How to Paint a Plastic Flowerpot to Look Like Clay
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How to Paint a Plastic Flowerpot to Look Like Clay

You can paint a plastic pot to look like a clay pot with acrylic paints. Acrylic paints are a lot of fun. They come in bright colors, mix really well, and are easy to clean up. To mix that terra-cotta color of a clay pot, you’ll need orange, red, brown, and beige paints. This is a project you can do if you have cheap plastic pots that you want to dress up.

Sometimes you bring home plants in plastic flowerpots, and you think, I could use a couple of extra flowerpots, if only these looked better.  No problem, you can paint them to look like clay with acrylic paints.

Acrylic paints are those hobby paints in bottles that you find in discount stores.  A good brand is Apple Barrel, and you can get it at Wal-Mart.  Acrylic paints come in bright colors and are easy to use.  They’re water-based and clean right up with warm water.  They mix really well and you can make just about any color with them.

To do this project, you’ll need these four bottles of paint: orange, red, brown, and beige.  You’ll also need an inch-wide paintbrush (any cheap one will do), a Styrofoam or Dixie cup, and a stirring stick.

Fill the cup about halfway or a little less with orange paint.  Then add about an eighth-cup of red.  Now I would eyeball this, because if you use a measuring cup, you’ll have a lot of wasted paint get stuck in the cup.  Mix this until it’s all blended.  Add about an eighth-cup of the brown and mix it really well.  Then add about an eighth-cup of the beige and mix it really well again.

See if you like the shade and if it looks like a clay pot.  You can have a clay pot or a picture of one standing by to compare it with.  If it’s not quite right, you can tweak it. 

The orange is the base color, of course, and the red tones down the brightness of the orange.  The brown is to dull the color, so you begin to get that soft terra-cotta hue, and the beige is to lighten it a bit to give it warmth.  If the color seems too bright you can add more red.  If it seems too reddish and not terra-cotta enough, it might need more brown, and if it’s too dark, you can add beige.  You can add the red, brown and beige a little at a time.  Each time you add something, mix it really well to see where your color is at. 

If you add a little extra beige, your pot will look more faded and older.  That can be a nice look.

When you’re satisfied with your color, you’re ready to paint your plastic pot.  Before you put on the terra-cotta color, put a base coat of white or beige on the pot.  This acts as a primer, and allows the pot to accept the colored paint better.  It also helps the colored paint cover the pot better, especially since those plastic pots are often a dark green.

Now acrylic paint works well on plastic, but there’s one thing that’s very important to remember.  The acrylic paint never really bonds to the plastic.  So you have to wait until the first coat is entirely dry before you add a second coat.  Otherwise, the second coat will pull the first one right off.  So give your first coat at least half an hour and maybe up to two hours to dry, depending on the humidity where you’re doing the painting.  This goes for all subsequent coats as well.

You’ll probably need three coats of terra-cotta color to completely cover your pot, and give it that smooth matte finish that clay has.  When the paint is entirely dry and you’re happy with the way it looks, you’re done!

Now you can protect your paint job by spraying the pot with Thompson’s Water Seal.  I wouldn’t personally do it, because I wouldn’t want my pot that’s supposed to be clay to look shiny.  The paint will easily last a summer outside without being water sealed.  But water sealing is an option.

When your pot is done, you’ll be happy with the results, because it really will look remarkably like a clay pot.  You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just get a clay pot.  Well, um, I already had the paints.




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Comments (21)
Ranked #24 in Arts & Crafts

Good article Kathleen

Ranked #24 in Arts & Crafts

Good article Kathleen

Thanks, Jaz!

Impressive work! I do painting with air-brush before and might consider doing it again, thanks Kathleen.

A very good idea, and very well explained. Thank you Kathleen.

Spring and summer apt time for gardening. Thank you Kathleen, Hope to be in your friendship and support.

I love this DIY. Very nice!

Thanks, guys!  Have a great week!

Your article is just what I wanted to find...very well detailed. Thank you.

very good, I enjoyed this article

Great idea Kathleen. Anything that is cost effective and looks so wonderful is well worth taking the time to achieve.

Thanks very much, everyone!

Wow, Kathleen, what a really great "how to."  Your instrcutions are so clear.

I really like this article.  Thanks for the instructions.  BTW...article very nicely composed...

Thanks, guys!

Great idea and very clear instructions.

Great idea and very clear instructions.

Thanks, Kimberly

Lol. I've painted a few items for that reason too. Easy tutorial to follow.

Ranked #2 in Arts & Crafts
Fun idea!
Ranked #80 in Arts & Crafts

Very clever.  Making it look like clay but not having the fragility of clay.