How To Seal Painted Flower Pots

Remember the super cute flower pots I painted for our indoor herb garden? Well, they were adorable, but I totally forgot to seal them after I painted them, so the paint job didn’t last very long. Oops! So this year I decided to start all over from scratch and do it right! I painted a new set of flower pots, added a few little dahlias, and sealed them so they’ll last for years! (Hopefully!)

How To Seal Painted Flower Pots

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The stenciled dahlias make those pots too cute, I love them! Plus the bright colors are perfect for livening up our kitchen!

DIY Painted Flower Pots

Painting flower pots is one of the easiest ways to decorate them! And as long as you seal them properly once the paint is dry, they should last for years!

Here’s what you need:

  • terra cotta flower pots and drip trays
  • fine grit sand paper (I used 220 grit)
  • paint (I used DecoArt’s Patio Paint, made for outdoor use, so it’s water-resistant and perfect for flower pots!)
  • stencil (I used a Patio Paint stencil made by DecoArt)
  • foam brushes/daubers
  • clear acrylic sealer
  • a bunch of empty Pringles cans to use as stands (totally optional, but super helpful! :-p)

The first thing you need to do is prep your pots. Start by pulling off any stickers on your pots. (Why, by the way, would someone put a price sticker on the outer rim of a flower pot rather than on the bottom?! *sigh*) And don’t worry too much about the residue the stickers leave behind; we’ll get that off with a bit of sanding.

How To Seal Painted Flower Pots - Materials needed

Step one is to lightly sand your pots and drip trays. Terra cotta pots often have bumps or minor imperfections on them, so sand the outside and inside of your pots lightly with a fine grit sandpaper to smooth out the surfaces (and get rid of sticker gunk!)

Make sure to put newspaper or something down, and wear “work clothes” cuz you are going to make a ton of red dust by doing this! Once you are finished sanding, take a slightly wet rag and wipe down all surfaces of your pots and drip trays. You can tell which parts are still dusty because the cleaned parts of the terra cotta will soak up the water, turning them a darker red.

How To Seal Painted Flower Pots - Cleaning up sanding dust

Once your pots and drip trays are dust free, they need to dry before you can paint them. This could take a few hours, depending on how wet your rag was, but basically once that dark red color disappears, you’re good to go!

I found the easiest way to paint the pots was to turn them upside down on an empty Pringles can so that I could get paint on pretty much all surfaces at once without worrying about wet paint sticking to the newspaper. (See! I knew it wasn’t hoarding! Those empty containers totally turned out to be useful!)

How To Seal Painted Flower Pots - Turn pots upside down on stands to paint all surfaces at once

Now for the fun part; pick a color and start painting! I found that a really easy way to get an even coat on the pots is to use a wide foam brush. The foam brush won’t leave brush lines, so it’s easy to make sure you get a nice solid coat without worrying if you go over the same area more than once.

If the color isn’t solid enough for your liking after one coat, let it dry for about fifteen minutes and throw another coat on there! I only needed one coat for the blue pots (Robin’s Egg Blue), but did two coats for both the green pots (Citrus Green) and the pink pots (Azalea).

Once all of your coats are dry, take the pots off the Pringles cans so you can stencil!

How To Seal Painted Flower Pots - Ready to stencil!

Grab a stencil, a foam dauber, and another color of paint for this part. I chose a fun yellow color (Marigold) that I knew would look good on top of all three other colors. The Patio Paint stencils are awesome for this because they are a little bit sticky, so they stay in place on the pot without you having to hold them! Stick the stencil on the pot and lightly daub paint into the stencil with the foam dauber.

The best technique for stenciling is to daub in an “up and down bouncing motion” rather than a “sweeping, brushing across motion”. Basically get some paint on your dauber, softly place it down onto an open part of your stencil, lift up the dauber, move to another open spot, and repeat. A bajillion times. This prevents brush strokes and ensures you get really good coverage of the stenciled color (especially if it’s lighter than the base color, like this yellow is).

How To Seal Painted Flower Pots - Stenciling

Go over the stencil a few times if you want the color to be darker, or have better coverage. I like the slightly spongy look, so I only did one coat for my flowers. Pull the stencil off as soon as you’re done painting, and then let the paint dry.

How To Seal Painted Flower Pots - Spongy stenciled look

While I waited for the painted dahlias to dry, I painted about an inch and a half down into the inside of the pot so that you won’t see plain terra cotta at the top of the pot once the plant is in there.

How To Seal Painted Flower Pots - Paint an inch or two down the inside as well

Sealing Painted Flower Pots

Once all the paint is dry, you need to seal your pots before you plant in them! Grab the Pringles cans again, set them up outside (somewhere with good ventilation) and give the entire exterior of the pots a good solid coat of clear acrylic sealer (including the bottom of the pot where the drainage hole is). Once the exterior is dry, turn the pot over and seal the inside. Again, remember to seal the bottom as well.

If you’re using a clear acrylic sealer with a matte finish, you won’t be able to tell where you’ve sealed and where you haven’t once it’s dry. So just be careful as you’re sealing, and make sure you cover everywhere (even the unpainted parts) with at least one good, solid coat of acrylic (I did two just to be safe).Terra cotta will soak up moisture, so if you only seal the painted parts, water will still get into the pots from the inside when you water your plants, and it will soak all the way through your pot and ruin your paint job.

The sealant will dry quickly, but you should wait at least 48 hours before exposing the pots to any moisture. So wait a few days before you plant to make sure the sealant is fully cured!

How To Seal Painted Flower Pots

After 48-72 hours or so, plant something in your cute little pots, and you’re done!

How To Seal Painted Flower Pots

The pots turned out so bright and happy, and I love seeing them in our kitchen every day!

How To Seal Painted Flower Pots
How To Seal Painted Flower Pots
How To Seal Painted Flower Pots

It’s only been about three weeks since I painted these pots, but so far the sealant has held up super well! The pots are a little dirty from being outside in the window, but all that dirt brushes right off! The paint job still looks like new, and even though there are dirt and water marks in the drip trays from when I’m a bit over-zealous with my watering, that all washes right off and they look brand new again! Nothing has soaked through into the actual pot or drip tray itself, so I’m calling this sealant a success so far!

Also, what do you think of those little hammered spoon garden markers? Cute right?! You can find the full tutorial for them here.

Do you grow plants indoors? I wish we had an actual yard so I could have a bigger garden, but while we’re in this apartment, these six little herb plants are going to have to do!

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Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

    • Jessi @ Practically Functional says

      11 years ago

      It is if you’re going to put live plants in the pots! If not, you can skip it, but when I watered my plants last year the paint started bubbling away from the inside because I hadn’t sealed them, oops!

  1. Danielle says

    11 years ago

    What a great idea! I’ve never thought about putting stencils on and doing it that way! I’m hosting a “Craft With What You’ve Got” party and the featured crafting supply for this week is craft paints. This project would fit in perfectly! I’d love for you to link it up here

  2. Shannon says

    11 years ago

    Thank you so much for the tutorial. I just started painting a tera cotta flower pot. It was perfect timing, and although I’m not planning on planting a real flower in mine. Who know’s what I might do with it in the future. So just in case I think I’ll seal mine.

  3. Kim @ {enjoy the view} says

    11 years ago

    What a great tutorial, Jessi! I am totally in love with these cute little pots. And I had no idea that Deco-Art made water-reistant paint – I feel like I’ve been living in the Dark Ages. I foresee some painted terra cotta pots on my deck this summer!! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Melissa@TheHappierHomemaker says

    11 years ago

    Thanks for sharing, I just painted a flower pot as a teacher gift for my son’s teacher and hadn’t even thought to seal it!

  5. doreen says

    11 years ago

    Hi Jessi,
    Love your herb pots! I’m a big fan of anything using terra cotta pots. And thanks for your great tutorial. I am always too impatient to put the sealer on…

    • Jessi @ Practically Functional says

      11 years ago

      Haha, I hear ya Doreen! I was too, last year, but this year I was really loving these bright pots with the dahlia design, so I decided it was worth the extra work to try to preserve them for next year!

    • Emmanuelle says

      4 years ago

      Is the sealer enough to avoid the water to pass through the pot? I mean after few month is it still OK? Sorry for my English

      • Jessi Wohlwend says

        4 years ago

        The water still passes through the pot, but the sealer will protect the paint from the water even after a few months.

  6. jane d says

    11 years ago

    These are just too cute! Don’t forget to put a coffee filter in the bottom before adding your soil–it helps keep the dirt from running out when watering.

  7. debbiedoos says

    11 years ago

    These are darling! Right up my alley with stenciling and color:) Have a great day!

  8. keri @ shaken together says

    11 years ago

    Thanks for such a thorough tutorial, Jessi! I really need to add some green to our back porch and these pots are adorable. Pinned!

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