How to Paint Terracotta Flower Pots

Written by marc sutton
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How to Paint Terracotta Flower Pots
Painting terracotta pots adds contrast to a garden. (Blue pots image by Ramon Pantalon from

Coordinating the colour of a flower pot to the theme of your home or garden is easy with a terracotta pot. The porous surface of terracotta soaks up paints and other finishes, making it versatile. Change your garden from plain to elegant, fun or quirky by painting pots.

According to Better Homes and Gardens, terracotta pots allow you to take your garden with you if you plan to move your household. Container gardeners use this same theory when using pots to move blooming plants in and out of their garden areas. This keeps the gardens vibrant and attractive all season long.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Terracotta pot
  • Rag
  • Fine grain sandpaper
  • Clear polyurethane spray sealer
  • Acrylic paint
  • 1-inch paintbrush (general purpose)
  • Bowl
  • Powdered coloured pigment
  • Matt medium
  • Plastic spoon
  • 1-inch sponge brush
  • Leaves
  • Cement mix
  • Cement-bonding adhesive
  • Sponge

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    Painting with Acrylic Paint

  1. 1

    Clean the terracotta pot using a rag and warm water. Wipe away any dirt and debris on the pot's surface. Allow the pot to dry.

  2. 2

    Sand the outside of the terracotta pot with a piece of fine grain sandpaper to remove any rough edges. Wipe away any sanding residue with a dry rag.

  3. 3

    Seal the inside of the terracotta pot with clear polyurethane sealer. Hold the spray 12 inches from the pot, and spray short bursts of sealer while moving the can to the right and left to achieve an even finish. Allow the inside of the pot to dry. Apply a second coat to the inside of the pot, and allow it to dry.

  4. 4

    Seal the outside of the pot with clear sealer. Apply two coats of sealer as instructed above, making sure the sealer dries completely between each coat.

  5. 5

    Paint the outside of the terracotta pot with acrylic paint using a general-purpose, one-inch paintbrush. Apply an even coat of paint to the outside of the pot. Allow the first layer of paint to dry, and add a second layer of paint.

  6. 6

    Seal the painted surface of the terracotta pot with one coat of spray polyurethane. Allow the pot to dry for three days.

    Painting with Stain

  1. 1

    Add equal parts of powdered coloured pigment and matt medium in a bowl. According to Martha Stewart, all-natural powdered pigments are best for painting terracotta pots since they will not harm the plants.

  2. 2

    Mix the ingredients with a plastic spoon to ensure the colour is evenly distributed.

  3. 3

    Slowly add water to the coloured matt while mixing until you reach the desired consistency. The stain should be thin enough to cover the pot, but thick enough that it does not run.

  4. 4

    Apply a thin coat of the pigment mix to the outside of the terracotta pot with a sponge brush. Using a foam brush, brush from the top of the pot to the bottom, applying even pressure.

  5. 5

    Allow the pigment mix to dry on the terracotta pot overnight.

    Painting with Cement

  1. 1

    Clean the terracotta pot with a rag and warm water. Remove any dust and debris from the surface of the pot, and allow the pot to dry.

  2. 2

    Choose several leaves with obvious leaf shapes. The leaves should be stiff enough to stand up to the cement paint's weight.

  3. 3

    Combine one part water, one part acrylic paint and four parts cement mix. Stir to combine.

  4. 4

    Add two parts cement-bonding adhesive. Mix well. According to Better Homes and Gardens, the mixture should look like heavy whipping cream.

  5. 5

    Apply a thin layer of cement paint to the bottom of a leaf using a general-purpose, one-inch paintbrush. Paint from the stem outward on each side of the leaf, then paint the length of the stem.

  6. 6

    Press the painted side of the leaf against the pot using a damp sponge and even pressure. Remove any excess cement paint that seeps from the sides of the leaf.

  7. 7

    Allow the leaf to dry to the terracotta pot for three minutes. The terracotta will absorb the water from the cement mix and bond the painted cement to the pot.

  8. 8

    Slowly peel the leaf from the pot, leaving the cement paint mixture on the pot.

  9. 9

    Add additional leaf images to the pot in the same manner.

  10. 10

    Allow the cement paint to dry for 48 hours. Spray the inside and outside of the pot with spray sealer to reduce the risk of water damaging your cement paint.

Tips and warnings

  • Adding soil or other moist material to the pot prior to the sealant properly curing will result in bubbles appearing on the painted surface of the pot.
  • Painting terracotta pots on the inside will prevent liquids inside the pot from seeping through and causing the paint to bubble.
  • Terracotta is a porous material, so use products that are non-toxic to avoid harming the plants.
  • Ensure that the polyurethane spray you purchase dries clear; it should say "clear drying" on the package. Some spray sealers will produce a yellow finish over paint as they dry.
  • Powdered paint pigments can stain your skin and clothes.

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