Like many things decorating-related, I find myself trying out and collecting lots of different fillers. Some I get on with, some I don’t. This makes me well placed to write about what I think are the best fillers for walls and ceilings.
Just like paintbrushes, I find that some are good “all-rounders”, while others are ideal for one situation but not for another – they all have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s certainly not the case that all fillers are the same.
I thought I’d share my experiences of some interior fillers with you (most of these aren’t designed for use outside) – feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.
Best General Purpose Filler for Walls and Ceilings
Without a doubt, the filler that I use the largest quantity of (and seems to be fairly universally popular with other Professional Decorators) is Gyproc EasiFill. It’s a powder filler that you need to mix up with water to the right consistency (I’ll come on to ready-mixed fillers later), and is available in three variants: EasiFill 60, 45 and 20 – the numbers indicate roughly how long the product remains “workable” after mixing.
NB: that doesn’t mean that the filler will be fully cured and able to be sanded within 60, 45 or 20 minutes. It means you only have 60, 45 or 20 minutes (maximum!) in which to apply the product.
I know there are many situations where quick-drying fillers are really useful – more on these later – but the one I use most is EasiFill 60. I find that the extra working time means that I can go round a typical room two or three times looking for every last hole and crack in the plasterwork. If it takes a bit longer to fully cure, I just plan my work accordingly so that I have other tasks to be getting on with (e.g. the woodwork) while this is happening.
The downside of all powder fillers is that if you mix up too much, you end up wasting some, so it’s always better to mix up too little – you can always make another “batch” if needed. EasiFill is a great general-purpose filler (after all, it’s made by British Gypsum who manufacture both paster and plasterboard, so they’re going to have a good technical understanding of what works best with those materials).
However, like many fillers, it isn’t very flexible when fully cured; if there is any movement in the surface(s) you’re filling, you might be better looking for a more flexible alternative (more later), but for general filling of holes, cracks etc, you can’t go far wrong with EasiFill.
It’s easy to mix, easy to work with, is very reasonably priced, and once it’s cured it’s very easy to sand smooth as well, and doesn’t “flash” through your paint (some fillers, even though they’ve been sanded perfectly smooth, can still appear visible through the paint).
This is a great filler for skimming larger areas on your walls and ceilings.
Toupret Interior Filler
Another great option if you want a general-purpose powder filler is Toupret Interior Filler. Like EasiFill, it’s very easy to work with, sands easily and doesn’t flash, so you’re guaranteed a great finish.
I think this is probably a better filler if you don’t need to mix excessive amounts for your walls and ceilings. EasiFill is sold by the sack, and you generally mix it in a bucket. Toupret Interior Filler is sold in small boxes, and it’s easy to mix on a board, so it’s great if you’re just filling imperfections in a small room.
Tip for Using Powder Filler
My top tip for powder fillers: one potential downside of having a bag of powder filler in the back of your van is the bag. If it splits or tears the filler gets everywhere, and if moisture gets into it your filler is ruined. So, I decant my powder filler into an old rice container.
I’m sure there are dozens of other options, but I like this old rice container because it’s pretty robust, it’s easy to carry, is watertight and holds 5kg of filler (both Toupret and EasiFill are available in 5kg and 10kg sizes, so it’s either half a bag or a full bag depending on which you choose).
Best Quick-Drying Fillers for Walls and Ceilings
I’m not a massive fan of quick drying fillers to be honest. I totally understand the appeal in terms of saving time and working quicker, but some I have tried seem to very rapidly get from the “workable” stage to the “too solid to work with” stage, but then take almost as long as regular fillers to fully cure and become capable of being sanded.
I’m not a huge fan of EasiFill 20 – it seems to “go off” (become unworkable) remarkably quickly, but then not be fully dry for ages.
Toupret Quick Dry Filler
One of the best is Toupret Quick Dry Filler (it used to be called TX-110 – Toupret seem to be changing the names of a lot of their products to make them easier to understand).
You do need to work fairly quickly with it, and it still takes about three hours before you can paint over it, but in most situations it’s then easy enough to sand and gives a good finish.
Best Ready-Mixed Fillers for Plaster Walls
Ready-Mixed fillers save you the time in mixing, and the potential wastage of throwing away unused excess powder filler, so they sound great in theory. In practice, they vary a lot in terms of quality!
Many (particularly some aimed at the retail market more than the professional decorator) set really hard and are difficult to sand down. Some of these then flash through the finished paint as well. Many take a long time to fully cure, so the time saved in not having to mix them is then lost.
For me there are two which I really like – they’re very different and I use them in different situations.
Gyproc EasiFiller Light
The first is Gyproc EasiFiller Light. Made by the same people who make EasiFill, it’s a great general-purpose filler, just like its powdered “cousin”. It can be used for quite deep holes, it doesn’t “slump” (i.e. it keeps its shape after you’ve applied it), it doesn’t take forever to dry, and it doesn’t flash.
The only thing I’m less keen on about it is that it’s a bit harder to sand down than EasiFill, but then because it doesn’t shrink or slump, you can fill it quite “flush” so that you don’t have too much sanding to do. This isn’t the best filler to use over large areas, but it’s great for big or deep repairs.
Toupret Quick Fill
The other ready-mixed filler I use is Toupret Quick Fill (it used to be called Toupret Redlite). It’s very lightweight and is ideal for filling minor imperfections (pinholes, or minor holes that you might have missed with your first round of filling); it’s not really designed for skimming large areas or repairing deep holes.
This filler dries really quickly – it can often be painted over in half an hour – and doesn’t usually flash; the instructions say that you don’t need to sand it smooth, but I find it tends to flash less if you give it a light sand before painting.
It certainly flashes less than other lightweight fillers I’ve used. It’s a great little product, but it’s expensive which is why I only use it for minor imperfections rather than a whole room.
You can even use this filler on wood – it’s ideal for those little nail holes where people tack cables to their skirting boards. Top tip: if it starts to dry out a little in the tub, just stir in a few drops of water.
Best Fillers for Cracks in Plasterboard
I mentioned earlier that most fillers aren’t very flexible – most of the ones I’ve listed above are ideal in surfaces where there is no movement but are too brittle to cope where movement may be expected.
One of the most common situations where this will occur is where two pieces of plasterboard meet – where this happens, you will see almost perfectly straight cracks appear, most often on ceilings.
The “correct” way to solve this is to make sure that the boards are securely fixed to the beams behind them (extra screws may be required), then tape the joint and skim over with filler. But there are a couple of products from Toupret which can work:
Toupret Skim-Flex (used to be called TX140) is great for hairline cracks, not so good for deeper or wider ones. It remains flexible when it’s dry, and is relatively easy to apply and sand. It also dries to the touch quickly, although Toupret recommend waiting 24 hours before painting over it.
This is a ready-mixed filler too, which is even better. I love this product! It’s easily one of the best fillers for walls and ceilings, especially when filling cracks.
Toupret Fill-Flex (used to be called Fibacryl) is good for larger/deeper cracks, but has a couple of drawbacks:
- It takes 24 hours before you can paint over it
- It doesn’t sand easily
- It tends to shrink, so you then need to apply another layer of filler over the top.
For larger re-occurring cracks, I therefore tend to fill once with Fill-Flex, wait 24 hours, then apply Skim-Flex over the top. If you’re using Fill-Flex you need to smooth it off as much as you can when you apply, leaving minimal residue on the surrounding area, as it’s not easy to sand.
It will shrink back, but then you apply Skim-Flex over the top. It’s time-consuming, but it’s much more flexible than most traditional fillers. Both Skim-Flex and Fill-Flex are ready mixed.
Best Tools to Apply Filler
Regardless of whether you use Ready Mixed or Powder Filler, you’re going to need tools to apply it. So, I thought I’d include a little section on what I use.
The first thing you’re going to need is a set of filling knives (flexible scrapers). This helps when working material like Gyproc Filler onto a surface. T have the Rollingdog set, simply because they’re well-made and reasonably priced. Plus, you get a range of sizes in a pack. Click here to see current prices.
The Best Filler for Walls and Ceilings – by Robin Gofton
What do Other Decorators Think is the Best Filler for Walls and Ceilings?
I’d agree to a certain point. Gyproc light is probably the best all-round filler on the market. You can do deep holes with it without any issues and there is never any flashing. It’s hard to ignore Toupret fillers though. I know you’re looking at a lot of different products for each type of hole when using Toupret, but each one of those products is bang on.
That said, if you were to look in my van right now, you’d see a sack of easi-fill, a tub of Gyproc light and maybe a box of Toupret filler called Murex for external masonry. Gyproc give you everything you need for internal work.
Gyproc EasiFill is the best interior filler without a shadow of a doubt. It is the most popular filler in Britain for a start!! You can mix large amounts at a time, it’s smooth, hardly slumps and it’s easy to sand. The best thing is, it’s cheap!! I buy it by the sack from basically anywhere I get my paint.
I understand it’s sometimes handy to have a tub of ready mixed filler in the van in case there is something you miss on your first fill, or you only need a little bit. About 95% of my interior filling is done with good, old fashioned EasiFill and I never have a problem.
I use different types of fillers to be honest. The best powder filler for walls and ceilings are the sacks of EasiFill, mostly because of the price of it. I go through loads of it week in/week out on most of my jobs. It’s easy to use, doesn’t flash and sands well.
I have used the Easifiller light and love that too. It is one of the only ready mixed fillers I’ve used that can go to almost any depth and still set. Most ready mixed fillers take an age to dry and slump like mad.
Toupret have an extensive range of fillers which can’t be ignored. They develop each of their products to perform as well as it possibly can for each situation. You can end up with dozens of different products in your van, which ultimately means some will spoil before you get chance to use them, but they’re still good fillers.