Can You Screw Into Wood Filler?

Yes, you can screw into wood filler. However, not all wood fillers are capable of handling the stress of a screw, so you’ll have to choose the right one to get strong and long-lasting results. Epoxy wood fillers and heavy-duty wood putties are your best choice for these projects.

The process is simple. It involves preparing your surface, applying your wood filler, and allowing it to dry and cure fully. Then, all you have to do is sand until smooth and start with a pilot hole, before driving your screw into the wood filler.

In this guide, we’ll go into more detail about the different types of wood fillers you can use, how to properly screw into your surface, and potential problems to be aware of.

yellow hand drill, loose shavings, drill bits and screws

What is Wood Filler?

Wood filler is a hardening substance used to fill holes, gaps, and other imperfections in wood surfaces. It usually consists of tiny wood particles, like sawdust or wood fibers, suspended in a water-based or solvent-based binder that hardens as it dries.

Common uses for wood filler include:

  • Repairing dents, scratches, and gouges in furniture
  • Fixing cracks and holes in wood flooring
  • Shaping damaged edges on countertops, tables, and shelves
  • Covering cracks and cavities in interior trim
  • Filling nail holes, knotholes, and oversized screw holes

The term “wood filler” can also be used in a broader sense, referring to all kinds of filling agents. This includes wood putty, water-based fillers, epoxy fillers, solvent-based fillers, and more.

Types of Wood Filler

So, what’s the best type of wood filler to screw into? The answer depends on your task and its location. Some wood fillers are made to withstand the elements and are great for the outdoors

Others don’t do well with moisture and are more suitable for indoor projects. Wood fillers can also vary in appearance, hardening time, odor, lifespan, ease of use, and clean-up process.

Water-Based Wood Filler

Water-based wood filler is the most common type, usually made from wood glue, wood fibers, and other additives. It is lightweight, has low-odor, and dries fast, some take only 15 minutes. You can dilute it in water for a thinner, softer filler, and clean up is easy using soap and water.

This wood filler is ideal for interior repairs, as it’s generally not weather-resistant. It works well on unfinished wood and can be stained, but it doesn’t absorb stain exactly like regular wood.

Solvent-Based Wood Filler

Solvent-based wood filler is a heavy-duty, water-resistant wood filler for indoor and outdoor projects. It’s often made of epoxy or vinyl, takes much longer to dry, and may have a strong odor, so proper ventilation is necessary when using this product.

You can use this wood filler to cover larger holes and gouges. It’s one of the strongest and most durable options out there, which makes it a good choice for placing screws.

Two-Part Epoxy Filler

Epoxy wood filler has two parts: a resin and a hardener. When mixed, the two substances create a thick, durable, and moisture-resistant wood filler. It dries extremely hard and forms a strong bond with wood, providing a solid base for your screw.

Epoxy warms up when combined, so be careful when handling it. Use safety glasses, gloves, and a chemical respirator, and work in a ventilated area to protect yourself from dust and fumes.

Wood Putty

Wood putty, also known as plastic wood, is a pliable substance used for filling imperfections in wood. Unlike wood filler, wood putty usually stays moldable for a few hours after application. It can take longer to dry, but it’s incredibly durable, doesn’t shrink or crack, and is good for screws. 

You can use wood putty in both interior and exterior projects. Most wood putties are intended for use on finished wood, and they come in various colors to match the piece you’re working on.

If you’re looking for a versatile wood putty to make long-lasting repairs, Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty is perfect for filling gaps, holes, and cracks on all types of wood. It’s fast-drying, low-odor, and can be sawed, sanded, painted, stained, polished, and chiseled to fit your needs!

loose screws, sawdust and hand drill

How to Screw into Wood Filler

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to screw into a wood surface after applying wood filler:

Types of Screws

The type of screw you use can make or break your wood filler—literally! For a secure and permanent bond, select one with a gauge and thread pattern compatible with your filler. 

Screws with weather-resistant and anti-corrosive coatings can contribute to a better hold. Some screw types to choose from are wood, sheet metal, deck, drywall, and machine screws.

Wood screws are a common choice for securing wooden materials together, and are fit for heavy-duty projects. Sheet metal screws can be used when fastening metal to wood.

You can only use drywall screws in light fixtures and non-load-bearing projects, as they can be thin and brittle. Applying too much pressure can cause them to break and damage your wood. Deck screws are rust-resistant, so they can be used in outdoor settings. 

Preparing the Wood

If the wood you’re working on is rough, splintered, or not in good shape, lightly sand the area and clean up any loose paint, dirt, and debris with a cloth. Prepare and apply your wood filler with a putty knife. Fill the gaps, holes, and cracks thoroughly and scrape the excess.

Allow your wood filler to dry and cure completely. This can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, depending on your wood filler. Then, lightly sand the filled area to give it a smooth and even appearance. Wipe with a cloth to get rid of sawdust and filler debris.

Once your wood filler has reached its hardest form, you can cover it with a stain, finish, or paint to match the surrounding area before screwing into it. This step can also add a protective layer to your wood and help keep your screws secure.

Pilot Hole

Before screwing into the wood filler, it’s advisable to drill a pilot hole first. This will prevent your wood filler from splitting, cracking, or getting damaged when your screw is inserted. It also ensures that your screw is driven in the right direction, and leaves a smoother look.

Choosing the right drill bit size for your pilot hole is important. If your hole is too big, you’ll lose grip, but if it’s too small, there’s a higher risk of splitting the wood filler. Start by marking the pilot hole location, install your drill bit, and drill only as deep as needed. Brush away any debris.

Don’t forget to wear eye protection when using a drill, and always follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions.

Drilling the Screw

The final step is to screw into the wood filler. Ensure that there are no debris or wood shavings in your pilot hole, and then select the right driver bit for your screw head. Alight your screw with the hole pilot hole and apply gradual pressure to ensure that the screw finds its way properly.

Avoid jamming the screw in or applying too much force, only tighten it until it’s secure. Over-tightening can put too much stress on your wood filler, causing cracks or looseness. 

If you’re using Durham’s Water Putty for this project, another option would be to insert the screw into the putty while it’s still wet. Allow it to dry thoroughly, ideally overnight, for a secure hold.

Common Problems When Screwing into Wood Filler

Here are a few issues to be aware of if you’re planning to screw into wood filler:

  • Cracking and Splitting: There’s always the risk of your wood filler cracking or splitting when you screw into it, especially if you didn’t drill a pilot hole beforehand. This happens when the wood filler isn’t able to withstand the force and pressure from the screw.
  • Loosening Over Time: Wear and tear, moisture, and harsh weather conditions can cause your wood filler to break loose or your screw to lose its grip over time. This can compromise the safety and longevity of your wooden structure.
  • Lack of Strength: Wood fillers are ideal for filling in gaps and covering imperfections on wooden surfaces, but they don’t have the same structural strength as solid wood. Depending on your type of filler, it may not be able to support heavy loads permanently.


So, can you screw into wood filler? And can you drill into wood filler? The answer to both of these questions is a yes, as long as you pick the right filler for your needs. 

Strength, durability, weather resistance, fast drying, and ease of use are qualities you might want to look for in a wood filler. While wood fillers can be useful for minor and cosmetic repairs, they may not be the right solution for load-bearing or structural issues.

For a fast-drying and long-lasting wood filler for all types of wood, that is perfect for both indoor and outdoor projects, choose Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty. It stays put, doesn’t shrink or crack when drying, and is great for all kinds of household repairs, even those involving screws!