Plywood Finishing - Two Useful Products

While I love working with natural wood, often plywood or board is a better choice of material. This is especially so when making quick utility projects like kitchen cabinets where using natural timber for carcass construction would be excessive, wasteful and time consuming.

I find myself turning to plywood for many projects and given the poor surface finish of plywood I am always on the lookout for products that would make finishing easier.

Recently, I stumbled upon two products that promise to make life much easier when painting plywood or for that matter even natural wood. These products are not suitable if you wish to stain and polish high quality veneered plywood; they are useful if painting plywood.

Dent Filler

Dent Filler made by a small Haryana Company

The first product I spotted on my local hardware dealer's shelves was a dent filler by a company called American Paints Corporation, which I later learnt has no association with the United States but is a small scale unit based in a village in Haryana's Sonepat district. I wonder if this product would be widely available in most parts of India.

At any rate, this dent filler, which is Acrylic based, is an excellent and low priced product. A 1 kg pack costs just about Rs 200 and this is enough for filling a lot of dents and holes.

The filler is a white with a thick creamlike consistency and is meant to be applied with a palette knife. I filled small holes, dents and screw bores easily; for deeper pocket holes, I applied the filler in two or three layers. After a few hours the filler was hard and impossible to chip away. It did however yield to sanding.

Screw holes and other imperfections are quickly and easily filled. The filler does not drop off or shrink after drying.

I was quite pleased with its consistency, ease of application and hardness. It was way cheaper and better than the widely advertised Australian product Timbermate. I prefer a filler that would dry hard and adhere well to wood unlike some that tend to become friable, crack with shrinkage or remain soft (like traditional putties).

I am not sure that this product would be appropriate for projects that require polish or staining even though the filler comes in two other colours (Walnut and Teak) as well. It takes primer and paint well but I have not tried it with stains and clear finishes.

RichFill Wood putty (website is another good product but comes in powder form and has to be made into a paste and then applied. This product comes in various colours but does not take additional stain very well. However, it hardens well and can be very easily painted over.

Acrylic Putty

Dulux Acrylic Wall Putty

The other product I tried was Acrylic wall putty made by Dulux paint for plaster walls. I came across this product when the painters were prepping the walls of my study prior to painting. They applied a fine coat of this putty on the plasterboard and cement walls prior to priming.

I liked the consistency and decided to try in on a piece of Pine. After a day or so the putty dried really hard and would not chip off or crumble. It was much better than applying a paint-water-chalk (Mitti) powder mixture. After one month I checked the putty and found it as hard as ever.

Acrylic putty adhered well to wood and formed a permanent bond

This is good stuff even though I am not sure it was designed for wood. I used it for my latest bookshelf project and I must say the putty is easy to apply and sands well after drying.

I would however suggest using a dust mask while sanding as the putty abrades into a fine powder which rises in the air and settles over everything. Sanding is best done outdoors. Once sanded use a blower or a slightly tacky cloth to remove the remaining layer of fine putty dust prior to applying primer.

Putty base makes priming and painting easier, quicker and produces a great surface

One coat of putty is more than enough, especially if holes and dents have already been filled.

These two products are timesavers and produce a very superior surface for painting.

Indranil Banerjie
18 May 2015


  1. Hi. I used dent filler. It works great. And is much much stable than chalk powder. Acrylic putty sounds like overkill to me. Shouldn't 1/2 coats of primer do it?

    1. Amzy: I think you are right. After using acrylic putty in two projects it does seem a little too much. Two coats of primer should normally be fine unless you want a very very smooth finish.

  2. I am using Asian paints acrylic wall putty, before that I had applied premium white wall primer. Once the putty is applied, which primer I have to apply before enamel paint? Thanks in advance.

    1. Sajith: If you are painting plywood, you should be using wood primer before and after applying putty.

  3. Hi, I am upscaling an old meatsafe that has a number of gaps and cracks that need to be filled. I am not sure about using a powder based putty because I might not get the consistency right! Could you tell me where you purchased the dent filler by American Paints Corporation from? I plan to give it a coat of paint once the cracks are fixed.

    It would be great of you know of some place in south Delhi.


    1. I think I got it at Khan Market. There is a very good hardware store there run by a Sardarji - try him.

    2. Dear Indranil, I stumbled upon your blog when wanted to finish a plywood cupboard which I did by hiring a carpenter without any finishing.

      I have just started finishing and your blog on painting plywood is very helpful.

      Now I have a query - should I apply primer first followed by the wall putty /filler or the vice versa?

      Your timely reply would help a lot.

    3. I think a coat of primer first would help with adhesion. Wood filler is better than wall putty but the latter hardens to a greater degree. If using wall putty apply a very thin coat and use filler to plug voids and so on. Best wishes

  4. Wall putty can be used in wood both for painting and varnish, but with minor variations. For painting, mix the putty with paint primer or the paint itself for better bonding and color consistency. For varnish, mix the putty ( if you have not already bought the specific colored putty) with the stainer and a bit of varnish until the putty mixture color matches with the desired color finish. This is important because staining the wood after applying white putty does not really work and will lead to discolored patches. Once the putty dries up, sand lightly.


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