How to Paint a Terra Cotta Plant Pot

Updated April 17, 2017

Terra cotta plant pots are appealing in their natural state -- no paint, no designs. However, a painted terra cotta pot, whether using one colour or many in a design, can coordinate with an existing decor, adding visual appeal to your home, both indoors or out. Painting these pots is a great way to use your creativity in an easy art project. Following these few tips, you can ensure your painted terra cotta plant pot stays in good condition for years to come.

Using a fine-grade sandpaper, sand any areas on your terra cotta pot that are uneven or have sharp or jagged edges. Make sure the surface is smooth before moving to step 2.

Clean your terra cotta pot, both inside and out, with warm soapy water. Allow to dry completely in the sun or other warm location.

Paint a primer coat on your terra cotta pot, inside and out, using a water-based paint. The primer can be acrylic or house paint, or a product called gesso (available at art stores). If the terra cotta colour still shows through, apply a second coat. Allow the paint to dry completely between coats.

Apply your top coat, using any water-based, acrylic, house or watercolour paint. Allow the paint to dry completely.

Apply a second coat of paint, if desired, or apply a design of your choice. Again, allow your pot to dry completely.

Spray your painted pot, inside and out, with a clear polyurethane sealer (found in craft, hobby or hardware stores). Let the pot dry completely, then give it a second coat. This should be done outdoors or in a well-ventilated location.

Set your painted pot in a warm, dry place. Allow to harden for 2 to 3 days before using as a planter.


If the pot is not completely dry or if it is not sealed on the inside and the outside, the paint will bubble from moisture. Paint the terra cotta saucer to match your pot, using the same method.


If you want the inside of the pot to remain the terra cotta colour, just use a couple of coats of clear polyurethane sealer, without any paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Terra cotta pot
  • Sandpaper
  • Soap
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Clear polyurethane sealer
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About the Author

Karen Ellis has been a full-time writer since 2006. She is an expert crafter, with more than 30 years of experience in knitting, chrocheting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and other arts. She is an expert gardener, with lifelong experience. Ellis has taken many classes in these subjects and taught classes, as well.