Aging Terra Cotta Pots with Paint

When I walk into my gardens I want to feel like I got lost somewhere enchanting. Sprawling flowers, herbs, and riddled with old-aged clay pots. So, I set out to try to recreate that look for myself by trying my hand at aging terra cotta pots with paint.

White washed terra cotta pot displayed with other natural elements. A faux birds nest, faux birds eggs, and feathers.

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If you’re like me you grew up with the movie The Secret Garden as your dream garden inspiration. I dream of having a romantic, hidden away garden. A garden that epic takes years to patiently build and curate.

So until I can achieve that level of awesomeness I will have to settle for the small detail work. Like having fun creating aged pots in the easiest way possible. I like the idea of creating small stories of gardens on my front porch and back porch where pots can live a peaceful life.

But It’s hard to fall into a daydream and feel like you’re in an old mature cottage garden when it’s full of new terra cotta pots. The bright orange color of new terracotta pots kind of rains on my parade.

So, as my first step towards a secret garden I set out to work in this simple diy creating aged terracotta pots.

small terra cotta pots displayed in a spring tablescape by faux bird's nest and faux bird eggs.

Where Do I Purchase Pots To Do My Own Aging Terra Cotta Pots Project?

I purchased my packs of 2 and 3 from the Dollar Tree for $1.25, but they also sell them fairly reasonably priced in any garden center (and larger versions) at

  • Home Depot
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Amazon
  • Dollar Tree or Dollar General

You don’t have to use a small pot either, this would work just as well on a bigger pot. In fact, I plan on doing this to larger pots now that I’m comfortable with the process. I’m not as intimidated or feel like I’m going to ruin it.

As though a white wash could ever ruin something unless, of course, you don’t like the paint look. Also, in case you’re wondering, white wash doesn’t always equal farmhouse style!

The terra cotta pots white washed gained a sort of watercolor effect. So beautiful. They sit laying on their sides next to a soup tureen on a tablescape.
After distressing you can see the watercolor effect the pots had. It really did look like moss had grown on and rain had distressed them over time.

The Steps to Create Aged Terra Cotta Pots the Easy Way

Before You Start Your Own DIY Project, Gather Your Supplies to Create An Aged Look

Supplies For An Aged Clay Pot

  • 01 Paint Type and Color Acrylic paint is an option if you don’t like chalk paint. I chose to use white paint, green paint, and grey paint. The white was a homemade chalk paint, the green was the color Moss by Waverly chalk paint. The gray paint was Mineral by Waverly. I may try to add in the Elephant by Waverly next time. The sky is the limit!
  • 02 Flower Pots Start small with little pots as I did, or go big with a large pot from your choice of retailers. Or there is a good possibility you will also find some used at a local second hand store.
  • 03 Brush or Applicator I used a small paint brush, but a foam brush or sponge brush would work great as well as a cheap chip brush. I also leaned heavily on wetting a paper towel to move the white wash around so I avoided any obvious brush marks. You could also try using a spray bottle with a white wash.
  • 04 Sanding Block or Scrub Brush You could use 120 grit sand paper and dry distress. I used a fingernail brush and scouring pad with warm water to distress the excess paint. For some of the first pots, I did I admit I added a bit of a thicker patina. And it really gave it that aged finish I was going for.
  • 05 Matte Finish If you really love your aged pottery at the end you may opt to use a matte sealer once you have completely dry pots. This step is definitely optional. I actually want mine to continue to become more naturally aged pottery.

Watch this on Youtube:

Step One – Create a White Wash

First thing to start this easy project I would recommend getting on an apron or clothes you don’t mind getting splattered. Also, a handful of paper towels never hurt anyone!

Full disclosure: After having done like 10 small pots at this point I figured out through trial and error that it is better to mix up your white wash ahead of time. I recommend one part chalk paint and one part water (not too much water).

You can always add more color later, but taking it away once it’s soaked into the pot isn’t as easy.

Step Two – The Application Process

I tried dry brushing but wasn’t a fan of the brush marks it left behind.

I dipped my brush into my first color. A little bit of paint and then into a little water. If you mix your white wash ahead of time you won’t need to do it this way.

Start in small sections applying a small amount of the white wash. Then wipe away the excess water off with a wet paper towel. Don’t forget to get the inside of the pot and the outside of the pot.

Once you have the entire pot white washed go back in with any other different colors. I chose to use a mossy green and a grey/brown called mineral, but you could just leave it with the white wash effect.

Set it to dry. This took only a matter of minutes.

Step Three – The Distressing Process

The next step is to take off what you don’t like. The easiest way to do this I found was by wet distressing. I took them to my sink and ran the water while I used a fingernail brush and dawn dish detergent to scrub.

In a similar way, whatever didn’t come off with that I took a scouring pad to. When I was done with this it had a really beautiful watercolor effect on the pots. It also completely eliminated any brush strokes.

I’m definitely pretty much always a fan of the distressed look in my end result. But of course this is a personal preference.

Voila! The finished product is definitely several steps above a new terra cotta pot. If you love these kind of projects check out my blog post How to Make a Thrift Mirror Beautiful and Ornate.

Different Techniques You Can Acheive the Aging Terra Cotta Pots Should You Wish To Experiment More

There are different ways you can do your aging terra cotta pots DIY. Here are 3 other methods besides white washing

  1. Salt-Aged Pots This can be achieved by soaking your pots in a salt water or brine solution. However, salt kills plants so I’m not sure how well this technique works if you wanted to use them for real plants. Maybe if you use this technique stick to faux plants? Also, wouldn’t be great for outdoor use since the salt solution would wash off in any rain.
  2. Garden-Lime-Aged Pots The primary ingredient in garden lime is calcium bicarbonate (Baking Soda). Basically you mix baking soda or a cup of garden lime with some water to create a paste consistency and roll your pots in it. This patina doesn’t last unless you coat it with some kind of clear coat, however. Making it less of a permanent option, in my opinion.
  3. Yogurt Method This is quite a different ingredient to use! The biggest downfall I see to this method is you need to keep the pot in a cool moist place for about a month. Also, you cannot store it indoors as it will smell.
Distressed aged terra cotta pot sitting on a wooden dough bowl as my table centerpiece.

Well friends, I sure hope you’ve gained some secret garden inspiration with this short and sweet easy step by step tutorial. And learned a few great ways to give brand new pots some old age charm!

Thanks for stopping by!


Meet the Author

Hi, I’m Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→


  1. I love this so much. I am definitely going to try this. Your instructions are very detailed and you make it look so easy to create. Great post & photos!

    1. Thank you very much! I always hope I’m making directions clear so the projects aren’t intimidating at all. I appreciate your input!

  2. This is so creative!! I think it would be pretty fun to get my kids involved as well. I’m so glad you shared this. ❤️❤️

  3. I LOVE this idea! I literally have tons of terra cotta pots in our barn left here from the last owner. This really inspires me to go get them and put them to good use! Thanks for sharing!

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