Can you do Venetian plastering by yourself?

Very much depends on the individual client’s experience in that field. 

Proper understanding and correct execution of Venetian plaster require some time depending on the individual, just as any other specialist job.

You need to understand the type of substrate upon which you want to apply the Venetian plaster.

You must consider whether Venetian plaster is suitable for that specific area of the house.

You should understand the method/s of applying the specific type of Venetian plaster you would like to use.

As there are many different types of Venetian plasters, there are certain differences in application.

There are many specialists in this field claiming years of experience, but their applications may be very poor.

On other hand, there are talented DIY people we have come across with beautiful results in Venetian plastering.

At the end of day, it’s all about whether the customer is satisfied with the final result or not.

What do I need for Venetian plastering?

Venetian plastering requires just a few tools, depending on which type of Venetian plaster is going to be used, also the total area and complexity of the application.

Tools needed for the application of smooth Venetian Polished Plaster:

  • Short pile roller (for a primer)
  • Smooth primer
  • Venetian plastering trowel – large, medium or small (depending on the type of Venetian plaster and area of application)
  • Spatula or filling knife with rounded corners (mostly 80mm and 150mm)
  • Stirrer or drill with a paddle
  • 240 grid, or 320 grid sandpaper after 1st and second coat, if required
  • 600 grid and 1500 grid sandpaper to sharpen edges of Venetian plastering trowel, if required
  • Water-based, Acrylic, or Synthetic wax to enhance and protect the Venetian plaster application
  • Cotton cloth to apply the wax with.
  • Lambswool bonnet to polish the wax with
  • Polishing machine if you want to speed up the process of polishing
  • Good quality masking tape and dust sheets covering as required
  • The pigment is optional as many plasters come pre-coloured.
What do I need for Venetian Marmorino plastering?

Venetian Marmorino or Travertino plastering requires just a few tools, depending on which type of Venetian plaster you choose to use, also the area and complexity of the application.

Tools needed for the application of smooth Venetian, Marmorino or Travertino Plaster:

  • Short pile roller (for a primer)
  • Gritty primer
  • Venetian plastering trowel – large, medium, or small (depending on the type of Venetian plaster and area of application)
  • Spatula or filling knife with rounded corners (mostly 80mm and 150mm)
  • Stirrer or drill with a paddle
  • 240 grid, or 320 grid sandpaper after 1st and second coat if required
  • Water-based, Acrylic, or Synthetic wax to enhance and protect Venetian plaster application
  • Cotton cloth to apply the wax with.
  • Lambswool bonnet to polish the wax with
  • Polishing machine if you want to speed up the process of polishing
  • Good quality masking tape and dust sheets covering as required
  • The pigment is optional as many plasters come pre-coloured.
Can Venetian plaster be applied over paint?

Yes, in general, but you must create a bond between the existing paint and the Venetian plaster.

Most of the cases you would come across involve emulsion paint.

If that’s the case, you will use recommended acrylic primer from your Venetian plaster retailer.

Make sure the paint is not peeling, dusty or mouldy.  If so, then it will require other procedures to correct it.

Remove, scrape off or sand down old peeling paint, and kill existing mould with a specialist product.

If you have old, non-absorbent paint on your wall, then you should sand your wall with 60 or 80 grid sandpaper to create a good key, and then apply a primer for non-absorbent surfaces.

After that primer has dried, then use a standard acrylic primer.

Does Venetian plaster need a primer?

YES !

Please do not try to use any old primer you find in your garden shed left by your builder …

Always take advice for a recommended primer and its correct dilution from your Venetian plaster retailer.

Some of these primers are smooth or gritty: smooth primers are generally used for Venetian Polished Plaster; gritty primers are used for Marmorino or Travertino Venetian Plasters.

Using the right primer saves asking the question:  Why is my Venetian Plaster peeling?

What colours does Venetian plaster come in?

Venetian plaster can come in any colour, as offered by your retailer.  The base is usually white, but some manufacturers do also stock a transparent base, which looks like an off-white. This transparent base is utilised to achieve deeper colours.

Venetian plaster can be coloured yourself or by your Venetian plaster retailer if they offer that service.

Colouring can be done by using a liquid mix of powdered pigments.

Venetian plaster can be manufactured with a metallic shimmer, mostly gold, silver or bronze.

Does Venetian plaster crack?

Yes, it does.

There are various reasons behind the cracking of Venetian plaster.

During application:

  • The plaster application is much too thick
  • Temperature is too high during drying time

To rectify these factors we need to act on them immediately.

After application:

Structural movement of whole brick or block wall due to the settling of a new foundation

  • Stud wall is not stable/strong enough
  • Timber Stud wall has expanded/contracted in the wet room area
  • Use of the wrong primer or no primer at all
  • Incorrect choice of Venetian plaster for a specific job
  • No (or poor execution of) anti-crack preparation coat

Essentially, to rectify these problems we should usually take practical advice on the cause.   If the substrate is fundamentally faulty, then we may need to remove the plaster and reapply the entire surface again.   We must first diagnose the depth of the plaster cracks to ascertain what is required to fix the situation effectively.

As we can see, most Venetian Plaster cracking is not related to the Venetian Plaster product itself or its application, but to the lack of substrate preparation in general.

What are the components of Venetian plaster?

The composition of Venetian plaster varies, depending on the type of plaster and (of course) the manufacturer’s secret formula.

Polished plaster Stucco Veneziano is a blend of:

Slaked lime putty (12–24 month-old)

Marble dust

Pozzolans, natural polymers and other natural binders

Venetian Marmorino, Travertino or Intonachino plasters are a composition of:

Slaked lime putty 12 to 24-months old

Marble dust

Marble, Granite or limestone grit (0.3 – 1.2 mm usually)

Pozzolans, Natural polymers and other natural binders

N.B Manufacturers’ formulas for Venetian plasters always vary. There is a different age of lime putty used, a different ratio of lime, marble dust or grit and type/amount of binders used.

What is the difference between Marmorino and Venetian Plaster?

In simple terms:  every Marmorino is a derivative type of Venetian plaster, but not every single kind of Venetian Plaster is Marmorean.

Other types of Venetian Plasters are Polished Plaster, Traverto/Travertino, and Intona/ Intonachino.

Polished Plaster and Venetian Plaster finishes

Polished plaster is a type of Venetian Plaster also known as Stucco Veneziano, Stucco Lucido or Lucidato.

Polished Plaster is mix of Slaked lime putty, Marble dust and natural binders

Polished Plaster is high gloss, usually interior wall finish which is applied by hand on a wall in a specific pattern.  Application is typically done in three coats but is not uncommon to apply even more coats – up to 7.   Wax is used for a protection and enhancing of the overall look.

Other types of Venetian Plasters may be called Marmorino, Intona, Intonachino, Traverto, Travertino or a variety of other names.

These Venetian Plasters are a mix of Slaked lime putty, Marble dust, Marble grit or other type of crushed stone, together with natural binders

Marmorino is a type of Venetian Plaster for interior and exterior (always check with manufacturer).  Marmorino can be fine, medium or large grit.

Intonachino is usually grittier than Marmorino mostly used for exteriors.

Travertino or Traverto are just names acknowledging the Travertine stone look, but the product is technically Intonachino.

In general, people should not be confused by names of products which are in many cases misleading but focus on the technical specifications of a particular product and the look that can be achieved with that product.

Is Venetian plaster waterproof?

Venetian plaster, particularly Marmorino Venetian plaster can be successfully used for walls in wet areas such as bathrooms or swimming pools.

Marmorino  is not waterproof on its own, but with combination of Stucco Sealer and Wax D’Arte, a substantial level of water resistance can be achieved.  Marmorino Venetian plaster is a natural highly breathable lime-based product with considerable resistance to mould, algae and mildew.  It responds to humidity and condensation in the house and does not erode or start to disintegrate or stain.

For bathroom applications, the ideal substrate for Marmorino to be applied on would be an anti-crack system with a fibreglass mesh, applied over either natural lime plaster, cement board, Aqua panels or Wedi board.

For optimum protection, a couple of coats of Stucco Sealer should be applied by foam roller.

Once the second coat has dried, apply some Wax D’Arte by cloth and polish using a Lambswool bonnet.  Your walls could be protected by a further coat of Wax D’Arte after a few years, depending on domestic usage.

Is polished plaster waterproof?

Polished Venetian Plaster such as High Gloss Polished Lime Plaster (Stucco Veneziano or Stucco Lucidato) is a highly breathable plaster which is not waterproof on its own.

Polished plaster with a wax protection can be used indoors in areas with increased humidity levels, such as bathrooms or swimming pools without direct contact with water.

If you plan to use Polished plaster for a shower corner, bathroom basin splashback or similar areas, the best policy is to use Marmorino plaster with compressed polished plaster in it.

These must be protected with Stucco Sealer and Wax D’Arte to achieve effective water repellence.

Is Venetian plaster heat-resistant?

Yes.  Lime-based Venetian plaster is definitely a good choice for chimney breasts, and around wood stoves, as it can resist the heat.

Great choices of Venetian plasters are Marmorino, Travertino or Intonachino.

However, it is not recommended much for inside areas of fireplaces with open fires, as cleaning could be more difficult.

Vertical areas around a wood stove should be covered by fire-resistant board covered by an anti-crack system prior to any Venetian plaster application.

Neither is wax recommended for protection for a vertical area around a wood stove but the outside part of chimney breast can be protected by it.

What is the process of ‘burnishing’ Venetian plaster?

When the last coat of Venetian Plaster gets to a stage when it’s just starting to dry, it can be polished with the edge of a Venetian Plaster trowel in a straight or curved motion, in any direction.

This stage is called burnishing.

There are differences between burnishing different types of Venetian plasters.

Venetian Polished Plaster 

The final coat of polished plaster should be applied on top of a fully dried second coat, in an extremely thin layer so that it will dry out rapidly, to ensure a speedily burnished finish.

Marmorino or Travertino Venetian plaster

The last coat (could be second or third) of this type of Venetian plaster is usually applied wet-on-wet, which means that the previous coat is still partially wet. In this method, the final coat of Venetian plaster should be compressed onto the previous one to create a smooth or smooth-and-shiny surface. If you cannot see an improvement at certain spots that means those parts are still too wet, so you should wait a while and come back to them later. Keep going over it till you hear a sound like a metal blade scratching a stone surface …

It may seem like hard work, but do not underestimate the burnishing process if you’d like to have your Venetian Plaster surfaces really beautiful, smooth and shiny.

Afterwards, when the Venetian Plaster is completely dry, you can use a water-based, synthetic or acrylic wax to enhance and protect the look of your hard work.  But do remember, the wax will make your Venetian plaster very glossy only if your burnishing result is really sound.

Can Venetian plaster be used in a bathroom?

Using Venetian Plaster in a bathroom is the healthiest and most environmentally friendly option you can find.

Lime-based Venetian Plaster is highly breathable, easily dealing with the varying humidity in a bathroom.  This everlasting finish has a great advantage as opposed to modern products, as it has intrinsic anti-mould and anti-algae properties.

Most walls can be simply waxed, but walls which will be in contact with a water such as shower corners or around a sink should be treated with a couple of coats of Stucco Sealer and Wax D’Arte.

Can you use Venetian plaster on furniture?

The answer is Yes, considering surface areas and usage of furniture.

In general, Venetian Plaster can be applied on MDF substrate by using an appropriate primer first.

If it comes to a single piece of MDF (preferably green – moisture resistant) ie. in the context of straight surfaces without any joints or corners, the application is quite simple.

However, if we have to plaster over joints or screws which are sunk into the wood, then preparation requires an anti-crack coat which is already thicker than Venetian Plaster itself, so that usually needs professional attention.

Venetian Plaster can be used on horizontal surfaces such as counters, desks and tables, but ideally should be protected by a sheet of glass.   That is the best way to protect horizontal Venetian Plaster against any excessive heat, splashes or scratches which may occur.

Can you use Venetian plaster on counter tops?

It depends on what the countertop is normally used for.  In theory, you can use it, but it’s advised to protect Venetian Plaster with a piece of glass.

Any Venetian plasters could become scratched or stained over time as they are not excessively hard.  Horizontal surfaces tend to get a lot of wear & tear and may have residual fluids sitting on them for extended periods.

Microcement could be a much longer-lasting option.

Can Venetian plaster be applied over drywall?

The direct application of Venetian Plaster over drywall has a high risk of future cracking. This very much depends on stud work structure.

To proceed with the application of Venetian Plaster, an Anti-crack coat should be created first.  In the case of an external corner of the room, there should be plastic corner beads with a mesh used.  Do not use galvanized beds with lime-based products as those react to lime.

Is Venetian plaster inflammable?

Absolutely!  Lime-based Venetian plaster is an anti-flammable product. That’s why it’s used for chimney breasts around traditional wood stoves and any similar scenario with a potential steep temperature rise.

Lime Venetian Plaster has a British Fire Classification of O.

Is polished plaster any good?

Natural Lime-based Venetian Polished plaster is a manually-applied decorative plaster which is incomparable to any other wall covering.  Natural Polished Plaster’s properties are superlative and have no match in the world of modern decor.

They feature the following benefits:

  • Breathability
  • Non-flammable
  • Natural lime-based
  • Humidity resistant
  • Mould and algae resistant
  • Timeless, classic appeal
  • Infinite colour & texture varieties
  • Stylish and low maintenance

These features make Polished Plaster the No.1 option in High-end decoration.

Can I sand Venetian plaster?

Venetian Polished plaster or Venetian Marmorino plaster with constituent fine marble grit can definitely be sanded.

But in general, Venetian Marmorino or Travertino plaster is NOT recommended for sanding because of its coarser marble grit content.

The final finish after sanding will most likely not be the overall look you expected.