How to Paint Terracotta Pots

Written by kathryn hatter
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How to Paint Terracotta Pots
Paint terracotta pots for a colourful garden display. (terracotta pots image by cusrach from

A container garden of terracotta pots filled with bright and colourful flowers and foliage is a delightful sight on a deck or a patio. Improve on the overall effect by giving your pots a splash of colour as well. When you paint terracotta pots with acrylic paint, you can make them explode with colour and design, befitting the splendour growing inside them. Allow your creative spirit to take drab terracotta pots to new and amazing heights.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • New terracotta pots
  • Clean cloth
  • Newspapers
  • Polyurethane sealant (oil-based or water-based)
  • Assorted paint brushes
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paints (a variety of colours)
  • Painter's palette
  • Water dish
  • Paper towels
  • Water-based acrylic sealing spray

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  1. 1

    Wipe the inside and outside surfaces of the terracotta pots with a damp cloth to remove any dust and dirt.

  2. 2

    Spread newspaper out onto a flat work surface. Paint the polyurethane sealant onto the inside of the terracotta pot with the wide paintbrush. Oil-based polyurethane sealants will protect the pot longer than water-based sealants, but they have strong odours and clean-up is more difficult than with water-based sealants. Apply the sealant with a brush in smooth and even strokes until you cover every inside surface. Allow the sealant to dry completely (consulting product instructions for drying time) and then apply two additional coats to adequately seal the inside of the pot. Allow the sealant to dry completely between each coat and before proceeding.

  3. 3

    Sketch a design in pencil on the terracotta pots to plan your painting design. Make a geometric design with assorted shapes, create a plaid effect by painting various vertical and horizontal lines or draw an array of flowers over the sides of the terracotta pots.

  4. 4

    Place the terracotta pots onto a clean surface covered with newspaper, set your painter's palette nearby and fill a water dish for rinsing your paintbrushes. Squeeze out generous dollops of acrylic paints on the painter's palette. Set several paper towels near your work area for blotting your paintbrushes after rinsing them.

  5. 5

    Dip a paintbrush into a paint colour and begin applying the paint evenly over the outside surface of the terracotta pot. Apply a base coat to the entire pot or simply add a design right over the terracotta background. When you need to use a different paint colour on your paintbrush, dip your brush in the water to rinse it and then blot excess water on the paper towel.

  6. 6

    Allow the first base coat of paint to dry completely (takes approximately one hour) and then apply a second coat. Allow the second coat of paint to dry completely.

  7. 7

    Wait 12 to 24 hours, and then spray the surface of the terracotta pot with the acrylic sealing spray. Hold the spray can approximately 8 inches away from the pot and apply the spray in an even layer. Allow the sealant to dry completely (consult product label for specific drying times) and then apply a second coat of the sealant

  8. 8

    Allow the paint to cure by letting the pot dry for up to one week before placing a plant in it and putting it outside.

Tips and warnings

  • If you use an oil-based sealant, apply it in a well-ventilated area to avoid the potentially dangerous fumes.

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