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How to Paint Clay Pots

Wondering how to paint clay pots? Sometimes you’ll find a big beautiful glazed pot that is the perfect shape, size, and price, but you hate the color. Here’s how to paint a glazed pot!

How to paint clay pots

Alright, today we are talking all about how to paint clay pots, specifically glazed clay pots. I have talked about how my favorite source for big but inexpensive clay pots is Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. They always have the BEST selection in the spring and early summer.

So when I decided I absolutely needed to stop putting off repotting my big monstera deliciosa plant, I knew I needed to hit Ollie’s. (If you’d like, you can also check out my monstera deliciosa care tips). So I put on my mask, grabbed my hand sanitizer, and drove over.

beautiful monstera plant

However, although the pots are big, sturdy, great quality, and cheap, they usually aren’t in finishes that I really like. To me it is the most important to get pots that are the right size and shape. If they are clay—unfinished or glazed—I know that I can change that easily with paint! So that’s what I’m going share today—a new pot painting project.

Yeah, another one. Ha. I have done a few posts related to this topic, including how to paint terracotta pots, how to seal clay pots before painting them, how to paint flower pots for outdoor decor, and how to remove paint from clay pots. But I loved this one so much and that I wanted to share it as well. Here’s the pot I picked up:

how to paint clay pots

And here’s what I used to upgrade it:

(Affiliate links below; read more about those here)

And here’s how to paint a glazed clay pot

Step 1: Clean the pot

The first step to any good paint project is prep. In this case, it’s wiping down the pot with a clean cloth to remove any debris. Mine was pretty clean, but I still did a quick wipe down using a regular kitchen cloth.

how to paint clay pots
how to paint clay pots

Step 2: Sand the pot

This step is optional, but it helps the paint adhere better if your surface is super slick. I like to use a very fine-grit sandpaper (like 320-ish grit) and just lightly sand by hand all over the pot. Since you’re using a fine-grit sandpaper, it won’t leave big marks or anything. It just helps to “rough up” the surface a bit to give the paint something to stick to. Once you’re done, wipe down the pot again with a damp cloth and let it dry.

Step 3: Paint the first coat

Next is the fun part! I grabbed some of my favorite paint for this sort of thing—DecoArt Americana Decor Satin Enamels paint in Classic Black. (This is the color and paint I used on my painted nightstands a few years ago—and we still have them!)

I set the pot up on a smaller pot so that I could paint the entire thing in one pass. You’ll see what I mean in the third photo below. You can use paint pyramids for this, but I just happened to have a smaller empty pot that was the perfect size nearby. If you don’t elevate the pot, you can’t paint all the way to the bottom. You’ll have to let the top dry completely, then flip the pot over and paint the bottom.

Note that I don’t paint the very bottom of the pot. I just paint far enough down so that you can’t see the original finish and color. This is usually just about as far down as the original finish, too—it doesn’t cover the bottom. For the inside of the pot, I just painted about as far down as the original finish as well. Basically just far enough down that it would be below the soil line.

DecoArt Americana Decor Satin Enamels paint in Classic Black
DecoArt Americana Decor Satin Enamels paint in Classic Black
how to paint clay pots
how to paint clay pots

I have gotten a couple of questions about the best way to do your brush strokes when painting pots, specifically large pots. The best way is to work in circles around the pot from either top to bottom or bottom to top. I took a short video of what I mean below—it’s so much easier than trying to explain it! But basically I’m just doing gentle strokes around the pot, slightly overlapping each one to discourage any strong paint lines.

A good paint will also self-level a bit more while it is drying, smoothing things like overlap and brushstrokes out. Once you’ve painted a spot and let it stick for about 10 minutes, leave it alone! The paint has already probably started to set up a bit, and brushing over it to try to further smooth it out could cause a “sticky” look.

Step 4: Paint the Second Coat

Once you’re done painting your first coat, let it dry completely. I let mine dry overnight and did my second coat in the morning. If you’re using another brand of paint, just check out what the instructions say about time between coats.

If you have any especially rough spots or areas where you can really see the brush strokes, you can use the same fine-grit sandpaper you used in step 2 to lightly smooth them out. This is optional, although the paint does recommend you sand lightly between coats, I was being lazy and didn’t. And it’s fine.

Here’s a picture of the pot with the second coat on still wet. This paint actually has really good coverage, so I really focused more on touching up spots that needed it. Plus I was running out of paint 🙂

how to paint clay pots

Finished painted clay pot

And here’s a peek at the finished pot! I like to throw a coffee filter in the bottom of large pots while I am filling them up. This keeps too much soil or pebbles or whatever from coming out the hole and making a mess. It also helps keep the soil in while everything is settling in the pot.

You can also see how madly this poor monstera needed repotting. This size pot was a major upgrade! It was so root bound in the previous pot. Considering I was sizing from an 8-inch pot to about a 13-inch pot, it will probably be much happier. And hopefully grow a lot!

coffee filter in the bottom of a large plant pot
monstera plant
potbound monstera plant repotting

And here’s the monstera repotting into the much roomier and gorgeously satin black pot! It’s a little low to the floor, so I’m planning to get it up on a little stand just to balance things out. Another Ollie’s Bargain Outlet win! Their tagline isn’t “good stuff cheap” for nothing.

how to paint glazed clay pots
how to paint clay pots
how to paint clay pots

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