Let’s face the fact: Not all wood fillers are the same!
Because there’s a variety of wood types plus the different finishes used in woodworking, finding the best filler for large holes would depend on the wood material you have and the exact color of the wood.
Knowing this, there are different types of wood fillers available in the market. They all have the same purpose.
However, as a matter of fact, is what works with one type of wood and finish would not work with the others, especially when you are looking to fill larger size holes in wood.
The 6 Best Wood Fillers for Large Holes
The best way to choose the right wood filler to repair gouges and large-sized holes in your wood is to know the types of filler materials out there.
After an hour of thorough research, below I have listed down some of the best options out there that are ideal for covering large holes and cracks.
1- Spackling Paste
This is a type of putty that is made of gypsum plaster composed of glue and calcium sulfate.
It is ideal for repairing minor interior wood defects and filling small as well as large cracks and holes in drywall, baseboard, door jambs, and trims.
- Holds paint well
- Sands evenly
- Dries hard
- Can be used for larger holes
- Doesn’t hold stains very well
- Has the tendency to shrink
- Requires at least two applications
2- Wood Putty
This type of putty is also called cellulose filler.
It’s made with real wood so it works well with woodworking projects that have stains and topcoats.
This stainable large hole filler is best for mantels, trim, and cabinets.
- Will not shrink
- Dries hard so the finish is consistent
- Sands evenly for a seamless finish
- Because it’s made with real wood, it accepts paint and stains very well
- It may not suitable for very large holes.
- Works with less than one-inch holes.
- It takes longer to dry up.
3- Polyester Paste
This is very similar to two-part epoxy but a wood hardener and a resin need to be applied to strengthen the wood.
It is considered an all-purpose filler that can be used for filling shallow holes and scratches.
Because a polyester paste is commonly used in car bodies, it does not adhere well to wood.
The polyester paste is ideal for wood that has deteriorated and rotted.
- Hardens in as little as 15 minutes
- Does not work with stain
- Less flexible than epoxies
- Tends to shrink requiring overfilling
- Need to apply at least two coats (especially for larger holes)
- Needs a hardener
4- Two-Part Epoxy
Epoxy wood filler for large holes is easy to use because it is pliant and easy to handle.
This is typically made from polyester and wood pulp mixture.
You mix it like dough and mold it like clay even after it dries. When it hardens, you can carve it just like any wood.
Two-part epoxy is best for repairing door jambs, moldings, window sills, wood trim, and baseboard.
And the good thing is you can drill or screw into this wood epoxy filler later if you need to in the future.
- Great for filling big holes and grooves
- Will not crack and fall off
- Available in different formulas (e.g. for exterior use)
- Strong enough for major structural repairs
- May take longer time to dry (at least 24 hours)
- Will not work with wood stain
5- Acrylic Caulk with Silicone
This type of large hole filler works well with exterior wood because it’s moisture resistant.
In fact, it’s the best exterior wood filler for large holes that can be used for filling up cracks, gaps, and medium-sized holes.
- Great for exterior use because it is resistant to moisture
- Binds quickly
- Can easily be applied
- Comes in different colors to match the paint and wood
- May crack with temperature swings
6- Sawdust with Wood Glue
This is the traditional way of creating wood fillers.
No matter whether you want to repair small nail holes or want to fix some large gaps in the wood, it still works fine.
By combining equal parts sawdust and white wood glue, it forms a paste that can be used to fill holes.
- Accepts paint well
- Sands easily and dries fast
- Using sawdust from the same variety of wood allows it to match the color and stain of the woodwork
- Has the tendency to shrink
- Does not accept stain well
- It requires the right proportion of glue and sawdust. More glue will have a white finish
How to Fill Large Holes in Wood?
You might have a gorgeous piece of furniture in your storage room but it clearly has seen better days.
There may be deep scratches and large holes that need some filling before you can use them again.
With some DIY tricks, you can repair your own furniture or woodwork at home without having to spend a lot of money.
Materials you will need:
- Craft sticks or popsicle sticks
- Wood filler
- Wood Glue
- PVA glue
- 120-grit sandpaper
- Paintbrush (or rollers)
- Paint stirrer
- Painter’s tape
- Paper plate
- Rag (or old clothes)
- Sheet or drop cloth
With all your materials in place, let’s take a look at how to use wood filler on large holes and then how you can prime and paint over them correctly for a new finish.
Step #1: Inspect the size of the hole
Measure the size of the hole so that you can determine how many craft sticks you will need to cover the entire hole.
The craft sticks will serve as a guide and support when you apply the wood filler that’s specifically designed for filling larger holes.
Step #2: Glue the craft sticks together big enough to cover the hole
Lay the sticks side-by-side on a flat surface. Apply PVA glue on the back of the sticks.
Create two sets of craft sticks and glue them together to create a strong layer.
For example, if 4 sticks are required to fill the hole, glue 4 of them together side by side and then create another set.
Glue the first set on top of the second set.
Step #3: Glue the craft sticks on the back of the hole
To ensure that the craft sticks adhere to the back of the hole, apply wood glue to the area around the hole of the wood.
Take note that if the hole is in a cabinet or wall, you have to position the craft sticks on the inside of the hole so the wood filler will be applied on the exterior side and vice versa.
For the non-flat surface, you must hold the sticks for a good five minutes (or more) until the sticks adhere to the glue.
Step #4: Apply the wood filler
The type of wood filler to use would depend on the type of wood you’re repairing.
Since you will be painting on the wood, choose the wood filler that accepts paint and stains very well. I have written a dedicated article on how you can fix the mistakes, if your chosen wood filler doesn’t accept stain well. Make sure you check that.
Using a stirrer and disposable paper plate, mix just enough wood filler for the hole size according to the directions of the manufacturer.
Then apply it (evenly with the wood surface) into the hole using a craft stick or a putty knife. This means the wood filler conforms to the shape of the wood profile. Then let it dry for one hour.
Step #5: Sand the wood filler
Once the wood filler is dry, sand it using 120-grit sandpaper.
Apply enough pressure when sanding so that the wood filler would level with the rest of the wood.
Use a cloth to remove the sawdust and other small debris. It’s necessary to keep the area clean in preparation for priming the wood.
Step #6: Prime the wood
A high-quality wood primer needs to be applied so that the paint would adhere to the surface of the wood you’re painting.
Before you start priming, place a drop cloth or a sheet on your work surface so that it will catch paint drips as you work.
Using painter’s tape, cover hinges, baseboards, and other areas that don’t need priming.
Then apply the primer using a paintbrush for smaller areas.
If you are priming an entire wooden wall, use a roller brush.
Let the primer fully dry for at least three hours before applying paint.
If you apply paint before the primer is fully dry, it can ruin the finish.
Step #7: Apply the first coat of paint
Once the primer is fully dry, apply the first coat of paint using a brush or a roller, depending on how big the area you’re painting.
For walls and flat surfaces, it is recommended to use a roller brush.
On the other hand, if you’re only painting a specific area, use a paintbrush.
Make sure you’re using the same paint color as the existing paint.
You can go to your local paint store to find the right paint color.
Let the first coat of paint dry for three hours.
For good measure, leave the paint to dry overnight so you’re guaranteed that it is completely dry before applying the second coat.
Step #8: Apply the second coat of paint
When the paint is fully dry, apply the second coat.
Use even strokes for a smooth finish. After you’re done with the second coat.
Inspect the wood and see if there are imperfections or if the paint doesn’t look finished. Apply a third coat if necessary.
Just make sure that you let the second coat dry fully before applying the third coat.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.