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DIY Aged Stone Planter

February 24, 2020

Pair of stone planters on wicker coffee table
Learn a simple painting technique to use on old or second hand containers that will give the texture and charm of a pricey piece of found pottery for almost no cost at all.

CREATE   |   Updated May 13, 2022

Aged stone vase with ferns

Do you ever look around at your decor and wish you had something different to decorate with? Or does browsing through your favorite stores or blogs leave you wanting something similar for your own home?

We've all been there, but buying new can be a drain to your budget, and then you're presented with the dilemma of what do you do with the things you've already bought.

You spend hard-earned money purchasing home accessories that at one point you did like, so it is hard to part with those items even though they aren't totally "you" anymore.

Pair of stone planters on wicker coffee table

There are a variety of ways to transform and update those unwanted decor pieces you already have or can find for close to nothing at a thrift store. A little sanding, coat of paint, or adding/removing a detail all can go a long way to transform something old into something stylish to love again.

It is always fun (and economical) to look at your own decor and furniture with an eye towards what a simple makeover can do.

READ NEXT: Over 30 More Transformations of Secondhand Thrift Store Items

Gray stone planter filled with ferns

"Found pottery" is one of those must have decor trends right now that you may want and can actually DIY quite easily!

All over, there are beautiful stoneware clay urns and vases in shades of gray, black, and cream with lots of weathering and wear. Pottery Barn, McGee and Co, and other retailers are stocking them. They are incredibly pricey, though, and don't fit into many people's decor budget.

The good news is that you can take a newer vase or terra cotta planter and make it look old. And it look as just as good as the ones that retailers are selling for hundreds of dollars! Just because it is faux, doesn't mean it has to look fake!

Some tutorials you may have seen for DIY aged pottery involve spray painting vessels and then rubbing them with mud and dirt for an aged look.

But this tutorial will show you there is another way, and it only involves paint and a special technique that will leave a lasting aged finish just as realistic as the expensive retail versions.

Gray urn with ferns

This makeover was given to a couple handmade Mexican planters with a very southwestern dessert vibe. They were orange similar to the pot pictured below and had black primitively painted markings . (The original before picture got deleted on my camera before this post was completed.)

The planters had a lot of nice handmade texture to help keep the finished pots from simply looking like they were painted.

And one of the two vases even had a crack running down the side, which really adds to the old, worn vibe you'd expect from a piece of found pottery.

Gray stone vase with crack

Believe it or not, but this is a project you can't mess up, regardless of your skill level or how comfortable you are with a paint brush. If you don't like what you've painted or the colors haven't blended correctly, you just need to add a little more paint or water and try again. Keep going until you get the look that you want.

Be sure you read through all the instructions before beginning so you are clear on what to do, and you may want to practice the technique on a scrap board ahead of time.

Once you get the hang of it, the process goes quickly and you'll end up with finished clay pots that look very similar to the real thing. You just need to have a little patience.

Coffee table with stone planters and pulley

How to Get an Aged Stone Finish

The key to achieving the look of the mottled paint finish is through the technique of dry brushing. Basically, you'll put a little paint on your brush, then brush most of it off onto a piece of paper towel before touching the brush to your surface. This gives you a nice feathery appearance and visually adds texture to whatever you are painting.

It is a process you'll want to spend a little time getting just right and isn't something that you'll do in just a few minutes. It will take a bit of time to really layer on the multiple colors of paint in a way to create a finish that looks natural, but it can be fun to watch the finish you're looking for take shape.

When you're done, some of the light gray areas will still peek through, and you'll see spaces that are more charcoal or more tan than others. But everything should gradually blend together.

Inside of a stone planter

Start with a Good Textured Finish

You want to look for a planter or vase with a nice texture to the outside. Anything perfectly smooth will require an additional step of using plaster to the outside or adding baking soda to your paint in order to achieve a realistic look and feel of aged pottery. This texture will help keep your container from simply looking like you painted it.

Your basecoat of paint can also add additional texture to your vase. Before you start the dry-brushing, you'll want to paint your vessel in a light gray color. While you can use a brush or sponge brush to do this, pouncing the paint on gives a lot more texture and helps the paint to adhere very well to the surface.

Use foam pouncers and press the paint on to what you're painting. It puts the paint on in a thicker coat and the foam sponge creates texture. The pouncers are helpful for a lot of projects, especially when painting something with a smooth surface like glass.

Be Ready for Multiple Stepes All at Once

The tutorial for this project can sound a little scary because there is a lot happening all at once. But you can't mess it up and you'll quickly get the hang of what you need to do.

Just be sure when you are ready to begin, you have your tan and charcoal colored paints ready as well as a bowl of water and piece of paper towel because you'll be using them all at relatively the same time.

Once you start dry brushing the paint on, you'll need to be able to move around the entire vessel in one sitting so that the finish is cohesive. The water is helpful for smoothing out the paint finish and the paper towel can be used to gently blot the wet areas to blend the colors together.


If you are doing multiple vessels and want them to match, do one right after the other. If you come back and try to do it again later, your technique will give you a different finish! Which is fine because no two stone pots will be exactly alike, but if your goal is for them to look the same, you'll want to do this project at one time.



  • Pot or vase that has a bit of rough, "handmade" texture to the outside
  • Light gray, tan/beige gray, and charcoal/black colored paints (I used Fusion Mineral Paint in Stirling, Algonquin, and Ash, but any acrylic craft paint will do fine)
  • Foam Pouncers or a High Density Sponge Brush
  • 1-inch craft paint brush
  • Small bowl of water 
  • Paper towel


STEP 1:  Clean your vessel well with soap and water and then allow it to dry thoroughly before starting your project.

STEP 2: Paint the entire pot or vase with whatever light gray paint you've chosen with a sponge brush.  I used a large foam pouncer made by Martha Stewart. They are no longer available, but these sponge brushes will work similarly. Gently press the paint onto the pot rather than brushing it.  This gives a great added texture and helps the paint to adhere when painting over ceramic or glass.  Doing it this way, I needed two coats of the gray paint, but you may need more if you brush the paint on.

Painting planter gray

STEP 3: For this step, you'll want to use a 1 inch craft paint brush that you don't mind throwing away when you're done because you're going to give it a lot of wear. Have ready your two other colors of paint, a small bowl of water, and piece of paper towel. You'll be using all four at the same time.

Add a little of the tan paint to your brush, and wipe most of it away by brushing onto the paper towel. Then touch the brush to the surface of the vase and rub it back and forth. The paint with transfer onto the vase in some areas but not others and that is what you want. You're not trying to paint the surface just add visual texture.

STEP 4: Once you've added the tan color in a small section, do the same technique with the charcoal paint, sometimes painting into where you added the tan and sometimes in the gray areas. You are trying to blend the three different paint colors together to create the mottled finish. You can really rub it in going back and forth with the brush.

Painting the outside of planter

STEP 5: If you find that the paint is starting to pull off of the vase, just allow that spot time to dry from the paint that you've applied. If the paint is a little tacky, it may start to peel as you rub the finish with your brush. But that can be touched up later.

STEP 6: Also, if you find that the colors are not blending, touch your brush into the water, blot it dry on the paper towel, and then brush it onto the painted vase to smooth everything out. You don't want to add too much water, or you'll start to get more of a watercolor effect, but the water works nicely to achieve the finish. You can blot areas on the vase with your paper towel when you've used the water to blend the colors.

Painted planter

STEP 7: Work your way around the entire outside of the vessel you're painting using this technique of dry brushing and blending with water and a paper towel.

STEP 8: Either complete the same technique inside the vase if you plan on leaving it empty or paint the inside with one single color if it will not be seen.

STEP 9: The Fusion Mineral Paint that I used has a built in top coat, so I didn't do anything more to the outside of my vases.  But if you use craft paint, you may want to add a polyurethane sealer or paste wax finish to the outside to protect your paint job.

If you have any questions or get stuck with how to follow this tutorial, please feel free to shoot me a message.  I really love how these planters turned out and would love to help you recreate them for yourself if you're interested!

DO IT YOURSELF aged stone vase

This post may contain affiliate links which means I receive a small commission if you choose to make a purchase using the link, but there is no additional cost to you.  For more information, you can view my disclosure policy.
Before and After DIY Stone Vase

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