How to Use Wood Filler Before Painting

  • 3-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-500
What You'll Need
A flat head screwdriver
Small pair of scissors or Stanley knife
Sandpaper (low and high grain)
Wood filler (paste-base)
A large cloth
Some hot water
Paint thinner
A large paintbrush

Wood filler is commonly used to hide many deficiencies in a wood surface before any home repair work takes place. Wood fillers can be blended in with a wooden surface to create a smooth backdrop for painting. This will ensure that you do not have to use excess layers to hide holes and bumps. Using wood filler before painting is a quick and easy job.

Step One - Sand Holes

A nail or screw hole has to be tidied before filler can be applied. Rotate a flat head screwdriver in the hole to be filled. This will clean it of any immediate debris. Use a small piece of sandpaper to gently rub away at the edges of the hole. Be sure to cut away any loose wood fibers with a Stanley knife or small pair of scissors. Ignore this step and a paint layer will have visible edges on the surface after painting.

Step Two - Apply Filler

Get a paste-base wood filler and apply it in the neatened hole. Spread enough filler into the hole so a small excess will be left above the surface. You can eventauly sand down this excess to leave a perfectly level surface to paint on. Do this for all the holes that need filling. The paste base of the filler should also help paint stick when you eventually apply your first layer of color. Do not use a liquid-based filler, as this is only required for refined grained wood patterns. It will not set properly and could ruin the surface you are working on.

Step Three - Sand Filler

Allow the filler to dry before any attempts are made to sand. Use a medium or high grain of sandpaper and apply even pressure to the areas where you have used the wood filler. You will need to get the filler as even to the surface as you can. This will ensure that after painting, the finish is smooth and flat. If you do not refine the wood filler with sandpaper, the filled areas will stick out once paint dries over them.

Step Four - Clean

Use a large cloth and some hot water to gently wipe over the surface you have been working on. This should loosen up any remaining debris. Alternatively, use a small amount of paint thinner on the cloth. This will strip away any flaky areas of paint and woodwork to give you an even surface to paint on. Allow the water or thinner to dry and check that the debris has been cleared.

Step Five - Check

Run your hand over the top of the surface that will be painted. It should feel smooth and even over the entire area. Sand away any lumps you come across. Carefully check the surface for any small holes you may have missed and apply extra wood filler accordingly. Apply a layer of primer with a large paintbrush and you are ready to paint once it has dried.