How To Seal & Paint A Terra Cotta Planter

We’re back with the final tutorial from our latest R. Home column all about reinventing thrift store items on the cheap. You’ve may have already seen our terra cotta planter makeover, but here’s the step by step breakdown for all you clever DIYers. We picked up an assortment of cheap $2 planters from our local Goodwill and Salvation Army. Here they are fresh from the thrift store.


We also purchased Thompson’s Water Seal from Lowe’s which is specifically formulated for sealing terra cotta pots so they can be painted. It’s simple and it’s only about $4. You spray it all along the inside of the pot (the sides and the base) and it locks the moisture in so it can’t seep through and cause your paint to bubble or peel. A few thin coats should do the trick. It will look like the pots have just absorbed it all when they dry (they don’t appear to be darker or shiny afterwords, but don’t worry- they’re sealed).

Then just use high gloss exterior latex paint for a cheerful new look in less than ten minutes. We painted some of our pots pale yellow (Like Butter from Valspar), some of them got a darker tone below the lip (Amber Pearl by Valspar), and one special guy even got a sweet little striped treatment.


Adding the stripes was easy. We just cut a sponge into fourths to create a strip that was perfect for stamping our yellow on yellow pattern (we used a paintbrush to gently apply the paint to the sponge).


Here they are in all their glory. The hardest part of the whole shoot was finding flowering plants a few months ago (since magazines are shot so far in advance, anything seasonal is hard to dig up). But we managed to hunt down some festive foliage to complete the look. Total cost for this project: $35 for the $2 pots, the exterior high-gloss latex paint and the sealer.


If you have an hour this weekend, you can totally tackle this entire project. And now that flowering spring foliage is in season, it should be a cinch to perk up your front porch or your back patio. What colors will you go for?

Looking for another tutorial? Check out our How-To page for everything from concrete floor-staining instructions to fireplace painting advice.


  1. says

    Great tip on the water seal! I have done this project with the kids and we are always aggravated by the water seepage. I never would have thought to coat the inside with water seal! Thanks for a great post :)

  2. Kellie Alkayam says

    I don’t know if you guys have Michael’s there, but they sell terra cotta pots for just a couple bucks. By a couple bucks, I mean $2-4 for the sizes you guys painted.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Kellie,

      Yes, the irony of the thrift store pots is that they were almost the same price as brand new ones, but since the theme of our column was rescuing thrift store finds, we decided to “recycle” instead of buying new- especially since we would be painting them anyway!


  3. Carmil says

    I’ve done this with the latex paints from Michael’s — you know what I mean– small bottles of any color imaginable from .59 cents to 99 cents! I spray them with poly after painting and they do fine. I’m sure exterior house paint will last longer, but for a few cents I can redo them as the mood strikes!

  4. says

    I love how you painted each of them differently. They definitely add a splash of spring color to the decor!


    P.S. I’m celebrating 100 posts with some giveaways: 3 signed photos and 1 large chandelier decal from Wilson Graphics. I thought you and/or your readers might be interested. :)

  5. says

    I did this last year with out the sealer though… But I just did the rims of all the pots in a black chalk board paint. That way you can write on each pot what is inside for my spices and veggies!

  6. says

    Someday soon we’re hoping to paint our exterior trim, shutters, and door. Maybe I’ll save this little project for the icing on the cake :) We still can’t plant annuals for a while – Mother’s Day is the recommendation here. So, I have time :) I’ll favorite this post as a reminder!


  7. says

    I second the little bottles of paint. But they’re not usually latex, as one commenter mentioned, they’re Acrylic, which are water soluble. It would bring the cost of the project from $35 down to under $10 if you used those and sealed the pots afterward so the paint wouldn’t ever fade.

    I would save the expensive paint for furniture! :)

  8. MaryB in Richmond says

    GREAT and wonderful idea (cute pots at Wal-Mart will run you $10, and here you’ve done it for almost nothing! Cool.

    And I LOVE the idea of the chalkboard paint, but with my kids it might not be wise … although it would surely be funny!

  9. says

    I don’t usually paint my outside pots. I like the look of terra cotta but also because I can get all kinds of colored pots on the cheap at Old Time Pottery.

    I am in the middle of a project idea to paint some terra cotta pots for the house though. I want to put me some little black pots in my kitchen to grow some herbs.

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