Water Putty vs Bondo: Which Is Better?

Tackling home repairs and taking on DIY projects often centers on the water putty vs Bondo debate. The better choice is easy—Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty!

Durham’s formula is a handyperson’s dream for polished, long-lasting fixes. You only need to add water to the powder to activate its remarkable binding abilities.

Durham’s water putty sticks to most types of stable surfaces, both indoors and outdoors. The best part? You can sand, drill, paint, and do anything with it to achieve that perfect finish.

Find out all the ways water putty outperforms Bondo wood filler in this guide!

What Is Water Putty Used For?

Below are the most common applications you can use water putty for:

  1. General Repair

Water putty, like Durham’s Rock Hard formula, is the go-to for general repairs around the home or in the workshop. You’ll want to have this product on hand for fixing holes, cracks, gaps, and other imperfections in materials like wood, drywall, plaster, tile, and more.

The great thing about quality water putties is they create a tough, permanent bond when fully cured. Yet, they can still be sanded, cut, sawed, chiseled, and painted over.

The result? A lasting repair that blends right in, as if a professional did it!

Use it to patch cracked plaster walls by simply spreading the putty mixture into any cracks or cavities with a putty knife. No need to worry about shrinkage, as water putty maintains its shape.

Water putty is fantastic for filling holes left by nails, screws, dowels, and knots in wood. You can even use it instead of caulk to fill voids in woodwork. Just leave it unpainted for staining later or tint it to match.

The uses go on and on—tightening loose drawer knobs, fixing door bumpers, and creating super secure picture hangers.

  1. Casting

Water putty is also an excellent medium for creating decorative cast pieces and reproductions. Durham’s pliable formula makes it easy to pour into molds to capture intricate shapes and designs.

You can purchase premade molds or make your own from carved designs you love. Replicate decorative trim pieces or sculpt entirely new objects from scratch.

You can assemble the casts or adhere them to furniture, walls, frames, or anything you want to add architectural embellishment to.

Water putty offers an affordable way to get that beautiful, hand-carved look. A little paint and your cast pieces will truly pop!

  1. Sand Sculpting

Water putty makes gorgeous sand sculptures. You can craft custom designs with raised relief and a textured surface.

Just cover and fill your sand mold with your water putty. Once set, you can seal it with a clear shellac for a natural ivory tone.

Or, get creative with colored washes or paints to make your sand sculpture come alive!

  1. Modeling

What makes water putty so well-suited for this application is that it can be hand-modeled and carved as it sets.

You can shape and mold it directly onto an armature or form, building up the design exactly how you want it. As it firms up, you can carefully carve out the finer details.

With water putty, you’ll get one-of-a-kind textures and durable models not possible with other modeling materials.

  1. Mosaics

Coasters, wall plaques, tabletops, boxes, and trivets make great mosaic canvases. It’s a fun project to take on using wood putty and your preferred tile pieces.

You can use water putty to grout broken glass, shells, or pebbles, arranged on a surface. Another technique is to smoothen the putty on a surface before pressing your decorative materials in any pattern you like.

  1. Restoring Antiques

Antique repairs and reproductions don’t get much easier than working with this versatile, durable putty.

Durham’s, for example, is incredibly handy for restoring antiques, art pieces, and ornate furniture. You can mold, cast, and carve it to replicate missing sections or fix chips and cracks.

Water Putty Pros and Cons

Here are the pros of water putty:

  • Easy to Mix: You only need to add water until you get a thick pancake batter consistency.
  • Tintable: You can pre-color the putty by mixing a dry pigment or any water-based stain or paint.
  • Versatile: It works on wood, drywall, plaster, tile, concrete—pretty much any surface you need to patch, repair, model, or cast.
  • Permanent: It dries into a rock-hard, durable shape that doesn’t shrink or separate over time.
  • Workable: You can treat it like the original surface: sand, carve, drill, saw, and paint it any way you want.
  • Adhesion: It forms a solid, seamless bond that holds up for a long time.
  • Cheap: It’s more affordable than other repair/refinishing methods.
  • No Stink: It makes working indoors or in any tight place much more pleasant since you won’t have to deal with any funky odors.

For the cons:

  • Not Waterproof: Outdoor repairs must be sealed and painted to protect the putty from the elements.
  • Not suitable for structural applications: It’s not ideal for projects where it’s weight-bearing or structural.

What Is Bondo Used For?

Bondo is a well-known brand for fixing dents and dings in cars. It’s designed for auto bodywork but works great as a wood filler too.

However, there’s a dedicated Bondo wood filler for woodwork and carpentry. Check out the uses of Bondo: 

  1. Home Repair and Improvement

Bondo is a versatile product for all sorts of fix-it projects around the house. It works on various surfaces, so you can use it to patch up drywall, fix cracks in concrete, or even repair tiles.

Like water putty, Bondo can fill holes, dents, gaps, and flaws in wood surfaces before sanding and refinishing. Use it to repair furniture, cabinets, flooring, trims, and outdoor wood structures.

Got a chunk missing from a piece of furniture or a gouge in your wooden door frame? You can mix Bondo to rebuild those sections.

The two-part formula can be layered to recreate the original contours of rotted wood.

If you have outdoor furniture that’s seen better days, Bondo can help. The water-resistant formula can extend the life of your pieces.

  1. Arts and Crafts

For creatives, Bondo is a helpful tool to have in your kit.

Need to duplicate an item? Make a mold using liquid latex, then fill it with mixed Bondo. This method is perfect for replicating antique drawer pulls, tool handles, bookends, or any small item you can’t find a replacement for.

Bondo Pros and Cons

Below are the pros of using Bondo:

  • Fast Curing: You can sand it in 15 minutes and paint it in 45 minutes for quick same-day repairs.
  • Strong Adhesion: The two-part formula chemically crosslinks and bonds permanently to surfaces like wood, metal, masonry, etc.
  • Non-Shrinking: It maintains its shape and volume without shrinking.
  • Water-Resistant: The cured filler is resistant to moisture or water damage.
  • Thicker Consistency: It makes it easier to apply on vertical surfaces without dripping.
  • Sandable: It sands flat and smooth once fully cured.

For the cons:

  • Tricky to Mix: Getting the right ratio of filler and hardener takes a bit of experimenting. Too much or too little hardener can affect drying time and strength. You might not have enough of it once you get the correct formula after some practice.
  • Can Crack With Age: Bondo can become brittle and prone to cracking over time, especially if the repair area expands and contracts due to temperature changes.
  • Strong Odor: The filler emits strong chemical fumes you might find irritating. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area or wear a mask in a confined space.
  • Harder to Sand: Bondo is more difficult to sand down than wood putties once cured.
  • Short Working Time: You should work fairly quickly before it hardens and cures.

Water Putty and Bondo, The Difference

Water putty and Bondo are two great products. But here’s how they differ:

  • Composition: Water putty is a powder you mix with water to activate. Bondo, on the other hand, is a two-part system—you must combine the thick filler with the cream hardener to an even light mauve color.
  • Application: Water putty offers easier application; you only need to mix it with water until creamy. Bondo requires more precision, as you must properly blend the two components for effective curing.
  • Sandability: Water putty and Bondo dry extremely hard. However, Bondo requires more effort to sand smooth.
  • Cost: A 4-pound can of Durham’s water putty, which is almost 2 quarts, costs $21.75. After mixing it with water, it has more volume than a quart of Bondo wood filler, which costs $20.
  • Odor: Water putty doesn’t have that harsh smell factor to worry about. You can mix it up and apply it in any indoor setting without concerns over vapors. Meanwhile, Bondo gives off a pretty potent chemical smell.

Wrapping Up

So, which wins the Durham’s water putty vs Bondo showdown?

It’s crystal-clear—water putty!

Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty really does create a rockhard, permanent fix when fully cured. It sticks better, lasts longer, and can be used in more creative ways.

But don’t take our word for it—try Durham’s for yourself and experience the difference!