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Painter's putty

Painter’s putty is used on wood trim surfaces to fill nail set holes and nail-sized holes. It can also be used to fill small gaps between mitered pieces of trim wood. Painter’s putty can be applied using a putty knife, or by hand.


Eye protection, either safety glasses or safety goggles, should always be worn whenever preparing surfaces for paint. Respiratory system protection should be worn whenever you are creating dust or working in a dusty environment. Respiratory system protection should also be worn whenever you are applying solvent-based materials. Eye and respiratory system protection products can be purchased wherever workplace safety equipment is sold. Read and follow the directions for use and safety precautions on the container.

Using painter's putty

Begin by using a putty knife or scraper to remove any loose material and peeling paint from the surface bordering the hole or gap you will fill with painter’s putty. Sand the surface bordering the hole or gap with the medium-grit side of a sanding sponge or 80-grit sandpaper. Remove sanding dust with a wiping cloth or towel.

Roll a marble-sized amount of painter’s putty between your hands. Rolling warms painter’s putty making it easier to apply. Use a putty knife or fingers to apply painter’s putty to fill nail sets, nail-sized holes or the gaps between mitered pieces of wood. Painter’s putty should be applied flush to the surface with no excess outside the hole or gap. Follow the directions on the container regarding drying and priming before paint application.

More detailed coverage of this topic can be found in the book:
The Homeowner's Guide to Surface Preparation for Interior House Painting, on pages 85-87.

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