5 Best Wood Floor Fillers for Hardwood Floors
- Glitsa Wood Flour Cement
- Minwax Stainable Wood Filler
- Elmer's E914 Carpenter's Color Change Wood Filler
- Draughtex Floorboard Gap Filler
- Wood Plugs
Have you ever walked into a stately home filled with elegant furnishings, and then you noticed how bad the floor looked? Wood floors get damaged from wear and tear but also develop cracks or gaps.
If the gaps, high heel marks, chips, nail holes, or knotholes are significant, the floor may require a professional repair job. But, if they are minor, you can use wood floor filler.
In this post, you will discover the top products and methods used by flooring professionals to conceal cracks and other damage that can happen to wood floors.
Can I Use Wood Filler on Wood Floors?
Unless the gap is seasonal and will close eventually, you can use wood filler to repair narrow gaps and cracks. Fillers can be water or solvent-based. There are two functions of wood floor fillers:
- To fill small imperfections such as nail holes, dents, and small chips.
- To fill in and smooth out the pores in open-grained wood such as oak or mahogany.
The wood filler for holes will be a thick paste, whereas pore fillers have a batter-like consistency that spreads and fills tiny pores.
Can You Walk on a Wood Filler?
Wood filler will dry hard. If repairing a floor with it, add a finish layer of polyurethane and let it dry. You won't have any problems walking on it.
Can You Fill Gaps in Hardwood Floors?
Before you can answer this question, we need to know the extent and width of the gaps. Are there gaps between every board in the room, or is just one or two? Do the gaps appear seasonally and then close again, or are they permanent?
Wood filler for hardwood floors can fill short, thin gaps in one or two places. There are better solutions for wider or seasonal openings, which we'll explore later in the article.
What is the Difference Between Wood Filler and Wood Putty?
Here are the most significant differences between these two products:
|Wood Filler||Wood Putty|
Oil or Solvent-Based
Best for unfinished wood
Suitable for finished wood
These are generalities, and there are exceptions. When it comes to fixing wood floors, the question is...
Which is Better Wood Filler or Wood Putty?
Painters use wood putty to fill nail holes that will be painted or stained. It's not a good choice if you don't plan to paint or seal it because it dries very slowly. Putty will pick up dirt and become discolored compared to the wood around it.
Wood fillers typically won't shrink and they dry hard. They are a better choice for surface repairs, while the flexibility of putty is better for gaps where it can expand and contract with the wood.
What is the Best Wood Filler for Hardwood Floors?
We've compared reviews from contactor websites and found five of the most popular brands that the pros use.
Flooring experts like this pre-mixed filler because it shrinks less than any other wood floor filler. It is a better choice for filling large areas. It also accepts the color of stain, Rubio, and polyurethane very well. It doesn't have a chemical binder in it, so it quickly reconstitutes when mixed with water, even when dry. It comes in Red Oak, White Oak, Maple, and Ebony. However, Timbermate mixes with oil or latex tints, dyes, and stains, accurately reproducing any wood color.
When matching colors, they recommended that you add color to the putty and match it while it's wet. The product dries lighter and returns to its original color when coated with a clear finish.
To see how to work with Timber Mate, watch this video.
2. Glitsa Wood Flour Cement
You mix this resin with the fine sanding dust retained from sanding the floor. The advantage of this product is it creates wood filler that exactly matches the floor. Use sanding dust, a.k.a. wood flour of 80 grit or finer.
Glitsa wood flour cement has two significant advantages. First, the epoxy itself lasts a lifetime. Secondly, there is no waste. You can mix just the amount you need for each job. Another advantage is that you can mix up a different color for spot filling using a different dust shade. Sometimes, maple sanding dust looks better on a light spot in an oak board. Unfortunately, Glitsa is only available by the gallon and, due to its toxic nature, cannot be shipped via parcel services.
To see a product demonstration, check out the first 2 minutes of this video.
3. Minwax Stainable Wood Filler
Minwax stainable wood filler works well to repair cracks, small gouges, nail holes, knot holes, and other wood defects. It works best on unfinished wood, both indoors and outdoors.
Squeeze a liberal amount from the tube and work it in with a clean putty knife. Once dried and sanded, it accepts either oil-based or water-based wood stains. The drying time varies between 2 to 6 hours.
4. Elmer's E914 Carpenter's Color Change Wood Filler
Elmer's calls their wood filler for hardwood floors "color-changing" because it turns pink only when it's completely dry. That's a bonus for DIYers, so they know when to sand, paint, or stain. Elmer's is one of the best fillers for larger holes because it won't shrink or crack. It's also water-based for easy clean-up and non-toxic.
5. Draughtex Floorboard Gap Filler
There may be large gaps between boards if you are restoring an old home with wide plank flooring. A liquid filler may not be strong enough to fill the gaps and maintain the height. The answer is a flexible gap filler that you stuff into the gap to fill it.
Draughtex comes in 10 or 40-meter rolls and three thicknesses. The thin product fills gaps less than 3mm, the standard size fills 2 to 7 mm, and the thick fills 6 to 11 mm.
Here is the product video for your reference.
6. Wood Plugs
We need to mention this technique for filling round holes like screw heads. You can make real wood plugs that glue into a hole. After staining or painting, the holes are virtually invisible. They can also match the grain of the original wood where putty or fillers can't. Here is an excellent video teaching the technique of How to Make and Install Wood Plugs.
How Do You Fill Gaps in Hardwood Floors?
For small gaps between a few boards, use your finger to press a color-matching putty into the gap to fill it.
For a roomful of gaps such as parquet floors, you'll need to use a larger quantity of liquid filler. The best solution is to mix your own filler using fine sanding dust from the floor, 80 to 100 grit. You'll work it into the gaps using a large trowel. It creates a wood floor filler in the same shade as the rest of the boards. This video shows you how to make it.
What About Wide Gaps?
For permanent, wide gaps, you'll need to fill them with wood dowels, shims, or manila rope. Filling gaps with rope is an old-time method you might find in a farmhouse or restored barn floor. It's a straightforward repair:
- Scrape any loose material and vacuum it out of the cracks.
- Stuff in a length of rope using a putty knife to wedge it in.
- Depending on the floor and location, you can leave the rope as is or cover it with wood putty.
If you don't plan to cover the rope, dip it in a matching stain and allow it to dry before installing it. Here's a quick video demonstration:
Fill the gaps when the weather is the most humid, as the gap should be at its smallest.
To recap, here are the products you can use as a wood filler for hardwood floors:
- Narrow gaps – Wood putty or filler
- Wide gaps – Rope or wood shims
- Large areas – DIY wood filler made with sanding dust from the same floor
You can use the DIY filler to fill most gaps provided you have enough sanding dust from the same wood. Nothing matches the wood like a filler made with the same sanding dust. Here's a demonstration on How to Make a DIY Wood Filler That Will Perfectly Match Your Project.
How Do You Fill Gouges in Hardwood Floors?
Here is the 5-step method to filling a gouge or gap using wood filler.
Step 1 – Choose or mix the color of wood filler that matches the wood around the gouge.
Step 2 – Put a dab of filler on your finger and work it into the gouge.
Step 3 – Use a flexible putty knife to scrape off the excess. Don't press too hard, or you will remove the material from the gouge. Allow it to dry.
Step 4 – Use fine sandpaper, 180 to 220 grit, and sand very lightly around the repair to remove any excess material.
Step 5 – Use a damp towel to wipe any filler from around the repair. Try not to moisten the filler in the gouge, or it will reactivate and become soft.
This technique works best if you can seal the repair with a finish. Watch this video to see this technique in action.
If you have a deep gouge, you'll need to add layers of filler, allowing each level to dry thoroughly before adding another. Otherwise, it will shrink and crack.
How Do You Fix Separation on Hardwood Floors?
If the floor has a seasonal gap, such as open in the winter and swells closed in the summer, there is not much you can do other than add humidity during the dry heating months. Wood putty or wood filler can work, provided the gaps are not seasonal.
For large gaps in floors that are old and dry, you'll need to use a more substantial filler like wood doweling or rope-type gap fillers. If you fill wide gaps with putty only, it will get squeezed out when the wood slowly expands as it absorbs humidity.
How Long Should It Take for Wood Putty to Harden?
Commercial wood putty hardens in about 6 hours, although it's best to leave it overnight before adding more filler or refinishing it. The same goes for the DIY wood filler mentioned above. It's best to let the epoxy cure overnight before sanding and finishing.
What Products to Use to Fill Holes in Hardwood Floors?
Fill small nail holes with just about any type of wood filler or putty. However, for larger knot holes, you'll need something that won't shrink or crack.
Most commercial wood floor fillers may not match the color of the surrounding wood. Unless you plan to paint the floor, the best solution for filling a hole in the floor is to make a filler as we described above. It will have the same color as the wood. If it's a dark knothole, you can add color to match it.
Solutions for Your Damaged Wood Floor
There are three ways to handle repairing holes, chips, cracks, or gaps in hardwood floors.
- You can DIY with wood floor filler by purchasing one of the five products mentioned above or mix some yourself.
- For wide, permanent gaps in the floor, it is not advisable to attempt to do it yourself. We recommend that you hire a professional.
- If you feel that it's time to replace those floors… we have a solution.
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