Can You Paint Terracotta Pots With Emulsion?

Planting and growing your own flowers, herbs, and vegetables is a fun and fulfilling pastime. But why settle for plain planters when you can create personalized planters using terracotta pots and paint? With a little bit of creativity and effort, you can transform your simple terracotta pots into unique pieces of art that will make your humble abode and garden look and feel much more inviting. 

But which paint should you use? Could emulsion paint be fit for the job? Here is everything you are going to want to know, do, and consider.

So, can you paint terracotta pots with emulsion? You can paint terracotta pots with emulsion, and they do tend to come out particularly well. However, you will need to sand, seal and may want to apply primer, too, to ensure a long-lasting and effective finish. 

I’ve detailed the necessary steps below, and if you’re interested in options other than emulsions, I’ve delved into those too!

Read on to find out, and then go ahead and grab your supplies! 

How To Paint Emulsion On Terracotta Pots

Emulsion paint is water-based paint that is usually applied with a brush or roller.

It is available in an extensive range of colors and finishes, making it suitable for most surfaces.

The paint is thicker and more opaque than other traditional paints.

Plus, it’s non-toxic, eco-friendly, and dries relatively quickly, so it appears to be a prime candidate! 

That being said, there are a few best practices to adhere to when painting terracotta pots with emulsion paints. As follows:

Prepare The Pot Surface

First and foremost, you’ll need to prepare the surface of the pot.

Doing so will ensure that the emulsion paint is able to adhere to it well.

The best way to go about this is to sand the pot lightly, thereby creating an even surface all-round.

Once you’ve finished sanding, don’t forget to brush off any remaining dust and debris. 

Paint With Emulsion

Next, proceed to paint the terracotta pots with the emulsion color of your choice.

Once you’ve applied the first coat, wait for it to dry before applying the second.

Typically, you’ll want to apply at least two coats.

Essentially, keep going until you achieve the seamless finish and coverage that you’re after!

With each layer of paint, the pots will become more durable too! 

Seal The Emulsion

Once you’ve finished painting, it’s a good idea to seal the emulsion paint in.

Many gardeners swear by Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) glue for the job.

It’s a powerful adhesive and sealant, and best of all; it’s waterproof!

This is the one to buy from Amazon should you need some!

Additionally, whilst it’s not necessary, you could even seal the pots prior to painting.

Doing so will help the paint to last even longer but may threaten to reduce the pot’s overall breathability.

To avoid the latter, simply opt for a water-based primer. 

Other Paints You Can Use On Terracotta Pots

Whether you’ve decided that emulsion paint isn’t for you, or you’re simply curious to find out what else is out there, you’ll be pleased to know that you do indeed have options. Read on to explore the best of them. 

Acrylic Paint 

When it comes to sprucing up terracotta pots, acrylic paint tends to be the most popular of them all.

There are a few reasons for this.

First, its easy-to-use nature means that its fit for novice painters and art experts alike.

Additionally, and rather importantly, acrylic paint is both innately thick and highly pigmented, so you won’t need too many coats to achieve the finish that you desire.

Once it has dried, you can rely on it to retain its look for a long while without the need for any touch-ups.

Finally, it’s easy to find, available in the full spectrum of imaginable colors, and, best of all, it’s inexpensive.  

Spray Paint 

Whilst they may sound messy, spray paints are also an undeniably worthy mention here.

With just a spray primer and the spray paint of your choice, you’ll quite literally transform your pots in no time.

The approach is the most efficient one, and you’ll only need a couple of coats of paint.

Plus, its oil-based nature only serves to increase its resilience in the face of both general wear and tear and adverse weather conditions.

Latex Paint

Yet another respectable option.

Latex paint is non-toxic, fast drying, and easy to clean up by way of its water-based composition.

You’ll find that it’s readily available in both gloss and matt varieties, and whilst it hasn’t traditionally been considered the most stain and wear-resistant paint around, it can be relied on to not yellow over time, and its thin nature makes touch-ups an absolute breeze! 

Of course, no matter which paints type you opt for, remember to prepare the pot first by sanding it down and applying a primer, and once the paint has dried, don’t forget to seal in your efforts!

Other Tips And Suggestions When Painting Emulsion On Terracotta Pots

Tool Check 

Before you get started, it’s worth making sure that you have the tools that you’ll need to hand.

This includes the sanding tool, primer, paint, paintbrush, and sealant.

With a well-equipped work station, you’ll be as efficient as you possibly can and won’t have to worry about moving around here and there to find what you need.

When it comes to DIY, an organized approach always prevails. 

Pot Quality 

Before you go ahead and paint with the emulsion, it’s important to evaluate the pots themselves.

It’s ideal to start with new pots.

They’re less porous than older ones, making them much easier to paint.

However, if you’re working with old pots, just remember to wash and clean them first before sanding and smoothing them down once dry. 

Don’t Rush

Don’t skip right to the painting.

Rather, it’s a process, and you have few steps to undertake.

Once you’ve sanded the pot to make it more adhesive, you’ll want to make sure to clean it of debris and dust prior to painting.

When you apply your paint, do so evenly.

Finally, make sure that your pots are completely dry before you place them in your garden.

A patient approach will serve you well! 


To maintain the fresh look of your pots, it’s a pretty good idea to repaint them, or at least touch them up, on an annual basis.

A glance at your pots will quickly tell you whether or not this is necessary, but if you live in a humid or rainy climate, more frequent touchups will likely be necessary. 

Sourcing The Emulsion 

You’ll easily be able to find emulsion paints either online or in any arts and crafts store.

In fact, you’ll be spoiled for choice both by the ease of access as well as the wide range of colors and finishes you subsequently come across. 

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