How to Spray Paint Ceramic Items

The easiest way to change anything in your home including glazed ceramics is with paint, but when you use spray paint, it is even easier to create a perfect new color and finish on a ceramics and decorative item in your home in minutes.

Go bold or pastel. Choose matte or shiny… you are the now the designer of the item. Transform it to fit your needs and decorating style.

Do you have a lamp that you no longer longer like the color? Spray paint it! How about updating any decorative item in your home that no longer speaks to you because of its color, but you like the object itself, the shape or its use?

In less than 10 minutes, you can easily change the color of practically any item you own without having to leave home.

Can You Spray Paint Ceramic Items Like Planters?

Yes, you can spray paint ceramics like the Italian style glazed ceramic planter shown below or any ceramic item. Spray paint comes in many formulas and sheens so you also have many options besides color to choose from.

What Paint Will Stick to Glazed Ceramics?

Paint will stick to glazed ceramics as long as you prep the piece before painting. With the right prep work any paint will stick following these spray painting steps.

  1. Sand surface with 100 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface to provide some tooth for the primer and paint to stick to. Wash and let dry.
  2. Use a spray primer first or use a Primer+Paint spray paint formula in one. Shake the can well and apply one light coat. Let dry.
  3. Next shake the spray paint can and apply one even coat, let dry for about 5-8 minutes and then add another light coat, let dry.
  4. If using a gloss or semi-gloss paint, there is no need to seal.
  5. If you want to seal your item – use Minwax Polycrylic in a spray formula.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Ceramic?

To get a nice smooth and even painted finish when painting ceramics, it is best to use spray paint. Brush-on paint will show brushstrokes and the finish and the coats will look uneven.

Choose spray paint in a gloss or semi-gloss finish. Most major spray paint brands like Rustoleum, Krylon, Valspar, and others come in all sheen finishes.

BEFORE: Glazed Ceramic Planter

Can I Paint Glazed Ceramics like this planter.

I bought this planter for it’s size and shape, not for its existing painted design and color.

I knew from the beginning I would be changing it with a can of spray paint to look like this…

White terracotta ceramic glazed planter vase being placed on a coffee table
Photo credit: Studio McGee

…large big bowl style white planter.

Ever since I saw this planter, I have been looking for affordable planters in the similar size and shape and have not been able to find one.

AFTER: White Spray Painted Glazed Ceramic Planter

White spray painted planter filled with white hydrangeas on coffee table

Now with a half can of spray paint, I have something like it for my own coffee table for 1/4 of the price.

Where to find: Moss Spheres | Glass Slab Coasters | Faux White Hydrangeas

With a can of spray primer, spray paint or a combo of the two in a spray paint is all you need and a drop cloth like a flattened cardboard box to transform an item.

If you don’t have spray paint on hand, it can be found and ordered at many online retailers for delivery right to your front door from Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Target and Michaels.

Before and After Planter Makeover

When spray painting any item, here are a few easy steps to make sure you get a very smooth finish no matter what brand of spray paint and primer you use.

How to Spray Paint a Glazed or Ceramic Item

Ceramic planter getting prepped before painting with sandpaper

supplies needed:

  • Spray primer, spray paint or paint + primer in one spray paint formula
  • 100 grit sandpaper
  • Painter’s tape
  • Face mask

Time needed: 10 minutes

How to Spray Paint Glazed or Ceramic Items

  1. How Should You Prep Before Painting a Glazed or Ceramic Item?


    To prep the surface for spray paint on a glazed or a ceramic item, first go over the entire surface of the item with 100 grit sandpaper.

    Apply enough pressure to remove some of the sheen, but not too hard that you make deep scratch marks.

    How to get the perfect finish when spray painting ceramics.

  2. Clean the Surface Well


    Clean the sanded surface well with hot water and detergent to remove the sanding grit and any dirt or grease. Rinse well, let dry.

  3. Mask Off Areas


    If you don’t want certain areas to get painted, mask them off using Painter’s tape and scrap paper.
    How you should prep a ceramic item before spray painting.

  4. Place the Item on a Flattened Box to Paint


    To make spray painting easy, place the item on a piece of rigid cardboard, like a flattened cardboard box outside on your grass. This will act as a turntable to make turning the item on your work surface, or even the ground, easy. You can turn the cardboard with one hand and use your other hand to spray the paint making sure to get all sides and parts of the item as you spray.

  5. Begin Spraying On the Paint


    Always wear a face mask that covers your mouth and nose to protect you from breathing in the fumes.

    Every brand of spray paint has directions to follow on the can and you should read them to make sure you have all their painting conditions met – like outside temp, humidity etc.

    Shake the can well for at least a minute. Then begin spraying the surface from about 8 inches away. Use sweeping motions to get a first light coat of coverage. Wait 3 minutes and then repeat the process adding one more light coat. Wait another 3 – 5 minutes and repeat by spraying on another light coat to make sure you have the entire surface covered.
    IMPORTANT: You must get all the coats of spray paint on in the first hour. If this is not possible, then wait 48 hours, then add a remaining coat of paint to get total coverage. If you don’t wait, and spray paint another coat on after the first hour, the paint could wrinkle and wreck the finish.

  6. How Long Does It Take Spray Painted Ceramics to Dry


    After your item is covered, bring it inside on the cardboard and let it sit in a garage or least used room in your home overnight. Depending on the heat and humidity, the piece will take about 8 – 24 hours to completely dry. Smooth white spray painted finish on a terra cotta planter.

What Spray Paint is the Best to Use When Painting Glazed or Any Ceramic Item?

To paint the already glazed finish on the terra cotta planter, I used a spray paint primer left over from a previous project that I had in my garage. I knew I had to use a primer as a base coat, but after the primer dried, the new white semi-matte finish was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t even need to add a finishing coat using a matte white paint.

I used Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Multi Purpose Spray Paint, White Primer

Over 35 + years of using all different brands and formulas of spray paint, I like this Painter’s Touch 2x Ultra Cover line of spray paint made by Rust-Oleum. It comes in a primer, as well as many colors and sheens. It is the best for any surface, not just ceramic. It goes fast with even coverage and dries quickly. If you are going to buy a can of spray paint for a project, this is my favorite.

White spray painted planter on table.

If you want more spray painting tips to ensure you get a perfect finish, you will find more on my post: Pro Spray Painting Tips and Tricks

What is the best spray paint to use on ceramic items?

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35 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I tried your method today. We will see in a few days how well it turned out, but looks great so far. Thank you.

  2. Lena Jordan says:

    Hi, is that safe to use for food plates as well? also, will it survive a dishwasher afterwards?

    1. You’d need specific paint for food surfaces. Typically they’re not dishwasher safe. But maybe there’s a sealant that helps?

  3. Jayne Owen says:

    Your article on spray painting ceramic was just what I was looking for! Easy tips and instructions. Thank you!
    -J. Owen

  4. Hi and thanks for this post. I’m wondering if the item will smell indoors? I’m a plant lady and I use only white planters in my house….so I plan on spraying some glazed ceramic planters white. Thanks.

    1. Hi, no once this dries it will have zero smell indoors. You can also spray paint the outside of unglazed terra cotta pots. I have sprayed many planters to use indoors.

  5. Hello. I have a green clay pot that has a glassy green paint on it. Instead of spray pain, I would like to pour another bright color on it. To look dripped on, if that makes sense. Can I use your technique for this and what kind of paint would you recommend.
    I can’t see how I can send a picture of it.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Rita – Do you want the pot to be a new color as well as have a bright color drips on it? If so you can spray paint the pot, let dry and then use a glossy paint or even gloss craft paint in the color you want and simply pour it over and around the top edge of the pot to create a drippy finish.

  6. Beautiful job! Thank you for the lesson.
    I just received these two yellow ceramic glazed birds and am so disappointed with the boring yellow. I can’t return them so I wondered about repainting them with a color I liked. Can I use your technique with these? They have a very glossy finish. I’d like to use a glossy brighter yellow paint. If so, can I use the Rustoleum’s mix of primer and paint? I think you said it’s ok to use the mix. What would you recommend?
    Thank you for your help and information!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lisa –

      Yes you can paint the shiny ceramic glazed birds.

      To paint them, sand the surface well using 100 grit sandpaper. Clean the grit off well and let dry. Use a spray primer first – a light coat is all that is needed, let dry and then a light coat of spray paint – after about 5 minutes, add another light coat to get coverage. All your coats of paint need to be added within an hour or you risk wrinkling.

      Don’t forget to shake the cans well before using. Also if you can find a spray paint formula in the color you want that is a Primer + Paint formula in one, then you can use that instead of a separate primer and paint.

  7. I think this method is fabulous, a tip from me… I painted a plastic pot with chalk paint and then spray painted over that- no sanding required. It has held up great so far. Happy diy’ing

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Chantal – That is great idea when you want a certain color on a piece made of plastic to use the chalk paint as a primer… and to hear it works
      – that is a nice option to have. It also allows us not to have to go out and buy a special paint, but use what we already have in our paint supplies. Thanks for sharing the tip.

  8. Amy Norton says:

    I did the exact process on my outdoor ceramics but they were outdoors all year and the paint has all flaked off? I used the same primer, then paint and then glossy topcoat. Thoughts on what I should do differently if they will be in the outdoor elements? The one that stayed inside is fine.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Amy – Outdoor conditions can play havoc on any surface, especially painted. 5 years ago I painted plastic resin pots that I have herbs growing in. These posts are out all year long and look as good today as they did when I painted them. One of my spring projects is to repaint them, but not because they need it, I only want a color change and will use the exact paint and process I did before. Here is the post about it with all the details. If you do this for your outdoor ceramics, I would sand them well first. Having a good amount of “tooth” for any paint to stick to a surface is always a good thing. https://inmyownstyle.com/making-outdoor-chalk-paint.html

      1. Amy Norton says:

        Thank you! I didn’t sand so maybe that was the problem!

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Amy – Sanding is the step that no one likes to do, but it is needed. Even just a quick going over with 100 grit sandpaper will help with adhesion.

  9. Lynn Woodall says:

    I don’t have a ceramic pot, but I do have a couple of large plastic pots that have been used outdoors for a few years, and are looking worse-for-wear. I’m going to try your spray paint idea on them. Thanks for the inspo!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lynn – I have painted a lot of plastic pots. If you are going to buy spray paint, make sure it says for all surfaces. Most newer formulas do nowadays, but a few are only for metal or wood. Rustoleum even has a spray paint line and a plastic primer just for plastic in a few basic colors.

      1. Lynn Woodall says:

        Thanks for your spray paint suggestions!

  10. I’m probably in the minority, but I kind of liked the original planter.
    But your spray painting technique is, as always, flawless.
    So the finished piece is stunning too.
    I always get impatient – and end up with drips.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kat – The design on the pot is classic and I did feel a little guilty changing it, but personal style always wins for me. :-) Hope you are doing well.

    2. I agree. Why anyone would paint over that beautiful colorful pot is puzzling to me.

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Julie – It is a classic style planter, very nice if you like the style and colors on it. But what if either don’t fit your style of decorating? If the shape is perfect though, spray paint can give you the look/color you want easily when you find a bargain at a thrift store.

  11. Leslie Thornton says:

    Thank you!!!

  12. ?, great job! I’m going on a hunt through the house to find something to paint?

  13. Oh Diane, you are so clever. I painted a very small planter a while back with acrylic paint but I would have never thought of painting such a large piece. This looks amazing. Thanks so much for the help. You and Ed stay well! XXOO

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Vikki – That is the beauty of spray paint, it offers a smooth finish over a large area, fast… and no brush strokes. I hope you are doing OK. Stay well in VA. :-)

  14. Oh that’s the mistake I’ve made! I’ve added extra coats the next day and didn’t look smooth. Thanks for the tip to do it all in one hour!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Holly – Getting all the coats on in an hour and only applying them lightly in a sweeping motion every 5 minutes will give you a nice smooth finsih. Also.. don’t forget to keep shaking the can between coats. :-)

  15. So pretty and exactly what you wanted!! Great idea ? Thanks!

  16. Love this final look!
    Great idea . . .
    You are STILL the best DIY ever!

  17. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    Looks so good! The shape is so perfect

  18. I am a fan of repurposing or painting to fit your style. You are always so good at this, having a vision of what your end project will be. This is a great example and it turned out perfect. I have been enjoying your blog for years, by the way. Thank you!

  19. Dee McFarland says:

    What a great idea! And thanks for sharing your tips on spraying ceramic. Would you mind sharing the dimensions of this pot?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Dee – The pot’s dimensions are 10.5″ wide, by 8.5″ high.