Venetian plaster is also known by several other names, such as marble plaster, Italian plaster, lime-based plaster and polished plaster. Whichever name you know it by, you can’t deny that this particular finish on walls and ceilings is spectacular to look at. Why look at boring, plain walls when you can have Venetian plaster, which is not only beautiful to look at, but also features plenty of benefits? Let’s dive into all there is to know about Venetian plaster.
HISTORY & ORIGINS
If we want to get specific, Venetian plaster has existed almost since the beginning of the earth. In fact, historians have traced it as far as the first century A.D. to Mesopotamian times. Though it probably was quite different from what Venetian plaster is today after undergoing several improvements, limestone (the base for lime putty, Venetian plaster’s main ingredient) is as old as the earth itself. Ancient Greece and Egypt both used lime-based plasters in their buildings, and it really blew up in times of the Roman Empire, where this lime-based plaster was largely used to imitate natural stone surfaces within palazzos, villas, and cathedrals. Later on during the Italian Renaissance, it surged in popularity again for interior and exterior home decoration.
Fun fact: Several famous artworks, such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, were created in a similar method to Venetian plaster, called Fresco. Frescos are mural paintings done on freshly laid wet, lime plaster.
Venetian plaster got its name from Venice, Italy, where they largely used it to create a marble effect, yet keep their buildings somewhat watertight. Marmorino, a variation of Venetian plaster, was extensively used in the area of Veneto itself, in Venice. Venetian plaster clearly goes a long way back, even though the name wasn’t coined till recent times, and though it was primarily used for building purposes back then, today it is used widely for its aesthetic value, mainly as decorative wall finishes.
TEXTURE & FINISH
As Venetian plaster can contain up to 40% marble dust, it can be polished up to a high sheen. It’s actually a durable material, and it gets stronger with time. What happens is that Venetian plaster is applied in many thin layers using a variety of methods, and then burnished to create a smooth, polished surface. The result is a marble-lous polished plaster finish that creates the illusion of depth and texture, creating a soft, earthy vibe incomparable to other surface finishes. Venetian plaster is also versatile where it can feature a rock-hard, marble-like finish befitting its ingredient, and can also be coloured or tinted using both natural and synthetic colourants to create colours that you desire. And voilà! You now have a decorative wall that swirls with texture and is beautiful to look at.
Venetian plaster isn’t just a pretty face; it actually has several benefits as well. As a lime-based plaster, it absorbs carbon dioxide in the air as it is applied layer by layer, and turns back into limestone (its original form) with each application. That’s what we call a win-win situation with less CO2, and stronger walls! It is also alkaline in nature, and with its high pH levels, it acts as a natural fungicide, which means that you don’t have to worry about mould or mildew. And if you’re worried about maintenance of the polished plaster, fret not! It’s actually super low-maintenance, where wiping it down with a damp cloth is sufficient. For added protection, you can also add a wax layer on top of the plaster to repel dirt further. There’s a reason why Venetian plaster finishes are called a “lifetime finish” – it’s incredibly durable. As aforementioned, the plaster hardens even more over time, and is less prone to cracking and shrinking than cement finishes. For more benefits of Venetian plaster, you can click here!
TYPES OF VENETIAN PLASTER
There are actually plenty of Venetian plaster types available in the market, depending on your taste and preference. At Vasari, there are three types of plaster you can choose from: Veneziano, Marmorino, and Stucco.
Veneziano is a versatile traditional plaster most suitable for interiors and shower stalls. Applied in thin layers, Veneziano creates smooth finishes, soft and subtle tones, and highly-polished surfaces. Made from slaked lime and finely-ground marble dust, Veneziano has a minimal to light texture, medium to high sheen, and has the finest and smoothest finish among all Venetian plaster types Vasari carries. What’s more, you can also opt for dramatic colour variation, where more than 60 shades are available for your choice.
Marmorino differs from Veneziano slightly; it is also made from slaked lime and finely-ground marble dust, but fine marble sand is also added into the mix. As such, Marmorino has more texture than Veneziano, allowing for more depth. Depending on your preference, Marmorino can be smooth with little sheen, or more mottled and textured with a slightly rougher finish. As with Veneziano, you can combine colours, waxes, and application methods. Suitable for interiors, semi-exteriors, and shower stalls as well, especially after combined with protective coatings.
The most textured among the three, the Stucco Venetian plaster is made from slaked lime and finely-ground marble dust, but this time, both fine and coarse marble dust are included as well. Although rougher than Veneziano and Marmorino, you could still choose to have it applied smooth with little sheen, or of course, let its rough texture come through. As a rough finish, the sheen is low with Stucco, but those who prefer texture and depth might find this mighty appealing. As with the rest, Stucco is suitable for interiors, semi-exteriors, and shower stalls.