of wood putty and knowing how long does it take wood putty to dry.

Wood putty is wood filler; it fills and flattens pores, holes, dents and other wood imperfections. For wood putty to complete work we need to consider the drying times. How long it takes for wood putty to dry? Although other fillers like polyurethane will work well even without using filler but wood putty helps create a consistent finish.

Wood putty is a malleable composite used to fix dents and scratches. It contains three main ingredients which include a bulking agent, binder, and solvent. The bulking agent is the filler, it is the material that fills and blocks the pores of the wood. Whether you should use an oil or water-based filler depends on the type of topcoat product you plan on adding.

If you plan to use a water-based topcoat then you should use a water-based filler or putty and if you want to use an oil-based topcoat then an oil-based filler or putty should be used.

Wood putty does not harden, it dries and sets after a while but retains its flexibility when dry so it has the feature to remain unaffected by any expansion or change in wood shape.

Wood putty typically takes about 2-8 hours to get completely dried; the drying time is dependent on temperature and humidity. The thickness of the wood putty will also determine how fast it gets dried.  Application of more wood putty takes a longer period of drying.

How Long Does It Take Wood Putty to Dry

Is Wood Putty and Filler The Same?

Most times, people are confused when differentiating wood putty and filler from one another. They have different mixing formulas but they essentially do the same thing. The purpose of these wood fillers is to cover up blemishes and damage on the wood. They both fill pores, holes, blemishes, scratches and other wood imperfections.

Wood fillers consist of pulverized wood suspended in some kinds of binders that dries rock hard, while wood putties are flexible materials that remain slightly pliable even after they dry.Wood putties are generally used to fill very small holes and they generally use synthetic materials such as epoxy or polyurethane.

Wood putties do not harden in the same way as wood fillers; they remain flexible and are used to provide flexible fill materials for small cracks, they are often applied to finished woods and are available in different tints to match different wood finishes while wood fillers are formulated with wood by-products like sawdust or wood dust.

They dry very hard but while they bond tightly to wood, they aren’t good structural materials and will not improve the strength of wood. Wood filler is usually untainted, it is usually stained along with the surrounding wood after it is applied and sanded smooth.

When applying wood filler or putty, you have to wait till they are completely dried before you can proceed with the project.


How Long Should Oil-Based Filler Dry?

You can identify the oil based wood fillers through the instruction. They cannot be cleaned with water so the instruction must indicate mineral spirits, acetone, or some other chemical solvent for clean up. The oil-based filler can take about 5-10 minutes to dry on the surface, it is influenced by humidity and temperature, so you may need to take note of what the weather is like in the area you are working.

Allow the filler to sit for about 20 minutes then wipe away excesses and allow it dry for about 12 hours. You may reapply the filler if you aren’t satisfied with the outcome which means you are going through the process again. Oil-based putty can take about 48 hours to dry and this is also dependent on humidity and temperature.

For an oil-based topcoat, oil based putty is ideal as it will blend well and create a very smooth finish. When applying it, remember to wipe off excesses to have a clean surface. Sand area with moderate to high-grin sandpaper. If the filler sticks to the sandpaper it means that you still need to allow the surface to dry more.

Also Read: Top 5 Best epoxy resin for thick pours 

How Long Should Water-Based Filler Dry?

Water-based filler calls for water as the solvent for cleaning up, it does not take as much time as the oil-based filler to dry, and most times it dries in half as much time as the oil-based filler. Water-based filler will dry in about 24 hours although this depends on humidity and temperature level just like the oil-based filler. Water-based filler is ideal for a water-based topcoat as oil and water do not mix well.

Sand the area with moderate to high-grin sandpaper, the surface must be smooth and the sandpaper must move on the surface flawlessly. If the filler sticks to the sandpaper then you may need to allow it to dry more. If you do not know how a dry surface looks, test with sandpaper. It must produce fine, white powder.

Oil-based wood filler hardens fast unlike water-based fillers are creamy and stay wet for a longer period of time.

How Long Does It Take Wood Putty to Dry (1)

How to Make Wood Putty Dry Faster

Both water and oil-based wood putty will take roughly 24 hours and more to get completely dried but if you feel the waiting time is too much to cope with or you are working within a time constraint, there are some steps you can employ to hasten the drying period. These steps include that;

  • Subject the area where you have applied the wood putty to sun heat. Low temperature will slow down the curing process of the wood putty and also direct heat will soften the wood putty while trying to dry it so you need a relatively high ambient temperature but not very scorching heat to accelerate the drying process. The sun’s heat is warm enough to speed up the drying process without softening the wood putty so open the project up to sun heat to speed up the drying period.


  • Thin layers of wood putty will ordinarily dry faster compared to thick layers so you may want to thin the layers of your wood putty to ensure that it dries faster. You may have to consider the project you are working on to determine how thick or thin the layer will be. Do not make the wood putty layer too thin to give the required structural support, it is better to wait a little longer than to alter the quality and be forced to go through the process again.


  • Another way to make putty dry faster is to sand the wood surface before applying wood putty. Sanding helps even out the surface and gets rid of things that may impact the thickness of the product so a more even surface speeds up the drying process.


  • A good option to speed up the drying time of wood putty is to adopt the use of hardeners. If you want the wood putty to dry faster you can add epoxy to your wood putty as it is the best hardener and will get the wood putty to dry very fast. There are other wood hardeners but epoxy is a very good choice. Just ensure that you mix the resin properly with the wood putty so as to hasten the drying period. You must follow the manufacturer’s recommendation when it comes to mixing epoxy with wood putty and this is because it must follow the correct ratios to avoid ruining the process.


  • When you clean and dry the wood before using wood putty, it can also help speed up the drying process. Cleaning eliminates things that can slow down drying times.

Final Thoughts on How Long Does It Take Wood Putty to Dry

Wood putty and filler can take anything from 20 minutes to a day or even two days to completely dry. The only solution to working with it is patience; having enough patience to allow it dry properly. Woodworking takes a lot of time so you must exercise enough patience and test your filler using sandpaper before going ahead with it.

How fast it gets dried depends on the materials you use, the humidity and temperature level of the area so you may have to wait for several hours leading to days before you can go ahead with the project. If you are working within a time limit, you may employ any of the given methods on how to make wood putty dry faster so you can get your wood putty dried on time and then you can proceed with the project on time.

If you are using a wood filler that has been with you for a while, you may need to access the condition before going ahead to use it.