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How to Remove Paint From Clay Pots

This post shares how to remove paint from clay pots, specifically how to remove old peeling paint from a large terracotta clay pot and repaint the pot.

Removing Paint From Terracotta Pots and Repainting Them

Hey all! It’s time for May’s issue of the At Home DIY challenge, and this month’s theme is making something pretty outside. I decided to work on a large terracotta pot I got and painted last year. (P.S., got this pot from my favorite place for large cheap pots, Aldi’s Bargain Outlet!)

However, I left it sitting outside over the winter, so it emerged this spring looking a bit worse for the wear. Here it is last summer:

painted clay pot

And then this spring.

peeling paint on an outdoor terracotta pot
peeling paint on an outdoor terracotta pot

The obvious and only choice was to remove the paint from the pot and starting over. You can actually see two layers of paint on this pot: the yellowish layer that was on it when I got it, and then the peeling white I’d painted on. If you’re wondering about how to remove paint from a terracotta clay pot, read on. 🙂


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And here’s how to remove paint from clay pots.

(Remember to take all appropriate protective measures while sanding and applying paint (e.g., mask). Do not use any tools without proper training, precautions, and/or supervision. Read my full terms of use here.)

I also made a video that provides an overview of these steps 🙂

Step 1: There are many ways to remove paint from a clay pot, but since I wanted to avoid using a paint stripper—and since I had a feeling my paint would come off relatively easily—I decided to use a putty knife and my orbital sander.

I first used my putty knife to scrape off any large loose chunks of paint. Then I grabbed my orbital sander. I normally use a medium-to-fine grit sandpaper when working with wood. For this job, thought, I started off using a coarser grit—about 80-grit.

How to remove paint from clay pots
How to remove paint from clay pots
How to remove paint from clay pots

Step 2: Once I got off the majority of the paint using the orbital sander and the coarse sandpaper, I switched to a finer grit to sand all over the pot. This smooths out any areas where the coarse sandpaper may have left marks.

Now that the paint was almost completely removed from the clay pot, I wiped it down using some paper towels. This was just to remove the excess dust from sanding.

How to remove old peeling paint from an outdoor terracotta pot

Repainting the clay pot…

Step 3: To repaint and refinish the pot, I started by spraying the entire thing, interior and exterior but focusing on the exterior, with a few coats of waterseal spray.

sealing a clay pot with thompson's waterseal

Step 4: Once that had fully dried, I used white spray paint in a satin finish to apply multiple thin coats of paint to the pot. I probably did about 6 coats, but they were thin and spotty. No one wants any dribbles.

I also only painted the areas on the inside of the pot that would show when it had a plant in it—no need to waste spray paint.

applying a fresh coat of paint on a terracotta pot

After I let the paint dry and cure in the garage for a few days, I planted this beauty in it. I loved the spikes last year, but I’m hoping this gorgeous white caladium (aka elephant’s ear) will thrive in it. The leaves are delicate and almost look like tissue paper with green veins in it. (You can actually buy bulbs on Amazon, too. This is an excellent plant for a shady spot!)

repainted clay pot with a caladium in it
repainted clay pot with a caladium in it
repainted clay pot with a caladium in it
repainted clay pot with a caladium in it
repainted clay pot with a caladium in it
repainted clay pot with a caladium in it


image collage how to remove paint from clay pots with text Save Old Pots with Cheeped Paint Using This Guide

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  1. Kenya Rae says:

    Will the water sealer help it to last better next time or is it to be expected if you leave it out either way?

    • Brittany Goldwyn says:

      I think it will peel either way 🙁 It doesn’t seem to be the water seal that peeled off, but the white topcoat

  2. Carmen says:

    man I love this so much! well done!

  3. Megan says:

    I love the white pot! Thanks for sharing how easy it is to update an old pot into something amazing!!

  4. Lisa says:

    I need to do this to a few pots!! Thanks for your tutorial Brittany!

  5. Arifur Rahman says:

    Thanks for your helpful article

  6. Meegan says:

    Such a good idea, Brittany! I love the process and the fresh new look. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Christine Cook says:

    Oh!! I never thought about repainting my clay pots!! Thanks so much for the step by step!! And totally loving the plant!!

  8. Christine says:

    Good one! Thanks for the tutorial! Looks gorgeous and fresh now!

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