Differentiating between Roman clay/Venetian plaster


The main difference between the two is that Roman clay is a modern term for a specialty textured paint* that can be used to imitate natural stone.  This product is only used for interiors*.  It is usually applied with a putty knife or spatula and creates a smooth, subtle background with some depth.    It can also be used to produce decorative effects, such as on fireplaces.  And you can find it on sale as a children’s art product for modeling.

Historically during the Roman Empire, clay was subjected to developments as a building material, with relatively limited ingredients, and used primarily for terracotta bricks & roof tiles (also pottery artifacts).   It became fired in kilns, where previously mud bricks had been dried out under the sun, so it represented a significant evolutionary stage in Mediterranean architectural culture.

Venetian plaster or stucco is an altogether more complex, substantial product that can be used both on interior walls and exterior facades because it has guaranteed durability and adaptability to a variety of weather and moisture conditions.   The marble dust introduced to the basic ‘recipe’ during the Renaissance period has the qualities we expect of marble: strength and glamour.  

Venetian plaster is applied in several layers to achieve the client’s desired effect, allowing time for each layer to dry off completely before covering.  It creates a spectacular 3-D illusion of depth and richness, of luxury.   Surfaces may be either textured or smooth.  There are newer variants that incorporate synthetic resins and polymers, and require fewer layers.  The choice is down to the client and their individual vision: a wide range of colour pigments is available to create emphasis and mood.



Make sure you ask your retailer for exact details of their stock before making an order.  Plastering is a complicated process and it’s wise to be fully prepared in terms of information before moving ahead with your project plan, whether you are going to venture into DIY or use one of our skilled artisans.