How Long Does it Take for Wood Putty to Dry?

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As a homeowner, you will likely have to deal with wood putty. Whether you’re patching up a hole left by a doorknob or filling in a crack in your hardwood floors, it’s a handy product to have on hand. 

But how long does it take for wood putty to dry before it’s ready? Let me share some insights from my experience to guide you through the process.

How Does Wood Putty Work and What is it Made of?

Wood putty works by filling in the void created by the damage. It adheres to the wood surface and dries hard, making a stable surface that can then be sanded smooth. 

Depending on the size of the damage being repaired, wood putty can usually be left to dry on its own or can be accelerated with a hair dryer set on low heat.

person applying wood putty

Wood putty is made from silicone, latex, epoxy, or other synthetic resins. These ingredients are blended with fillers like wood flour or kaolin clay to create a thick paste. The type of resin used will determine the strength and durability of the finished product.

(You might also want to know how wood putty differs from wood filler)

Why Use a Wooden Putty?

There are many reasons why you should use wooden putty instead of other types of wood filler.

How Much Time Will it Take for Wood Putty to Fully Dry?

Drying Time of Water-based Wood Putty

Water-based wood putty is one of the most common types of putty on the market. It’s easy to apply and clean up and dries relatively quickly. 

applying wood putty

Most water-based putties tend to be dry to the touch within 1-2 hours. However, I always recommend waiting a full 24 hours before sanding or painting. And remember, if it’s humid, expect the drying time to be a bit longer.

(Looking for more tips? Read this woodworking painting guide here!)

Drying Time of Oil-based Wood Putty

Oil-based wood putty takes longer to dry than water-based putty, but it has some advantages. 

First, it’s more tolerant of moisture, so it’s a good choice for tropical environments or working in an unheated garage during the winter. Second, oil-based putties are less likely to shrink as they dry, so they’re ideal for filling large gaps.

(Aside from wood putty, you might want to consider these high-quality wood fillers for large holes and gaps.)

However, oil-based putties can be difficult to work with and have a strong odor, so ensure good ventilation. Oil-based putties will be dry to the touch in 4 to 6 hours, but it’s best to give them 24 hours before sanding or painting.

Recommended Drying Time

Before Sanding

The recommended drying time for wood putty before sanding is 24 hours. However, keep in mind that this may vary depending on the brand of putty and the temperature and humidity of your workspace. To achieve the best results, try to let the putty dry in a warm and dry environment.

sanding wood

Once the putty is dry, sand it down until it’s flush with the surface of the wood. Be sure to use fine-grit sandpaper or the reliable sandpaper for wood, so you don’t damage the surface. Once you’re finished sanding, wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove dust.

Before Painting

The recommended drying time for wood putty before painting is also 24 hours. Again, this will vary depending on the brand of putty and the temperature and humidity of your workspace. 

Once the putty is dry, you can paint it with whatever color. Use a primer if you paint over a dark color or stain. You can also sand down the putty before painting if you want a smoother finish.

Related: Does Wood Putty Harden

How You Can Make Wood Putty Dry Faster: 7 Methods

So what’s the secret to making wood putty dry faster? Here are seven methods I swear by to expedite the drying process:

Method #1: Use Wood Putty Hardeners

You can make wood putty dry faster by using wood putty hardeners. This product comes in different forms, such as liquids, powders, or gels. You add the hardener to the wood putty, which will help the putty set quicker. 

person applying wood putty hardener

What I love about hardeners is not only do they speed up the drying process, but they also enhance the durability of the wood putty once it’s set.

Method #2: Smoothen the Wood Surface

Another method you can try is smoothing the wood surface before applying the wood putty. If the surface is uneven, the putty will have a harder time drying evenly, which can lengthen the drying time. 

So, take the time to sand down the surface and make it as smooth as possible before applying the wood putty.

Method #3: Make the Wood Surface Clean

It’s also important to ensure the wood surface is clean before applying the wood putty. Any dirt or debris on the surface can prevent the putty from properly adhering, which will lengthen the drying time. 

cleaning wood surface

So, wipe down the surface with a clean cloth or use a vacuum attachment to remove any dirt or debris before applying wood putty.

Method #4: Ensure Even and Thin Layers

When applying wood putty, apply it in even and thin layers. If you apply it too thickly, it will take longer to dry. And if you apply it too thinly, it may not provide sufficient coverage. 

So, take your time and apply the wood putty in even, thin layers for the best results.

Method #5: Warm Your Work Area with the Sun's Heat

Working in a particularly cold area (below 60 degrees Fahrenheit [1]) can lengthen your wood putty’s drying time. One way to counteract this is by using the sun’s heat to warm up your work area. 

waiting for wood putty to dry

Open a window or door or set up a fan in front of an open window so that sunlight can warm up your work area and help speed up drying time.

Method #6: Air-dry Using a Fan

Another way to speed up drying time is by using a fan to circulate air around your work area. It will help evaporate any moisture in the air and help speed up drying time for your wood putty project. 

Just be sure not to place the fan too close to your work area, as this could cause problems with drying uniformity. Place it far enough away so that it circulates air around your work area without causing any issues with drying uniformity. 

And be sure to keep an eye on your project, so you don’t accidentally over-dry it!

Method #7: Use Your Hairdryer

For small projects or touch-ups, you can also use a hairdryer on its lowest setting to help speed up the drying time for your wood putty. 

silver hair dryer

Ensure you don’t place it too close to your workspace or direct it straight at your project. Doing so might lead to uneven drying or potentially harm your work.

Instead, hold it slightly above and off-center from your project so that air circulates your work area without causing any issues with either uniformity or damage.


How long is the drying time of Minwax wood putty?

The drying time of Minwax wood putty can vary depending on the humidity and temperature levels in the environment and the type of wood putty used. 

Generally, Minwax wood putty takes 4 to 6 hours to dry completely. However, waiting 24 hours before applying any sealant or finish over the wood putty is best.

Does the Minwax wood putty solidify?

Yes, the Minwax wood putty will solidify over time. The putty is designed to fill in small gaps and cracks in wood, so it will harden and form a seal once it dries.

How strong is a wood putty?

It depends on the brand, but wood putties are generally very strong. They can use them to fill in cracks and holes in wood, and they will bond to the wood fibers very well. In some cases, they can even be used as a bonding agent between different pieces of wood.

How will it take for Varathane wood putty to dry?

It will take about 24 hours for Varathane wood putty to dry. Make sure to read the product label, as drying times may vary depending on the type of Varathane wood putty used. 

For example, quick-dry putties will typically dry in about 3 hours. Always test a small project area before applying the putty to the entire surface.

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Wood putty is a versatile product that every homeowner should have on hand. But how long does it take for wood putty to dry once you’ve applied it? While the drying time can vary based on certain conditions, most wood putties I’ve used typically take between 24 to 48 hours to dry completely.

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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.

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