Mixing Your Mediums
There are a few ways to look at the notion of mixing Venetian Plaster and cement, with the answers being wildly different depending on which of these notions we are considering.
The first—and most obvious—way of mixing Venetian Plaster and Cement is to literally mix them to create a part-cement, part-plaster product to be applied to the surface that is being covered. Venetian Plaster is often combined with aggregates to achieve the desired effect, but there is no reason to do this with cement, even if though it is possible. Venetian Plaster is often used to create an industrial concrete look, and cement is not needed to achieve that look. Meanwhile, cement has many properties that counteract some of the more desirable traits of Venetian Plaster, such as CO2 absorption. Also, while concrete does not counter the naturally mould and mildew resistant properties of lime, it would dilute it.
Another way you could mix cement, and Venetian Plaster is in a structural sense, such as using cement to form the base upon which the plaster would be applied. Unfortunately, this is not a good idea. When set, concrete is an extremely porous material, and a very poor substrate for plaster of any kind to adhere to.
Finally, the two could be mixed aesthetically, such as using cement for the floor of a room, and Venetian Plaster on the walls. This form of combining the two is absolutely possible, and even a cost-effective way to achieve a high-quality industrial look.
Mixing Venetian Plaster and Cement Aesthetically
Venetian Plaster is more than capable of creating the industrial, concrete look that cement produces, but it is expensive, and the finished product is not quite as durable as the real thing.
If you are going for an industrial look, it could be a good idea to keep your Venetian Plaster to the walls and ceilings and use regular concrete for the floors and any other surfaces that might be subjected to a higher amount of abuse.
Granted, regular concrete will never have quite the same allure as a concrete-styled Venetian Plaster (though microcement can come pretty close), but it may be preferable to have slightly more drab floors when weighed against the cost of continually repairing a Venetian Plaster alternative. It is also possible to polish concrete, giving it a considerably more refined look that might be more in line with the plaster, depending on the finish used there.
Microcement is by no means a replacement for Venetian Plaster when it comes to the look and feel of the final result. However, microcement does form an excellent middle ground between the hard-wearing concrete and the beautiful Venetian Plaster.
Microcement is a form of cement that contains polymers and other ingredients that give it a degree of flexibility that regular concrete lacks. It can be used to create large, smooth, unbroken spaces that, for normal concrete, would require breaking into smaller sections to avoid cracking. With microcement, the material has enough give in it to flex ever so slightly with the movement of the structures around it, preventing it from cracking, and allowing you to have a much more cohesive feel to your designs.
Microcement is also very durable and can take more punishment than Venetian Plaster. And, while it can’t replicate the unique look of Venetian Plaster to the degree that the real deal achieves, it can be installed in such a way as to imitate the look.
Another advantage to microcement is that it is versatile enough to be installed over a range of different surfaces without removing that surface, such as tiles, or existing concrete flooring. At the same time, it is durable enough that other flooring systems can be installed over it without first pulling the microcement up.
Getting an Industrial Concrete Look with Venetian Plaster
If the durability of the plaster is not an issue, it is entirely possible to get the look of concrete without ever touching cement. The process of mixing and installing Venetian Plaster can involve tinting to give the finished product the desired colours, but it is not necessary. It is entirely possible to leave the plaster as its natural colour (which may vary depending on the aggregate used), which can result in a very concrete-like appearance.
Furthermore, the choice of sealant can be tailored for the same results. For example, it is very common—particularly in bathrooms—to give Venetian Plaster a glossy, almost glass-like finish, but this is not mandatory. Venetian Plaster can also have other textures, such as matt, velvety finishes, which will appear far more concrete-like when done, while still bearing all of the desirable qualities of the plaster.
The Advantages of Cement over Venetian Plaster
Let’s say you needed an industrial look for aesthetic reasons, why might you choose cement for your surfaces? The two main reasons are cost and durability. Beyond that, cement really doesn’t have much on Venetian Plaster. And even the durability point can be questionable, as cement is only more durable in cases of impact, such as from being walked on. For something like a wall, or situations where age is the only thing wearing the surface down, the plaster would do just as good a job as cement as long as it was looked after. And it would look far more attractive doing it.
The Advantages of Venetian Plaster over Cement
Venetian Plaster has a number of advantages over cement beyond its appearance. Firstly, it has many inherent traits that are very good to have on a wall or similar surface. We touched on mould and mildew resistance above, but it is also a very breathable material. It is naturally anti-bacterial, and it can be treated with olive soap to make it very hydrophobic.
Even making the substances in the first place reveals reasons to choose the plaster over cement. Venetian Plaster is made from natural materials, unlike the chemicals used to create cement. The plaster also absorbs CO2, rather than releases it, making it objectively better for the environment, not to mention those who come into contact with it.