Why Lime? Authentic, Natural Venetian Plaster History and Benefits
Imagine a beautiful villa in Italy. The walls are as artistic as the architecture itself, and have withstood the test of time by lasting over 300 years. Why not recreate Venetian plaster in your own home?
With the support of a trained professional, lime plasters can elevate the appearance of a building and enable construction professionals to differentiate their work, recapture the tradition of artisans from generations before, and create art on the wall.
• Very Breathable
• Wets and Dries Out FAST
• Naturally Mold-Resistant
• Natural & Green
Our lime plasters are extremely durable and less prone to shrinking and cracking than traditional cement finishes. A breathable system, our lime plasters allow water vapor to permeate freely so moisture evaporates quickly, unlike acrylic finishes which can trap moisture inside the wall.
When lime plasters cure, the result is hard-as-stone, long-lasting mineral coating. Our natural, oxide pigment system results in the preservation of lasting color in your walls.
Non-toxic and green, our lime plasters are ideal for interiors. Applied as a two- or three-coat veneer system, your walls will be left with excellent absorption and diffusion characteristics, leading to optimal indoor air quality.
Naturally high in pH, lime finishes act as an anti-bacterial surface, neutralizing the development of organic substances such as mold and fungus.
Marmorino is well known as a classic Venetian plaster. However, its origins are much older, dating to ancient Roman times. We can see evidence of it today in the villas of Pompei and in various Roman structures. In addition, it was written about in Vitruvio’s “De Architectura”, a 1st Century B.C. history of Rome.
This ‘new’ plaster conformed well to the classical ideal that had recently become fashionable in the 15th century Venetian lagoon area.
The first record of work being done with marmorino is a building contract with the nuns of Santa Chiara of Murano in 1473. In this document, it is written that before the marmorino could be applied, the wall had to be prepared with a mortar made of lime and “coccio pesto” (ground terra cotta). This “coccio pesto” was then excavated from tailings of bricks or recycled from old roof tiles.
At this point, to better understand the popularity of marmorino in Venetian life, two facts need to be considered. The first is that in a city that extends over water, the transport of sand for making plaster and the disposal of tailings was, and still is, a huge problem. So, the use of marmorino was successful not only because the substrate was prepared using terra cotta scraps, but also the finish, marmorino, was made with leftover stone and marble, which were in great abundance at that time. These ground discards were mixed with lime to create marmorino.
Marmorino and substrates made of “coccio pesto” resisted the ambient dampness of the lagoon better than almost any other plaster. The first because it is extremely breathable by virtue of the kind of lime used (the only lime which sets on exposure to air after losing excess water) and the second, because it contains terra cotta which, when added to lime, makes the mixture hydraulic. Therefore, it’s effective even in very damp conditions (because it contains silica and aluminium, bases of modern cement and hydraulic lime preparations).
The second consideration is that an aesthetically pleasing result could be achieved in an era dominated by the return of a classical Greco-Roman style, allowing less weight to be transmitted to the foundation when compared to the habit of covering facades with slabs of stone.
Usually, marmorino was white to imitate the stone of Istria, which was most often used in Venetian construction, but was occasionally decorated with frescoes to imitate the marble, which Venetian merchants brought home from their voyages to the Orient. (In this fascinating period of the Republic of Venice, merchants felt obliged to return home bearing precious, exotic marble as a tribute to the beauty of their own city).
Marmorino maintained its prestige for centuries until the end of the 1800’s when interest in it faded and was considered only an economical solution to the use of marble. Only at the end of the 1970’s, thanks in part to the architect Carlo Scarpa’s use of marmorino, did this finishing technique return to the interest of the best modern architects.