Early Settler - Plant pot saucers - unglazed and will cause water damage

I purchased a number of glazed pots with matching saucers from Early Settler. The website says the pots are glazed. The saucers have the appearance of being glazed, because they are glazed around the visible edges. The areas of the saucer that aren’t glazed, are the top and bottom. Essentially meaning that the saucer is porous and will cause water damage to flooring and furniture over time.

I would think that the purpose of a saucer is to collect water and prevent water damage to furniture or flooring. Given the saucers also are glazed around the edges to give the appearance of being glazed, I can’t help but feel this is a dodgy cost cutting measure.

I contacted Early Settler and they offered a refund on any unused pots. Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed that the saucers were useless until I had re-potted my plants and was putting them in place to water them.

Early Settler also explained that this is the ‘design they have for the item’.

I’m only able to add one image:

1 Like

Photo of the bottom of the saucers.

There are a number of waterproofing compounds that you can get that will stop the saucers transferring water. Some are transparent. It is sold in amounts that do a floor in tubs but they will cost a bit. Something like this might suit you better.


Thanks for the recommendation. I opted to get rubber matting and cut to size/shape and glued it to the bottom.

More just annoyed that I bought over 10 pots thinking they came with saucers and then had to do extra work to make them functional. Also concerned how many people haven’t realised that the saucers are porous and have damaged furniture as a result.

1 Like

Hi @Clove.9, welcome to the community.

A saucer is designed to collect water to increase the volume of water available to plants. Their function isn’t to protect flooring or the surface the pot is placed. Protecting a surface beneath the saucer is impossible as it is likely that the saucer will overflow from time to time from too much water added to a pot. The only way to prevent overflowing is to weigh the pot daily and calculate the amount of water to be added such that it is less than that held by the putting media and the saucer.

It is common for the bottom of glazed pots and saucers to be unglazed. This is to allow their firing in a kiln (if glaze was on the bottom, it would fuse the pot to the kiln shelf when the pot is fired).

Most good quality unglazed clay pots don’t leak water, if they do it is minute amounts from water flowing through the pot material. They leak water because of cracks or low quality clays which are known to be porous (such as coarser grained terracotta, or Buff Raku)…or concrete ones.

The pot appears from the colour to be finer grained white earthenware which should have good water retention properties, providing there are no cracks (microscopic or visible). If cracks exist in the clay because of the firing process, such as cooling too quickly, respective of being glazed or not the pot may lea through cracks.

If you are concerned about damage to the surface the pot is placed, maybe consider a sealed plastic pot. This will need to be lifted up off a surface as condensation can still form on the pot’s exterior. It is worth noting condensation can form on any pot of any material due to changing weather conditions.


Thank you for your response.

Respectfully, I disagree on a number of points.

Saucers are designed to protect surfaces from water damage. You can overwater your pots and have extra water sitting at the bottom to allow it to function as a self-watering pot. I don’t bottom water my plants, though I agree that it’s an option with saucers.

I don’t overwater my plants, so I don’t have overflowing from the bottom. I also don’t weigh my plants daily, that really isn’t necessary… nor do I water them daily. On the odd occasion that it does overflow, I clean up the water, change to a larger saucer and avoid overwatering in the future. This may happen with a new plant. But can’t say it’s happened in the past two years, despite multiple plant purchases. Over time you develop a knack for which plants like a lot vs a little amount of water.

I appreciate that one surface can be left unglazed. My stated problem with the product is that both surfaces are left unglazed, hence water absorbs into and through the pottery. While I appreciate that some materials may be less porous than others, all pottery is porous and long term exposure to the moisture from it will damage wood. The water retaining properties of better materials does not mean they are not porous.

I’m also not talking about water leakage. I’m talking about a wet, porous object being in constant contact with wooden flooring or furniture. Think of it as a damp sponge, it’s not leaking water, but water will leach from it onto other surfaces if left in contact.

Condensation isn’t an issue. I really don’t understand how it could be. The only way you would get condensation is if the pot were colder than it’s surrounding environment. They’re indoor pots, the air temperature and assorted surfaces are all the same temperature. If you were getting condensation inside your house, you would have much bigger problems than a plastic pot being in contact with your floor. Pots have no special properties that attract more condensation.

While this is your expectation, it is worth looking at the nursery and landscaping industry information in relation to what the purpose of a pot saucer is. Saucers under plants are shallow dishes used to catch excess water that drains from a container planting. This reference is one of many with the same advice.

If you plan to protect the surface underlying the pot, possibly you should be looking at the type of pot rather than a saucer. A growing pot within a sealed pot lifted above the surface is one example of a pot configuration which might achieve what you are after. You could use the pot and saucer you have purchased as the external pot for aesthetic reasons, and a sealed plastic pot as the inner pot. Care will be needed to ensure the inner pot isn’t overwatered. This can be done using a piece of pipe (like a perforated riser or bore hole) installed from the surface to the bottom of the pot to check when the bottom of the pot is wet.

Either surface can be unglazed and the information provided above still applies. Good quality clay pots are generally watertight without glazing, lower quality made from coarser or porous clays aren’t overly watertight. Any clay pot or saucer which has cracks, irrespective of the clay or finish can lead to leaks.

Pots were used in the past to hold drinking water, cooking etc due to their durability and also water holding ability.

Condensation can be an issue in humid climates or changes in temperature in the area a pot is located. This can occur indoors or outdoors. If it is located in a constant environment (e.g. airconditioning), condensation won’t be a problem.

As outlined above, condensation isn’t limited to clay pots and if one want’s to remove potential condensation issues, lift the pot off the surface to allow air circulation about the base.

We have experienced condensation on pots both in Brisbane and Tasmania. It occurs principally when there is a significant change in temperature during the day, and the air is relatively humid. The same processes can cause mould growth or moisture on walls.

1 Like

I’m confused as to why you think your definition of a saucer is contradictory to what I’ve said. They catch the water so that it doesn’t run all over your furniture and flooring.

If a saucer is glazed, it will protect the surface underneath. It only needs to be glazed on one surface. I’m still unsure what you don’t understand about this. I understand that saucers can be thwarted by condensation or by overwatering. This does not render a saucer defunct for the purpose of preventing water damage to furniture and flooring.
You also say ‘sealed pot’… I’m after a sealed saucer. That allows the pot to drain if there’s any run off. As stated previously, there’s typically not much. I’ve been using sealed saucers for the past 7 years with no issue.
A sealed saucer works in the same way as your proposed sealed pot. Ok

Both surfaces of the saucer are unglazed. That’s the issue. If one surface is glazed, there isn’t any leaching of water. Please note that I’m saying leaching, NOT leaking. These are two separate things. I’m not talking about cracks, micro or macro. I’m talking about unsealed surfaces on both sides of the saucer which allows for a porous material to absorb water and hold that water in contact with my floors and furniture.

You’re incorrect. No earthenware is inherently water-tight without either glazing or some other sealant. This isn’t reliant on quality. Just because earthenware has been used to hold water in the past, it does not mean that the water doesn’t slowly absorb into the pottery and then evaporate to the atmosphere.

You’re confusing the ability of an object to hold water with that meaning that the object is water-tight.

If you’re having condensation issues, the issue is with your house, not your pots. As stated, condensation occurs when warm air comes into contact with something of lower temperature. Improved insulation would help.
Also, as stated, I don’t have condensation issues. And as stated before, if you have condensation in your house, your unsealed saucer is the least of your worries.
I’m not sure if you’re even reading what I’ve said, because as stated, condensation can occur on any surface. I didn’t suggest that it’s dependent on the type of pottery. So I’m unsure what you’re trying to tell me here.

I think you misunderstood me. Glazing protects the surface, it doesn’t make it waterproof or necessarily seals the clay. It may have some effect in improving clays known to be porous (the glaze would reduce or block pores), such as those outlined above. Cracks or poor quality of materials make pot leak, irrespective if it is glazed or not.

Under pressure or vacuum, you can force water through fired clay materials - I have done this is laboratory conditions. The same fire clay in impermeable under room air pressure.

Yes, I agree, a cracked glaze is useless. So is a cracked glass. So is a cracked engine block. I’m failing to see how your point helps any situation. I’m aware that faulty objects don’t serve their proper function.

If the top surface of the saucer is sealed and not cracked (faulty), then water will not absorb into the saucer. Water will therefore not make contact with my floor or furniture.

I also can’t force water through my stone bench top, it doesn’t mean it’s not porous. Wood. I can’t force water through that. That doesn’t mean wood isn’t porous. The fact you can force water through ‘in laboratory conditions’ shows porosity. Try doing the same thing with plastic or steel.

I’m talking about the slow accumulation of water in a porous object which will then sit, slightly damp, against a wooden surface, undisturbed, for months.
You’re again confusing the product with being porous to it leaking. I am not talking about leaking. Again, a damp sponge, not dripping or leaking water, left up against a wooden surface, will do damage. Earthenware is porous. Fired earthenware is porous. It absorbs water. That water doesn’t drip or leak. It sits up against something else and leaches.
Ask the lab to teach you about osmosis.

Earthenware is porous, but the photos above indicate that the pots are whiteware and not earthenware. Whiteware has different properties to earthenware. Earthenware is made of coarser clay materials, like those outlined above.

Movement of water through porous earthenware is capillary action and not osmosis. Capillary action ceases when pores in a material are very small, including those smaller than the size of a water molecule.

Lets get back to the issue at hand whether a clay pot saucer should be glazed or not, and whether an unglazed saucer is someway defective or not fit for purpose.

If a person goes to a nursery, hardware store, specialist retailer selling plant pots, one would see that the majority of clay pot saucers are unglazed. There are also no requirements that a saucer must be glazed. Therefore, a reasonable person would not expect a saucer to be glazed or an unglazed saucer to be defective or not fit for purpose.

If one has a belief that a glazed saucer is better than and unglazed saucer, then this is a personal preference, no different to say a product colour or size.

If one is unhappy that a saucer is unglazed and believes it doesn’t meet their intended purpose for the saucer, this is seen as a change of mind under the Australian Consumer Law. As a result, resolution falls back to the Change of Mind policies a company may have. Eureka indicated they were willing to provide refunds to those pots and saucers not used - this could be seen as an acceptable outcome for a change of mind.

If the Eureka website states the pot and saucer is glazed on every surface, and the saucer isn’t, then this would be misleading advertising. This does not appear to be the case.

This is an opinion - nothing more. Other people hold the reverse view. And there in a nutshell is the core of the problem and the many words that follow about ceramics and other topics added nothing at all.

Having gone via the Birdsville Track yes by all means.

Sorry @Clove.9 you are out of luck as the saucer would only be unfit if it was generally agreed that to be a proper saucer it must be impervious. There is no such agreement so it is up to you to check beforehand if that is your specific requirement.

Hi Courtney @Clove.9 and welcome to the community.

This is no different to purchasing any other product(s). If you want it to perform a certain function, or to be able to use it a certain way, you need to specify that preparatory to purchase. If the product is then sold to you and it doesn’t do what you specified, it is unfit for purpose under the ACL. If you don’t specify, and the product doesn’t perform they way you wanted, the best you can hope for is that the retailer is open to a ‘change of mind’ return.

I searched the website, but could not find the pots you have shown so I can’t check their description. With that sort of general wording they could even just have some minor decorative motif which is glazed, and does not indicate that they are fully glazed. If you want fully glazed, you have to look for those words, or see pictures which indicate that.

If you wanted pots and saucers that were waterproof you should have made enquiries to ensure that, or specified that when purchasing. If they then sold you the pots and saucers, you would have a basis on which to return the products under the ACL, as it is, you have no grounds.

You might be correct, or not. It may just be what the manufacturer felt was adequate decoration.

Did the website specify they were suitable for use on furniture? Did you make the retailer aware that you were going to place the pots and saucers inside on furniture?

This is a generous move on their part as you have had in effect a ‘change of mind’ and they are not required to refund you.

I am sorry you are disappointed with your purchase, but in this case it does not appear that the retailer has done anything wrong, and has done more than necessary to assist you.


I think I finally understand where your confusion is coming from. In the future maybe ask me what the material is, rather than making assumptions and basing your arguments on those incorrect assumptions. It is not white ware. It is not vitreous. It not impermeable to water.

You may be correct that it is capillary action. However, your link links to the capillary action of roots. I still disagree and think it’s osmotic pressure pulling water through the pot, which acts as a membrane. This is the basis behind clay pot irrigation.

I’ll note also that you’re the one that detracted from the issue at hand with talk of condensation and the permeability of various materials… etc.

Yes. Hardware stores sell indoor pots and outdoor pots. They sell indoor saucers and outdoor saucers. Variety is not an indication that saucers aren’t used indoors to prevent water damage.

As noted, Early Settler lists on their site that the products are glazed.

I agree that it wasn’t stated that it was impervious to water. The website does state that the product is glazed. There’s no images on the website to indicate that it’s not fully glazed. The sides being glazed also give the appearance of it being glazed.

I think the wording of how they were described as glazed was using puffery to some extent. They have some glaze on both front and back so using this loosely they are glazed on both sides. Puffery is not illegal as long as as the claims are loose or a reasonable person would understand the claims are not real. A claim sort of in the same range would be ‘tested scientifically for waterproofness’, all someone in that case would need to have done is test them scientifically and the items didn’t need to be found to be waterproof. That’s puffery and they could legally sell them using that claim.

Return what you can for the offered refund and for the rest like some others have suggested is seal them yourself. One sealant I have used in the past for exterior usage with some success is Bondall pot and ornament sealer but their Bondcrete Silasec product will also do a great job. Make sure what you want to seal has been washed and dried thoroughly before using the product you choose. An acrylic satin or gloss clear coat will also work using at least 3 coats to ensure good waterproofness. They will all need to be reapplied after some time except perhaps the Silasec one. If you do choose to use the Silasec my recommendation is use it on the underside first and see if you are happy with the look, if it doesn’t detract you may then apply it to the front. It will be sufficient if applied only to the base of the saucer as a sealant.

1 Like

I disagree that it needs to be specified. A product should perform as can be reasonably expected. I agree that what’s reasonably expected is clearly debatable.

The website reads, under specifications of the product; finish: glazed.
That indicates to me that it should be glazed.
There is no indication on the website that they’re not fully glazed.
If you want to make an argument about whether a full glaze includes only the sides, you can try to do so. I have never bought nor seen a glazed saucer that is only glazed for appearances and not to serve a functional role.

The retailer displays the pots in indoor settings, on wooden furniture. Yes, the sales staff were aware I was putting it on wooden furniture. Yes, I stated that I was excited that the pots came with saucers that would protect my flooring and save me the effort of finding ones that fit.

It may just be puffery and may not be illegal, however, I still think it’s dodgy. Something doesn’t have to be illegal for it to be dodgy. I think most people buying saucers for indoors expect the glaze to cover one side.

Thank you for your suggestion. I’ll keep it in mind for future purchases. I opted to put rubber matting on the bottom. As an added benefit it will prevent scratching if the pot is knocked or accidentally dragged.
I bought as many pots as needed and potted them all up on the same day, before realising. So unfortunately the refund option wasn’t really open to me.

1 Like

I agree it is dodgy, we have a topic about puffery and I am definitely on the side that says it shouldn’t be allowed. Until we get the laws around puffery changed, these types of incidents will continue to occur and leave consumers out of pocket.

As was suggested further-up, if looking to purchase goods with particular qualities that you insist on, then make inquiries and get proof of the stated suitability (in writing is best). If you have that proof it is then on the retailer to ensure those claims are met. In your case if you had a written confirmation that they were fully glazed/sealed/waterproofed then on any failure to be that way you would have the right of refund whether they had been used or not used. We as consumers need to be nitpicking about the qualities we want in the goods we purchase as puffery is rampant.