How to Use Chalk Paint on Terra Cotta Pots

chalk paint flower pots
Lauren Thomann / The Spruce
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $25

If you are looking for an easy chalk paint project that you can complete in an afternoon, this beginner-friendly tutorial will show you how to paint terra cotta pots using chalky-finish paint. Chalky paint is great for distressing items, giving them an antique look. Often items that are aged or distressed work well with many styles of decor, namely farmhouse, rustic, coastal, and shabby chic. Paint your flower pots to match your home's decor style, and in the process, your old mismatched flower pots will look like they make up a cohesive flower pot collection. The finished product is durable enough for indoor or outdoor use. You'll have plenty of paint left over to match other items in the room, such as picture frames, candlesticks, even old tables can get a facelift with chalk-finish paint.

What Is Chalk Paint?

Chalky-finish paint resembles a surface covered in chalk, giving items a flat, matte-looking appearance. It is different from chalkboard paint; you can't write on it as you can with chalkboard paint. This latex-based paint cleans up with water instead of mineral spirits.


Lay down newspaper, contractor's paper, or a drop cloth to protect your work surface from paint spills, splatter, or drips.

Chalk paint is sometimes too thick. You might need to prepare the paint for use. It's best to dilute it with a few drops of water to create a medium—not too thick, not too thin—consistency.

If you're repurposing an old terra cotta pot from your garden or something that has been previously used, make sure to wash out the terra cotta pot well, removing all dirt and residue.


When working with any paint, fumes can irritate the eyes and lungs. Don protective gear like a dust mask or respirator (N95), gloves, and goggles to protect your skin and eyes from paint splatter.


Make Terracotta Planters Truly Unique With This Simple Trick

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 2 Paint brushes
  • Sanding block
  • Dust mask or respirator
  • Goggles
  • Gloves


  • Chalky-finish paint
  • Wax sealant
  • Terra cotta pot
  • 2 Lint-free cloths



  1. Clean Terra Cotta Pot Thoroughly

    If you're reusing flower pots, it's essential to clean the pots first to remove any dirt and debris. Run cool water over the pot and scrub with a clean brush. If you use soap, make sure to rinse the flower pot thoroughly. Allow the pot to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

    painting flower pots
    Lauren Thomann / The Spruce
  2. Apply the First Layer of Chalk Paint

    Use a painter's brush to apply an even coat of chalk paint to the terra cotta pot. We opted to only paint the exterior of the flower pots and left the inside unpainted. Brush away any drips before proceeding.

    painting flower pots with chalk paint
    Lauren Thomann / The Spruce
  3. Dab on a Second Color

    For an ombre effect, take a second paintbrush and dab on a second color of chalky paint. For better blending, do this step before the first color has completely dried. Dab on some of the initial color and continue to blend by dabbing. Continue using this process until you like how it looks. Allow the pot to dry. Most chalky-finish paint dries to the touch in a couple of hours.

    What Is Ombre?

    Ombre is an artistic technique that blends a kaleidoscope of hues, moving from dark to light or vice versa. It's reminiscent of a gorgeous sunset that blends orange, red, blue, and purple shades.

    painting a flower pot
     Lauren Thomann / The Spruce
  4. Distress the Pots as Desired

    If you want your flower pots to look aged, you can distress the pot using a sanding block. Once the paint is dry to the touch, gently rub the sanding block along the edges and raised sections of the pot. The harder you press, the more paint you will remove. The idea is to expose the base color underneath a little, adding character to the pots.

    chalk paint flower pot tutorial
    Lauren Thomann / The Spruce
  5. Apply a Wax Finish

    Once you are happy with the finished look, apply a coat of wax sealant. This step is optional if the pot will not be used as a flowerpot that comes into contact with water, but it is highly recommended since it extends the paint job's life. There are several types of waxes and finishes for chalk paint. Pick any sealing wax and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

    In most cases, apply the wax with a lint-free cloth. Wipe off excess wax with a fresh lint-free cloth. The wax will appear white in the container, but it applies clear; do not worry about its initial appearance. Expect that the wax will slightly deepen the color of the chalk paint.


    If you plan on using the flower pots outdoors, you must use sealing wax to protect the chalk paint from bleeding or fading.

    how to paint terracotta pots with chalk paint
    Lauren Thomann / The Spruce
  6. Wait for the Pots to Dry Before Use

    Once the finish is applied and no longer wet, you're done! Painting flower pots is fun and easy, allowing you to practice chalk paint techniques on a smaller scale.

    chalk painted flower pots
    Lauren Thomann / The Spruce

How to Keep the Paint Looking Fresh

To maintain the look of the chalky finish, reapply sealing wax as needed. If you decide you want to change the color completely, lightly sand with a fine-grit sanding block to remove the waxy finish and apply a new chalk paint by repeating the steps in this tutorial.

  • What kind of paint do you use on terra cotta pots?

    Acrylic paint works well for terra cotta pots, as its water-based nature allows for easy cleanup and it comes in lots of colors. Spray paint can get a job done quickly. And chalk paint can provide a chic distressed look.

  • Do you have to prime terra cotta pots before painting?

    Primer isn’t essential, but it will help you get more even coverage with your paint job. However, if your goal is a shabby chic look with some of the terra cotta showing through, you can skip the primer.

  • What is chalk paint?

    Chalk paint is formulated with powders, such as plaster of Paris or calcium carbonate, that give it a matte, chalky finish. It is commonly used in shabby chic design, as it makes surfaces appear to have a slightly distressed look.