Aging Terracotta Pots for A Vintage Look

aging terracotta pots

When we hear the word aging, it’s usually a bad thing. Unless we are talking about home decor. When we refer to it in that respect we use words like “patina”, “weathered” and “well-loved”. I think I’ll always pick pieces with a little patina as opposed to shiny and new. That’s what led me to this project. Aging terracotta pots is easy and there are several ways to do it.

In the past, I would age my terracotta pots by painting them but this time I wanted to try something else. At the Country Living Fair this summer, I bought a maidenhair fern plant that came in a naturally weathered pot and I wanted to recreate that look. I did a little research and found that using garden lime is one way to get that look.

What You Will Need for Aging Terracotta Pots:

Terracotta or Clay Pot

Garden Lime

Sponge brush


Clear Acrylic Spray


How to Age Terracotta Pots:

First I placed parchment paper over my work area to protect it. Then I mixed two parts of garden lime into one part water.

how to make terra cotta pots look aged

You’ll need to let it thicken up for a few minutes once it’s mixed. Once you have it to the consistency of a paste, pour it onto your terracotta pot. You could also use a plastic spoon to spoon it on.

In this photo, it was a bit too watery. If you have that issue, either let it sit longer or add more lime to the mix.


You want it to be more like the consistency of mud as in the photo below.

how to age terracotta pots

If you’re first coat is too thin, let it dry and add a second coat. This is what you want it to look like when it dries.

how-to-naturally-age-terra-cotta-pots-for-a-weathered-finish, vintage terracotta pots

Once it dries, use the sandpaper to smooth down any gritty areas. It’s ok if you sand more heavily in some spots, it only adds to the vintage look after. I would recommend leaving on a bit more of the lime than you think you should because when you seal it, more of it will be removed.

Lastly, I used a clear acrylic sealer spray in a matte finish as opposed to the one I showed you in the first photo,  I didn’t realize when I took that picture that the sealer I had was for high-shine.

sealing terracotta pots

I sprayed the sealer on both the inside and outside of the pot. Here was the end result, it was just the look I was aiming for.

aging-terracotta-pots-for a natural vintage look

This is how it looks compared to one of the pots I had painted a while back.


I much prefer the one aged with lime.

DIY Aged terracotta pots

A Second Method for Aging Terracotta Pots

One other option for aging terracotta pots is to soak them in water. Tap water contains minerals that cause terracotta to develop white spots which add patina. This method takes much longer to achieve, you’ll have to let the pot soak in water for one to four weeks to see results.

Now if only we viewed our aging selves as “well loved”. If you want to read a great article on pro-aging (as opposed to anti-aging) I highly recommend this one.

How to age terracotta pots

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  1. I found a similar way but different ingredient… bone meal (bought at Home Depot). I wondered about it because it is so full of calcium. I took a bag and made a paste with water, and covered the outside of brand new terracotta pots with a sponge brush. I turned them upside down and left them in the sun for about two weeks. I then planted plants and watered. It looked like all the “white” came off with the water, but when they dried, it left a lot of reside and it turned out to be a lovely, off white, calcium looking patina. I would probably go a little thicker next go round to see if I can get a thicker patina, but they still look older and natural. That was a week ago they are looking great with watering, getting wet, and drying. Thanks, Amber

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