Venetian Plaster Demystified

by Regina Garay

Let’s get the low-down on a high-style finish, with our Decorative Painting and Surface Design Expert, and Contributor Regina Garay. Regina blogs about her artistry and inspiration at Fauxology.

Venetian Plaster is a technique that has been around for hundreds of years — but there are many misconceptions about it, especially for those who are trying it on their own.  Here’s the scoop….

Deep Red Acrylic VP with a Walnut Wax

Venetian Plaster is a gorgeous finish and fits easily within numerous design styles: from Modern to Mediterranean.  This is because the finish showcases texture, but it is smooth to the touch — thereby ensuring that even the sleekest environments can be a good home for this technique.

Green Blue Metallic Venetian Plaster

In 2006, I traveled to Italy to be trained in Venetian Plaster applications.  (For the record, nothing is quite as unnerving as working on your boards while several Italian men stand behind you speaking in rapid Italian about your work!) 

While there, I was told that Venetian Plaster was created due to demand for marble structures in the city of Venice — yet, unfortunately, marble could not be used since the weight would cause a plunge into the canal. 

The solution? Marble dust was mixed into plaster, troweled on and buffed…voila!  A beautiful, marble sheen without the weight.  Hence the name: Venetian Plaster.

Distressed Marmorino Ceiling

Acrylic Venetian Plaster with a Metallic Wax

All Venetian Plasters are not created the same. There are two main types:

  1. Lime-Based (Marmorino)
  2. Synthetic (Acrylic)

Traditionally, Italian plasters are lime-based. These, when applied correctly, dry to a natural luminescent stone state. They are mold-resistant and are an environmentally sound choice. Most professionals will choose the ethereal quality of lime-based products over the synthetic.

This is not to say synthetic plasters are bad — on the contrary, high-end synthetic plasters take deep colors beautifully, are easier to match to a specific color and are less difficult to apply, a boon for DIYers. Many professionals also enjoy the results of a quality synthetic Venetian plaster.

Chunky Acrylic VP with a Teak Wax

MarmorinoMarmorino Ceiling with an Oak Wax

Some tips to remember:

1) Always start with a smooth surface.  Most walls have an orange peel or knockdown texture — they will need to be sanded, smoothed out (“skim coat”) and primed properly before the start of any Venetian plaster.

2) Although some manufacturers suggest rolling on the first coat of plaster, most professionals will tell you that a trowel coat will help achieve a more polished look.  Much harder to do but worth the elbow grease.

3) The best trowels to use are an angled hand trowel and a Japan scraper

4) Two coats will give you a nice finish but a third coat (possibly followed with a wax coat) gives the most translucency and depth.  Most plasters will need to be buffed quickly for the best shine.

5) A wax coat adds durability to your finish — highly desirable in kitchen, bathroom or hallway.  The synthetic and lime based plasters use different waxes so please contact the manufacturer of your chosen plaster to suggest the best wax to use. 

6) You can also use tinted waxes to deepen the plaster or metallic waxes to add a bit of “wow!” to the finish.

Acrylic Venetian Plaster with a High Gloss


Decorative Painter Regina GarayI hope this helps clear up any confusion, and gets your wheels turning, about where—and how—to use the beautiful Venetian Plaster technique.  Any questions? I’m all ears.

Regina Garay is an accomplished artisan with creativity and energy to spare. A specialist at all manner of decorative painting techniques, she shares with us tips, how-to’s and trends in surface design, as well as inspiration from the design of public spaces.

Owner and Creative Director for Orlando, Florida’s Garay Artisans, Regina also pens the popular Fauxology blog.

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6 Comments for “Venetian Plaster Demystified”

Wicked post on the ins and outs of “Venetian Style Plaster”. You know me I love my Lime Plaster. You did a great job of breaking things down and educating those interested.

Thank you, Darrell! I prefer lime-based plasters too but love how synthetics can take any color you need them to. 🙂 Either way, a gorgeous finish!

Wow, Darrell. Looks like you’ve done some wicked work yourself. And I agree, Regina’s post is really helpful.

Have a great week!

[…] know any better and it was a lot of work for her for very little result.  It inspired me to write Venetian Plaster Demystified for those looking to try it on their own and need a bit of […]

[…] you’d like to see more of our work and info on Venetian Plaster, please do check out our Venetian Plaster Demystified post over on the lovely Home Workshop blog.  I’ve tried quite a few product lines and have […]

[…] it and provides accurate information for you.  The pages it brought up for this image — my Home Workshop guest blog post Venetian Plaster Demystified and my Pinterest page — both lead back to my studio, Garay […]

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