How to upcycle terracotta pots

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How to upcycle terracotta pots

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There’s no need to buy expensive new pots to give your garden a whole new look – just update the ones you’ve got with a lick of paint and some nifty know-how.

Tools and materials:

Bucket

External sealer

Face mask

Internal sealer

Paint brushes and mini rollers

Paint in colours of your choice

Terracotta pots – new or old

Primer

Sand paper

Stiff brush

Tape

Washing detergent

tools and materials

1. Clean and prep your pots

If you’re working with an old pot you may need to give it a sand or a scrub so you’ve got a nice, smooth surface to work with. Clean it first, using warm, soapy water and let it dry. Then use a steel brush or coarse sponge to remove any marks and sand using 220-grit sandpaper. If you’re using a new terracotta pot – like we are – you may skip this step. But a word of warning: a lot of new pots have a fine residue of dust or hard-to-remove stickers and price tags – this all has to go. Soak in warm water, and then use a steel brush or sponge to remove any extra dirt or sticker glue before sanding.

2. Add your internal primer

Next up, add your primers – wear a mask to protect from the fumes for this bit (it can be a bit stinky and noxious). First spray on your internal sealer to the inside of your pot – this will protect your plant from any of the chemicals used in the paint. It will also make sure that any moisture that gets in there doesn't rub the paint of your pot. Hold the can 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimetres) away from the surface of the pot, and apply a light, even coat.

spray the pots

3. Add your external primer

Evenly spray your external primer (or sealer) to the outside of your pot using the same technique. Again, this will protect your pot from the paint and chemicals, and also extend its lifespan.

coating the pots

4. Paint your pots

Choose your main colour and apply two coats of paint with a paintbrush or roller (if you’re using a roller, pour the paint into a tray first). Each coat will need anything from 15 minutes to two hours to dry. 

If you’re using two tones, apply your painters’ tape and paint the second colour. Using painters’ tape will allow for a nice, neat line where the two colours meet. Stick it down well to make sure no paint bleeds through, and use small sections of tape for precision. If you want your pot patterned, use the tape to create your desired effect – zigzags patterns look particularly good.

paint the pots

5. Remove your tape

Wait two hours for your next colour to dry (like the first, best to apply two coats), and then carefully remove your tape. When you take this off, make sure you do it slowly and carefully so as not to take off any of your new paint with it.

tape the pots for additional paint

6. Choose a place for your pot

In just a few easy steps you’ve turned your old pot into something beautiful. How easy was that? Experiment with different paint colours and techniques and voila! A stylish garden makeover.

Keep watching

Watch the full episode and more D.I.Y. projects from Make It Yours Episode 3: Backyard Makeover by Tim and Mat.

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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