I find terracotta pots are one of the good options for growing plants in containers. But one problem with terracotta is that it is brittle and may crack if it falls or due to the cold weather. I wanted to find out what the best glue was to fix the pot.
A glue that contains marine epoxy is best for terracotta pots. The epoxy is strong and durable which will increase the lifespan of your terracotta pots. This epoxy is also waterproof so it will not get washed away when it rains or when watering the plant.
There are so many different glues on the market, but you want to use a product that will not only fix the problem but will keep the repair long-term. Any glue will not work on a terracotta pot, as the material is dense, porous, and relatively fragile. Continue reading to find out what terracotta actually is and the different glues that will keep your pots held together best.
What is Terracotta?
To understand why you need a particular glue for terracotta, you must first understand the make-up of terracotta itself. Terracotta has been around for centuries. It has been used throughout history but was actually the only clay product used up until the 14th century. This is a natural, beautifully red clay that is extracted from the earth in areas where it is naturally occurring. Terracotta is actually derived from the Italian language meaning “baked earth.”
You can see why this translation of “baked earth” makes sense, as terracotta, in order to be used, is heated to scorchingly high temperatures of 1,000-2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the clay has been completely baked, it is removed from the heat and either taken straight to use, or coated with a glaze to keep the terracotta from absorbing water. With many planting pots though, the terracotta is typically unglazed and thus is a bit more vulnerable to water absorption.
In ancient times, without the luxury of modern-day technology, many people would shape the terracotta clay to their liking and heat the clay over open fires or within their own handmade ovens. This would help to dry the clay to create items such as bowls, spoons, cooking utensils, pots, and even roofs. Terracotta is a very versatile natural product and has the capability to be used in many different areas, whether it be for fun or a specific purpose.
What Glue to Use for Terracotta Repairs
There you are, looking at your once-perfect terracotta pot, but it now has a nasty crack to its side that makes planting virtually impossible. This may seem like the end of your rope because there is no way you can get your pot back to its previous state of function. In this case, though, you would be wrong!
Luckily, there are gluing options that can fix and maintain the structure and strength of your pot in no time at all. The best glues for terracotta repairs are:
- Epoxy Adhesives
- Marine Epoxy Adhesives
- Super Glues
Epoxy adhesives are great because they combine two beautifully compatible components, a resin, and a hardener. To get a bit more scientific here, once the resin is mixed with a particular catalyst, curing ensues.
Curing is the process where covalent bonds are established between the resin and the hardener (which is the catalyst) and results in a cross-linkage with the polymer. When this reaction and linking is complete, the result is a super strength epoxy.
You want the glue you use to repair to be rigid and strong, which is exactly what epoxy adhesives offer. Epoxy adhesives are not only strong, but they have fantastic heat resistance, incredible adhesion abilities, and can even be used for insulating small electrical projects. This adhesive is extremely versatile and once you have finished fixing up your broken terracotta pot, the glue can be used for dozens of other household projects.
Speaking of projects, one thing to keep in mind is the different types of epoxy adhesives that are offered. They are offered as either one component or two-component systems. One component systems are better suited for environmental and chemical resistance. What is most important about one component systems is that their cure time is much shorter than two-component systems.
This means that you will be able to repair your pot and have the project completed at a much faster rate than if you were to use a two-component system. By using the one-component system, the glue will cure quickly and you can be on your way without having to worry about stabilizing the pieces of your pot for lengthy amounts of time in order to keep them from coming apart, sliding off, or collapsing in.
Marine Epoxy Adhesives
With the word “epoxy” in the middle of this, it is not hard to guess that this product is very similar to regular epoxy adhesives. But let’s say that your broken terracotta pot is in an area that is very exposed to the elements. If element exposure is going to be the norm for your pot, then so is rain and with rain, you may want a glue that is more water-resistant.
Marine epoxy adhesives are just like your usual run-of-the-mill epoxies. The only difference with this strand of epoxies is that marine epoxies are specially made to be durable in water. What is so interesting about marine epoxies is that the types made for industrial use can be applied to ships and other large equipment that is constantly underwater. Now, I know your terracotta pot will not be fifty feet deep in the Indian ocean, but it will see rain no doubt.
Because of the inevitability of water exposure, for those pots in exposed natural settings, it may be wise to use a marine epoxy adhesive. A regular epoxy adhesive would be fine for this project, but the water-tight component of a marine epoxy will likely extend the durability of the bond and will also help to keep the bond from deteriorating at a faster rate. As they say, if you are going to do a job, then do it right and a marine epoxy helps to do just that.
Epoxy may seem like a foreign word to some. It is a bit technical and those who are not in the big business of repairs are likely unfamiliar with the term. However, when you say super glue, a nice feeling of familiarity comes to most.
Superglue has been around for ages. We have seen it used to mend the tiniest of toys and watched it turn a broken chair into the next best seat for Thanksgiving dinner. Superglue has many uses, one being repairing terracotta pots.
Super glue is actually the street name for cyanoacrylate. If it seems like this word was constructed by simply smashing some fingers across a keyboard with your eyes closed, I would have to agree. However, cyanoacrylate is as real of a word as it gets and is a product that creates bonds like no other which is why super glue is used for so many different purposes. Consider super glue to be like that one friend everyone wants in their circle.
This adhesive is a bit different because it is not water-based, but is actually made of an acrylic resin. Super glue is funny in that it needs moisture present in order to create the powerful bond it was designed to establish. Terracotta is a surface for super glue because the clay is very porous. Because of its porosity, some moisture is typically present, thus super glue can get to bonding without any trouble when applied.
What is even better about super glue is that when it is applied, the bond is almost immediately established. For you, this means you do not have to sit around and wait for the glue to cure and can fix and forget it. This feature can be a blessing and a curse if you are not careful though. Be sure to watch your application and keep your fingers out of the way. If you get your hands too close, the glue can quickly stick your fingers together before you even realize it!
Why Repair Your Terracotta Pot?
Terracotta is a fantastic material that can be used for virtually any purpose. Even more so, it is widely used for potting plants and is both aesthetically pleasing and practical for gardening. However, terracotta is somewhat fragile and accidents with your pots are bound to happen. This does not mean that you need to toss your pot to the curb, but simply need to find the right adhesive to get your pot back in shape.
Epoxy adhesives offer a fantastic bonding solution for broken terracotta pots that are either indoor or outdoor. If you have a pot that is more exposed to the elements, especially in rainier areas, you may benefit more from a marine epoxy adhesive that is specially made to weather the storm. Super glues are also a great option, as they have very strong bonds and cure within seconds, getting your projects done, and keeping your hands free faster.