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My Review of DryDex Spackling as a Grain Filler for Cabinet Painting

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Matt is a professional painter who owns and operates his own painting business, specializing in interior and exterior house painting.

This spackling is less expensive than grain fillers, and yields similar results.

This spackling is less expensive than grain fillers, and yields similar results.

Using DAP DryDex Spackling to Fill the Grain of Oak Cabinets

If you've ever painted oak cabinets, you know that the wood grain is difficult to fill with primer and paint alone, especially when painting with a sprayer instead of a roller. Skim coating the grain before painting fills in the grainy holes in the wood, making them invisible when painted.

The grain filler I've used for a while, with good results, is Aqua Coat. This product fills the grain holes, but it's expensive and not the easiest to sand. I've experimented with other grain fillers, including Timbermate and Famowood, but those products were even harder to sand.

Based on a recommendation, I bought a small, inexpensive container of DryDex spackling and tested the product out on a spare cabinet door made of oak. This review is based on my testing.

Filling the Grain

The DAP spackling I used on my test door was the pink lid version (Dry Time Indicator). This lightweight spackle is a pinkish color that turns white as it dries. I skim coated my test door with only one coat, using a putty knife.

The material is a creamy paste that spreads easily. For the edges of the cabinet doors, I used my finger to fill the cracks. I didn't notice any unpleasant odor, unlike Timbermate, which was by far the worst smelling wood filler I've ever used. I didn't have any problems with the material drying out in the container once opened for the first time.

I noticed that this product doesn't fill deeper holes well because it's too thin. If you need to fill screw holes, or holes from old hardware, use a wood filler that's thicker and doesn't shrink. I use Durham's water putty for patching minor damage in cabinet doors and 3M Bondo Wood Filler for patching large holes.

Sanding DryDex

Compared to the various wood fillers I've experimented with, DryDex sanded a lot easier with little effort. I applied a thin layer, enough to fill the grain, but not too much to where sanding might be difficult. This product filled the grain really well in only one coat without leaving air bubbles behind as it dried.

I used a sanding sponge (220-grit) to sand the cabinet door once the surface turned white and fully dried. This product was really easy to sand out of the corners and intricate grooves of the trim on the front of my cabinet door. Removing globs of grain filler from corners can turn into a nightmare, but this material is crumbly and scrapes off easily with a putty knife.

Priming and Painting DryDex Spackling

After sanding my cabinet door, I caulked the cracks of the recessed panel on both sides of the door, wiped off the dust with a tack cloth, and sprayed the first coat of BIN shellac primer. The primer sealed the surface without any bonding issues or bubbling in the grain. With one coat, you could see a little flashing of the grain at an angle, but the second coat of primer made that go away.

I sanded the second coat of primer with a fine-grit sanding sponge and sprayed two coats of Emerald urethane paint. DryDex won't make the wood grain flush with the surface of the door, if that's what you're trying to achieve with your cabinets, but it will hide the holes and cracks in the grain of the wood. Making the texture of oak grain flush and level with the surface is difficult to achieve, regardless of the patching material used. It can be done, but not without multiple coats and hours of sanding.

The Dry Time Indicator of this product has a pink lid.

The Dry Time Indicator of this product has a pink lid.

Is DryDex Spackle a Good Choice for Cabinet Paint Prep?

After testing this product on a grainy oak door, I've concluded that DAP DryDex Spackling is a good, inexpensive alternative to grain fillers that are harder to sand and cost double the price in some cases. I can buy a huge 128-oz tub of this stuff for nearly half the price of the smaller container of the filler I used before.

The one major advantage for me is the easy sanding. Some of the oak cabinets I paint include over thirty doors, and using a product that doesn't sand easily can turn into a real nightmare. This product dries and changes color in about one hour. I like the fast dry time, but the dry time indicator feature doesn't matter to me because I usually sand everything the following day after the spackling has dried anyway.

Moving forward, I feel comfortable using this product on my oak cabinet painting projects instead of the pricey grain filler I was using before. I like the advantages. My review is based on the Dry Time Indicator version with the pink lid, not the red lid. If all you're trying to do is fill the grain holes in your cabinets, this product will do that for you at a fair price.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Matt G.