Venetian plaster is a highly decorative finishing technique used on walls both inside and outside. Historically, it has been widely used in affluent European houses. Today's Venetian plaster combines modern technology with the old world feel and look to create a new kind of Venetian plaster that is customizable and easy to apply. Read more to find out about the basics of Venetian plaster.
An American Misnomer
Venetian plaster is not technically a kind of plaster. It is merely a term used mostly by American architects and interior designers to this kind of technique of decorating walls. While plaster is primarily made of gypsum, Venetian plaster is more of a stucco kind of material composed traditionally of sand and lime or hydraulic lime, although modern techniques combine this with cement as well.
Most people admire the edgy simplicity of Venetian plaster on walls. Some say they can be a work of art by themselves, decorating the wall as wallpaper might.
Nowadays it is no longer needed to mix your own Venetian plaster with lime or hydraulic lime and sand. You will find many varieties of pre-made Venetian plaster in the paint section of your neighborhood home improvement store or center. They will usually come in cans or buckets, pretty much the same way that paint is sold as well. They will all come in different colors to suit your home decoration needs, although there are some varieties that will be sold without any color yet, and it's up to you to mix in your desired color for a more personalized feel.
How to Apply Venetian Plaster
To achieve the effect of Venetian plaster, you will need venetian plaster(in your chosen color), venetian plaster protective finish (optional), specially-designed Venetian plaster spatulas, drop cloth, painter's tape, 600-grit sandpaper and test board (optional).
First of all, cover the areas surrounding the wall with drop cloth, and secure in place with painter's tape. Before applying the actual Venetian plaster on the wall, you can try it on a test board first if you want. If you're confident about applying it, then use a Venetian plaster spatula to apply it on the wall. Make short, random strokes that overlap each other to give the plaster a rugged look. Don't worry about making it smooth and level. This is only the first layer.
Let the layer dry for around 1-4 hours, then apply a second layer. This time try to level out the uneven surfaces. Do this by putting the spatula at an angle perpendicular to the wall. Then let the 2nd layer dry as well. You can apply up to four layers depending on how textured you want the plaster to be.
Once you are confident of your final coat and it has completely dried, use the 600-grit sandpaper to polish the plaster. Do this in circular motions.
Venetian plaster is an easy, do it yourself way to bring some texture and color to an otherwise drab and lifeless wall. Because today there are ready-made Venetian plaster mixes that are commercially available, anyone can add a touch of class to their home with Venetian plaster.