Can You Use Caulk Instead of Wood Filler?

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If you’re working on a woodworking project and have gaps or cracks to fill, you may wonder if you can use caulk instead of wood filler, even if they are different materials.

To clarify this matter, I will discuss the differences between these two materials, along with alternative options for filling gaps in wood surfaces.

Can You Replace Wood Filler With Caulk?

Caulk can replace wood filler when repairing corners, holes, trims, cracks, sealings, and frames made of wood. Cracks and gaps can be fixed with either caulk or wood filler.

Wood filler is explicitly designed to fill small holes and cracks in wood surfaces, and it dries to a hard finish that can be sanded and painted over.

Caulk, on the other hand, is typically used to seal gaps between different surfaces and does not dry to the same hard finish as a wood filler.

Choosing caulk

Additionally, caulk may provide a different level of durability than wood filler. Therefore, using the appropriate material for the intended purpose ensures a long-lasting and high-quality finish.

Uses of Caulk

Uses of Wood Filler

Pros & Cons of Choosing Caulk Over Wood Filler



Steps to Filling Gaps in Wood by Caulking

Materials you need:

Step #1: Clean the Area

First, get a wire brush and carefully clear the space between the gaps, cracks, and holes. Dusty surfaces prevent the caulk from sticking correctly. As a result, the woodwork will be ruined by holes that won’t close.

Wire brushing will remove rotten timber and paint residue, preparing the surface for caulking. Afterward, use a damp towel to wipe off the entire surface and wait for it to dry before proceeding.

cleaning the area of the wood

Step #2: Cut the Caulk Tube and Prepare

Now, using the utility knife, cut off the end of the caulk tube. The area that must be trimmed will change based on the final use.

Remove not over 70 percent of the damaged area—small piece results in sloppiness. You will get little use out of a smaller slice.

After the tube’s end has been snipped off, it can be loaded into a caulking gun. The Caulk nozzle must have its tip inserted into the opening.

Step #3: Apply to the Wood

After connecting your caulk tube to the caulking gun, force the caulk out by squeezing the caulk bead in the caulking gun’s hole.

After that, bring the gun’s aperture close to the crack or hole in the wood, and caulk it up completely. Caulk hardens rapidly, so you may not have a second chance to fill gaps if you don’t do it right the first time.

caulking wood

Step #4: Allow it to Cure

Once you have applied caulk to seal the hole in the wood, make sure to eliminate any excess by gently wiping it away using a paper towel. It’s important to remove the excess caulk promptly since it tends to solidify if left unattended for an extended period of time.

Let the area dry and heal after wiping it down.

Most caulks have labels with drying times. When the surface is fully cured, you may prime and paint it easily.

Top Caulk Tubes for Wooden Projects

I’ve done some digging and found the most efficient caulk tubes you can purchase to seal gaps and cracks in wood quickly and effectively.  Here are some of the top caulk tubes currently on the market:

top caulk tubes

Top Caulking Guns for Wood Applications

Choosing the right caulking gun can be difficult as a few need to deliver more pressure to the caulk tube, wasting your caulking and making it difficult to work with.

Here are some of the top caulking guns currently on the market:

Is it Okay to Use Caulk Instead Of Wood Putty?

caulking on to the wood instead of putty

From my experience, you can generally use caulk as an alternative to wood putty, but the two serve different purposes. Wood putty is a material that is used to fill small holes, cracks, or gaps in wood surfaces, usually before sanding and painting or staining. It is designed to dry to a hard finish and can be sanded and painted over.

Caulk seals gaps or joints between different surfaces, such as between trim and walls or around windows and doors. It is a flexible material that can expand and contract with changes in temperature or humidity. [1]

I’ve found caulk to be more water-resistant than wood putty, so I tend to use it in areas that might be exposed to moisture. But can you sand caulk? Learn more here. 

Other Alternatives to Wood Filler

wood putty

While wood filler is a popular choice for filling gaps in wood surfaces, alternative options may be better suited for specific applications.

One DIY solution I’ve turned to is a mixture of wood glue and sawdust. It’s both effective and cost-efficient for filling small gaps or cracks.

There are several alternatives to wood filler, including:

The choice of filler depends on the size and type of the gap or hole you are trying to fill. Make sure to select a filler compatible with the wood surface that can withstand the item’s intended use.

Next Read: Can Rustoleum Be Used on Wood?


While you can use caulk instead of wood filler, they have different purposes and distinct properties.

Wood filler is designed to fill small holes and cracks in wood surfaces, while the caulk seals gaps between different surfaces. When repairing cracks in flat surfaces, use wood filler and caulk for edges and corners.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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