How to Paint Terra Cotta Pots


Learn how to paint terra cotta pots with white spray paint in this easy tutorial. You can use any color to spray paint terra cotta!

Hello, Ideas for the Home by Kenarry® friends! I’m Pam from The Birch Cottage and I’m back again this month to share with you How to Paint Terra Cotta Pots. This is an easy way to add some shabby white style to an ordinary terra-cotta pot.

The Birch Cottage shares how to paint terra cotta pots. Turn ordinary clay pots into shabby classy pots!

I love the simple, clean look of white decor. White candles, white candlesticks, white picture frames, white trim and even white terra cotta pots! This project may be a little late for Mother’s Day, but it’d make a great anytime gift.

The Birch Cottage shares how to paint terra cotta pots. Turn ordinary clay pots into shabby classy pots!

I love fresh herbs. Actually, I love fresh vegetables and fresh fruit as well. However, my family spends most of our summers camping, visiting family and it leaves very little time for tending to homegrown produce. I may have had to give up my vegetable garden, but I refuse to give up on having fresh herbs. My most favorite fresh herb is Rosemary.

The Birch Cottage shares how to paint terra cotta pots. Turn ordinary clay pots into shabby classy pots!

Rosemary is fairly easy to grow (just don’t over water it) and it smells absolutely amazing. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the taste or aroma of fresh Rosemary added to chicken or pork. Oh, yeah, you can even add fresh Rosemary to butter for a fantastic herb butter. I also have found basil very easy to grow indoors from seedlings. But, today I want to share with you how to paint terra cotta pots.

How to Paint Terra Cotta Pots

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The Birch Cottage shares how to paint terra cotta pots. Turn ordinary clay pots into shabby classy pots!

Step 1: Clean the Terra Cotta Pots

First, you’ll start with your terra cotta pots and trays. Before you begin, you’ll want to dust off the pots to remove any dust or dirt. If you get the pots wet, you’ll want to wait at least 24-48 hours before painting your pots. Terra cotta is very porous and you need the pots nice and dry before painting.

The Birch Cottage shares how to paint terra cotta pots. Turn ordinary clay pots into shabby classy pots!

Step 2:  Apply Water Sealant

After you’ve cleaned your terra cotta pots, you can apply water sealant to the inside of the pot. This step is totally optional. I recently read that applying the waterproof sealant may help extend the life of my herbs. Since I’m unable to water my herbs regularly during the summer, I need the plants to retain the moisture in their soil. Clay pots are very porous and allow for the seepage of water. I can’t personally attest to how well this works, but I’m going to give it a try. Before applying the sealant, I taped off the top edge of the inside of the pots. Just follow the directions on the water sealant can to apply.

The Birch Cottage shares how to paint terra cotta pots. Turn ordinary clay pots into shabby classy pots!

Step 3: Apply Spray Primer

I applied two coats of white primer to the outside of the terra cotta pots and trays. You’ll want to apply light even coats to prevent the primer from running or pooling.

The Birch Cottage shares how to paint terra cotta pots. Turn ordinary clay pots into shabby classy pots!

Step 4: Apply Spray Paint

The 4th and final step in how to spray paint terra cotta pots is to simply apply spray paint. Again, I used two light coats of spray paint to obtain a nice even coverage. Once the outside of the pots and trays were dry, I turned them over to spray paint the bottoms and under the rim of the top of the pot and tray.

The Birch Cottage shares how to paint terra cotta pots. Turn ordinary clay pots into shabby classy pots!

Once your pots are dry, you can then fill them with your favorite herb (Rosemary), succulents or plants. I planted Rosemary in one of my pots and Basil in the other. I just think the white is stunning!

The Birch Cottage shares how to paint terra cotta pots. Turn ordinary clay pots into shabby classy pots!

Below is my Basil plant. I still need to add a little more potting soil, but otherwise my pots are ready to grow something aromatic!

The Birch Cottage shares how to paint terra cotta pots. Turn ordinary clay pots into shabby classy pots!

It’s amazing what you can do with a little bit of spray paint. As you can see, the clay terra cotta pots are just well, kind of dull and boring. Of course, you could use any color of spray paint, I chose white. I love the clean, crisp look of the white pots.

The Birch Cottage shares how to paint terra cotta pots. Turn ordinary clay pots into shabby classy pots!

Spray painting terra cotta pots is an easy DIY project that anyone can do! I hope you found this how to paint terra cotta pots tutorial helpful. So what are you waiting for? Grab some terra cotta pots and spray paint!

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What’s Next?

Looking for more terra cotta pots inspiration? You won’t want to miss these other great craft ideas!

These DIY Modern Plant Pots with Paint Pens are another great way to customize your planters quickly and easily.

Well, I’ve certainly enjoyed our little time together this month! If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial on how to paint terra cotta pots, you might like to browse some of these other DIY projects from The Birch Cottage blog that I’ve shared here on Ideas for the Home by Kenarry®, like How to Make Gift Bags from Wrapping Paper (I love this clever idea)! And, be sure to check out some of my DIY projects on The Birch Cottage blog:

DIY Sugar Hand Scrub

An easy to make sugar hand scrub that uses only two ingredients. The Birch Cottage shares this easy DIY project!

DIY Terra Cotta Pot Ideas

Six easy Terra Cotta projects from The Birch Cottage

Refinish a Dresser with Chalk Paint

The Birch Cottage Shares How to Refinish a Dresser with Chalk Paint

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    1. I thought the sealant would help since I painted the pots. Based on my experience, I would not recommend the use of the water sealant.

      It did seem to protect the paint finish better, but my plant didn’t grow as well. I’ve had a couple of the painted pots peel in a couple of places, but I just touched them up with more spray paint. And that’s been after a couple years of use.

      Hope this helps!!

  1. Hello, I’ve recently discovered the joy of painting pots. But my attempts so far have failed miserably. I began by painting the outside of my pot black with acrylic paint and let it dry for 24 hours. I didn’t use a sealer as I’ve only just read your post. Then I placed some rubber bands around the edge so it would create lines for a decorative feature. When I went to spray paint the white on, it became all blotchy. Do you have any idea why this would’ve happened? I haven’t taken photos yet, but can do to show you if required. The pots are quite cheap so I am going to try again, but curious as to why this happened. Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi, Jo! Thanks for visiting Ideas for the Home by Kenarry and posting such a great question! I had read that you can use oil based paint (spray paint) on top of acrylic paint (but not the reverse). There are quite a few variables here that come in to play: the pot (material it’s made out of), acrylic paint, oil paint and rubber bands.
      Without having all that information, I have to sort of guess. It sounds like the rubber bands may be the culprit. They may be reacting to the paint. Does this sound like a possibility?
      I’d love to see pictures of your pot and the problem and more specifics about the paint (brand, name, type, finish) and composition (clay, metal, glass, etc.) of the pots. Then I can better help you troubleshoot. Hope this helps!
      You can feel free to email me your photos at [email protected].
      Thanks, again, for reaching out and giving us an opportunity to troubleshoot this problem with you.


      Pam Baker
      The Birch Cottage

  2. I’ve been thinking about painting some with metallic spray. Wondering if the metal paint particles would sleep through and poison the plant?

    1. Hi, Lana! That’s a great question. I did a little research and I couldn’t find anything specific to the effect (if any) to plants growing in terra cotta pots that have been painted with metallic paint.
      One thing I know from working with these pots (and I’ve painted a lot of terra cotta pots) is that they are very porous. I can’t imagine the metallic particles actually soaking through the clay pots, but I guess anything is possible.
      Here’s the best suggestion: use a non-metallic primer on your terra cotta pots first. You can even use a primer on the inside of the pots. Be sure to follow the other steps as well, including cleaning the pots, letting them dry and even using some fine grit sandpaper to smooth out any really rough spots. If you sand the pots, be sure to wipe them off with a damp cloth to remove any dust residue and allow to dry completely before proceeding to paint.
      I hope this helps! If you use the metallic paint, we’d love to hear about your results. Please come back and share!

      Best of luck!

      Pam Baker
      The Birch Cottage

  3. Hi Pam! Wonderful post, loved you’re results and was wondering if you used gloss, semi gloss, satin or matte spray paint? I’d like to achieve the this look!


    1. Hi, Monica! Thank you for your kind words. I, too, love the look of these painted terra cotta pots. In the pots pictured above, I used the Gloss spray paint. I’ve also used satin and flat. I’d have to say my favorite is the gloss, followed closely by the satin finish.
      I have actually tried all three. I used the satin finish on a two-tone terra cotta pot that I painted. You can see the tutorial for the satin finish flower pots here.
      That should give you a pretty good comparison. Hope this helps! By the way, we’d love to see the results. Feel free to come back here and share or share on social media using #ideasforthehome.
      Thanks for reaching out! Have fun with your project!

      Pam Baker
      The Birch Cottage

  4. Hi Pam. Thanks for the post. I spray-painted the inside of my pots (before I read this). Been soaking one of the pots in water the past couple days and the paint (gold metallic) is definitely running. I’m worried about paint seeping into my plants. Any thoughts?

    1. Aileen, I’m a little confused. Are you soaking your pots in water on purpose? If so, why?
      When you paint your pots, especially if you paint the inside, you may have some paint seepage. From what I’ve been able to discover, this shouldn’t have any negative impact on your plants.
      Just note that anytime you paint pots, especially clay or terra cotta type planters, you are changing the breathability and moisture wicking properties of the planter. So keep that in mind.
      And another option is to seal the pots. Here’s how:
      – spray the inside and outside of the pot with a water sealant. Be sure to spray the bottom, too. Let completely dry.
      – then paint your pots (usually only the outside and partially into the inside. Apply thin coats. Let dry completely between coats. Usually takes about 3 coats of paint.
      – finally, seal the painted pots. Wait about 24 hours before sealing to allow the paint to completely dry. Use a clear, high gloss sealer, such as spray shellac, clear lacquer, clear acrylic spray sealer, or polycrylic gloss sealer. This will leave the pots with a glass like shine! They will look like beautiful glazed pots.

      I hope this helps!

      Pam Baker
      The Birch Cottage

  5. Hi Pam, I am just seeing this post! I painted my terra cotta pots and don’t like the way they turned out. I am hoping I can repaint them, this time with spray paint. Do you think that’s possible?

    1. Hi, Anne! I think you probably can repaint your terra cotta pots. Just be sure you’re using the same kind of paint, such as acrylic spray paint if you used acrylic before. I have repainted my pots before. I have had an issue with the paint peeling with some terra cotta pots over time. I think this is just the nature of the clay pots being so porous. So, I just scrape off any peeling or loose paint, gently sand and paint again. They are just flower pots, after all!

      Good luck and let us know how your spray painted pots turn out.

      Pam Baker
      The Birch Cottage

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