Terra Cotta Repair Techniques

Save That Favorite or Expensive Cracked Pot NOW Before It Gets Worse!

Cracked Pot

Oh-Oh, A Crack In A Favorite Garden Pot … Is Terra Cotta Repair Possible? Yes, Fortunately It Is

Cracks can happen to a favorite (and normally expensive) garden pot at any time. Being left outside in winter to freeze and thaw numerous times isn’t the only culprit of cracking. It could have sustained injury from getting hit, or possibly from a stress line inherent when the pot was fired. What to do? There are a couple of terra cotta repair “tricks” that work.

So, before tossing that broken pot into the trash, try one of these terra cotta repair methods. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.  :-)

NOTE: It is important to bring inside all vulnerable pots BEFORE you experience any freezes. Please refer to my informative article for further instructions: Winter Planter Maintenance

Make it a point to repair cracks before storing pots away for the winter. Understand that if cracks are not repaired, they will worsen as time goes on.

Silicone Caulking Technique

Suitable for Almost All Types Types of Terra Cotta & Clay Pots

Terra Cotta Repair for Glazed or Unglazed Garden Pots

pots clip

Waterproof Silicone Caulking: More often than not this will be a successful fix for small-to-medium cracks.

  • Clean off all dirt thoroughly; washing the garden pot is also recommended
  • Once the pot is clean and dry, pry open the crack slightly with a thin shim
  • Apply waterproof silicone caulk into the crack
  • Remove the shim and wrap a length of wire or cord around the pot to hold the crack closed
  • With pliers, twist the ends of the wires together until the crack is closed and held tight
  • Let the silicone dry thoroughly per manufacturer’s instructions
  • Remove the wire/cord
  • Carefully scrape away any excess silicone if necessary

A word about using “hot glue”: You can give hot glue a try, but I’ve not had good results. I do not recommend it. Though I was able to mend a large crack in a terra cotta pot by smearing a copious amount over the crack, both on the inside AND outside of the pot, this repair only lasted one year. Hot glue cannot effectively adhere to clay or terra cotta.

Wiring the Crack

A Bit More Difficult To Do, This Traditional Technique Lasts Forever

Very Large And/Or Heavy Pots Will Benefit From This Repair Method vs The Silicon Caulking Method

This terra cotta repair requires a drill, a 1/8″ masonry drill bit and non-rusting wire – brass or copper. I saw the highly acclaimed garden pottery maker, Guy Wolff, on a Martha Stewart TV show a few years ago demonstrating this technique on one of his very expensive pots. It didn’t take him much time to do and the repair was not as unsightly as I thought it would be. If this repair technique is good enough for him, then it’s good enough for me, too.

  • Bind or wrap the pot’s circumference, top and bottom with twine or cording to “hold” the pot together
  • Carefully and without exerting too much pressure on the pot, drill a hole on  each side of the crack, below the rim. Each hole should be drilled approximately ½” away from the crack
  • If the crack is long, you may need to drill more holes down along the crack. Space them about 2-½” to 4″ apart down the crack. Repeat this procedure if necessary
  • Use a short length of wire to thread into one set of opposing holes, with the loose ends on the inside of the pot
  • Using pliers, twist the ends of the wire together till tight. Flatten out ends against the side of the pot

Optional step: put silicone into the crack before inserting and tightening the wires, for possible added strength. This method is not as pretty but may last longer than silicone on its own.

Additional reinforcement option: To repair a serious crack, potter Guy Wolff recommends swathing the crack on the pot’s inside with a resinous epoxy such as PC7 before wiring it.

**On a side note: If you’re not familiar with his pots (and you’ll soon see why Martha loves him so much) click here: Guy Wolff

Wiring the Pot’s Circumference

This Terra Cotta Repair Will Work For Small Cracks Below The Rim

A Solution For Smaller Cracks

  • Drill a hole (as per above instructions) on either side of the crack, and drill two holes in the pot directly opposite from the crack – this means half-way around the pot to the other side
  • Thread wire through the set of holes by the crack; wrap the wire around the pot’s outer circumference; push each end into a hole on the opposing side
  • Using pliers, twist the ends of the wire together till tight. Flatten out ends against the side of the pot

No matter which of these methods you decide to try, I wish you good luck! I hope you are able to save that garden pot!

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