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How to paint plastic pots

Updated April 17, 2017

Don't throw those old plastic pots away, refurbish them instead. With a few simple steps you can paint any size or style of plastic pot that will be usable for years. Terra cotta pots are porous and allow moisture to evaporate. Moisture also assists in paint peeling off the container. Plastic pots are solid and non-porous so they hold the moisture in. This helps to keep paint in place.

Spread the newspaper over the work area. Clean the plastic pot with soap and water. Rinse and dry the pot thoroughly.

Sand the pot to scuff off the shine. This will allow the paint to adhere properly. Wipe any sanding dust from the surface.

Paint the pot with acrylic primer. This is a foundation coat of paint that helps the final colour stay on the pot and to be true in hue. Let the foundation coat dry completely.

Use the paintbrush or the sponge to add the paint to the dry pot. Even strokes, applied in one direction, are best when using the paintbrush. If you use the sponge, moisten it with water first, squeeze the excess water from the sponge and blot it well. Tap the sponge into the paint and then tap it onto the newspaper before applying it to the pot. This blends the paint into the sponge. Add more paint as you continue to sponge until the pot is completely covered. Let the paint dry.

Varnish the pot, using the paintbrush, by applying exterior varnish in one direction, either side to side or up and down. Let the varnish dry before adding plants to the pot.

Tip

When the base colour is dry, use a stencil to add a design to the pot. Try sponging two or three colours on the pot at the same time for a mottled appearance.

Warning

Don't leave plastic pots outdoors during the winter. Rinse paint from sponges and brushes immediately after using.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Newspaper
  • Sandpaper
  • Paper towels or old rags
  • Acrylic primer
  • Paintbrush or sponge
  • Acrylic paint
  • Acrylic varnish
  • Plastic pot
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About the Author

As an author and instructor in the arts, Jeanne Paglio has been writing since 2001 and has been an artist for over 25 years. Her articles have appeared in "Painting Magazine," "Quick & Easy Painting," and "The Decorative Painter." Paglio studied art and design at Rhode Island School of Design.