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Can faded plastic pots be saved?

Updated on February 23, 2016
Mickie Gee profile image

Mickie Gee is a retired librarian and a grandmother. She learned all her book-repair tricks on the job!

You Betcha -- with a can of Rust-oleum Spray Paint!

If your plastic outdoor pots are as faded as mine, then you might like to know how I made mine look like new again. 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 by years of exposure to the elements.

I recently 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 that I could do to make them look better. 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", too.

As you can see from the photo here, 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 them 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!

All images belong to me: Mickie_G - all rights reserved.

See how wonderful the square terra-cotta colored plastic planters looked when they were new! - Container gardening can be beautiful!

My square terra-cotta plastic pot was new in this photo.
My square terra-cotta plastic pot was new in this photo.

Yes, the photo shows the way 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 sun-lit spot is visible from the street and it is the first area a visitor sees.

That is the reason why I wanted my pots to be pretty looking YET useful, too. Now after a few years in that sun, the pots have faded and they were crying out for me to make them like new again.

I used Rust-oleum Painter's Touch Spray Paint to renew my pots. - "Cinnamon" is the color that matched terra-cotta the best!

I knew that I wanted my squared planters to look like terra-cotta pots. 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 of the home improvement store. Satin Cinnamon was the closest match. I know, it sounds wrong, but as you can see, the finished color was just right.

I liked this paint because I only needed one can to cover the 2 large pots. This particular brand of spray paint covers 2x the area that one regular can of paint does. It also dies 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 has paint in it so I can make "touch ups" later.

I also used a flat black "Painter's Touch" on my wrought iron deck chairs. (You can see that "how to" by clicking How to Paint an Old Wrought Iron Chair.)

Rust-Oleum 240283 Painter's Touch Satin Spray, Cinnamon, 12-Ounce
Rust-Oleum 240283 Painter's Touch Satin Spray, Cinnamon, 12-Ounce

This can of spray paint has a different label than the one I have shown. It is the same product, however. This can of Painter's Touch has 2x the coverage of regular spray paint. As the salesperson explained to me, one does not need a primer coat.

The top of the can is an exact match to the color of the paint. Note that this paint is not glossy, it has a SATIN finish. That is what I wanted.

 

Do You Reuse Your Pots Year after Year?

One of my terra-cotta pots has a wise owl
One of my terra-cotta pots has a wise owl

Are you frugal, like me, and reuse your pots over again every year?

See results
Cinnamon Rustoleum Painter's Touch in Satin
Cinnamon Rustoleum Painter's Touch in Satin

How to spray paint your plastic planters: - Step by step instructions and tips.

These are the steps I used in painting my pots to make them like new again.

NOTE: 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; 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.

I like the Rust-oleum brand of spray paint and have used it on several projects. It dries quickly, too.

I had my terra-cotta plastic pot back in use in less than two hours.

If you have any questions, ask them in the comments section further down the page.

Time required: Less than 2 hours for 1 pot

Difficulty: easy

Cost: Inexpensive

Materials:

  • 1 can Rust-oleum Painter's Touch Spray Paint in Cinnamon

Tools:

  • Rag
  • Plastic Drop Cloth
  • Blocks or Bricks

Instructions:

1. Remove most of the potting mix from your pot.

I am lazy so I only removed about 1/3rd 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.

2. 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.

In my opinion, 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 to excess.

3. Place you outdoor container 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.

4. TIP: My husband suggested that I hold my can of Painter's Touch upside-down and shake it for at least 2 minutes. His theory is that the paint settles and the color is probably concentrated at the bottom of the can.

5. I sprayed the inside of the plastic pot first.

6. Spray paint the outside of the pot.

The bricks helped get even coverage on the bottom of the outside of the pot. No, I did not turn the pot upside down to paint the underside. No one sees it anyway.

7. 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? Now I am off to paint THAT pot.

Plastic Planters: Before and After - Spray Paint to the rescue!

Closer look at the plastic terra-cotta planters
Closer look at the plastic terra-cotta planters

Yes, there are other photos of my planters on this "how to" page, but they are quite small. I am including the same image in a larger format of my planters before and after they were spray painted. I hope you can see the improvement that the spray paint made.

Remember, all the images on this page were taken by me. I am not a professional and use my iPhone to take every picture. Just today, I was noticing that the snapdragons in one of the planters is about to bloom.

I am all about re-using 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.

What do you think of my "how to" page for painting plastic pots?

Did I give you courage and the knowledge to spruce up your out-door pots? - Re-using and refurbishing is a good thing.

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      5 months ago from Central Florida

      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 profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      15 months ago from Central Florida

      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.

    • GypsyOwl profile image

      Deb Bryan 

      2 years ago from Chico California

      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.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      Sheilamarie 

      3 years ago from British Columbia

      You really have spruced up your pots this way. They look great!

    • kittyhappykitty profile image

      kittyhappykitty 

      4 years ago

      Yay!! You have inspired me to do take on some planter projects! Thank you so much for your lens!

    • profile image

      playulheart 

      4 years ago

      Love this. I am cheap too!

    • Mickie Gee profile imageAUTHOR

      Mickie Goad 

      4 years ago

      @paulahite: Thank you!

    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 

      4 years ago from Virginia

      Love this idea! Thanks! I've featured your lens on our Facebook page today too!

      www.facebook.com/GreenThumbOnSquidoo

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      4 years ago from USA

      I have several pots that need work, and this will do the trick. So glad I saw this.

    • Mickie Gee profile imageAUTHOR

      Mickie Goad 

      4 years ago

      @Elsie Hagley: I like the satin finish of the paint because it did not make the planters look too new.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      4 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for a "How to" article for spray painting plastic garden pots, they certainly look brand new after that spruce up.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 

      4 years ago

      Was looking for this exact thing just today. Thanks for writing this!

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