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How to Paint on Terra Cotta

By: Angie Holden
June 2, 2014

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How to Paint on Terra Cotta

Planting season is upon us and if you would like to add some flair to your outdoors be sure to grab some Patio Paint. Patio Paint outdoor makes it simple to learn how to paint terra cotta. Have you ever tried to paint a terra cotta pot only to have the paint absorb into the surface? No more! You can now paint, stencil, and decorate until you love your outdoor décor.

What exactly is Patio Paint?

Patio Paint is permanent, weather-resistant acrylic paint for outdoor decorating on concrete, wood, and terra cotta. Patio Paint is formulated for water resistance and excellent adhesion in changing temperatures.

So yes, it is formulated specifically for painting on terra cotta. Patio Paint goes on smooth and stays put even on the porous surface. The picture below is for illustration. The pot on the left has two coats of Patio Paint while the one on the right has one. Yep two coat coverage! (NOTE: That will vary depending on the color but it does cover very well.)

Now for a few more tips when painting terra cotta:

  • Apply when temperatures are between 45 and 85 degrees F.

  • Do not expose to moisture for 72 hours after painting (yes this means DO NOT PLANT for 72 hours after painting).

  • Paint terra cotta inside and out to gain the benefit of retained moisture in your pots. If you do not paint the inside and you place a plant in your pot, the water will seep through the pot and make your paint bubble up on the outside.

  • Do not use inside bird baths or fountains.

If you remember those tips, you should be ready to paint your own terra cotta pots for some gorgeous outdoor décor. Need some inspiration? Check out all of the things I was able to do with patio paint and some imagination.

You can use various items to create patterns on a painted terra cotta pot. The ones above use a toilet paper roll to create the pattern around the top. The ones below use a pencil eraser for a simple dotted effect.

Want more patterns and ideas? How about leaving some of the natural terra cotta effect and using the patio paint just as an accent?

The variety of colors available in Patio Paint also makes decorating outdoors so much fun.

So grab some Patio Paint at your store and get started on sprucing up your outdoor décor today. Learning how to paint terra cotta is not as hard as you thought it would be is it?

Be sure to visit The Country Chic Cottage  for more projects and to learn more about Angie Holden.


Hello pls can you tell me what is terra cotta pot? Is it plastic type or the one made with mud


March 11, 2015

It is the one made of "mud".


March 11, 2015

I've enjoyed painting clay pots with patio paints for a number of years. They hold up well, but you do need to make sure they aren't left with standing water in the saucer. I haven't seen any examples with reverse stamping on clay pots, which is my favorite way to paint them. I haven't painted pots in awhile, but I think I'm inspired to get the paints back out again.

Patricia D'Angelo

March 21, 2015

So I started painting terrra cotta last year, spray primer, spray paint, and rustoleum for projects have worked very well for me, but I guess I like to get a little more bang, or in this case, paint for my buck. Home depot is awesome for crafting too


March 24, 2015

Is patio paint safe to use on a baby's foot to make footprints on a pot?


April 20, 2015

I did some wonderful terra pots little girls, dogs & a bird bath, wish i could show u guys....great therapy lol

nancy velez

July 7, 2015

Patio paint is good paint but does not last through the weather. I suggest using a water resistant clear spray paint over it to protect from the weather. My flower pots that have just the patio paint are chipped and in desperate need of repainting, there ones a used the clear water resistant spray paint over look as good as the day I painted them.


November 2, 2016

If the pots are older what should they be clean before painting?


March 29, 2017

Were can get good deals on the clay pots


November 3, 2017

I have some older clay pots, what should I clean them with before painting them?


January 9, 2018

Hi Charlett – We recommend cleaning them thoroughly with TSP to make sure all dust, dirt, and grim are completely removed. A nice scrubby brush will help too!

DecoArt, Inc.

January 9, 2018

This is my first time so am confused as to what type of paint to use. For the stand up pots for porch (5) I am using Krylon color master and for the people (1) I am going to use acrylic. Do I need to use acrylic also for the pots?

barbara Sanchez

March 16, 2018

Barbara – DecoArt Patio Paint Outdoor works perfectly for painting terra cotta pots when the instructions are followed.

DecoArt, Inc.

March 21, 2018

To clean terracotta pots, I just put them in the dishwasher. They come out great! Just be sure sure to leave them somewhere quite warm to dry them out thoroughly before painting.


May 17, 2018

I have read that you should spray arcylic sealer on the inside of the terra cotta pot to keep the moisture from watering the plant affecting the outside paint job. Is that true? If so, where can I get some? Is it labeled "sealer" on the can? Or does this Patio outside paint already have the acrylic in it that I don't have to spary the inside? Mary Ann

Mary Ann

May 20, 2018

Mary Ann - You are right that you should paint the inside of the pot too to prevent water from wicking through the pot and making the paint on the outside bubble up. It doesn't necessarily have to be a sealer since you can just use regular outdoor acrylics. Our Patio Paint and Americana Decor Outdoor Living paint will work since they don't need a sealer. If interested in a spray sealer, we do have our Americana Spray Sealer in a gloss finish and matte finish.


May 21, 2018

I am confused about the painting on the inside part... what about the ones that are not painted completely to show the color of the pot too? You still have to paint the entire pot with patio paint on the inside?


May 30, 2018

Melanie - If you're painting a terra cotta pot that will be used for plants and needs to be watered, you should paint the entire inside of the pot to make sure your outside design (even if it doesn't cover the entire outside) is protected from the water that can wick through.


May 30, 2018

I am currently painting pots to build a lighthouse. I used a primer, and regular arts and craft paint, with a clear glossy sealer. I will, after reading these coments use the sealer on the inside also.


July 12, 2018

You can buy 8" terrace cottage pots at the Dollar Store for 1.00 each in Orange County, Ca.


July 27, 2018

Please where can a person buy the patio paint?


September 29, 2018

Hi Joann - You can purchase our Patio Paint at Beverly's, Hobby Lobby, Jo-Anns, Michaels, and in our online store at shop.decoart.com.


October 2, 2018

What type of glue is best when using clay pots? Is a glue gun sufficient? Thanks.


October 7, 2018

Hi Ann - If you're wanting to glue things to your pot for decoration, we recommend using our Americana Decou-Page Outdoor Glue.


October 8, 2018

To seal inside of terracotta can you use Multi-Purpose Sealer or is there another sealer that you have to seal the inside rather than using DecoArt Patio Paint? I also have Patio Paint Clear Coat. Is that a sealer also? Thank you Pat

Pat Gaddis

November 13, 2018

Hi Pat - You can use a multi-surface paint or Patio Paint or any type of sealer on the inside of the terra cotta pot. Those will all protect your design on the outside of the pot since they will prevent water from soaking through the pot.


November 14, 2018

Why can't you use the Patio Paint to make a bird bath? Is it toxic to the birds when filled with water.

Mary J Winsor

January 15, 2019

Mary - None of our paints are toxic; however, our paints are not considered food safe, which is why we say not to use them in bird baths.


January 16, 2019

I have been painting terra cotta pots for years. I do soak my pots in water for at least 8-12 hours & then take out of water, let dry for at least 24 hours in the sun. Might sure they are 100% dry, before painting, inside & the outside. Soaking my pots, seem to seal them. I have never used a sealer, will check that out, plus the soaking. I have used a glue gun, but I use the cooler cooler gun, not hot glue gun. Have fun everyone. Thank you for your helpful hints.


March 19, 2019

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