Thinking Thursday - With Grain Filler or Without? You decide.

With Grain Filler or Without? You decide.  

Woods such as oak, mahogany and walnut are characterized as having “open grain” because the wood pores are large. In contrast, “closed grain” woods like hard maple, cherry, poplar and beech have smaller pores. You don’t have to fill the pores of any wood before applying a finish. It’s a matter of what you want the final surface to feel and look like.  

If you prefer a glass-like finish, such as on a desk or tabletop, or piano or guitar, you will have to fill in the open pores with a grain/pore filler. Woods that have open pores will require a coat of gel or paste pore/grain filler to provide a level surface for the application of finish top coats. A filler is used on almost all finishes except a true “old world” finish which requires that the pores be left unfilled. The filler is usually applied after staining and sometimes after a light sealer coat after which the surface is sealed and finished. You can tint the filler to help color the wood and emphasize the wood pattern. It can also help make a smooth surface that will get less dirt and other materials in the pores.  

Besides making the piece of furniture smooth, grain filler is also used for aesthetic purposes. If you plan on going with a high gloss finish, you definitely want to fill the pores. High gloss on non-filled pores does not look good. Now keep in mind that filling the pores can give the surface a very “unnatural” look. Some like it, some don’t. It’s up to you.  

If you decide to fill in wood grain, remember that not all wood grain fillers are created equal. A premium water-based grain filler should be:  


-Low odor  

-Low VOC 

-Easy to apply 

-Easy sanding 

-Fast drying 

-Water clean up  

Aqua Coat offers different premium water-based grain fillers for different applications.  

Clear Wood Grain Filler - use on surfaces that you are planning on putting clear coats as their topcoats 

PGF High Performance Clear Wood Grain Filler - use for high performance clear finishes 

White Cabinet Grain Filler - use for painting wood surfaces such as cabinets and vanities  


To see more info on all our water-based products, stains, seal coats, topcoats and grain fillers go to 

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