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

  1. Wayne says

    1 year ago

    Wouldn’t it also work to seal them on the inside before doing anything at all ?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      1 year ago

      Yep, the reason I didn’t do that is I don’t want the sealant to come in contact with the soil just in case it leaches out when watered. But in theory that will work just fine!

  2. Ninka says

    2 years ago

    Do I have to seal the inside of the pot? The reason why I wanted clay is because excess water won’t ruin my plant and I heard clay pots are much better than plastic pots. Will the sealant be harmful to my plant? Can I use acrylic paint and does it have to say Non-toxic on the package?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      12 months ago

      You can definitely seal the inside if you want; it won’t hurt your plant. In general, clay pots are better than plastic because they allow the soil to “breathe” more. They are porous, meaning water can soak through them, whereas plastic is obviously not. This helps protect the plant from overwatering. But if you seal the inside and the outside, it will no longer be porous, so it will be more similar to having your plant in a plastic pot. If your plant isn’t sensitive to overwatering then it should be just fine! (Most plants aren’t, it’s only if you’re trying to grow something tricky that you need to be careful about sealing the inside of the pot.)

      • Amanda says

        11 months ago

        Did you use a clay pot or plastic pot for this craft?

  3. Barbi says

    2 years ago

    Jessi, I love these painted pots! I read the materials list, but did not see the 3 colors used. Could you please tell me the blue, pink and green you used! I’d like to make these for my daughter first home!! Thank you!!!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      12 months ago

      The color names are Robin’s Egg Blue, Citrus Green, and Azalea (and the yellow is Marigold).

  4. Rosemary says

    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your ideas but not to clear how to seal the pots so the paint does not peal off

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      2 years ago

      Once the paint is dry it won’t peel off. But the clear acrylic spray will help seal the entire pot so that water doesn’t seep through the pot and ruin the paint.

  5. Tess says

    3 years ago

    Does the sealant help prevent that white powder from coming up on the outside of the terracotta pots? A lot of times when you water plants, minerals in the water can build up and make a white film on the flower pots. Does this sealant help prevent that?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      3 years ago

      Yep, the sealant helps that! It seals the inner and outer surface of the pot so the water (and the minerals in it) can’t permeate it at all.

  6. Judy says

    3 years ago

    Just an FYI, If you are going to grow any edibles in the pots like herbs etc., I would not plant directly into the pot, considering it has sealer inside which is most likely toxic and could leach into the soil…i would find a plastic liner pot for the inside,that way you can still seal it and the sealer wont leach into the soil..just make sure there are drainage holes in the liner pot. -Judy

  7. Jean Roen says

    3 years ago

    My experience is that unless the inside of the pot isn’t treated with a sealer, that the paint will start peeling before the end of a season. It makes cleaning at the end of the season clean up a breeze!

  8. Joanne says

    4 years ago

    Thanks so much for this Primer for Beginners …… Can’t wait to go to the craft store & get started.

  9. emma says

    4 years ago

    I LOVED YOUR POTS. Pity I
    couldn’t read the typeface and coloured links. I can see they are pink. Old eyes cannot see these colours nor what I am writing..I would have liked to see the paint you used and links. I guess I am only one of 33.k viewers.
    Very nice

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      4 years ago

      Oh no, sorry the links are hard to read! You can try highlighting the link text with your mouse; that should invert the font to a light font on a dark background, and you may find it easier to read then.

  10. patty davenport says

    4 years ago

    Your pots turned out really cute. I did one once and the teacher pre sealed the pots before we painted them,and again after. It seemed to keep the paint from being absorbed into the pot. I don’t know if it helped, but it sounded good!

  11. reJudith says

    6 years ago

    I did this about 10 years ago and my pots are still looking great but
    the secret to the long lasting paint job was after sanding a little I put a primer/sealer
    on the pot before I began my paint job then sealed it with a clear coat seal. Terra
    Cotta is porous so it needs to be sealed first so the pot does not break down over
    time and your paint to last. I still love mine to this day. I’ve begun putting dried fruit
    rinds in mine to freshen the air.

  12. Danielle says

    6 years ago

    Love this tutorial! It was a great help! I made this into an art project with my daughter for a Mother’s Day gift to my mom from my daughter. I wish I could upload pictures, it turned out great. Stenciled some cute flowers on it in two different colors, and then had my daughter put her hand prints on it. It turned out great! I can’t wait to give it to her!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      That is awesome Danielle! If you want to email me pictures I can share them on the Practically Functional FB page! You can email me at [email protected].

  13. Christie says

    6 years ago

    Great tutorial! I wouldn’t have thought to seal the pots and wouldn’t have been devastated when they were ruined. Thanks again!

  14. Beulah says

    6 years ago

    For years I have tried to find spray sealer for terra cotta. Meanwhile, a can of brush-on sealer has sat on a garage shelf for years. So thanks so much for your tutorial. Now I can get busy if it ever warms up here in NW Indiana

  15. sepehr says

    7 years ago

    hi dear jessi, I have a tiny greenhouse in our house,I’ll do this in my greenhous,
    your pots are just marvelous
    what do you use to paint your pots?? actually I dont any information about processing of paintin a pot,

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      I used DecoArt’s Patio Paint, which is made for outdoor use. If you scroll up to the materials section of the tutorial you’ll see a list of all the exact supplies I used!

      • Pam says

        1 year ago

        Can you use any type of acrylic paint as long as you seal it

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          1 year ago

          In theory you can, but I haven’t tried it out yet. The sealant will help protect the paint job no matter which paint you use, but I wanted to be extra careful so I used an “outdoor” acrylic paint that was meant to hold up longer as well as a sealant.

  16. hbb says

    8 years ago

    Your pots are beautiful. i am concerned that the sealant is toxic as I used one and the smell was horrific. Do you know of any non toxic sealants, especially if the pots are for herbs!

    Thanks

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      8 years ago

      Ideally any sealant is food safe once it is 100% finished curing, because the curing process is when all of the toxic bonding agents evaporate to leave a fully cured seal (that’s what makes it smell bad too). The remaining sealant should be inert. I’m no expert and I don’t know what the FDA would say is the official answer, but I used an acrylic spray sealer on these pots and we grew herbs in them. Everything tasted fine and seemed fine, and I think that once the smell went away (meaning once everything had evaporated and the sealant was fully cured), that it is pretty much safe at that point.

      I know there are some brands of sealants that specifically say there are food safe on them though, so if you are worried I’d look for one of those!

  17. Betsy @ Romance on a Dime says

    8 years ago

    Wow – I love your brightly painted bots – the stencil you used is so cute!! Thanks for linking up at Romance on a dime!! Pinning this.

  18. [email protected] says

    8 years ago

    thanks for sharing these tips! I got some paint from Michael’s last weekend 🙂 they look very pretty and love the colors you choose! 🙂
    Ingrid

  19. Natasha in Oz says

    8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this post at the Say G’day Saturday linky party. I am featuring it this weekend! Hope you can stop by, say g’day and link up again!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz
    http://www.natashainoz.com

  20. Crystal says

    8 years ago

    So cute! I like how colorful they are and the spoon tags are awesome. 🙂

  21. Deb says

    8 years ago

    I love this project and your photos really show how beautiful this project can turn out. I absolutely love the colors and will try this out for myself.

  22. Megan Chamberlin says

    8 years ago

    Ugh, this is PERFECT for me, since I botched my first pot painting attempt and ended up with bubbled paint full of water after the first rain!! 🙂 Love your bright colors and stencils!

    Stopping by from Take It on Tuesday!

    • Jessi @ Practically Functional says

      8 years ago

      Yes, that’s exactly what happened to me too! I was so bummed, so this year I did some research and figured out how to do it right. 🙂

    • Jessi @ Practically Functional says

      8 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!

  23. Danielle says

    8 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

  24. Shannon says

    8 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.

  25. Kim @ {enjoy the view} says

    8 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!

  26. [email protected] says

    8 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!

  27. doreen says

    8 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

      8 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

      1 year ago

      Hello
      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

        1 year ago

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

  28. jane d says

    8 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.

  29. debbiedoos says

    8 years ago

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

  30. keri @ shaken together says

    8 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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