Learn How To Paint Terracotta Pots: Easy Guide

If you already know how to paint your own pottery or your plastic and cement plant pots, then it’s time to take it to the next level. Believe it or not, you can utilise clay pots (aka terracotta pots) for more than just gardening and landscaping needs. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to brighten up the entrance of your porch or verandah – try painting terracotta pots to add a splash of colour.

Collection of colored terracotta pots

Not only is painting pots incredibly fun, but the venture is also uncomplicated and can be used to make a personal statement. What more could you ask of a DIY project?

We’ve compiled a seminal guide that deals with everything related to clay pots, from the type of paints required, an in-depth tutorial, and additional tips to help your outdoor home decor stand out. Stick with us to give your home entrance a worthy makeover with little to no effort and time spent.

Things to know before you start painting terracotta pots

There are just a couple of things we want to discuss before moving on to the actual tutorial. These pointers will come in handy in terms of readying the pots for paint and ensuring the colour lasts and doesn’t give in to the elements

  • First off, you can have the option of choosing between spray paint and acrylic paints to colourise your pots. Each medium has its own merits. For instance, spray painting with stencils will help get intricate designs on your pots with minimal fuss. On the other hand, acrylic paints are perfect for adding a personalised touch and can create various brush strokes to add a bit of character. 
  • Second, before you get to painting the pots, you’ll have to ensure they’re clean. Whether the pots are brand new or something you had lying around the house – it’s best to wash them under a running tap with a soft cleaning brush. Doing so will help eliminate any debris or dirt stuck to the surface and ensure an even and clean looking coat of paint
  • It’s essential to wait until the pots are completely dry before painting them. You may have to leave the pots to dry overnight for this, but following this step is necessary to make sure the paint dries off the way it’s supposed to. 
  • You can also use a sealant on the pots before you paint them. While this step is optional, it can help extend the life of paint – especially if you plan on setting the pots outdoors. Conversely, if you want your terracotta pots to age a little and give off vintage vibes, you can skip this step. 
  • Once you’re done painting, you have the option of applying lacquer to ensure the paint doesn’t chip off. But be advised that if you plan on using plant pots (for planting succulents and other flowers), waterproofing the clay pots will affect breathability and the soil’s moisture retention
  • If you want to extend the shelf-life of your painted pots without compromising on their absorbent or breathable qualities, opt for a water-based paint primer to go under the paint base. 

Colored terracotta pots used in the garden

Cleaning and preparing a terracotta pot

This step is vital if you plan to use old terracotta flower pots that have developed a crust-like residue on their surface. 

Terracotta pots are highly absorbent, which means old pots will have retained things like fertilisers, chemicals, salts, etc. All of these substances tend to build upon the surface and promote the growth of a chalk-like residue. To get rid of the white stuff coating your pots, all you’ll need is a pot-cleaning brush, an adequately-sized tub, water, and white vinegar

  1. Use the pot brush to remove the debris from the pots. Then fill up the tub with warm water and add white vinegar. Essentially, you’ll need to use one cup of vinegar for every litre of water
  2. Set the pots to soak in the solution and ensure they’re completely submerged in the water. 
  3. Let the pots soak for about half an hour and check if the residue comes off easily with the pot brush. If yes, the pots are ready to be scrubbed and washed. Make sure you pay attention to the inside of the pot while scrubbing
  4. Once the residue is removed, clean the pots again under running water and set them aside to air dry

Step-by-step guide: How to paint terracotta pots

It’s time for the games to begin. Here’s the terracotta paint tutorial you’ve been waiting for. The section is divided between the supplies you’ll need and step-by-step directions. Take your time going through both. 

Acrylic paints and brushes on a wooden table

List of materials

  • Terracotta pots
  • Acrylic craft paints (select the paint colours according to any paint scheme you have in mind)
  • Foam brushes (small and medium-size)
  • Wire brush
  • Artist’s paintbrush (small)
  • Plastic plates (to serve as the palette)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Acrylic lacquer or water-based sealer

Then these are the steps that you need to follow:

Step 1

Ensure your pots are clean and dry. Add the colour you want to serve as a base coat to a plastic plate, dip in the foam brush and get to painting the pot. If you feel the paint is turning out patchy, add a little water to thin down the paint. 

Step 2

Once you’ve covered the entire pot with the base coating, allow the paint to dry before adding another layer. Add as many coats of paint as required to ensure the colour of the terracotta pot isn’t peeking through. 

Step 3

Once the last layer of paint is dry, grab your artist’s brush and start painting your design of choice with different colours. You can use the wire brush or cotton swabs to add accents where required. 

Step 4

Allow the paint to dry for at least two or three days before moving on to priming or using the acrylic spray. If you want your pots to have a matte finish, make sure to buy a matte spray from the craft store. Allow the primer to dry, and your pots are ready for use!

Extra painting tips for amazing results

Here are some additional tips to boost your painting skills and the overall look of the pot. 

Kid paints a pot

  1. If you’re purchasing new pots – remember most terracotta pots are unglazed. That means they’re porous and super-absorbent. If you plan on getting your painted pots for outdoor use or planting foliage – not using a spray sealer the pot will promote soil moisture at the expense of your paint job. To get the best of both worlds, use a water-based primer to extend the life of the paint and stop it from blistering and peeling
  2. Once you have finished painting, add a coat of water-based acrylic spray to add an extra layer of protection for the paint job on the outside of the pot
  3. It’s essential to allow the paint layers to dry off adequately before going with a different colour. Not allowing the paint to dry can lead to bleeding colours and mess up your design. 
  4. If your design needs crisp lines and clean corners, use painter’s tape to mark off the area for a neater finish. 
  5. Painted flower pots will look good with any colour or design. But, if you want your pots to tie into your porch’s overall theme, use a colour scheme that matches the entrance of your house.
  6. If you plan to use spray paints and stencils to decorate your pots, don’t forget to use sandpaper to eliminate any bumps on the pot’s surface. Clean the pot with a damp cloth to remove any lingering dust and let the pot dry for an even paint coat. 
  7. Don’t forget to clean your paintbrushes the right way before and after every project.

Two fun terracotta pot designs to choose from

Before we sign off, here are two terracotta pot design ideas to boost your creativity. 

1. The Mod Podge Method

Make your terracotta pots stand out by applying letter stickers with a matching message. Once you’ve painted on the base colour of your choice, apply the letter sticker with the help of mod podge

Add in any design details with a paintbrush and let the paint dry. Finally, use the acrylic spray to ensure the colour and the sticker are waterproof.

2. The Vintage Metallic Look

If you’re looking for an easy DIY way to upgrade the look of your pots, try going for a metallic look. All you’ll need is a wire brush and a metallic colour, along with a foam brush

After prepping your pot for painting, apply as many layers of the metallic paint until you achieve the desired depth of colour. Then, while the layer of paint is still a little wet, lightly brush the pot’s surface with the wire brush to create a weathered look. Allow the paint to dry completely and brush off any debris with a soft paintbrush. Apply the sealant and let it dry. 

Beautiful painted colorful terracotta pots

A DIY terracotta painting project is an effortless way to add some colour to the exteriors of your home or liven up your garden landscaping. Then there’s the fact that it’s almost effortless and easy on the wallet. So, why not try advancing your curb appeal this summer with a few colourful pots of your own.

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