How to Paint Clay Pots – Great Craft Idea For Yards and Gardens

Guest Post Written by: Benjamin Drake of

In this post we’re going to go through the nitty-gritty of how to paint clay pots. Everyone loves to decorate their surrounding with flowers, succulents, et. al, in terra cotta pots for their natural aesthetic look. Flowers and houseplants add color to their surroundings, so why should clay pots be any different? This article will teach how to paint them the right way so they’ll last a long time adding a splash of color to your garden.

painting clay pots

Steps to Paint Clay Pots

There’s some preparatory work involved to make sure your finished works of art last a long time and do not end up chipping or getting damaged. Be sure you do all these things in this order.


If the pots have been used before, clean them thoroughly using water or wet clothing and remove any dirt or salt residues. If it still has some residues, soak the pot in warm water for 20 minutes and scrub it with a cloth or wire brush if necessary. Sometimes rubbing alcohol can help, especially with things like left-over label residue – e.g. bar code stickers.

Once the clay pot is clean of dirt, soak it in a solution of 1-part bleach and 9-parts water to kill any bacteria. After Soaking, rinse the pot with clean water and make sure to dry it completely (it might take up to a day, depending on the weather conditions).

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painting clay pots

Setting Up Your Workspace

Lay down dropcloths or newspaper to prevent any paint from dripping on the floor and doing your work cleanly. Use newspaper before laying the pot for drying as well. I like to use a sheet of wax paper directly under pots, as I do other objects, as residual paint could inadvertently stick to newspaper.


The next step is to Seal the pot Inside and out. Most clay pots found at stores are not waterproof, meaning they absorb water from soil and plant. So it is important to seal them from the inside as well. Apply one coat of sealer onto the clay pot and let it dry completely before applying the second coating. At least two coats of sealer are recommended.


It is better to prime the pots with a paint primer. Using a primer will be beneficial in many ways. It will seal the clay pot enough to make it almost waterproof and not affect its breathability. Apply two coatings of primer, second coat after completely drying the first coat. Primer will also help the paint last longer, and it will help hide flaws, too.

base coat on clay pot

In addition,the final resulting topcoat of lighter and brighter colors like pastels, yellow, or red, will look better.  If you plan to use dark colors like black or navy blue as the base coat it won’t be as noticeable but the layer of primer will still benefit it.

Painting Your Pots

First things first, choosing the type of paint to use on clay pots. The best paint to use on clay pots would be acrylic or spray paint, but there are no specific requirements for clay pots. You can also use any leftover paints you have. Paint for wood crafts can also be used successfully. Choosing the colors is easy when it comes to painting clay pots because of endless design possibilities.

Use a foam brush to apply the base coat. These can work better than conventional brushes as they won’t leave straggly bristle hairs behind. You can use a round bristle brush if you want to paint more intricate details later on the top coat..Apply the base/first coat using the thinned paint. For the second and third coating, use normal-textured paint to get a better finish.

The amount of coats depends on the quality of paint and the final preferred looks of the color. Let one coat dry at least 70% before applying the next coating. The inside and bottom of the pot don’t need to be painted as they will not be visible. Only paint the visible parts to save paint.


This is an optional step. Thinning the paint is recommended as the pot absorbs water. The paint will spread much easier. Add small amounts of water, preferably with a tablespoon, because if it is too thin, it will slip right off the paint and adding water will also change the paint’s color slightly.

Decorating Your Finished Clay Pots

Once the pot is painted and dry, decorations can be added to give it a cleaner and aesthetic look. Threads, fake flowers, words or almost anything can be used to decorate clay pots, especially if it can follow the contours of them well. Stamps can be used to imprint words or messages on the front, if you can get them to wrap around easily – a stencil sheet may be easier to work with.

Pay special attention to the top rim – materials like raffia ties or jute cord will give it a lovely rustic look. Seashells, faux flat-backed rhinestones or cabochons will produce a unique finishing touch. Use a good waterproof glue to affix the objects in place.

decorating terra cotta pot

After the pot has been painted, dried and decorated, seal the pot using clear water-based acrylic sprays to seal the clay pot to last longer. Painting clay pots will add ten folds to the beauty of your garden.

Enjoy your finished pots, and of course planting in them too!


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