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How to Paint Terracotta Pots Like a Pro

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With buds and blooms slowly peeking through the landscape, it’s a perfect time of year for painting terracotta pots. I’m overjoyed to partner with some of my favorite blogger friends to bring you a variety of gardening projects today, all inspired by one Pinterest photo.

Stacked painted terracotta pots on stand with mosaic turtle decor

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Special thanks to PLAID for supplying some of the paints and supplies used in this post. For more information, please see my disclosures.

A Gardening Pinterest Challenge

One of my favorite blogging collaborations is the Pinterest Challenge hosted by my charming friend Cindy at County Road 407.

Spring Pinterest Challenge logo

Each month, Cindy sends us a Pinterest photo and double-dog-dares us to recreate it at home. Since I can never turn down a good dare, I keep coming back for more!

If you’re here visiting from Katie at Let’s Add Sprinkles, thanks for clicking over. Isn’t that the sweetest little succulent tower she made?

You can find all of my friends’ projects at the end of this post, so be sure to visit them for more wonderful gardening ideas!

The Inspiration Photo

If you’re a Pinterest aficionado, you know the whole point of the platform is to bring dreams into reality. Well, if you’re dreaming of a leaning tower of pots, these adorable topsy-turvy buckets from Cottage at the Crossroads will hit the mark! It’s like a gardening magic trick!

Tower of galvanized buckets with flowers from Cottage at the Crossroads blog
Pinterest inspiration photo

I love the simplicity of the galvanized buckets and vibrant flowers they chose for this project, but there was nothing simple about me gathering buckets or flowers with this stay-at-home order happening.

Instead, I bribed last year’s plants to eke out some blooms for me, and I convinced several terracotta pots to become their best selves. You can see all the details in this YouTube video I created.

Painted stacked terracotta pots on outdoor table

Like the topsy-turvy tower, my stack of terracotta pots has a little tilt here and there, which gives it a fun and relaxed feel. It’s the perfect addition to my outdoor home decor.

Painted terracotta pots and decoupage pots stacked with flowers on outdoor patio fireplace

In place of galvanized metal, I used a blue-and-white patterned napkin on my pots to create the illusion of chinoiserie, which coordinated nicely with the outdoor pillows I made last year.

I also felt inspired to add a little sculpted friend to my stacked pots, in a nod to the original inspiration pin. Boy did it feel good to get craftsy again! I hope you’ll get motivated to do the same!

Dragonfly made of polymer clay sitting in painted pot tower

This polymer clay dragonfly took a bit of time to sculpt and paint. It’s far from perfect, but it was so much fun to make! My kids got a kick out of watching me and are now pestering me to make my salt dough recipe again.

In the process of painting terracotta pots, I gathered several tips to share with you.


Painting a Terracotta Flower Pot: Tips for Best Results

Plain terracotta pots of various sizes before painting

By painting terracotta pots, you can create a fresh, customized look on a porch or patio. Over the past few years, I’ve had fun painting everything from beer bottles to DIY headboards. I think this is one of my most satisfying paint projects yet.

You’ll notice I combined a mix of painted pots and decoupage pots in my final stacked pot tower. See my post on how to decoupage flower pots to get the full scoop on the blue-and-white pots.

Tip #1: Use a sealer on the inside of the pots

Using a clay pot sealer on the inside of your pots can help prevent loss of moisture and preserve your painted design. It’s a great product to have on hand regardless of whether you’re painting your pots or not!

Tip #2: Use chalk paint for base coating

Chalk paint used for painting a small clay pot

After using both acrylic paints and chalk paint for this tutorial, chalk paint wins. It only took 2 coats of chalk paint (ultra matte acrylic paint) to fully cover a pot versus 3-4 coats of traditional acrylic paint.

You also have the option of using spray paint to eliminate brush strokes, but I prefer the subtle texture of acrylics.

Tip #3: Paint with foam brushes for even coats

Painting a terracotta pot yellow

I found that foam brushes help to achieve a smooth, even coat of paint on terracotta. You have the option of priming the pot to get a smoother finish, but I knew I planned to seal it with a topcoat at the end anyway.

Tip #4: Use painter’s tape, fine brushes or stencils to create unique designs

By using painter’s tape, you can create pots with alternating colored rims…

Terracotta pot with blue and white paint

…or create fun color-blocked designs by taping off sections of the pot.

Painted yellow and blue terracotta pot

You can also use the wrong end of a small paintbrush to create polka-dots, as I did with my smallest clay pot.

Polka dot painted mini terracotta pot

Another fun idea is using a stencil to paint labels for an herb garden directly onto the pots.

Tip #5: Always seal the painted terracotta pots

I used Mod Podge Outdoor to seal my decorated flower pots. It’s important to know that this formula is not waterproof but is water-resistant. You’ll still want to keep your finished terra cotta pot in a covered area like a porch or patio.

I’ve used this same product for my outdoor garden stakes, and it works like a charm. Just make sure you allow it to fully cure before filling your pots with plants.

For more fun garden-related projects, check out my DIY mosaic flower pots or these flower pot painting crafts.

Painted terracotta pots and decoupage pots in blue, white and yellow on outdoor patio

Guide to Painting Terracotta Pots

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Active Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Difficulty: Beginner/Easy
Estimated Cost: $10

Learn how to paint terracotta pots to display outdoors on a covered porch or patio. These beautifully painted clay pots can coordinate with any decor and make the perfect DIY gift.

Materials

  • Chalk paint, acrylic paint or spray paint
  • Clay pot sealer
  • Outdoor Mod Podge
  • Painter's Tape (optional)

Tools

  • Foam brushes

Instructions

  1. Before painting, make sure you remove any dirt or tags from the pot and let it dry completely. Immerse the pot in warm water to loosen any grime.
  2. If necessary, sand the pot with fine-grit sandpaper to smooth any rough ridges.
  3. Prime the inside and outside of the pot with 1-2 coats of the clay pot sealer and let it dry.
  4. Paint the pot with 2-3 coats of acrylic paint or spray paint until you reach the desired level of coverage. Wait for the paint to dry between coats, per the manufacturer's instructions.
  5. Add any desired designs or stencils to the pot.
  6. Once dry, seal the pot with Outdoor Mod Podge. Make sure the pot is fully cured before exposing to the outdoors and filling with plants.

Notes

Outdoor Mod Podge is water-resistant, not waterproof. Painted pots should only be used in covered areas not directly exposed to rain/sun.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram and tag @firstdayofhome!

Pin it for later!

Painted terracotta pots stacked in tower shape with flowers

Continue Your Tour

You won’t want to miss the Pinterest-inspired garden projects and decor my friends are sharing, too!

Your next stop on the tour is Lora B with a beautiful ladder garden display. She always has the best upcycled projects, so you’re in for a treat!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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34 Comments

  1. Looking at the photos, do you only paint the outsides, and then seal the whole thing? I’ve been thinking about painting terracotta pots to sell, and while I have some on my porch now that I’ve painted, and never had any issues with, I’ve heard some horror stories about it bubbling/cracking? I primed mine, and then painted, and then sealed.

    1. Hi Alexandra! I’d seal the inside as well with clay pot sealer to prevent water from leaking through. You can find it here. Then I’d apply a sealer over your painted area. I usually only paint the outside since I’m not sure if I want any paint leaching into my soil. I’d also recommend not putting the painted pots in direct sunlight or rain, since that can cause problems. I hope this helps!

  2. Oh my gosh – you did such a GREAT job with those pots! All I have ever done is slap some chalk paint I made onto a few terras before – wow – you take it to such artistic levels! I am inspired! I just need it to be a tad cooler before I go outside. I am a big weenie and like winter.

    I really don’t belong in mid Ohio in the summertime. LOL.

    Thanks for the inspiration! Your blog is amazing and I have a lot of back reading to do – I can tell. : – )

    1. Oh, Michele, you’re so kind! I kind of had a “vision” for these pots and got a little carried away. I’m now eager to start painting every pot! It’s such a simple upgrade, as you know.

      I completely relate to the weather. We’re in hot and humid Houston! It’s hard to do anything outside these days. I’m not sure I could handle your winter, though.

      Thanks again for your kind words. I hope it cools off for you soon! 😉

    1. Thanks so much, Christy! Aren’t those napkins great? You can use them for so many things, not just as napkins. Have fun making your obelisk! Can’t wait to see it!

  3. I tried painting pots years ago but nothing as cute as yours Crissy. I also didn’t know about sealing the inside of the pots which is probably why they didn’t do so well. Your topsy turvy effect is spot on and looks darling on your patio! Pinned!

    1. Oh, I bet yours came out very cute, Michelle. Thanks for the sweet compliment! I’m glad I was able to share something new. Thanks for pinning!

    1. Aw, Julie. You’re the sweetest. Yes, maybe it’s time for another tutorial! My boys are definitely ready, and we’ve got looooots of time! LOL!

  4. Your painted pots are really beautiful, Crissy!! Lovely!! I love the découpaged pots especially. It is fun to paint pots and I’d forgotten how much fun it is. <3

    Enjoy your quiet sitting area and the beauty there,
    Hugs,
    Barb 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, sweet Barb! Yes, it really is fun to paint pots, especially when we have nice weather outdoors. Just a little paint can make a world of difference.

      I hope you’re staying well and enjoying some nice weather yourself. Hugs back! Crissy

    1. Thanks, Pamela! I really appreciate you stopping by. I hope you can join us again on the next challenge. I always enjoy seeing your creativity!

    1. Thank you, Lora! I’m much happier with how the pots look with the rest of my decor now. I picked up a lot of great tips from your post as well. I’m walking away with so many new ideas now.

  5. I ALWAYS enjoy reading your posts… you have such a way with words, and always make me giggle! Your painted terra cotta pots ae lovely, and they coordinate with each other so well. And I’m so looking forward to your outdoor decoupage pot tutorial!

    1. You’re always so sweet, Julie. Thank you for your kind words. I always enjoy being in these challenges together and supporting each other. (And you know I don’t just mean the Pinterest challenges…wink.) Big hugs!

    1. Thank you, Terrie! I love a good DIY project just like you. I haven’t had as much time to craft lately, so I really enjoyed getting back into it for this challenge. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Oh my golly, when I see your pots with the bright colors and how you topsied, I grin from ear to ear! There’s definitely no floppsy there! I love how they turned out. I’ll keep double dog daring you for sure. LOL. So glad you joined us. Happy Spring. Pinned!

    1. Hee hee. I hope you do keep throwing those dares at us, Cindy! This was such a fun project. I may still do another topsy-turvy display at some point in the future. Gardening is so therapeutic! Thanks again for hosting a fun hop for us!

    1. Thank you so much, Laura! We already had a blue/yellow theme going, and it’s amazing what a difference a little paint makes. I need my color, too! Happy to be hopping with you again!

  7. Your painted pots are adorable. I have a few on my potting bench and just need to find the time to paint them. I haven’t done it in years, but you have inspired me.

    1. Thank you, Carol! I imagine you have quite a collection of pots to paint, and it’s so relaxing to paint outdoors in good weather. I hope you enjoy it.

    1. Thank you, Laura! Yes, it’s an outdoor fireplace. It mainly gets used for roasting marshmallows with the kiddos when it cools off here. Thanks for stopping by with such sweet comments!