Mickie Gee is a retired librarian and a grandmother. She knows a little bit about a lot of topics. Life experiences are wonderful.
Can Faded Plastic Planters Be Restored?
If your plastic outdoor pots are as faded as mine, then you might like to know how I made mine look like new again in the photo above. Here's a not-so-subtle hint: Buy a can of Rust-Oleum spray paint!
I am cheap! I hate to throw away perfectly good pots just because they are a bit faded from years of exposure to the elements. I noticed that the pots gracing my home on the driveway were looking a little faded and showing their age (kind of like my face!). The pots were still in great condition, and I just knew that there was something I could do to make them look better.
Does Spray Paint Really Work?
I went to my local home improvement store and checked out all the spray paints. I was amazed at all the colors and specialty spray paints that were on the shelf—well, shelves, to be exact. I especially paid attention to the spray paints that were touted as being great on plastic. I also looked for the term "outdoor" on the labels. The Rust-Oleum paint fit both of those criteria.
As you can see from the photo above, the refurbished pot on the left looks like a new terra-cotta planter. The pot on the right is the way it looked before Rust-Oleum saved it from the landfill.
Below, I will share with you how I spray-painted those pots to make them look almost new! This a perfect DIY project!
What Paint Color Matches Terra-Cotta the Best?
I used Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Spray Paint to renew my pots, and I found that Cinnamon was the best color match. (Color no longer available—try Satin Paprika) I knew that I wanted my squared planters to look like terra-cotta pots. In the store, I took several cans of paint that appeared to be what I was looking for and matched the lids to the new terra-cotta pots in the garden center. Satin Cinnamon was the closest match. (I know, it sounds wrong—but, as you can see, the finished color was just right.) Again, try matching lids in the garden center to the pots.
Why I Recommend the Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Spray Paint
I liked this paint because I only needed one can to cover the two large pots. This particular brand of spray paint covers 2x the area that one regular can of paint does. It also dries very fast. That is a plus for me because I am impatient (and cheap)! The single can cost the same as the non-2x paint. The aerosol can I purchased still had paint in it after I finished my project, so I have enough to make touch-ups later.
I've used this brand for other projects, too. I used a flat black Painter's Touch on my wrought iron deck chairs. (If you're interested, I wrote a how-to article for that project called "How to Paint an Old Wrought Iron Chair.")
Try the Paprika Satin for a match for a clay color pot.
How to Spray-Paint Plastic Planters
- Time Required: Less than two hours per pot
- Difficulty: Easy
- Cost: Inexpensive
- 1 can Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Spray Paint in Cinnamon
- Plastic planter or pot
- Something to cover and protect the ground (drop cloth, newspaper, etc.)
- Something to prop up the pot (bricks, rocks, etc.)
Tips for Getting Started
- If you are going to paint your pots outside, it is best to choose a day that is not windy.
- I used a plastic drop cloth to cover the ground; you can use an old sheet or newspaper.
- I found some old bricks that were lying around and used them to lift the pot off the ground. You can use blocks of wood, rocks, or anything you might have on hand that is disposable.
Step-by-Step DIY Instructions and Photo Tutorial
This is the process I used to paint my pots and make them look like new again. Following these steps, I had my pot painted and ready to use again in less than two hours!
Step 1: Remove Potting Soil
Remove most of the potting mix from your pot. I am lazy, so I only removed about 1/3 of the dirt. If you are picky, you can remove all the dirt and disinfect the container before you paint it. A lot of gardeners will do this. I repeat: I am lazy and impatient and want to get things done ASAP.
Step 2: Clean the Planter
I wiped down the exposed pot on the inside to "prepare" the surface for the paint. I also rubbed down the outside of the pot as well.
Since I wanted these containers to look like real terra-cotta with all the flaws that are found in clay, I did not clean and scrub it to excess.
Step 3: Set Up the Painting Area
Place your planter on a drop cloth to protect the area. I placed the bricks under the pot to raise it off the ground so I could get good coverage for the bottom half of the pot.
Step 4: Shake the Spray Paint
Shake the spray paint can for at least two minutes (or whatever the instructions on the can say).
Tip: My husband suggested that I hold my can of Painter's Touch upside-down while I shook it. His theory is that the paint settles and the color is probably concentrated at the bottom of the can.
Step 5: Paint the Interior
Spray-paint the inside of the plastic pot first.
Step 6: Paint the Exterior
Next, spray-paint the outside of the pot. The bricks helped me get even coverage on the bottom part of the exterior. (No, I did not turn the pot upside-down to paint the underside. No one sees it, anyway!)
Step 7: Let It Dry
Let the paint dry on your pot for about 15 to 30 minutes before you put fresh dirt back in.
Don't you agree that the pot on the left looks like new compared to the sad, faded pot on the right? (Right after this photo was taken, I went to paint the other pot!)
Why Bother Sprucing Up an Old Pot?
The photo above shows how my square pot looked when it was brand-spanking-new. That first summer, I grew cucumbers in that huge pot. I used a wire trellis in the back of the container and planted the cucumber seeds in a row under it. I put red geraniums in the front of the pot to give the container some color and style.
Why did I do that? The best sun for growing vegetables is on my driveway. Unfortunately, that sunlit spot is visible from the street, and it is the first area a visitor sees. Since the pots are so visible, I wanted them to be attractive as well as useful. But after a few years in all that sun, the pots faded, and they were no longer so pretty. They were crying out for me to make them like new again.
Why I Prefer to Restore and Reuse Rather Than Re-Buy
I am all about reusing what I already own. Yes, I do throw old pots away, but if they are in good shape physically, there is no reason not to paint them. You might not agree with me, but I think my large outdoor pots look much better than they did before the "plastic surgery" spray-painting.
I saved myself several dollars by not purchasing new pots this year. I have seen pots on Amazon.com for about $15.00. I spent less than $4 for a can of paint. That leaves me with at least $11 for new plants to put in my beautiful, like-new pots.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Mickie Gee
What do you think of this project for sprucing up old pots? Please share in the comments!
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on April 27, 2018:
I did get some spray paint that was a mottled gray color (like stone) and sprayed my foam pots. Luckily the paint was on sale as I used a lot to get full coverage.
They look a lot better and I should get a few more years of use from them.
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on July 21, 2017:
OK, I'm going to do it. My lightweight pots on the patio are looking pretty scruffy now. I'm thinking I'll get one of those spray paints that they claim looks like stone. Wish me luck.
Deb Bryan from Chico California on February 23, 2016:
Thank you for this tutorial. I am frugal to a fault so I actually would have used them faded, but, I love this idea even more.
Sheilamarie from British Columbia on May 04, 2015:
You really have spruced up your pots this way. They look great!
kittyhappykitty on June 15, 2014:
Yay!! You have inspired me to do take on some planter projects! Thank you so much for your lens!
playulheart on June 15, 2014:
Love this. I am cheap too!
Mickie Gee (author) on April 21, 2014:
@paulahite: Thank you!
Paula Hite from Virginia on April 21, 2014:
Love this idea! Thanks! I've featured your lens on our Facebook page today too!
Fay Favored from USA on April 19, 2014:
I have several pots that need work, and this will do the trick. So glad I saw this.
Mickie Gee (author) on April 15, 2014:
@Elsie Hagley: I like the satin finish of the paint because it did not make the planters look too new.
Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on April 14, 2014:
Thanks for a "How to" article for spray painting plastic garden pots, they certainly look brand new after that spruce up.
gottaloveit2 on April 14, 2014:
Was looking for this exact thing just today. Thanks for writing this!