how to paint a terra cotta pot

Indoor and outdoor plants are a great way to bring some color and fresher air into your home. Green is a calming color, and having plants around can help boost your mood. In addition, plants help clean the air. So if you have houseplants, this is a wonderful way to keep your home from smelling closed-up, especially in colder months when you may not want to open the windows. When choosing a houseplant, be sure to get one that is nontoxic if you have children or pets, as most houseplants are poisonous. I love houseplants, and I currently have 22 in my apartment, so it’s a bit of a jungle in here. But I love it! It doesn’t feel crowded, my apartment doesn’t smell bad in the winter because the plants help purify and oxygenate the air, and I don’t get seasonal affective disorder like I used to. My plants are all low-maintenance, and don’t require that much water, so it’s really a good fit for me. I love learning about each plant and taking care of them!

But what about containers to put all of these plants in? Containers can cost a small fortune if you aren’t careful. I recently needed a bigger pot for my aloe vera plant, and all of the pots that I looked at were at least $35 USD for the size that I needed. I didn’t really want to spend that much on a flower pot, so instead, I went with an $8 USD terra cotta pot, which was boring, but I decided that I could paint it. My sister had painted a flower pot previously, but I remembered that the paint had bubbled. I started researching online for ways to prevent this, and discovered that the pot needed to be waterproofed inside and out. This is because terra cotta is a porous material, so when you water your plant, it will cause the paint to bubble and come off if you haven’t sealed it first. I had already started painting my design on the pot, and was planning on letting some of the terra cotta show through, so I needed something clear.

Finding the right product to waterproof my pot was a real challenge. They’re seemed to be many different opinions about what product to use. After some trial and error, I finally found the right solution for me: masonry sealer. The masonry sealer I found dries clear, doesn’t turn sticky, and adheres beautifully to the terra cotta. You can’t even tell it’s there. That is, until you try to get it wet, and then the water just beads up. I have mostly been using the masonry sealer on the interior of the pots, and for the outside, I have been using primer and exterior house paint. I have also used craft paint over the house paint for design work. When I’m finished painting the outside I let the paint dry, then seal it with the masonry sealer. Once the sealer has dried, I have been using glossy Modge Podge over it, just to give it a shiny finish. Otherwise, it feels dusty, and I just don’t like that how that feels. If you like the matte finish, feel free to skip the Modge Podge, as the sealer will be enough protection. However, do not use Modge Podge as a sealer, as it will simply peel right off of the terra cotta (something that I learned the hard way). If you would prefer, I have also read that a clear acrylic spray paint will work as a sealer; however, I did not try this method.

Two of the pots I painted.

1. Prep the surface you’ll be painting with primer. You don’t have to prime the interior all the way, just go down far enough that it won’t show once the dirt is inside.

2. Paint your design with acrylic paint. If you want to go directly on the terra cotta, just make sure it’s indoor/outdoor paint.

3. After the paint is completely dry, use masonry sealer to seal both the inside and outside of your pot. This will prevent the paint from bubbling when you water the plant. Don’t try to do both the inside and outside all at the same time… Do either the inside or outside, and then do whatever is left the next day.

4. Once the pot is completely sealed and the sealer is dry, you can use the appropriate potting soil for your plant. You can also use the same techniques to make a matching saucer if you’d like. Enjoy!

Tip: Not all soils are created equal. Make sure you use potting soil for houseplants so the roots have enough aeration!

My finished aloe vera pot!
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