How To Fill Screw Holes in Wood Before Painting? [5 Secret Ways]

How to fill screw holes in wood before Painting

Nailing holes, screw holes, grooves, roughness and cracks everywhere!!!

What to do now?

Should I start to paint it in this rough condition?

No— If you paint it like that it may not ensure the fine look of your artisans.

There are so many questions like this in the mind of woodworkers. It is hard to imagine the completion of any wooden project without screwing.

How to fill screw holes in wood before painting? There are so many ways of covering the tiny or pilot holes of the screwing area in unpainted wood. The easiest method to remove these void is to patch them with wood fillers. You may also apply smarter techniques like applying wood glue, fillers, and plug.

Let’s check out the  details of each method one by one that how to fill screw holes in wood:

5 Top Techniques of how to fill screw holes in wood before Painting

To get a fine outlook of your wooden project, you may not leave these holes without proper filling. Let’s check out the  details of 5 best method one by one:

  • 1st: Using Wood filler patch

With the help of a product named wood filler or wood plastic, you can remove nail or screw holes easily. Let’s see step by step guide of this procedure.

Step 1: Cleaning the surface for patching

The first step is to clean the area around the screw holes. You can use a wet but soaked cloth or SandPaper for this purpose. Keep these important points in mind.

  •  The area should be dry completely  if you are using a wet piece of cloth for cleaning
  •    holes should always be few centimeters deep below the wood surface.

Step 2: Preparing the wood filler 

Take 1 scoop of high-quality Filler and a  pinch off hardener and mix them with a putty knife. Remember two-part fillers are easy to mix and longer in effect. 

  • Don’t increase the amount of filler for a couple of screw holes. Always keep the filler quantity equivalent to the Golf ball size.

Step 3: Mixing the hardener

Now it’s mixing time. Use a putty knife to apply the mixture to the hole. The knife blade should not be longer than 1.5 inches in width to get more control. Drop the required amount of filler over the opening and spread it. Point to Remember:

  • it is always easy to handle the little amount as it spreads a lot. So, don’t exceed the quantity. 

Step 4: Levelling the surface to set the filler

After spreading, let the patches set according to instructions given on the box. It may take 15 to 20 minutes to set properly. To get a more smooth surface use Sandpaper over the scrolling area. Remove remaining wooden pieces or carefully.

This technique also works well on metal projects. But the type of filler is different for metallic bodies.

  • 2nd: Using Wood glue

Using Wood glue is one of the cheapest, simplest and easiest methods of removing holes in wood.

Let’s see step by step guide of this procedure –

Step 1: Drop glue in the screwing area

After driving the screw, drop wood glue in that area. You may use Gorilla glue, PVC glue of anyone you like.

Step 2: Wait to set the glue

The adhesive of any type needs time to cure and set properly. So, after applying it wait for at least 45 minutes to get it dry.

Step 3: Sand the glue line

Sand the glue line with fine sandpaper. Wipe away extra glue carefully.

  • 3rd: Using a plug or piece of wood cutting

Plugs are pieces of small wood cutting just like the size of the nailhead or screw hole. These pieces always come as a part of the wood you are using in your projects. This process is widely used for the largest projects with vertical cracks like holes.

Let’s see step by step guide of this method – 

Step 1: purchase the plug

You may get these plugs from any Hardware Store. These plugs are available in the same color as your wooden project. Two commonly used plugs are oak wood plugs and screw caps.

Step 2: Make your own plugs

For custom projects,  carpenters often make their own plugs using drills. Here is an informative video to guide you on how to cutter plugs.

Step 3: Drill to make the shallow house to drive the plug.

Now drill the screwing area a bit to the size of the plug you made. It should not be more than ¼ inch.

This depth depends mainly on your needs or the requirement of the woodwork. Put a screw in this drill.

Step 4: Fit plug right above the screw

After nailing the pilot hole, insert the plug right above the head of the score. Don’t forget to apply filler or wood glue under the plug.

Step 5: Sand the surface 

Now sand the surface to get the final touch with sandpaper. Now it’s ready for stain. It’s completely invisible.

  • 4th: Using Chisel and clamps for recoiling wood

By using a chisel, you can make a pilot hole in the wooden surface. It will curl away from the wood. Now put clamps in the pilot hole and then fit it with wood glue. The coiling area settles around clamp in a way that it gets to level to the wood surface. Finally, sand it to get the final touch. Clamps of high quality and each size are easily available.

  • 5th: Using Wooden Scrap and glue

Don’t worry if you can’t buy fillers, plugs, and hardeners then go for shave off scrap material of wood itself. Fill the screwing area and put glue on it. Wait for the glue to set. Sand it with sandpaper. It will make all kinds of roughness invisible.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can you put a screw in the wood filler?

No, the simple answer is that you can’t do this. Fillers are condensed with no capacity to accommodate nails. So, It is always recommended  to complete screwing before adding fillers

How do you fill screw holes in wood?

There are different ways of filling screw holes, for example, putting pieces of scrap or shave off wooden material, glues, wood filler and plugs.

Does wood filler need to be primed before painting?

Applying primer enhances the outlook of the area. Before painting, if you don’t apply it, the paint will not stand longer.

How do you fill screw holes?

Screw holes can be filled by using a wood filling, plugs, wood glue, and wooden scrap.

How do you fix a screw hole that’s too big?

For fixing the holes that are too big, use a large number of fillers like glue. Plugs of the size of the void can also help to minimize the screwing area.


Hopefully, this how to fill screw holes in wood before painting article will guide you about all the essential tips needed to know to carry out this procedure well. Whatever method you may choose, results would be up to your expectations. Personally, I would recommend wood fillers and wood glue techniques as they are simple and inexpensive. For larger holes, plugging is best. Overall “each way is the best way” if done properly. You can read also our how to paint a pressure treated wood guide.

If you like this article, don’t forget to comment.

John Garner

Welcome from Woody Man Garner. A passionate wood craftsman and carpenter. Woodhunger is my dream site to explore whatever I did in my research projects on different types of woods. Let's be a part of my dream job!

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