Clay Pot Painting and Decorating Ideas

Clay pot painting is perfect for beginner crafters! Learn how to decorate terra cotta using these tutorials great for both kids and adults.

clay pot painting and decorating 101

Terra cotta clay pots are fabulous surfaces for a variety of art forms, such as pot painting, stenciling, decoupage, and mixed media. Clay pots are smooth, offering the perfect crafting surface for all ages!

Keep reading to learn how to clean and repurpose clay flower pots, prepare terra cotta pots for paint projects, and how to seal them. 

When I think of clay pot painting and decorating, I typically think about spring and summer. I picture getting ready for warm weather and bright flowers.

But what I’ve learned over the course of time is that decorating clay pots isn’t just a hobby for warmer weather. Plenty of creative people like yourself are looking for ideas to decorate flower pots all year ’round!

There are a few reasons to decorate and paint pots besides flowers – not limited to but including gift containers, home decor, and crafts (like clay pot animals!).

Woman painting a clay pot with acrylic paint

Pot Painting and Decorating

I absolutely love decorating clay pots! They are such a fun surface and you can use almost any craft supplies with terra cotta – paint, Mod Podge, glitter, ribbon, tape, and more. Not only that, but they are an inexpensive!

Every time I see them in the craft or home improvement store I try to think of different projects that I can make. I pulled together a list of brilliant ways to decorate clay pots and thought you might be interested in these ideas as well.

Before we get into the projects, I wanted to go through some FAQs. If you’re not interested, scroll down to get the projects; however, I hope some of these help you in your clay pot decorating journey.

Is it ok to paint terracotta pots?

Yes it is! You’ll need to prep them first – instructions below – but yes, you can paint on them, and it won’t hurt the plants at all. I do recommend using acrylic, waterbased paint for this purpose.

Which paint should I use on pots?

If your terra cotta will be used outdoors, I recommend using either FolkArt Outdoor or FolkArt Multi-Surface paints. Both paint formulas deliver rich color and coverage in a very creamy consistency, making it easy to brush onto your clay flower pots.

Both formulas were also created to be weather resistant, tested for UV protection, dry to a satin finish and cure to the surface within 48 hours. Best part …. there is no need to apply a sealer or varnish over the completed design because the paint is self-sealing.

However, if you would like to give your artwork an extra layer of protection to keep it mar or scratch resistant, you can apply a coat of FolkArt Outdoor Sealer once the paint is completely cured.

Clay pot people

How do you prepare terra cotta pots for painting?

Let’s talk about “new” terra cotta. Clay pots found in craft stores, garden shops, and DIY home improvement stores are unglazed and porous. This means they are not waterproof.

Unglazed or unsealed terra cotta will draw moisture from the plant and soil keeping the pot moist. Extra moisture may affect the external decoration allowing paint to blister if not properly sealed.

The first step in preparing new clay flower pots is to wipe away dust or dirt. The second step is to carefully seal both the inside and outside. Not only will this help your decorated design on the outside of the pot resist blistering, it will also help the interior to keep moisture in the soil. I can recommend two different sealing techniques:

1. Spray seal the entire pot, inside and out with a couple coats of Clay Pot Sealer.  Allow each application to dry before applying the next.

This one-of-a-kind sealer lets you water your plants and not your floor! Simply spray your clay pots and saucers. Clay Pot Sealer is available as a 12 oz. aerosol and can be located in many craft stores or online.

2. The second method I recommend is to apply FolkArt Outdoor Sealer over the entire surface. For extra protection, apply a second coat on the interior walls of your pot to help create a waterproof barrier to protect your exterior decoration.

This polyurethane-based sealer will provide the maximum durability for outdoor projects. It is available as a brush-on sealer in three finishes;  Matte, Satin, and Gloss; and can be found in craft stores as well as at plaidonline.com.

Once the sealed clay pot is dry, it is ready to be painted. For flower pots that will be used outdoors, use either FolkArt Outdoor or FolkArt Multi-Surface Paint. For painted flower pots that will be used inside, use any of our premium-quality acrylic paints—FolkArt Acrylics, Delta Ceramcoat, or Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint.


Where can I buy clay pots?

They are available at craft stores, home improvement stores, the dollar store, Target and Walmart (seasonally), and even at the Goodwill.

Which brings us to used pots . . .

How to clean a used clay flower pot before painting

  1. To repurpose a used terra cotta pot, be sure to thoroughly clean it first before sealing and decorating.
  2. Thoroughly remove dirt and salt residue; if needed, scrub the surface with a wire brush.
  3. Once clean of dirt and debris, soak the flower pot in a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach for 24 hours in order to kill any lingering bacteria (this is optional, but handy if you have really grimey pots!).
  4. After soaking, thoroughly rinse the pot with clean water and allow it to dry completely. Follow by sealing your terra cotta pot before decorating.

Painting a clay pot

Tips for Painting on Clay Flower Pots

  • Most clay pots found in stores are unglazed and porous – meaning they are not waterproof. Unglazed or unsealed terra cotta will draw moisture away from the plant and soil, keeping the pot moist, which in turn may affect the external decoration by causing the paint to blister.
  • Not only does sealing your flower pot prevent blistering of your decorated design on the outside of the pot, it also helps the interior of the flower pot keep the soil moist.
  • If intending to use the painted flower pot outside, opt for FolkArt Outdoor Sealer, available as a brush-on sealer in three finishes: Matte, Satin, and Gloss; the polyurethane-based sealer provides the maximum durability for outdoor projects.
  • To give the painted design an extra layer of protection, apply a coat of FolkArt Outdoor Sealer after 48 hours when the paint has completely cured.
  • For best results, use FolkArt Outdoor, Apple Barrel Acrylics, FolkArt Acrylics, or one of our multi-surface paints when painting terra cotta pots.

Are you ready to get the ideas? From paint to decoupage, there are all sorts of great projects here. Scroll down to learn more!

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