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alternety 10-31-2007 07:47 PM

Color problem with filled nail holes
I have a contractor in to prep trim for finishing. Fill nail holes and gaps, sand. The putty being used for the holes matches the untreated wood reasonably well but when any finish is applied, the putty looks like a buffalo on an iceberg. Much darker than the wood. So far we are working on clear hemlock. The windows and trim in rooms with windows are clear fir. This also needs to have holes fixed.

We want to retain the natural look of the wood (including color variations). I have tried satin finish oil based urethane, as well as sealer (Benite). In each case the putty is much darker than the wood. We tried stain also but it did not look natural.

Can anyone suggest how to avoid this problem? I have one floor puttied and sanded. I am probably going to have to have the putty picked out of each hole and done another way. Not a happy camper.

slickshift 11-01-2007 05:20 AM


Originally Posted by alternety (Post 70988)
I have a contractor in to prep trim for finishing....

Call a real painter
I'm kidding, but not really
Whoever is doing that doesn't know which end of a paintbrush is which
Putty is for filling holes after they have been coated
The putty should match the coated trim, not the raw wood
It's not meant to be stained

Stainable/paintable wood filler is used for raw wood to be stained/painted

TurningColorz 11-04-2007 08:55 PM

Sorry alternety, slickshift is right, the putty should not be applied until the wood is finished. :(
I made the same mistake once on some oak trim. The two materials will never accept a finish the same way. I eventually sanded everything down to bare wood, except for the tiny dot of the nail head, and refinished, but the putty still showed. Ever since then I've filled and patched after the wood is finished.Using this method, it's pretty easy to match the colors and the nail holes disappear much better.
At this point, you might try a different type of finish to see if it reacts differently. Possibly a clear "sanding" sealer would help. This often smooths out the color variations when staining pines.

Good Luck,
Mike -

alternety 11-04-2007 11:16 PM

I really do not understand how the contractor could not be aware of this problem. They wanted to stain after they had puttied the downstairs; probably because of this. I got a pencil for correcting scratches in wood. Not really a match. I am probably going to have to mix the color (has no one used hemlock and fir before for trim?). I am going to have to see what it looks like to put putty over the urethane. I am using satin finish so it may not be two noticable.

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