Transform Thrift Store Finds to Look Like Aged Concrete

How to make budget-friendly DIY aged concrete faux finishes on vases, bowls and planters that are trending now in home decorating without needing concrete. Here’s another reason to try your hand at creating weathered, textured, and artisan decorative pottery finishes on items for your home.

It’s a good way to use leftover paint and supplies from previous decorating and home improvement projects.

If you like the look of aged garden planters and flower pots made of cement, terra cotta or plaster to use in your home, but not the price tag, then I have an easy DIY project that anyone can do. No artistic skills needed.

I also used the same faux finishing technique I am showing you here to make a large concrete look planter bowl for my foyer.

All you need to find is an item at the thrift store or around your home in a shape you like. Once you have an item, its transformation time using one of many textured, painted finishes to achieve real looking aged concrete or cement, stone, distressed terra cotta, earthenware and more.

Clippings from magazine and catalogs of old world style pottery. I use these images for inspiration.

I am drawn to the look of these old world style or whatever you want to call them – aged garden planters, distressed or handcrafted vases and pots that have more of an organic textured finish.

I have been clipping and saving images from magazines and home decorating catalogs to use as inspiration and a guide to what colors to use to make my own DIY aged concrete planter.

Some Old World Finishes That Inspired Me

Decorative Items That Can Be Aged using Paints and Stucco Paste

I have been experimenting with creating an aged finish on a few items I had in my decorating stash and that I bought at the thrift store. You may remember earlier this year when I transformed a colorful ceramic planter and pumpkin using spray paint to have a modern vibe.

Fall Vase and pumpkin made to look like plaster. Vase filled with white flowers.
For this vase and pumpkin, I used Stucco Patch with white and grey craft paint.

Now I am after creating a more organic feel for my decor with layers, natural colors and textures.

This urn and plastic pumpkin were my first attempts. I have finished a few more items using a similar technique that I will show you in this post.

Creating an old world finish or DIY aged cement look may sound hard, but it couldn’t be easier as the steps are like finger painting. For real! No two items you create will look the same and the options for color combinations is endless.

What Kind of Paint & Materials are Needed to Make a Textured DIY Aged Cement Finish?

When I first started trying to make my own DIY stone pottery, I attempted to make my own large bowls using concrete. It was a total failure and way too messy.

I found there is a faster, even less expensive way to get the look of aged cement without using concrete or even Hypertufa. You may already have everything you need right in your home to create it.

How to apply stucco paste to create the look of an aged plaster or concrete planter or urn.

As I experimented with different materials to produce texture, I found what worked the best for the look I wanted. It was using ready-mixed Stucco Patch. It costs around $7.00 for a tub.

But Stucco patch is not the only medium you can use to add old world porous texture to an item. Once your item is primed, you can proceed using many different options to create the look of textured aged cement, earthenware, plaster, terra cotta or stone. See the list at the end of this post.

How To Transform Any Item to Have a Textured Aged Cement Finish

When creating an old world faux finish on existing planters, vases, and bowls, or any item you want the steps are the same. What changes is the medium you use (stucco patch, grout, paint) and the color you want. You can even use a mix of all of them. That is what makes a finish look old, lots of different layers.

Most aged finishes run in varying shades of these colors: alabaster, burnt orange, brown, grey, and black. So to make your item look realistic stay within these colors, but of course don’t be afraid to create something entirely unique to fit your decorating style.

The best way to start your project is to see what paint, Spackle, joint compound, Plaster of Paris, or grout you have left over from a previous project. Then proceed using one of these to create your finish. If you don’t have any on hand, then I would choose a pre-made mix of stucco patch or joint compound that you can buy at the home improvement store. No messy mixing will be involved.

The aging and texturing process is all about layering and also about removing part of the layers at times to get aged looking concrete, plaster or terra cotta finish.

I added an aged finish to two planters and a pumpkin. One of the vases was badly chipped and was saved from the trash by adding texture over it. So it has been given a new life. :-) See them at the end of this post.

For this tutorial I am going to show you the process I used on a $6.50 thrift store planter. At the end of the post, I will show you a few more layering techniques that you can use. This way you can decide what look you like best and how to proceed.

Creating a DIY Aged Cement Finish Step-By Step Directions

supplies needed:

  • Spray primer
  • 100 grit-sandpaper
  • Water-based paint or stain – acrylic, latex or chalk paint. I used craft paint bought at Michaels and Hobby Lobby:
    • DecoArt Americana – Cobblestone
    • Craftsmart – Grey
    • Craftsmart -Premium Barnwood Stain
  • Silka Stucco PatchHome Improvement store
  • Spackle
  • Inexpensive chip paint brush
  • Sea sponge or balled up rag
  • Old toothbrush
  • Latex gloves to protect your hands
  • Extra rags or paper towels to wipe excess paint from surface

Time needed: 1 hour and 15 minutes

How to Add a Textured Aged Cement Look to a Thrift Store Vase, Planter of Bowl

  1. Find an Item to Transform

    You can use any item as long as the surface doesn’t move. The surface has to be rigid. For instance you can’t use a flimsy plastic pot. The painted finish will crack right off when dry.
    Large Decorative Bowl with flower pattern before getting a aged paint finish using stucco paste.

  2. Choose Paint Color

    Choose the color paint or stain you want before starting. You can use any acrylic craft paint or stain, chalk paint or any non-oil based paint you have on hand in the color you want.

    Paints and materials used to transform a dated thrift store planter to a trendy planter.

  3. Prime the Surface

    Prime the surface – with a 100 grit sandpaper and one coat of spray primer. Let dry.

    Ceramic Planter after being spray primed.

  4. Add a Texture Layer

    Add the texture layer using a sea sponge or cheap “chip paint brush” by dabbing the stucco
    patch over the entire surface. Let dry.

    Brushing on stucco patch to create texture on a ceramic planter.

  5. Add a Color Layer

    Water down your paint so it is runny. Apply this over the dried texture surface using a dabbing motion as well as brush strokes using a paint brush. You want the color to look inconsistent. Let dry.

    Using a sea sponge to apply paint over texture layer of stucco patch on large bowl planter.

  6. Add a Thick Smooth Layer

    Apply a thick smooth layer. I used Spackle. Rub it into the textured surface with a gloved hand. Really push it in and then wipe your hand over the surface to spread it out.

    You don’t want to cover the entire surface with this, only sections as you want the under color layer to be exposed in random spots.

    Adding Spackle layer to age planter.

  7. Smooth Spackle Layer

    Using your hand, press and smooth Spackle into the nooks and crannies of the textured finish.

    If you prefer a smoother look, spray some water over the surface and use your hand to smooth. Let dry.

    Rubbed on Spackle layer

  8. Apply Accent Color

    Add accent coloring if you want. For my piece, I wanted a few dark speckles. I used Barnwood stain, but you can mix black and brown craft paint with a small amount of water to get the same effect.

    Dip an old toothbrush with stiff bristles into the stain or paint.

    Place the loaded toothbrush over the surface with one hand and then with the other hand, run your thumb over the bristles so the paint will fling off in a speckle pattern on the surface. Let dry.

  9. All Done!

    Finished Planter Now with an Aged Concrete finish.

DIy Textured vase close up with greenery.
Close up shot of planter after it got a makeover to make it look like aged concrete.

Other Items I Transformed to Look Aged

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I have been experimenting with a few different mediums and items. Here is a look.

Transform a Fake Pumpkin to Look Like Aged Concrete

Large chipped white urn and plastic pumpkin before getting the look of DIY aged concrete.

I transformed this fake craft store pumpkin using the same technique I used on the planter.

Close up of fake pumpkin getting a textured aged concrete look.

Once I let the Stucco Patch dry a little, I ran a gloved finger down each crevice in the pumpkin and let it dry. I then repeated the process and let it dry.

Paint added to fake pumpkin that is being made to look like plaster.

When the stucco was dry, I dabbed watered down Ivory craft paint over the surface until I liked what I saw.

Transform a Small Decoration

Decorative gold acorn before getting a new aged finish with paint.

I have had this decorative acorn in my stash for a few years now. The color no longer speaks to me.

DIY concrete look finish on planter and rustic aged decorative acorn.

Now it does.

I used this textured Rustoleum spray paint.

  • When the paint was dry, I watered down flat white paint and brushed it over the surface. When it was almost dry, I wiped most of it off. Doing this revealed the black spray paint layer and a bit of the original gold finish.

Pottery Barn Large Ceramic Bowl

You will most likely see this in use at Christmas.

Inside look at large Pottery Barn bowl.
Before: Pottery Barn Bowl
Inside of Pottery Barn Bowl with a painted aged finish to resemble concrete.
AFTER with an Aged Concrete Finish

Why You Should Not Be Afraid To Paint Any Item

One thing you may be asking yourself – “What if I don’t like the finish I create?” The answer is, if you don’t like the finish, you can simply submerge it in water and after a few hours you will be able to rub the finish right off. No damage done to the ceramic, plastic or glass.

I did this years ago on a black planter I painted purple. I didn’t like the color so I then painted it white. Before it was totally dry, I realized I didn’t like the white either. I placed the planter in my sink and ran water over it while I rubbed the surface with a rag.

As I was doing that and some of the paint came off, I loved what I saw. It came out with one amazing finish.

So as you work on your items, remember not to be afraid to remove parts of layers that don’t look right. Then add more layers until you like what you see. It will only add to the piece.

For more inspiration on how to layer paint to create an aged or rustic finish, see this post on how I aged a boring brass chandelier in my previous home:

Before & After Vases With Old World Finishes Created Using Different Mediums:

  • To create a textured aged finish on a vase, Cami at Tidbits used joint compound and paint.
  • Jenna Sue Design made her own concrete vases using Hypertufa and experimented with a few other materials and paint to acquire an aged finish on her concrete creations.

This list will give you the pros and cons of the different texture and layering mediums you can use. All work well:

  • Textured Spray Paint – Rustoleum makes spray paint that when sprayed produces an overall textured finish. The formulas that say Stone on the label provide an overall speckled texture. Using these alone won’t get you an old world aged look by themselves, but they can be used as the base texture after you prime your item and let it dry.
  • Concrete – Has to be made from scratch. It a heavy and messy project that may not set right or crumble if not mixed right. It can also be mixed with Hypertufa (mix of rocks bonded together) to the mix as well as peat moss and a few other ingredients that will lessen the heaviness.
  • Plaster of Paris – It’s one way to create textured layers. It may come off when dried depending on the surface. Make sure to use a primer.
  • Grout – Either smooth or sanded grout – Buy pre-mixed as it is easier to work.
  • Spackle or Joint Compound – Both of these will work. Spackle does not shrink and takes a long time to dry. Joint compound does shrink and depending on how it dries, may produce small cracks. This isn’t a bad thing as cracks in the surface will only help the finish look older.
  • Water-Based Paint – Acrylic craft paints and chalk paint are the easiest way to create a non-textured aged finish.
  • Ready Mixed Stucco Patch – When you want texture like concrete, this ready-made mix is what I found works the best.

No matter what medium you use to create your DIY textured and aged finish, enjoy the process. Once you finish creating new decorative items for your home, pat yourself on the back for your efforts and the fact that you saved you a lot of money to get the look you wanted for your decor.

Video of Faux Concrete Finish DIY

You May Also Like:

Faux finished ceramic planter now looks like aged concrete. Text overlay says Easy DIY faux concrete on a thrift store budget.

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  1. Hello. I am in love with your technique. I recently acquired a plethora of mature plants from a neighbor who is moving and can’t take them with her. They are all in pots in dire need of a makeover. Question, as I can’t find the answer in recent searches I’ve tried… would it be possible/advisable to pre-tint the stucco patch with a non-oil-based paint before applying to the pot? I wonder if that would keep the color longer.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Deana – Yes you could add a tint to the stucco patch and mix it well. I think it would work well. Add a little bit at a time, mix and then decide how it looks.

  2. I’m impressed with your use of materials that might be left over from other projects. And the way you explain the process is not intimidating like some others . . . thanks!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks for taking the time to tell me DT. It is nice to hear that my tutorials are easy to understand and make the project doable. Best thing a DIY blogger could here. :-)

  3. Brilliant! I can’t wait to try these methods! One question: How do these hold up outdoors?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sharon – The stucco finish will hold up, but if you paint over it, the paint will slowly lighten or wear away over time if left out in the elements with no overhead protection like a porch roof.

  4. So lovely. Thank you for sharing your great tips.

  5. Christine S says:

    I love this look. I’ve been looking for something like this and I appreciate you sharing the tips to make it work the best. I can’t wait to get started!

  6. Barbara S. says:

    I used your technique on a couple thrift-store flower urn vases and love how they turned out. Your multiple-step technique is better, I think, than others I’ve seen where you just mix baking soda into acrylic paint. The spackle step made the difference! Thank you.

  7. JudyMarzano says:

    Hi there I loved everything you did, thank you so much for sharing, can this technic be used on wood? And would modpodg, Or polyurethane work for a sealer?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Judy – Yes – the faux aged concrete look can be done on any surface. You could use water-based poly like Minwax Polycrylic in a matte or flat finish. Mod Podge would work as long as you use matte, as I don’t think you would want the finish to be shiny.

  8. Gilmer Gal says:

    I read someplace that a DIY’er did something similiar with floor tile grout. I love this look!

  9. Stacy Burton says:

    Hello, I really have no idea how I found you he, he😄, but I am so grateful I did!! You are a very creative lady; to say the least. I have so many pots, vessels, bowls and even an acorn you have in your pictures!😃 For so long I have thought I don’t need to go buy new, I just need to figure out how to make what I have look cool and different. Thank you so much for sharing all of your hard work and lovely creations with everyone! Now I can jump right in……After surgery that is. Take care. Blessings, Stacy

  10. Would this method work on metal? I have a metal vase with thin handles and just wondering if this method would work.

    1. Love this. Is there a way to seal it for something that will
      Live outside?

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Sara – Since the product used is Stucco and craft paint, the finish may hold up just fine outdoors in the elements. The only thing I think you could seal it with would be concrete sealer. It is sold in the paint dept at the home improvement store. It may be white in the can, but dries clear.

  11. Hi there! Thank you for this blog and diy it was very helpful! I do have one question though. For the first project above, you dabbed the stucco then Painted and then you added smooth thick layer of spackle, is the stucco and spackle the same thing because spackle was not in the items needed for the project? It’s just all these projects with the mediums are confusing so I wanted to be sure you just called it something different.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jess – Sorry about leaving the Spackle from the supplies list in my post. I just added it. Thanks for telling me. To answer your question. Stucco and Spackle are two different products. Stucco is is sandy looking and dries very hard like concrete. Spackle is smooth. I used the Spackle over the stucco to vary the texture of the finish. I think it makes for a more realistic finish when you add layers of each.

      If you are going to do the finish on an item, my advise is to not overthink it, just layer the products on as shown in the photos, step back and look – add more until you like what you see. :-) I hope this helps. Happy DIYing.

  12. Hi Diane:
    So you are using both stucco and spackle?
    Also, to be able to use it outside, How would you recommend replacing with grout? Both the spackle and the stucco or only the spackle?
    In which order did you apply your colors? Dark yo light or vice versa? Did you apply any black wash?
    Thanks for response and this pots look beautiful and natural.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Ellie – I used both the stucco patch and spackle. The spackle adds a little smoothness to the sandy texture of the stucco patch. Layering the spackle on over the dried stucco texture makes the surface texture resemble concrete more than just using one or the other and adds the white color.
      You could use grout in the same way.

      I used the darker grey paint over the stucco patch and wiped it away in areas and then added the lighter grey. Let dry and then add the white spackle layer.

      I did not apply black wash. I loaded an old toothbrush with dark paint and the held it over the surface and used a finger to splatter the color randomly over the surface.

      I hope this helps. It is very easy – don’t overthink it as the more random you apply the layers the better it will look.

  13. Marie-Interior Frugalista says:

    Wow, I love this! Such a great way to breathe new life into dated decor.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Marie – Since doing this piece, I have been looking at other items I can do the same thing on.I have the supplies now, so I may as well use them up and save money. I will post about them as I complete them.

  14. Beth Bryan says:

    This is such a great tutorial! Love the look of all of these, Diane!

  15. They do look incredible! Well done.

  16. These turned out fabulous! They really look like concrete,lol! Thanks for the tutorial, Diane, but I have one question. Can these be used as planters or will the moisture from watering the plants start to eat away the finish?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sharon – The only way the finish on an item you makeover would wear away would be if the item itself was made of very porous material. Ceramic, glass and hard plastic will be fine.

  17. I absolutely love the look of the planter and the acorn! Great ideas that I can’t wait to try ?. Thank you also for the links for more ideas!

  18. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    Love them so much! I’ve been going crazy making my old pottery look like terracota

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Julia – I love the look and have been seeing it everywhere, but not liking the prices. So DIY is the way to go. I have been immersed in it and enjoying the process. I will come check out what you have done.

  19. so if it can be removed by soaking, then will keeping and watering a live plant or exposing the planter to rain cause the finish to fall off?!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Karen –
      Placing a plant in and watering will not effect the finish. For outside use, it would take a long time for the finish to wear down. The Spackle/joint compound is the part that may not hold up to constant rain. If you want to use an item outside, you should use Grout as the smooth texture layer. It is harder and will be more durable. To remove the finish, you really need to scrub – hard. :-)

  20. Oh my gosh I love this Diane! I can’t wait to try it, I have several pieces that would look great with a new look.

  21. Lynn Woodall says:

    Another great and inspiring idea! l think I will experiment on a red clay pot that has a hairline crack that this technique should easily cover. Thanks for sparking my creativity.

  22. I love how your planter turned out! This is a technique that I think would look great on a topiary vase that I have. Thank you for sharing it:)

  23. Love all of the items!!!!! I have 2 plastic flowerpots I will try this on for next year. It’ll be a great winter project?