Lime-Washing Terra Cotta

February 29, 2016

One of my favorite spring DIY's is to lime-wash my store bought terra cotta pots.  I'm no fan of the awful orangey color these planters initially are purchased with, so I've done lots of searching for an inexpensive way to beautifully age them.

I'll admit there was a bit of trial and error with making these.  First I tried white-washing the pots with paint and was really unsatisfied with the results. The finish looked too unnatural (awful brush strokes) and I wanted a genuine aging that would seem as though it survived our outdoor weather for years.  After searching Pinterest for several DIY's, I discovered a technique that gave my personal favorite patina on terra cotta planters.
             What you'll need:
                      • an old bucket (for mixing)
                      • garden lime
                      • water
                      • foam paint brush
                      • sand paper
                      • terra cotta planters (any size)
I went to my local gardening market and picked up this exact brand of organic garden lime (organic is not necessary, but my original intent was to house herbs in these). The price was approximately $3.99 for a 6lb. bag.

For two 6" pots, I used 1/4 cup of garden lime and 1/2 cup of water and still had a lot left over.  (The ratio being 1 part lime to 2 parts water to get a nice paste-like mix.)  Honestly, my lime didn't "dissolve" like many other tutorials state but the results were still exactly what I was looking for.  Using a sponge brush, I painted on the mixture in a very non-precise way.  Allow them to dry in some warm sunshine and the pot will start to lighten and appear chalky.

Once the pots were dry, I took some sand paper and scuffed over the entire surface smoothing out any excess globs left behind. It will feel very gritty which is normal so occasionally blow off any extra dust.  I sanded the edges and lip down more in places that wear-and-tear would occur more significantly.
  • Fun Fact: If you decide on using live plants, the lime assists in increasing the soils pH providing a source of calcium and magnesium for your plants and improves water penetration. So make sure you coat those planters inside too!

This DIY left the most natural aged-look for a beautiful, farmhouse rustic finish.

I keep faux sage bushes in mine and only indoors because I noticed terra cotta's natural retainment of water left a contrast in the base where the water is absorbed.