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Painted terracotta pot on an outdoor dining table

Overview

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.

Steps

1Clean 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.

2Add 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 your internal sealer on the inside of your pot – this will protect your plant from the chemicals used in the paint. It will also make sure that moisture inside the pot doesn't cause the paint to peel. Hold the can 15 to 20 centimetres away from the surface of the pot and apply a light, even coat.

DIY - Step 2 - Team member spraying pots with primer - How to upcycle terracotta pots - Emily.jpg

3Add 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.

DIY - Step 3 - Team member spraying pots - How to upcycle terracotta pots - Emily.jpg

4Paint 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.

DIY - Step 4 - Team member painting pots - How to upcycle terracotta pots - Emily.jpg

5Remove 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.

DIY - Step 5 - Team member applying tape to pots - How to upcycle terracotta pots - Emily.jpg

6Choose 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.

7Keep 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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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. 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.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.