How Long For Wood Putty to Dry

It can frustrating to wait for wood putty to dry Having done hundreds of projects where I’ve used wood putty here is what I know about dry time and how long you should be expected to wait. Let’s dive in.

On average, wood putty dries in 28 minutes. Factors such as the size of the hole that the putty was applied to and the amount of putty used can affect dry time. 

Wood putty can be used to fill in any holes or imperfections in wood. Filling up these areas is important to the overall health of the wood. While wood putty doesn’t completely harden it still needs to dry before moving on to the next step of your wood project.

There are a few ways to make wood putty dry faster. Some factors include the environment and the amount of wood putty used.

Wood putty dry time by type of wood

In order to test the dry time of wood putty, I’ve tested several types of wood and timed how long it took from application to dry time. Here is my unscientific research and data collection.

WoodDry timeWidth
Walnut side table27 minutes1 inch
Birch butcher block35 minutes2.7 inches
Birch desk22 minutes4.7 inches
Unknown wood countertop43 minutes5.4 inches
Cherry bench29 minutes3.3 inches
Oak bench 1 11 minutes 1.3 inches
Oak bench 2 19 minutes5.7 inches
Walnut desk top39 minutes3.2 inches
Average28.1 minutes3.41 inches

As you can see the dry time really varied. I found that even for largest imperfections the dry time was about the same as smaller imperfections.

I want to mention again that this wasn’t a scientific study and I did my best to estimate the time as well as the width of the imperfection.

One thing I would try in the future is to test the putty on a piece of wood before applying it to my project just to get a sense of how it worked before moving on to my project.

What is wood putty

Wood putty is a type of wood filler that is meant to fill in gaps and imperfections on wood projects. Wood putty is malleable which allows you to shape the putty to fit inside all sorts of areas. The putty will harden and you can then apply a stain over it.

Wood putty comes in different colors to match your project color. Application of wood putty can vary. You can either use some type of tool like a putty knife or you can use your hand.

For most projects, wood putty will do a good job of filling in holes and imperfections. For other projects however, you might want to use a different type of wood filler. The type of wood filler to use really depends on the size of the area you want to apply it to as well as the type of wood and whether the wood will be indoors or outdoors.

I like highly recommend checking out this wood putty. I use it for a lot of my projects and it works great.

Wood putty dry time factors

There are several factors that can affect the dry time of wood putty. Here are some factors:

  • Size of hole
  • Temperature
  • Wood putty brand
  • Application method
  • Wood type

Size of hole

For bigger holes you will need to apply more putty, which will lead to a longer drying time since there is more putty to work with.


Check the next section for more on temperature. How fast wood putty dries depends on how warm or cold the environment is.

Wood putty brand

There are several types of brands and manufacturers that make wood putty. For the most part, the putty will be the same but some brands have different instructions on how long to let the putty dry. Of course, you can use your own judgement to make a decision.

Application method

If you applied the putty as instructed, dry time should be normal. If there were problems with how you applied then dry time can take longer. Always remember to read the instructions on the putty to see how to apply it.

Wood type

Different woods take on putty differently. And that can affect the dry time. Do a little bit of research on if the wood you are working takes on putty different. Also make sure that the wood can even take on putty or it needs a different type of filling.

How to make wood putty dry faster

In general, you can make wood putty dry faster if you are in a warmer environment.  Like with many other wood applications and finishes, a warmer environment allows the wood filler to harden quicker.

If you are working outdoors, keep an eye on the temperature and try to apply it at the warmest point if you want fast dry time. If you are working indoors, you can adjust the room temperature to get the putty to dry faster. I usually have my thermostat set to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, which is an optimal temperature for most projects.

Another way to let the putty dry faster is to apply thin coats. The reason you want thin coats is so there is less putty to wait for to dry. However this will depend entirely on how much wood putty you used. Most of the time, a large hole in the wood will require you add more putty and it ‘s not possible to use thin layers.

In order to check how much putty to put I like to get eye level with the imperfection on the wood and see if it is in line with the rest of the surface. You might need to lay the wood on a flat surface if it isn’t already. It’s ok if the putty is slightly above the surface of the wood since you can sand it.

You also want to make sure you are only covering the imperfection. You shouldn’t apply putty more than half an inch around the imperfection. It will just be a waste.

Regardless of the method you go with, wood putty dries pretty fast so you might not even need to take the extra steps to make it dry faster.

How long after wood putty can you paint

In general, you can paint over wood after 45 minutes of applying wood putty. Wood putty takes 30 minutes to dry, on average. And you want to spend about 15 minutes after that sanding and cleaning up.

After the putty has dried you need to clean the area. You should remove any putty that hasn’t dried. You can do this by either a putty knife or a cloth. I really like using this putty knife. It works great for most projects and I haven’t had an issue with it.

Don’t rub or spread the putty too far as this can further delay the cleanup time.

You also need to sand the area to get a smooth surface. I like to use a 320 grit sandpaper to sand the area. This grit will do a good job of smoothing out the surface without removing too much of it.

And finally you need to remove any of the sand dust that formed after sanding the wood surface. You can either use a vacuum or a rag. Get all of the dust off the surface. You can run your hand along the wood to check if you’re done.

Once you complete these takes, take one final look at the area and make sure it looks how you wanted to look. You can observe to see if the surface is smooth and if there’s extra putty still on the wood.

Once you feel good about the surface you can start painting. If you need to apply wood conditioner or mineral spirits before applying the paint, now is the time to do it.

Benefits of wood putty

Wood putty is a filler that can cover up holes and imperfections in your wood. It is not necessary for every wood project but if you want to cover these areas wood putty is the way to go.

One benefit to wood putty is that it can make your wood project look nicer. A hole or a crack on wood doesn’t look nice and being able to cover it up can be helpful. Due to the nature of wood putty you can also apply a stain to it, although some putty doesn’t take stain well.

Another benefit to wood putty is that it maintains the structure of the wood. Now this is only an issue if the area with the hole or crack is near the edge of the wood where it can split further or cause other issues.

If the hole is in an area where it won’t be seen or possibly harm the structural integrity of the overall wood, you don’t have to fill it up with wood putty.

Difference between wood putty and filler

In general, there is no difference between wood putty and wood filler. Most brands will label wood putty as filler but they are the same thing. The word putty is used because of the texture and quality of the filling material.

Putty isn’t the only type of wood filler. Wood filler can mean anything that is used to fill the wood such as other pieces of wood or even glue.

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