How to Paint Clay Pots for Planters


Clay pots do not have to stay a rusty terra cotta color forever. Pots can custom match an interior's color palette or theme by simply adding different colors and designs. Craft stores carry a broad range of materials that can be used to transform the ordinary clay pot. Decorating clay pots is a simple afternoon project. Use the pots to spruce up a room, front porch or give as them as a gift.

Step 1

Clean the clay pot by scrubbing off any dirt and debris. Soak the pot in water for about 1 hour. Air dry the pot for about one day---the pot should not be cool to the touch, indicating the clay is still moist inside.

Step 2

Use a clear polyurethane spray paint and spray the inside of the pot. Do not spray the very bottom of the pot. Mask off with tape if necessary to avoid overspray. Use two to three coats to ensure the interior clay is well coated. Remember, clay is an absorbent material and may absorb the first polyurethane coat.

Step 3

Paint the outer portion of the pot. Apply an even basecoat using two to three layers of paint. Use a foam brush to quickly apply the paint. Do not cover the bottom of the pot with color; the plant will need to drain water through the clay and drainage holes.

Step 4

Add a variety of decorative paint techniques using latex or craft paint. Use small, round sponges to create polka dots. Mix dark brown or black paint with glaze---a 1:4 ratio, and lightly brush onto the pot, and wipe back off, for an antique look. Add a very quick coat of a second color---while the second color is still white, wipe through it with a wallpaper brush to create a linen look. Create the look either vertically or horizontally. Use artists brushes or paint markers to add creative designs. Glue on buttons, metal charms and even rocks. A wide variety of decorative paint techniques can be implemented on any clay pot.

Step 5

Lightly spray two to three coats of polyurethane onto the pot when finished. Allow the clear coat to dry between layers. Avoid spraying heavily to avoid the clear coat from turning hazy and dripping. Again, avoid painting the bottom of the pot.

Things You'll Need

  • Clay pot
  • Clear polyurethane spray paint
  • Painter's tape or masking tape
  • Foam brush or paint brush
  • Latex or craft paint in an assortment of colors
  • Sponges, artists' brushes, wallpaper brush and other paint tools


  • Patricia's Pots
  • Fine Gardening
Keywords: terra cotta color, different colors and designs, plant

About this Author

Freelance writer Julie Hampton has worked as an artist, writer and event planner for over eight years. She also served a brief stint in the military as a nurse specializing in geriatrics. Hampton has an associate’s degree in journalism, and studied public relations at The University of West Florida.