How to Paint Terracotta Pots Like a Pro
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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
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…
…or create fun color-blocked designs by taping off sections of the pot.
You can also use the wrong end of a small paintbrush to create polka-dots, as I did with my smallest clay 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.
Guide to Painting Terracotta Pots
- Chalk paint (acrylic paint or spray paint)
- Clay pot sealer
- Outdoor Mod Podge
- Painter’s Tape (optional)
- 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.
- If necessary, sand the pot with fine-grit sandpaper to smooth any rough ridges.
- Prime the inside and outside of the pot with 1-2 coats of the clay pot sealer and let it dry.
- 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.
- Add any desired designs or stencils to the pot.
- 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.
Pin it for later!
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
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.
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!
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. : – )
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! 😉
What a fun look on that gorgeous outdoor fireplace! I think I have those exact napkins. I’ve done a couple of crafts with them. I am going to decoupage an obelisk with them, but now you want me doing a pot!
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!
Love what you did with your pots. They have so much character and love the stacked look.
Thank you, Cindy! I appreciate you coming by and hope you get some warmer weather soon, my friend!
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!
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!
I also meant to tell you… your salt dough dragon fly is AMAZING! Time for another post!
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!
I love your take on the stacked pots! So cute and pretty!
Thank you, Lauren! I really appreciate you stopping by, and I hope you’re doing well in your neck of the woods!
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,
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
What a fun play on the original pin., love the colors..and that dragonfly! How fun to make something out of the ordinary!
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!
Great tips for painting terra cotta pots, Crissy! Nice to give them a little pizazz sometimes. Love how yours turned out! The sealer was a new idea to me.
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.
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!
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!
I love this Your pots and dragonfly are so adorable.
Thank you, Katie. This was a really fun challenge, wasn’t it?
Crissy I love your post. The pots you created and how you have them styled are beautiful. Love all the touches you added here.
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!
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!
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!
Crissy I am a color girl so I really LOVE your PC interpretation. Blue feels so fresh for the patio. Bravo!
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!
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.
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.
HI Chrissy! I love that pot and the tutorial is on point! That was a napkin? I love it! Is that an outdoor fireplace in the background? Gorgeous! laura
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!