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How to Paint Terra Cotta Pots (DIY Whitewash)

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Grab some white paint and clay pots to give your terracotta flower pots an aged look in less than 10 minutes! This easy tutorial is a great way to transform new pots (or old pots) for a beautiful, distressed look using the white wash technique.

White paint used on clay pots for aged look.

Get more fun painting projects as well as crafts and diys for spring here.

I completed this project on my front porch in a matter of minutes with just a little paint and a little water.


  • Terra Cotta pots (Get ones with a drainage hole and saucer)
  • White paint (I used leftover latex paint from another project) but white chalk paint or white acrylic paint would work great, too! This does NOT require much paint.
  • An old sock or a paint brush
  • Water
Three terracotta pots with saucers, white paint, a sock, and paint brush on front porch.

Aged Terracotta Pots

Follow these instructions for the outside of the pot in addition to the inside of the pot, just along the top part of the planter to ensure the look is consistent once you add dirt and plants.

Also be sure you complete the saucers at the same time so the entire pot has a uniform look!

This easy project can be completed with little pots, a bigger pot; it truly doesn’t matter.

You can certainly order clay pots online, but I find places like Home Depot or Lowes to be more reasonably priced.

I considered using a paint brush, but decided to just stick with a cloth (old sock) to avoid any brush strokes. These easy techniques will help you create a white washed terracotta pot for a new look in no time.

Easy Techniques / Steps for White Washing Terra Cotta Pots

Let’s start with the easy step. But let’s face it, it’s all easy!

1. Dip the Cloth (I Used an Old Sock) in Water

Dip the sock in water (I used warm water from the tap, but I don’t think this really matters) and squeeze out the excess water.

I got mine fairly wet, but not completely soaked.  

You could also use a wet paint brush if you’d rather, but I thought the sock would make this go faster.  I was happy with the results, so I didn’t even try the brush.

As I mentioned, I wanted to avoid any brush strokes so the sock was a win and in my opinion, the easiest way. There are different ways to get a similar finished product. Since this was my first time creating aged terra cotta pots, I chose the easy way.

There’s nothing wrong with easy DIY projects!

2. Put a small amount of white paint on the cloth.

The next step was to get a little bit of paint on your wet cloth. Be sure to get the excess paint off of your cloth by wiping it on a wet paper towel.

Remember, you can always add more paint, but it is more challenging to remove once it’s been applied. Terra cotta planters are porous material and soak up the whitewash mixture quickly.

Start wiping a small amount of the watered down paint on the pot with your wet cloth. Work in small sections. It will dry quickly, so work fast. Start with just a tiny bit of paint as you can always add more, but it’s not easy to take off once it dries.

Using white paint and water to create a whitewashed terracotta pot.
Image of clay saucer before wiping off excess paint with wet cloth.

3. Wet cloth and wipe away excess paint.

I didn’t want my pots very white, so I immediately wet a cloth and wiped away some of the paint to give it a “washed” look, not complete coverage. The distressed look was beautiful and FAST!

My process was to complete the saucer, then the inside lip of the pot, then I finished up with the outside of the terra cotta pots.

I truly don’t think it matters because in the end you will have pretty “aged pots”!

RELATED: How to Paint Outdoor Cushions

How to Use White Washed Terracotta Pots

The best thing about these pots is they can be used indoors, for outdoor use, on your front porch…wherever!

Clay pots are good for live plants or faux plants!

The soil does seem to dry out more quickly than many other pots, so if you plan on using with real plants, be sure to water a bit more frequently.

I’ve found they work great for succulents that do not require as much water.

Close up view of clay pot and saucer that was painted with whitewashing method.

If you want to add a bit more white, you can use the dry brushed technique. This is where you dip the tips of a dry paint brush in paint (in this case, white) then offload the excess paint. You then just give the pot highlights.

I give more detailed instructions on dry brushing in my tutorial to paint a frame on a mirror.

When the dry pots are ready for plants, then you get to have some fun deciding what you will want to put in them!

I added a stencil to my flower pots with no real additional cost as I already had the supplies.

A whitewashed terracotta pot with stenciled "home" on front with a small fern plant inside pot.

Of course, I couldn’t help myself from adding a little white washing effect to a wooden crate, see below!

The gray pot in the below picture was a project from a previous blog post of mine:  Painting Candlesticks and Other Household Items.  In it’s previous life, it was green.  If I am not loving something in my home, paint is usually part of the solution!

You can also find information for creating the wooden American flag below and other DIY 4th of July Home Decor in my linked blog post.

Various household items on front porch after painting them with the whitewashed method.

That’s it!  This is possibly one of the fastest and easiest projects I’ve completed in a while.


How do you make terracotta pots look weathered?

There are several ways to make terra-cotta pots look weathered including using a whitewashing technique, using fertilizer to accelerate the white aged look, rubbing yogurt on a new pot, rubbing moistened clay soil on the surface of a pot and letting it sit for a month or longer.

What kind of paint do you use on terracotta pots?

As a general rule, if you want full paint coverage on your terracotta pot, acrylic paint is best. If a full coverage is desired, a sealant will be needed for the clay pot. However if you desire an aged look, a whitewash solution can be created using acrylic paint, chalk paint, or even latex paint.

How do you age clay pots with milk paint?

To use milk paint on clay pots, you will need to mix the milk paint as directed. Then apply green and/or white milk paint to achieve a weathered, aged pot look.

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Yield: 1 Terracotta weathered pot

How to Paint Terra Cotta Pots (DIY Whitewash)

A terracotta pot on a saucer after having a whitewash technique applied for an aged patina.

Step by step easy tutorial to use white paint on clay pots to achieve an aged terracotta pots look.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Terracotta pot
  • White paint (any type will do: acrylic, chalk paint, or latex paint)
  • Water
  • Cloth (old sock)


  • Paint brush (optional)


  1. Dip the cloth (old sock) in water.
    Squeeze out excess water. You do not want your cloth to be dripping wet, but mostly wet.Supplies needed for painting clay pots with whitewashing technique.
  2. Dip tip of wet cloth in white paint.
    I used a gloved hand inside of my sock to make application of the whitewashing mixture easier.
  3. Offload excess paint onto wet paper towel.
    Use a paper towel to wipe away any excess paint. Remember it's easy to add more paint, but due to the porous nature of clay pots, they dry quickly and it can be challenging to remove paint once applied.
  4. Wipe paint onto cloth in small sections.
    As mentioned, work fast as it dries quickly.Wiping white paint on clay pots for weathered look.
  5. Immediately use wet cloth to wipe away any excess paint from pot.
    You will instantly see a distressed, aged look with your clay pot.Aged terracotta pot with stenciled word "home" sitting in outside spaces.


Due to the porous nature of clay pots, they dry quickly so wipe away any excess paint on pots immediately after application if needed. Allow pots to dry (10 minutes) prior to planting live plants or adding faux plants.

Use stencils for a more personalized look or leave plain.

Terra cotta pots - how to whitewash and distress.

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  1. I am going to do this with the pots I have already planted in… which should make it a little more difficult (why do anything the easier way;-) but I am just not loving them the way they look right now. Thanks for sharing this EASY way to get it done! I am all for quick and easy projects that make things beautiful!

  2. I would love to try this with our kids! We actually have to post two of our tomato plants for my MIL and it would be really cute for the kids to do this for her! Great post, and so easy/cute!

  3. You’re right! Pots are so darn expensive! But I love this idea. The whitewashed look is perfect for the style I’m going for! You’re so inventive! Thanks for experimenting for all of us. 😉

  4. Always love easy DIYs. They look great. I haven’t tried to white wash anything before. May have to give it a shot.

    1. Thanks, Kayley! White washing is super easy. I’ve done it on lots of items and like the outcome every time. I’ve also created a wash with gray as well as other paint colors. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

  5. I could have my kids help me with this project! I really like how it softens the look of the pot.

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