Painting pots, containers?

sudimari(z5 IN)March 23, 2009

I have an assortment of plastic pots, window boxes, etc. and loved the pictures of the bright red painted pots in another thread. I'm thinking I could spend the time between now and when it's actually safe to fill my containers with plants with that as well as my trellis project.

What kinds of paints will work well on the plastic, without costing a fortune? What kind of pre-cleaning and/or pretreatment will they require?

I'm assuming you don't paint the inside, so how do you paint the rim and prevent chipping?

What brushes or other application tools have you had the best luck with?

Do you need to paint in a shady area? The easiest place to work for me would be the back patio, but it is in full sun all afternoon & into the evening. Does the painting and drying need to be done out of direct sunlight?

Any other tips? or suggestions you can offer would be appreciated!



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Both Rustoleum and Krylon make spray paints specifically for plastic. They can be found anywhere that sells ordinary spray paints. They have regular finishes, hammered finish, metallic and textured paints. Below is Krylon's website featuring their plastic paints so you can see what I'm talking about. I'm sure other brands also feature the same paints but I have always found that Rustoleum and Krylon are good quality.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plastic Paint Products

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 12:01AM
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Lindasewandsew was the one who painted the pots. She may be busy with her new landscaping project.

I know a couple of things that may help get you started. Scrub everything with vinegar water or bleach water. Dry completely in the sun. They make a spray paint for plastic now. (Lowes or Home Depot or Ace ect.) I used exterior satin house paint on some terra cotta pots and it is holding up fine. I've seen pots painted on the inside only a few inches down. Then the dirt covers up the bottom and lower sides. I've had oil paint bubble up on me when left to dry in the sun. You were right about probably needing to paint at a time that the sun is not so hot. I would not use an expensive brush to paint flower pots. I would not use a sponge paint brush either. I would check with Linda for further info. I'm excited for you!!!!!! Susie

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 12:14AM
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lindasewandsew(So Cal 9)

Hello, my name is Linda and I'm addicted to painting pots red, lol. Wash the pots with soap and water (or vinegar or bleach), then let them dry completely. Sand ceramic and smooth plastic pots just to sand the shine off so the paint will stick better (wipe the dust off with a slightly damp rag). Zinsser Bullseye latex primer works nice, and can be painted over in less than an hour. Any decent brand exterior paint will work fine over it. Interior products don't hold up outside. I never paint in the hot sun. Being a midnight gardener helps, but in the daytime they're painted and dried in the shade. They can be tucked under a table or anything that will shade them. Latex dries fast. The inside top, rim, and most of the outside can be painted. Let dry, then turn it upside down and paint what's left. Sometimes, they get 2 coats.

When I paint porous pots, like terra cotta, I seal them inside with car undercoating spray (Pep Boys has it). Black roof patch that is brushed on also works, but is probably messier. Use this a day before painting. This should keep the water from seeping through and lifting the paint off the outside of the pot. Prime and paint just like the plastic pots. I paint the top few inches of the inside of the pot. The car undercoating can be painted over (not sure about the roof patch). I use paint brushes or sponge rollers, depending on the pot. If the pot has a raised design, use a contrasting color and brush it lightly with a somewhat dry paintbrush. If it's not dark enough, go over it a few more times to make the color deeper so the pattern shows more.

I also like oil base (alkyd) industrial paint. It stinks, and takes about 18 hours to dry, but looks nice and is very tough. Metal pots can be painted with this without primer.

I usually don't let pots sit in water, but have painted some pot saucers with the same paints, which have had water in them for at least a few weeks and the paint held up just fine.

The weather here is mild, so most of mine get planted on the same day, but don't get watered for a day. Linda

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 1:27AM
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I've long used Krylon's Fusion spray paint, for plastic things. No prep other than just hosing off stuff is all I did. It wears great, and is safe enough for children's toys they say. And comes in lots of great colors too.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 4:52AM
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sudimari(z5 IN)

I'm not so good with spray paint, and I'm also concerned about the cost. Let's face it, depending on you accuracy or lack thereof (and it never fails I start spray painting and the wind picks up) you can go through a can of spray paint pretty darned fast. I know they periodically will have it on I guess I'll watch the ads.

Buying 1 or 2 smaller cans of outside paint and using a brush (I'll have to buy one I think) would be more cost effective I think. And allow me to be a lot more particular about the color. AND match any future pots to my existing ones.

I would have never thought to do the contrasting color to emphasize the you do this on plastic as well as terra cotta/clay?

well, i guess i better get shopping for cushions so I can figure out what colors I want to use!


    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 11:46AM
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If you do deside to try spray paint:
Tie a cloth over your nose/mouth.
Wear a hat.
Put item in a cardboard box turned away from the wind. (I have even painted metal chairs in a refrigerator box.) A lot less paint waist.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 12:19PM
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lindasewandsew(So Cal 9)

You can paint the contrasting color on anything that has bumps, lumps, etc. Let the first coat dry. That could take 15 minutes to an hour if it's water base paint. Put a little contrasting paint on a brush (you can also do this with a rag or sponge), scrape the brush on the paint can several times to remove excess paint, then just brush lightly on the high spots. Let it dry some if you do it more than once. If you mess it up, just paint the original color and start over. Sometimes if it doesn't come out right, it ends up looking better than you planned. These pots were painted blue, then the red was lightly brushed on, probably 2 or 3 times. Linda

HD and Lowe's sell mis mixed paint for $5 a gallon and $1 a quart. Habitat ReStores have a good selection of donated paints for about the same price, maybe less, sometimes free. Most people have left over house paint sitting around and would probably give it away. Sometimes the 99¢ stores have sets of cheap paint brushes. They're good enough for this job. Linda

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 3:50PM
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sudimari(z5 IN)

Well, after the physical crash I had last year (major fatigue/fibro episode) I am NOW painting my pots! I have a big container of the primer (bout the eco-friendly one from Zimmer called Zero) same quality but I can do it indoors with no fume issues! I have 3 quart cans of bright glossy outdoor latex, and another outdoor top coat white (found at my community household hazardous waste facility) to mix a bit of older outdoor maroon type that is really thick (from a freecycler) into to make a creamy slightly pinkish for the wood chairs I need to refinish.

I think I started off with using too thin a coat of the primer, so that has been adjusted and I should be doing colors by midweek. I have some of the textured designs in plastic (and one on a metal bowl I'm using for a bird waterer/bath) that I want to really snap.

I think the technique above will work well for the metal bowl...which I was thinking bright blue....maybe I'll use yellow to accent the design, and then under the water it should be really interesting. But I'm not so sure on the plastic.

If I outline the design in a darker color first (say the blue or a black) and then cover that area lightly with red or yellow...will that cause a shadowing effect do you think?

Also you may note in the pictures that I have a few places where the primer dripped and I scrape at that with sandpaper or a putty knife before painting the color?

Here is a link that might be useful: painting pots album

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 1:45PM
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I think they will look really nice once they are painted. More like pottery than plastic. I agree, I'd use some sandpaper on the drips just so they wouldn't be so noticeable. Keep those pictures coming!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 11:30PM
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Sandplum1(z7 Seminole, OK)

If the warm weather keeps up, I may try this! Thanks for the painting tips, Lindasewand sew. Am going to search Sudimari's name to see if she posted finished pics.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 9:06AM
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