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How to Paint Terracotta Pots: The Ultimate Guide!

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This post shares the ultimate guide for how to paint terracotta pots, including what you can use to seal them, the best paint for terracotta pots, and more!

How to Paint Terracotta Pots & the Best Paint for Terracotta Pots

I often get asked about how to paint terracotta pots like it’s something that’s difficult to do…and it’s not! You don’t have to be exceptionally crafty to learn how to update or customize cheap pots. All you need to know is the best paint for terracotta pots, the best brushes to use, and a few simple techniques.

This post has a video showing how I paint my terracotta pots to give them a more modern look. You can paint yours any way you’d like. Use a single color or multiple colors. Use painter’s tape to create a cool design. Whatever you want. 🙂

How to Paint Terracotta Pots

HERE’S WHAT I USED

And here’s how to paint terracotta pots

Step 1: Prep the pot

If you’re working with new terracotta pots, you probably don’t need to do much to clean the pot. Just make sure it’s free of dirt and debris. Make sure it’s totally dry, then give it a couple coats of Thompson’s Water Seal aerosol spray on the inside and out. This comes in a brush-on version too, but the aerosol is super convenient for small pots!

If you’re painting an old pot, remove any existing paint if you need to. Then wash the pot thoroughly in the sink with dish soap, scrubbing the inside and out. Let it dry completely, then apply the Thompson’s Water Seal.

decoart acrylic paint

Is Thompson’s Waterseal Really Necessary?

Well, that depends. Terracotta is a porous material, which means it will absorb moisture. If you want to paint your pots to give them a different look, you don’t want the moisture getting under the paint. This will cause bubbles. 

Thompson’s Waterseal can seal any porous material against damage by water, including concrete, brick, stone, plaster, wood, canvas, asbestos, and yes—terracotta. That means using it gives you a nice clean surface to paint on. It serves as a barrier.

It’s very easy to work with. It’s clear and pretty watery. When spraying on clay, it’s easy to see where you’ve sprayed because it just makes the terracotta look wet. The odor isn’t fabulous, but it isn’t terrible. Definitely spray in a well-ventilated or outdoor area. 

If you use a paint specifically designed for outdoor use, you can probably skip the sealer. Many paints have a built-in sealer. However, I like to use the Waterseal as an extra layer of protection. Especially if my pots are going to be outside. It’s cheap, easy, and quick—so I always do it on my painted pots.

thompson's waterseal can

Step 2: Apply the first coat of paint

Use a small flat brush that is about 1/4” to 2” wide, depending on the size of your pot. Being painting the pot around the outside, circling the circumference of the pot. This gives it a nice even look as the paint dries.

I like to hold the pot at the lip and paint as much of the outside of the pot as I can. Then I like to set it down and carefully paint around the lip, including the top of the pot’s interior. This can be tricky. If you aren’t up to this, just wait until the outside is dry to the touch so you can pick the pot up and maneuver it while painting. Paint the saucer to match.

Using disposable gloves will help protect your hands and save you time. That’s because you won’t be worried about getting wet paint on your hands while working. You can easily touch up any small amount of wet paint you accidentally smear off.

decoart acrylic paint
decoart acrylic paint
decoart acrylic paint

Step 3: Apply final coats of paint

Two of the colors I used provided enough coverage in two coats. The white paint required three coats. Simply repeat step 2 until you have complete coverage. Let the pot dry between coats so you don’t get any icky-looking clumpy paint buildup. 

A finishing coat of sealer isn’t necessary if the pots will stay indoors. If the pots are headed outdoors, make sure you use a paint designed for outdoor use. More on choosing the best paint for terracotta pots below!

decoart acrylic paint
decoart acrylic paint
decoart acrylic paint
sales graphic for the pet owner's houseplant guide

What is the Best Paint for Terracotta Pots?

There are sooo many different options for painting terracotta pots, so I’m just going to tell you what I’ve used with great success. I love DecoArt paints and work with them a lot. This isn’t an exhaustive list, so let me know if you have any questions!

1. Acrylic Indoor Paint With or Without a Varnish

I highly recommend DecoArt’s Americana Acrylics, which are beautiful matte finish colors that come in 257 shades (and can be mixed). I used these paints on all three of the pots for this post. The flat, matte finish is gorgeous.

You can use these on indoor terracotta pots with or without a varnish. I don’t add a varnish to mind, but I do use the Thompson’s Waterseal as the base layer. You can add a varnish if you’d like, though. DecoArt has several great choices.

These are water-based, so they can be cleaned with soap and water while wet. This includes the brushes and any surface you might get the paint on accidentally. 

decoart acrylic paints
beautiful plants in modern painted terracotta pots
painting a terracotta pot

2. Acrylic Paint Suitable for Outdoor Use

These paints can also be used for indoor pots, they just have extra durability for outdoor use and do not require a varnish like the indoor matte acrylics do. DecoArt’s Americana Multi-Surface Satin Acrylics and Patio Paint Outdoor Weather-Resistant Acrylics are excellent choices.

The Multi-Surface Satin acrylics are for both indoor and outdoor use and have a lovely satin finish (kind of an eggshell look on some surfaces, in my opinion). These are self-sealing and don’t require a primer or varnish. But I still like to use the Waterseal since terracotta is so porous. Patio Paint has very similar specs. You can’t go wrong with either.

decoart acrylic paints
How to Paint Terracotta Pots
painting a terracotta pot

Want to read about plant propagation? Check out my guides on propagating pothos plantssnake plantspeperomiastring of pearlssucculentsmonstera deliciosa, and prickly pear cactus pads.

3. Goold ol’ Spray paint

Spray paint is a solid choice, too. I use spray paint when I want something done quickly and easily. I used it on all of the black pots I hung on pot klips in our little backyard—some on the deck posts and some on the fence.

Spray paint can chip outdoors, but it generally holds up extremely well through the elements. For example, I left my terracotta pots outdoors all winter. In the spring, I just had to do a few minor touch ups with black spray paint.

I don’t know that one brand of spray paint is far superior to another, but I generally buy Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch or Krylon spray paint at whatever hardware store I’m at. Tip: It’s usually more expensive at craft stores, so don’t buy it there unless it’s the only place that carries the color and finish you need (and you have a coupon!). 

terracotta pot spray painted black
relaxing townhouse patio sitting area

Painting Terracotta Pots for a More Modern Look

So what do you think of the finished pots? Don’t they look like a million bucks?! I’m very pleased with how these pots turned out! For just a few bucks, I was able to transform plain terracotta pots into something that looks much more upscale.

beautiful plants in modern painted terracotta pots
beautiful plants in modern painted terracotta pots
christmas cactus in a dark green pot
How to Paint Terracotta Pots
painted clay pot ideas

You’ll also love my guides on how to take care of monstera plantshow to take care of pothos plantshow to take care of rubber plants, caring for peperomia plants, and how to care for philodendron.

Ideas for Custom-Painted Terracotta Pots Using Painter’s Tape

You can customize these any way you want, including using painter’s tape to create designs. Here are a few different designs I’ve done using painters tape just remember to let the paint dry thoroughly between coats.

You can achieve a beautiful dipped effect by taping off the top of the pot or the bottom of the pot. Or you can tape a geometric design onto the pot using tape. I’ve done a ton of experimenting! And the best part is, if you don’t like it, you can paint right over it.

painted clay pot ideas
painted clay pot ideas
painted clay pot ideas
painted clay pot ideas
painted clay pot ideas
painted clay pot ideas

Like planters? Check out my modern plywood planter with hairpin legs, my DIY hanging plant pot holder, my stainless steel bowl hanging planter, my tiny resin planters, and my little DIY midcentury plant stand!

painted clay pot ideas
painted clay pot ideas
painted clay pot ideas
painted clay pot ideas
large rubber plant on a plant stand
painted clay pot ideas
painted clay pot ideas

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How to Paint Terracotta Pots
How to Paint Terracotta Pots
How to Paint Terracotta Pots
How to Paint Terracotta Pots
How to Paint Terracotta Pots
How to Paint Terracotta Pots
How to Paint Terracotta Pots
How to Paint Terracotta Pots
Yield: Painted Mini Painted Plant Pots

How to Paint Terracotta Pots

How to Paint Terracotta Pots

How to paint terracotta pots to give them a polished modern look.

Materials

Instructions

    Make sure the terra cotta pot is free of dirt and debris. Make sure it’s totally dry, then give it a couple coats of Thompson’s Water Seal aerosol spray on the inside and out.

    Use a small flat brush that is about 1/4” to 2” wide, depending on the size of your pot. Being painting the pot around the outside, circling the circumference of the pot. This gives it a nice even look as the paint dries.

    I like to hold the pot at the lip and paint as much of the outside of the pot as I can. Then I like to set it down and carefully paint around the lip, including the top of the pot’s interior. This can be tricky. If you aren’t up to this, just wait until the outside is dry to the touch so you can pick the pot up and maneuver it while painting. Paint the saucer to match.

    Two of the colors I used provided enough coverage in two coats. The white paint required three coats. Simply repeat step 2 until you have complete coverage. Let the pot dry between coats so you don’t get any icky-looking clumpy paint buildup. 

    A finishing coat of sealer isn’t necessary if the pots will stay indoors. If the pots are headed outdoors, make sure you use a paint designed for outdoor use.

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