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How to Seal Clay Pots for Painting (& My Fav Source for Big Pots)

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This post shares tips about how to seal clay pots for painting. If you’re wondering how to waterproof clay pots before applying paint, I’ll walk you through how I do it.

How to Seal Clay Pots for Painting (& My Fav Source for Big Pots)

Hey folks, today I’m chatting about how to seal clay pots for painting using Thompson’s Waterseal Clear Multi-Surface Waterproofer. This post specifically focusing on painting clay pots for outdoor use. I’m doing a bit of painting for some of the container veggies and plants I’m planning for the backyard, so I’m putting this sealer to work lately. (See my full backyard post here.)

If you need to strip old paint from your pots first, check out my tutorial on how to remove chipped paint from clay pots before painting them. (That project uses Thompson’s Waterseal in an aerosol version.)

About Thompson’s Waterseal Clear Multi-Surface Waterproofer 

(Affiliate links below. You can read more about that here.)

Here’s a bit about the waterproofer and why it’s my product of choice to seal clay pots for outdoor use:

  • The Thompson’s Waterseal website indicates that it will effectively seal any porous material against damage by water, including concrete, brick, stone, plaster, wood, canvas, and asbestos. So I figured it would be up to the task of sealing clay.
  • It’s clear and has a nice consistency. It’s pretty watery, a lot like a water-based polycrilic if you’ve used that. When painting on clay, it’s easy to see where you’ve painted because it just makes the pot look wet.
  • It doesn’t have a terribly strong odor, and the odor it does have dissipates pretty quickly. Even when I painted in the garage.
thompson's waterseal

We have a 1.2 gallon jug of this stuff, but it’s also available in a quart option and a handy aerosol spray for smaller projects. I use a disposable chip brush when working with this sealer so that I can just chuck it when I’m done and not have to deal with mineral spirits cleanup.

I used Thompson’s Waterseal Clear Multi-Surface Waterproofer first on this very large pot. Even though I did use a paint designed for outdoor use on this pot, the clay was super porous, and I was afraid it wouldn’t stand up to the elements (and the moisture of a ton of wet soil on the inside).

large clay pot painted white outside

So where do I get a big pot for cheap?

Big pots are EXPENSIVE. Go to any home decor or big box store and you’ll fall in love with a pot, only to have your yikes meter run off the charts when you see the price. But big pots are also very pretty—and necessary if you’re planting something that needs a bit of room.

Enter Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. One of my favorite stores…and DEFINITELY a favorite for pots. In the spring and summer, they have a buttload of pots to choose from. And they aren’t cheap plastic ones, either.

They are beautiful clay pots, many of which are also glazed. Just yesterday I came home with three giant pots. One for $20 (black glazed), one for $12 (blue patterned one), and one for $10 (the yellow beaut I’m going to be working on in this post).

large beautiful pot from ollie's bargain outlet
large beautiful pot from ollie's bargain outlet
How to Seal Clay Pots for Painting

Painting the Big Yellow Clay Pot

So this yellow one…I loved the lines on it and the size was perfect for the space I wanted. The yellow just wasn’t going to cut it, though, so I decided to break out some paint. I really wanted to do this pot in a navy color for the backyard.

However, when I got out my royal blue and black outdoor paints to mix together, I realized that I hadn’t completely shut the blue when I’d opened it last. Noooo. It was ruined. Super chunky and totally unusable.

I really had my heart set on navy, but I decided to take the easy way out and use the white I already had on hand: DecoArt Curb Appeal in Farmhouse White. It would look nice next to the white pots I already had near the area this pot was going. And it would help tie in the bright white trim on the deck a bit more.

So to finish this pot, I just brushed on the Thompson’s Waterseal Clear Multi-Surface Waterproofer using a chip brush. The instructions on the waterseal say to wait a while before painting over it, so I officially recommend that strategy. 🙂 However, I did not. I left it to dry overnight under a fan and painted the next day.

Here’s the first coat brushed on, and then the lovely finished pot, sealed and painted for a beautiful fit in my space:

How to Seal Clay Pots for Painting
How to Seal Clay Pots for Painting

If you like outdoor DIY projects, make sure to check out my DIY AC unit screen pictured above, my DIY paver coffee table and matching side table, my modern trellis for a vining plant, and my roundup of vertical and container gardening ideas.

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How to Seal Clay Pots for Painting

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Modern design ideas for a small backyard // DIY rock landscaping around a gray Trex platform deck // Hanging herbs // DIY outdoor cat perches // DIY HVAC unit screen // small garden ideas // hanging ferns on a patio // hanging globe string lights
My Tiny Backyard: It's Finished! (ORC Week 6)
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Saturday 16th of June 2018

Thanks for sharing these, Looks like a lot of great ideas…I’ll have to come back & look more closely very soon!:)