Fact or Fiction: 5 Things You’ve Probably Heard About Venetian Plaster

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A lot of people throw around the term “Venetian plaster,” but what does it really mean?

5 things you’ve probably heard about Venetian plaster, and why they are wrong:

1. You’ve heard: “Venetian plaster is a faux finish.”

The truth: Authentic Venetian plaster is not a faux finish. In fact, it’s the most authentic veneer wall finish you can have. When natural, lime-based venetian plaster is applied it will eventually return to it’s original state, which is lime and marble, AKA stone.

2. You’ve heard: You can buy Venetian plaster at Lowes or Home Depot.

The truth: You will find products labeled “Venetian plaster,” but they are actually composed of acrylic polymers and fillers such as gypsum and/or clay. While these synthetic Venetian plasters made by paint manufacturers may look somewhat similar to the real thing to the untrained eye, it’s been our experience that these synthetics will ultimately fade and become “tired” looking over a relatively short period of time, just like painted walls. Unlike real Venetian Plaster, synthetic Venetians are more closely related to paint than to stone, so this should come as no surprise.

3. You’ve heard: Venetian plaster can’t be applied in the shower, on exteriors, or on any surface that will get wet.

The truth: True Italian Venetian plaster is actually a wonderful choice for surfaces that will get wet. Lime plasters perform extremely well in wet climates by simply allowing any water that is absorbed into the plaster to quickly evaporate and exit the structure. That’s why they’re called Venetian plaster, because they can tolerate rising damp and canal-side applications like in the lagoons of Venice that would cause failure in acrylic and cement plasters. Traditional Moroccan lime plaster Tadelakt has been used in the Hammams (the traditional Moroccan steam baths), and in the riads of Marrakech for centuries. 

4. You’ve heard: Anyone can apply Venetian plaster in their home.

The truth: Well, it’s true that anyone can apply it. But applying it well is a different story. While we definitely aren’t saying you’ll be a pro after one day, our new Introduction to Authentic Venetian Plaster is a good place for a beginner to start understanding the do’s and dont’s of Venetian plaster application. Also, consider hiring a skilled contractor to do the job.

5. You’ve heard: Installing Venetian plaster in your home will break the bank.

The truth: Unlike paints which must be reapplied over and over, Venetian plaster is a lifetime finish. The material is self-healing, much less likely to crack than cement finishes, and naturally mold-resistant, resulting in beautiful walls that will withstand the test of time. Green building will be a key part of America’s economic future, and authentic Venetian plasters are not only beautiful, they fit perfectly into the future of green building.

6. You’ve heard: Venetian plaster is really shiny.

The truth: OK that’s 6 things, not 5. You caught me. Just consider this as bonus knowledge. Yes, Venetian plaster can be brought up to a natural high sheen by compressing the material as it dries. The more compression, the higher the sheen. However, natural lime plasters can also be finished to a rustic matte or satin sheen, depending on which material is used and how it is applied. The possible looks and finishes for Venetian plaster are limitless!

Got any more questions about Venetian plaster? Feel free to ask and we’ll do our best to shed some light on the subject. Ready to experience authentic Venetian plaster for yourself? Visit our store and get all the materials you need, or sign up for one of our classes and learn how to plaster like a pro.

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