As a material used for many applications both at home and in industrial settings, it is sad to note woods can easily be prone to rot.
Even those that hold the promise of being highly durable don’t get to last forever. You don’t have to wait for your wooden structures to rot away and become a waste.
Use the best wood hardeners to fix the rotted wood surfaces and maintain the structure’s integrity before it succumbs any further to rot or age.
While it is exciting to learn that wood hardeners could offer a lasting solution to your wood problems, identifying the right product could be a hard nut to crack.
With these wood hardener reviews, it would be easier for you to pick one off the shelf without racking your brain for too long.
Our Top Picks
Best Wood Hardener
- Best environmentally-friendly – PC Products Water-Based Wood Hardener
- Best easy to use – Elmer’s Rotted Wood Stabilizer
- Best in class – Minwax 41700000 High-Performance Wood Hardener
- Best in durability – J-B Weld 40001 Wood Restore Liquid Hardener
- Best fastest drying time – Bondo Rotted Wood Restorer
- Best for structural fixtures – Abatron LiquidWood 2 Pint Kit
Education: Factors to Consider
There are a bunch of factors you have to bear in mind whenever you decide to hit the market to get some wood hardener. Let’s take a look at some of the important factors below.
1. Surface type
Some recommended wood hardeners are formulated to perform better on certain wooden surface types than others. More so, the efficiency of these hardeners is dependent on the wooden surface they are being applied on.
Hence, it is important to examine and note the condition of the wood surfaces, so you can buy the wood hardener that is most suited for them.
For example, thick wood hardeners are best suited for wood surfaces with crevices or extensive cracks.
Also, if you’re fixing a splintered wood deck that’s constantly exposed to rainfall, snow, or other forms of moisture, it might be best to opt for a wood hardener that acts as a wood sealer.
2. Drying time
It is most likely that you want your best wood hardeners to dry as fast as possible, with hopes that nothing disrupts the hardening process before it is fully solidified.
Additionally, it could be that you have a lot of outdoor projects to handle at the same time, so the hardener needs to dry fast enough so you can get on with other tasks. Check on how to make wood dry fast.
For the best outcomes, it is advised that you opt for hardening solutions with a quick drying time. This is because they are not only advantageous when you need to work fast but are also of some merits if the surface is exposed to rainfalls and moisture.
3. Hardener Durability
Using a formula that doesn’t last can only offer you disappointing results. You might as well not use any wood hardener if the one you are opting for is not durable.
You must ascertain the durability of the hardener you are buying. Running a quick check on online buyer reviews can let you in on all you need to know about the durability of the formula before you make a purchase.
4. Hardener Price
With best wood hardeners, no law says that the more expensive the wood hardener, the better it is.
True, there are lots of good wood hardeners within the higher price range, but that doesn’t in any way negate the fact that there are just as more within the lower price range.
The point here is that you shouldn’t let price be the most deciding factor when making your purchase. If you can afford the expensive ones, sure, go for them.
However, if you are working on a budget, you could be torn between sparing more money within straining limits or waiting to afford an expensive one.
The advice would be to look at the cheaper ones within your budget; you’d be surprised to know some gets the job done as much as the expensive ones.
5. Hardener color
You probably don’t want the surface you worked on to be the odd one out. Hardeners come in different colors, so it is best to use a formula that suits your expectations.
Also, it is important to bear in mind the color of the wood filler you intend to use. Here are the best wood fillers for decks that will last longer. To ensure befitting woodwork, it is worth mentioning that the colors of your wood hardening product and most wood fillers should be compatible.
How to Apply Wood Hardener
Applying a wood hardener is quite easy, though the process requires that you pay attention to details.
For easy visualization of what the application entails, reference can be made to this PC-Petrifier wood hardener application video.
Below, the step-by-step guide for applying wood hardener is discussed.
Clean the surface
Before you start spraying or spreading your hardening product on the desired surface, you need to make the surface as smooth or as even as possible by removing unnecessary wood crumbs and decayed wood fibers.
That way, it becomes easier for you to work on. Ensure that the surface is dry and clean, free of debris, dust, paint, or any oil-based contaminants.
Apply your hardener
Depending on the composition of the formula, you might have to shake or stir to ensure an even mixture. Don’t forget to put on your rubber gloves.
Then proceed to spray or pour the product on the targeted surface, and spread evenly with a paintbrush to form the first layer. If your wood had some holes, you can apply wood fillers.
Allow to dry
This is the point where the importance of a fast-drying formula can be witnessed.
After spreading, allow about 1 or 2 hours for the layer to dry – a fast-drying formula would take a little over an hour to be fully dried.
Then add the second layer. Repeat step 2 up to a fifth layer if you want the surface to be stronger, ultra-smooth, and shiny. Leave to dry for at least 5 hours after applying the last layer.
Though this step is optional, it is still important. By adding a protective coat or painting over the surface, your wood gets to last a bit longer.
With wood hardeners, picking one off the shelf is a pretty hard choice to make. You don’t want to end up with a product that is difficult to work with or one that only hardens the rotten wood for only a short while.
With that in mind, we have taken the time to comb through the market and present you with the best wood hardening products from trusted brands.
1. Best environmentally-friendly choice – PC Products PC-Petrifier Water-Based Wood Hardener
- Wood Hardener repairs wood damaged by insects or rot
- It is a liquid that is brushed, sprayed or injected into the pores of the wood
- No mixing
- Prepares wood for filling, priming and painting
- Improve the hardness and minimize damaged wood removal
In the long list of wood hardeners in the market, this product stands out for a good number of reasons.
The topmost reason being that it is environmentally friendly – though that doesn’t in any way mean you should splash it all over your skin or swallow it.
Most wood hardeners tend to be highly toxic, and some have proven to be hazardous when inhaled.
With this particular wood hardener thicker consistency, you don’t have to worry about any of all that; once it has dried up, even the minimal toxicity it possesses is almost non-existent.
Aside from being considered as a gentle wood hardening product, it is also versatile. PC-Petrifier doubles as an outdoor primer, which makes it unnecessary to remove old paints.
This excellent wood hardener is especially great when you are handling small tasks on old or rotted wood, even more so when handling insect-damaged rotted wood due to its penetrative and quick-drying capabilities.
What We Liked Most
- Environmentally friendly
- Thick consistency
- Can be applied by spraying, injecting, or brushing
- Preps surface for filling, painting, and priming.
- Doubles as a primer
What Could Be Improved
- Not suitable for structural repairs
- Not compatible with some common wood fillers
2. Best easy to use – Elmer’s Rotted Wood Stabilizer
- Seals and hardens dry rotted wood
- Easy, one-coat solution
- Solvent free with no odor
- Elmer's: The Glue with the Orange Cap
It would be hard to find a highly functional wood hardener that is as easy to use as Elmer’s Rotted Wood Stabilizer.
The usage convenience captured in its easy one-coat solution is one of its most distinguishing features, but it is not the only one. This rotten wood stabilizer is also solvent-free and leaves no distinctive odor behind when dry.
The formulation has a versatile application and could be used to reinforce or fix decayed wood, window frames, flooring, entryways, furniture, fence post, door frames, etc.
However, it is not recommended for structural applications. Though it doesn’t absorb as fast (or dry as fast) as most other wood hardeners on this list, its penetrative abilities are on the high end.
Also, the wood stabilizer makes up for its slow absorption rate with the easy one-coat feature. This means that one coat applied generously might be all you need to fix your rotted wood.
The drying time makes up for the time that would have been expended applying multiple wood hardener coats.
What We Liked Most
- It is very easy and quick to use
- Suitable for horizontal applications
- It’s odorless and solvent-free
- Suitable for outdoor and indoor applications
What Could Be Improved
- Slow absorption
3. Best in class – Minwax 41700000 High-Performance Wood Hardener
- The hardener penetrates deep into the wood and its special resin binds and reinforces the decayed wood fibers
- High performance wood hardener seals from further moisture penetration and hardens to a rock hard solid base for lifting
- Recommended uses: windowsills, doors, woodwork, floors, decks, furniture, woodwork
- Penetrates deep, strengthening decayed wood
- Prepares rotted wood for Minwax High Performance Wood Filler
This is easily the best wood hardening product you would come across, and it has maintained its stance at the top spot over the decades.
It is a premium, high-performance wood hardener that comes at a considerably low price.
Minwax manufacturers have always made it a duty to push out impressive rotted wood restorer products, offering comprehensive solutions for various wood conditions.
And Minwax 41700000 doesn’t disappoint at all in the wood hardening category. The product packs all the functionalities you can ever look for in a wood hardener and even more.
It is regarded as a high-performance wood hardener for several reasons, it also penetrates deep and quickly into the rotting wood to reinforce the decayed wood fibers and prevent further moisture penetration.
The latter owing to its ability to double as a sealer. Also, when dried, it forms a solid base providing additional strength for the wood surface, making it suitable for structural application.
With Minwax wood hardener, you can also be sure of having a great finish after applying it on the rotted surface. On the other hand, one of its main downfalls is its toxic chemicals that can melt latex gloves.
What We Liked Most
- Prevents further moisture penetration
- Fast and deep penetration
- Easy to apply
- Compatible with almost all wood fillers
- Fast drying time
- It offers a great finish
- Increases wood durability
What Could Be Improved
- Contains harsh chemicals – melts latex gloves.
- A bit too watery, allowing runoffs
- Very collusive on bodily or eye contact
- Fast and easy absorption means that you will need to work very fast and probably use more.
4. Best in durability – J-B Weld 40001 Wood Restore Liquid Hardener
- JB WOOD RESTORE LIQUID HARDENER: Is a quick drying liquid for sealing and reinforcing decayed or rotted wood; for reducing moisture in decaying or rotted wood surfaces, prior to putty filling.
- WHAT THE PROFESSIONALS USE: Builders, mechanics & repair pros know our products bond strong to a variety of surfaces in even the toughest environments. Choose the product pros trust for your project.
- WOOD PREPARATION: The special liquid formula penetrates the wood to reinforce the fibers stopping further decay and providing a solid base for J-B Wood Filler Compound. Easy brush on, no mix formula.
- VERSATILE & DEPENDABLE: Ideal on door frames, window frames, sills, sashes, eaves, columns, posts, garages, fences, antique furniture, corner boards and much more!
- NO PROJECT TOO BIG OR TOO SMALL: We have all the products you need to get the job done right. JB Weld always delivers the legendary performance of the World's Strongest Bond.
The manufacturing company, J-B weld wood, is quite popular for its 2-part metal-epoxy mixtures. They brought in as much goodness into their wood hardener, which is gaining ground as a top choice in the wood industry.
Interestingly, it comes with a remarkable advantage over other products in J-B shelves. It is not a two-part mixture, and thus, it doesn’t require any unusual wood preparation or mixing.
One of the most remarkable distinctions of this liquid wood hardener is its ability to draw out moisture while drying and reinforce wood fibers.
This means that it leaves no room within the wood structure for moisture to get trapped and start causing wood rotting from within.
So far, this product is the only liquid wood hardener that provides this offering. Consequently, the formula goes a long way to ensure the prolonged durability of the finished wood surface.
Working with J-B wood restore liquid hardener is a bit exhausting. Though the manufacturers are modifying the formula to be a bit friendlier, it still remains a hazardous substance to work with.
So with this one, you might want to gear up on your PPE and rubber gloves while working with it and keep it away from everyone.
What We Liked Most
- Easy to use
- Long-lasting repairs
- Draws out moisture from woods
- Fast-drying formula
What Could Be Improved
- Might have to sand between coats
- A bit toxic
5. Best fastest drying time – Bondo Rotted Wood Restorer
- Wood rot is a common issue for most homeowner, regardless of where you live and can be easily repaired with the right products.
- Elegant and smooth finish
- The product is manufactured in china
- Stabilizing liquid that penetrates into soft, spongy, rotted wood fibers creating a hard surface
- Stainable and paintable
Just as most people would think of J-B wood hardener and think of their metal epoxy, it is the same way most people would think of Bondo and car structural repairs.
But then, the manufacturers also have a gem of a product in the wood hardening industry – a very spectacular one, too!
Though it is ordinarily twice as expensive as some products in this list, such as the Minwax wood hardener, its exceptionally high-quality delivery makes up for the costs.
When it comes to drying time, Bondo Rotted Wood Restorer almost has no competition in the market. In applying alone or while mixed with a Bondo wood filler, you can expect it to start drying within the next five minutes.
In most cases, it is likely to be fully dried within a 2-hour time frame. For repairs requiring multiple layers of coating, this is a huge advantage as it speeds productivity.
In line with its speedy drying time, it is also a very strong wood hardener that penetrates deep into wood to reinforce it.
Given its amazing strength, trying to remove or modify it a few hours after application can be a challenging task to accomplish.
What We Liked Most
- Improves productivity
- High-quality waterproof formula
- Speedy drying time
- Penetrates deeply
What Could Be Improved
- It doesn’t allow for a lot of working time
- A bit toxic
6. Best for structural fixtures – Abatron LiquidWood 2 Pint Kit
- REPAIR ROTTED WOOD: Penetrates and restores the strength of rotted/deteriorated wood; Repair damaged windows, doors, trim, columns, posts, and other wood elements
- GREAT PRIMER FOR FILLER: The ideal surface primer for WoodEpox epoxy wood replacement compound; Used to fill and rebuild missing wood; Use LiquidWood and WoodEpox together, for a permanent, strong, structural, shrink-free repair
- 30 MINUTE WORK TIME: LiquidWood has a working time (pot life) of 30-45 minutes; Treated wood will harden a few hours after application; Deteriorated wood may require several coats in order to sufficiently saturate the porous wood
- MIMICS WOOD: Once the epoxy hardens, it is easy to sand, saw, route, drill, nail, and paint
- SAFE TO USE: This product is GreenGuard certified, meaning that it has been found to contain virtually no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and is safe for interior as well as exterior use; Contains no solvents or water; Very low odor
If you are wondering why this liquid wood hardener is regarded as a kit, well, that is because it comes as a set containing epoxy wood consolidant and two other mixable substances.
While this pushes it up the price ladder, it is greatly compensated for by the rock hard solid base finish it provides. In addition, the thin wood hardener is highly rated and recommended for structural repairs.
More so, it also banks on the promise to make the wood stronger than it ever was. Hence, it is suitable for a wide range of hard and softwoods and could make pinewood as hard as red oak.
Its inarguable potency also marks its durability as a weatherproof and waterproof wood hardening solution. It is also comparticle with wood filler.
On the downside, it takes a very long while to dry, and this could be a problem if you are working on vertical surfaces.
However, this could also mean that you have enough time to correct whatever mistake you might make before the liquid wood hardener dries up.
What We Liked Most
- Compatible with most wood fillers
- Suitable for all wood types
- Nearly invisible finish
- Versatile. It can be used in exterior and interior applications
What Could Be Improved
- Challenging to work with on a vertical surface
- Somewhat expensive
- Requires mixing with other substances
Wood Hardener Comparison Table
Can wood hardener be applied to wet wood?
Yes, though not as a surface treatment, but as a base for hardening wood before applying wood fillers. In cases like this, wet rotted wood hardener, which is specially formulated for this purpose, is used.
Does wood hardener work on particleboard?
Yes, they do. However, not a lot of wood hardening products are formulated with such compatibility in mind. Minwax wood hardener and a few other products are suitable for hardening particleboard, especially after the board has been properly dried.
How long does it take a wood hardener to dry?
It takes about two to four hours for wood hardeners to dry fully after application. However, some products might take longer to dry; in such cases, it might be best to give two to four hours for them to dry properly before proceeding to coat or finish the surface.
Can you paint over wood hardener?
Yes, you can. Of course, you have to make sure that the hardened surface is smooth and dry before you paint over it. When appropriately applied, painting can provide an additional layer of protection for the surface.
What is wood hardener made of?
Wood hardeners are solvent-borne products usually comprising of a crosslinking polymer, a film-forming agent, water, and sometimes a defoamer and/or biocide. The constituent of the polymer or film-forming agent used in a product varies from one manufacturer to another.
Recommend Reading: Best Epoxy for Wood Repair
Will the wood stay strong after hardening it?
Yes, for at least 1 year. The extended durability would, however, depend on the condition of the wood before getting hardened. For woods that weren’t too soft before being hardened, you can expect them to remain hard for another 5 years, while a very soft or rotted wood would at least give in another 2 years.
Is it possible to strengthen any type of wood?
Yes, it is possible. However, you would find it a lot easier to strengthen softwoods and hardwoods than you would if you are working on human-made woods like soft plywood, particleboard, fibreboard, etc. Most wood hardening products are unable to fix human-made woods once they start getting soft.
Should I harden a broken piece of wood?
Sure, you should. Woods that a broken or with a crevice, splits or cracks can be hardened. It is very helpful to also make use of wood fillers and protective coating in the strengthening process. This ensures that the durability of the harden wood is assured thereafter.
Can wood hardener be used on new wood?
Yes, they can. It doesn’t matter how new the wood is or where it has been installed. If you intend to use it again, then you should be getting it fixed.
How do you remove hardener from wood?
There are quite a few unorthodox ways to remove wood hardener from wood. Before you delve into the use of strong solvents, try soaking a paper towel with vinegar and rubbing the hardened surface until it gets softened. Then scrape. Other options include using acetone, acetone-based nail polish remover, cellulose thinner, or xylene, but you have to apply caution while working with them.
Honestly, it is tricky to pick out the best amongst all these products because where one lags, the other measures up.
Nevertheless, Minwax High-Performance wood hardener takes the crown as the best wood hardener for some reason.
It is moderately priced, comes from a trusted brand, absorbs quickly, and allows for versatile application.
Irrespective of the tendency to lean towards purchasing Minwax, it is very important that you take into account the slight differences that set these hardeners apart and know which would serve you the most.
The wood hardener reviews provided in this post are intended to give you insights that could help you make an informed and wise choice.