The Basics: What is Venetian Plaster?
Venetian plaster render is a wall, ceiling or floor finish that is applied by using lime plaster. In this type of render, lime-based products are used to achieve artful and unique finishes. Lime is an incredibly flexible material to work with, offering a lot of versatility. This is why skilled tradesmen and artisans are able to achieve extraordinary finishes when using lime plaster.
Venetian plaster render is typically applied as a decorative element on the walls, ceilings and floors. You will typically need to have a wall smoothed by using concrete render. An artisan will then apply Venetian plaster render on top of this to achieve a finish and texture that is according to your requirements.
Venetian plaster render is an increasingly popular way of livening up the interiors spaces. Homeowners and businesses across Australia prefer the material and technique because of the sheer range of choices they have in terms of colours, textures, styles and designs.
The material used in this type of render, Venetian plaster, has been in use for thousands of years. It gained widespread popularity and use during the medieval ages, especially in medieval Italy. More recently, the material has been a comeback for the huge range of benefits it offers. It is increasingly used in achieving elegant, stylish and stand-out finishes and renders at homes, commercial establishments and public places all over Australia.
In this in-depth guide, we look at different aspects of Venetian plaster render, the benefits it offers, the process of making and applying this type of render as well as other aspects of using this material.
What is the difference between plaster and Venetian plaster?
Many varieties of plaster are available and applicable when creating wall finishes. However, Venetian plaster is distinguished from other types of plaster in that it contains marble dust. With this added ingredient, it becomes possible to achieve an exceptional degree of sheen, depth and luminosity when creating renders and finishes.
What is white plaster?
A white plaster, also known as white set plaster, is standard lime plaster that is used in a layer on top of a cement render layer. This type of plaster is fairly plain and is meant only to create a smooth finish for interior walls. In contrast to Venetian plaster, it does not come with any colour, depth or texture. It also sets very quickly, so a tradesman must smooth it as it is applied. As it sets very quickly, it is not usually possible to achieve any renders or design when using white set plaster.
What is Marmarino plaster?
Marmarino plaster is a specific type of Venetian plaster. In this type, the mortar is finer while the grains within the mortar range from smaller sand particles to larger grains. Marmarino is more suitable for interior applications although it can also be used on exterior walls. This variety of plaster is sourced from river rock in Italy and then imported to Australia.
At a glance:
Venetian plaster has been in used for thousands of years. It was popular in ancient Rome as well as medieval Italy.
Render Finish VS Venetian Plaster finish
There is a common misconception that render and plaster finish are either the same thing, or altogether different things. The truth is somewhere in between. Here is a look at the distinguishing features of both, the key differences as well as various features of render and plaster. It is important to note here that ‘render’ is variously defined by different tradesmen. However, this article attempts to make things clearer by clearly distinguishing what a render is, and how a render finish is used.
What is render finish?
A render finish is where materials such as cement and lime plaster are used to smooth a wall to achieve a final finish. For exterior walls, render finish is typically performed by primarily used cement as the main ingredient as it offers superior waterproofing and fireproofing properties. However, cement is not as flexible as lime plaster when it comes to creating designs. This is why plaster is more commonly used in render finish of interior walls. When Venetian plaster is used in the finishing of interior walls, this is often known as Venetian plaster render.
Is plaster a render?
Plaster is usually distinguished from render. Both are two separate types of mortar coatings that are used to cover up the walls. However, the term ‘render’ is today used for both cement based and plaster based mortars. Specific terms like cement render and plaster render are then used to distinguish between the two. As mentioned above, cement render is more readily used on exterior walls while plaster based render is best suited for interior walls.
Is render waterproof?
When a render is primarily based on cement, it offers superior waterproofing qualities. This is why cement based renders are the most suitable choice when it comes to exterior walls. Plaster based renders offer relatively inferior waterproofing but as they are applied to interior walls, they are not required to withstand long-term water exposure.
At a glance:
Render has traditionally been used for the application of cement mortar to exterior walls. However, Venetian plaster render refers to the application of plaster to interior walls.
Cement render is best suited for outdoor applications as it is waterproof and fireproof.
Venetian plaster render is ideally suited for indoor applications as it has a superior aesthetic finish and excellent durability.
Plaster based render is not suitable in areas that are directly exposed to water on a routine basis. This is why plaster render is not usually applied on the exterior surfaces.
The Options: Types of Venetian Plaster
When it comes to Venetian plaster, you have plenty of options to choose from. As mentioned above, Venetian plaster is plaster that contains marble dust. The amount and texture of the sand and marble dust that is added to Venetian plaster is often varied to produce different types. In addition, other ingredients can also be mixed into the mortar to create all-new plaster varieties. Sometimes, Venetian plaster renders are also distinguished from each other based on the type of style or finish they are used for. For this reason, the choices are virtually endless when you are using Venetian plaster.
How many types of plaster are there?
Because of sheer versatility of the way Venetian plaster is used and the fact that it is often classified based on both style and composition, there is no standard way to name different types. In a way, it is possible to say that there are virtually endless types of Venetian plaster. However, some types of plaster are more popular and commonly used than others. Here’s a look at these types:
Stucco Veneziano, also known as stucco plaster, usually contains little to no sand. This ensures that the mortar is thinner is composition, easier to apply and quite flexible to use in creating renders. A tradesman will typically apply the stucco plaster in multiple layers. This variety of plaster can be used to achieve mattee finishes as well as highly polished reflective renders. Certain varieties of stucco contain a considerable portion of cement in their composition. This allows them to be waterproof while also staying flexible enough to avoid any cracks over time.
Marmarino – Plaster with Marble Dust
Marmarino is a specific variety of Venetian plaster which is made from lime sourced from river rock in Italy. Tiny pieces of marble are used in creating various textures and effects when using marmarino plaster. Marmarino is equally suitable for application on interior as well as exterior walls. It brings a degree of depth to a surface while various techniques can be used to ensure reflectivity and movement in the render.
Marmarino is also a very eco-friendly material of choice for render as it is naturally resistant to mildew and acts as an antibacterial barrier. Applicable in both mattee and polished tones, Marmarino is one of the most popular types of Venetian plaster used in interior renders. Subcategories such as Marmarino Fine, Marmarino Classic, Marmarino Gross and Marmarino Matte are used to define further types of Marmarino plaster. Grain varieties are often used to differentiate one type of Marmarino plaster from another. Larger marble grains are typically used to create more dramatic or pronounced effects while smaller grains yield a smoother, polished and even render.
Traventino is another type of Venetian plaster. This variety draws its name from the traventine stone, a naturally occurring limestone rock. Natural traventine stone is typically fibrous and occurs in light shades. Traventino plaster seeks to imitate this outlook. When using traventino plaster, the end result is a stone-like render with varying textures depending on the grain size, shades and other factors involved. It is possible to achieve a render in both light and dark colours when using traventino. It is also suitable for use on both interior and exterior surfaces, creating a rich, opulent and textured render.
Intona is quite similar to Stucco Veneziano. It contains fairly large aggregates, including sand, and helps achieve a stone-like look and effect when used in rendering. Intona is suitable for use in exterior applications. It can withstand water quite well, drying itself naturally. It is also resistant to bacteria and mildew.
At a glance:
There are virtually endless types of Venetian plaster varieties.
You can choose from a huge range of colours, textures and finishing options when using Venetian plaster.
Finishing options include matte, satin glossy, metallic shiny, pearlescent, polished and more. Various finishing techniques are used to achieve these finishes.
Popular Venetian plaster varieties include Marmarino, Stucco Veneziano, Intona, Traventino and Tadelakt among others.
Tadelakt is a Moroccan variety of plaster that is able to withstand water exposure very well.
It is possible to create highly customised varieties of Venetian plaster, given the range of options available.
Choosing the right plaster
When you are looking to have Venetian plaster render on your walls or ceilings, it is vitally important to choose the right type of plaster. As mentioned above, there are virtually endless choices, colours, textures and finishes to choose from. The right choice ultimately depends on your own preferences as well as the overall décor of your home. If you are looking for a more modern look, for instance, you may want to go with a plaster render that created a neat and polished effect. If you want a throwback to the classic, you can use a plaster composition that renders a more rugged, stone-like effect on your walls.
Similarly, for high-traffic areas, you can choose both dark matte plaster types and polished light textures. With a matte render, dark shades ensure that the plaster does not look dirty and cleans easily. For lighter textures, any smudges may be visible but can quickly wiped away with a cloth without any damage whatsoever to the plaster underneath.
A great thing about working with Venetian plaster render is the sheer customisability of the finish. No two Venetian plaster renders are the same. This is because the composition of the mortar actually determines how the plaster render will look like at the end. The slightest changes to this composition affect the ultimate outcome. So you can work with a tradesman to define and achieve completely novel looks with Venetian plaster. Alternatively, you can go back to the tried and tested finishes such as stone, marble, limestone, metallic, pearlescent and matte.
Texture and Finish
It is also important to note that you must consider both the texture and the finish of a Venetian plaster render. The texture refers to how the plaster will look like on a surface, whether it will have an even look, a fibrous look or have veins of other tints running through it. This is largely determined by the ingredients that are added to the plaster.
At the same time, you must also consider the finish. Finish is how a tradesman applies plaster to achieve the desired effect. For instance, if you want a highly polished look, a tradesman will burnish the plaster following its application to achieve this effect. Similarly, for a metallic or pearlescent appearance, the technique of application and finishing will be different from when creating a matte finish. It is possible to achieve more than one type of finish with a given texture. For instance, if you are creating a stone-like effect with a specific Venetian plaster render, it is possible to keep it matte with muted reflectivity or burnish it to a glossy sheen. The choice is ultimately yours.
Depth refers to the three-dimensional feeling that a plaster render evokes. It is achieved by a combination of texture and finish. Typically, a glossy finish with a fairly textured grain render is needed to achieve depth in a plaster application. You can work with a tradesman to explore creative options or go with ready-made compositions.
Depth is a particularly desirable feature in a plaster render if you are aiming at a dramatic effect. When done right, Venetian plaster render with a good degree of depth will attract attention. This makes it a great choice for public places and commercial establishments.
Which plaster is best for walls?
Venetian plaster is a great choice for walls. In contrast to other, more rigid, types of plaster, Venetian plaster offers a good degree of flexibility. This makes it easier to achieve render designs when using this variety of plaster. Venetian plaster is also naturally breathable and although interior walls do not see a lot of water exposure, it can withstand water fairly well. It is also resistant to mildew and serves as a natural antibacterial material. These qualities make it an excellent choice of render for walls at both residential and commercial buildings.
What is the most popular colour for bathroom walls?
When it comes to Venetian plaster applications for bathroom walls, earthy and neutral tones are most often preferred. These can be in both light and dark shades including grey, brown, white and beige. Most homeowners prefer not to have a plaster application in bathrooms burnished or polished. Instead, some degree of translucence is used alongside a general inclination towards matte finishes.
What is the best material to use for shower walls?
Venetian plaster is an excellent material to use for wet walls, including shower walls. Plaster renders done in polish styles are particularly well suited as they are highly resistant to water. When exposed to water, plaster walls will not absorb water. Instead, water will adhere in small beads to the surface and can be easily wiped away with a cloth. However, care must be taken not to use Venetian plaster for floors under showers or any other areas where water pools. This is because prolonged exposure to water may damage the plaster.
Venetian plaster is also a great material of choice for shower walls because it requires very little maintenance once it is applied. Unlike tiles which can develop grout lines over time and will require maintenance, Venetian plaster will not develop any such problems. At most, you will simply need to wipe the plaster surface with a damp cloth to restore its sheen and smoothness.
At a glance:
Texture, finish and depth are key considerations when choosing the right Venetian plaster.
Texture refers to the graininess and composition of the plaster. More sand, marble dust or other ingredients achieve a more textured look. Finer sand and few ingredients ensure a smoother and even texture.
Finish refers to how glossy, neutral, mute or matte the final look is. Burnishing with a trowel or sandpaper is used to achieve a glossy finish.
The Process: How is Venetian Plaster Render Applied?
If you are looking to achieve dramatic effects with Venetian plaster render, it is best to consult a professional. Applying Venetian plaster is a specialised skill. And although you can do it on your own, the results may not be as good as when applied by a tradesman. If you want to have Venetian plaster applied at a commercial establishment, the scale and expertise required necessitate that you hire a professional. However, if you simply want to touch up a wall or ceiling at your home and add an all-new look, you may take a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach.
The basics of applying Venetian plaster are fairly simple. And although it is not as easy as applying paint, you can manage it on your own with some practise. The process described below is meant as a basic guideline for applying Venetian plaster. Again, if you want a meticulous render as seen at many commercial sites, you should consult a tradesman.
Here are the basic steps involved in applying Venetian plaster.
Get the Equipment
One of the great things about using Venetian plaster is that it requires only a few, simply pieces of equipment. These include a steel trowel, sandpaper and the Venetian plaster itself. The steel trowel is used to apply the plaster. You can also use a drywall knife for the purpose.
The more skilled tradesmen usually mix their own Venetian plaster mortar or putty. However, you can manage this by getting ready-made Venetian plaster from the local hardware store. You can choose from a variety of colours when purchasing plaster products. You can mix up your own desired shades and add them to the mortar to give it the desired outlook.
Assuming that you have not worked with Venetian plaster before, it is important to do some practise before you apply it to the desired surface. To practise applying Venetian plaster, simply get some sheets of drywall from your local hardware store. You can then use the trowel to apply the plaster with different strokes and in different styles.
The actual outlook of the finished plaster depends on the thickness and texture of the mortar as well as the method of application. By applying the mortar to the sheets in different styles, you are able to get a hang of how to do it. This also adds confidence to your application.
Once you have sufficiently practised with the drywall sheets and find the finished plaster render to your satisfaction, it is time to move on to the actual surface you want to touch up.
Prime the Area
Before you can start applying Venetian plaster, it is important to prime the desired surface as well as the area around it. A little preparation beforehand will help you keep things tidy and make it easier for you to remove the debris once you are done. When using plaster on walls and ceilings, it is always a good idea to spread a drop cloth on the floor. If you are working on the ceiling, you can also use plastic sheets to cover the walls.
As a part of priming the target surface, carefully examine it and see if there are any cracks or holes. Fill these up with putty and then sand them upon drying to create an even surface. You may also want to wipe the surface and remove any stains, dirt or grease.
Once the surface is clean, it is time to apply a primer coat. You don’t have to particular about how to apply flat paint for priming. Rather, simply make sure that it covers the entire surface.
Apply the First Coat of Venetian Plaster
Once the surface is primed and clear, it is time to apply the first coat of Venetian plaster. Again, there’s no perfect way of applying the plaster. Instead, you should expect the application to be somewhat uneven at this stage. Start at one corner of the surface you want to cover, and then towards the other end. Keep the first coat relatively thin as further coats will be applied on top of it. Use the trowel to apply and then smooth the mortar across the surface.
Covering a full surface takes some time. As you work with plaster, it may dry on your trowel from time to time. It is important to remove this dried plaster and keep the trowel clean to ensure a smooth application.
Once you have covered the complete surface with a single coat, it is time to let dry. On average, the coat will take about four hours to dry. It is then time for the second coat.
Apply the Second Coat
For the second coat, use the trowel to apply a second layer of plaster on top of the first layer you have applied in the previous step. Like the first layer, you should try to keep the second layer rather thin. With this second layer, you should strive to make sure the entire surface is evenly covered and that the finish is neat.
Apply the Third Coat
In many cases, a third coat is not needed. However, if humidity or moisture is a concern in the area where you are using Venetian plaster, you may want to go with a third coat. Wait a few hours after the second coat to apply the third coat in the likewise manner. By this time, the plastered surface should be fairly smooth and even. When applying the third coat, use the trowel at a 60-degree or 90-degree angle for best results.
Burnish the Surface
Once the final coat of the plaster is dry, it is time to burnish it. You should ideally wait one to two days to make sure the plaster is thoroughly dried before you begin the burnishing process. You can use a 400-grit or 600-grit sandpaper to do the job. Some tradesman will first use a 400-grit sandpaper and then use a 600-grit sandpaper on the same surface. You can also use the flat side of a trowel to burnish the surface although this is typically not recommended for all plaster types. When burnishing the surface, use a small circular motion to ensure an even effect. Once you have burnished the surface, use a damp cloth to wipe it clean. Typically, the plaster surface should become shiny at this stage.
Wax the Surface
After you have burnished the surface, it is time to seal it and ensure a glossy finish with a wax application. A variety of wax products are available on the market. You can choose one that is recommended for the plaster product you used or consult a professional if you are not sure sure how to go about it. As with sanding, wax application must be done in small, circular motions. Ideally, you should use a piece of sponge to apply the wax. If the sponge gets too waxy, wash it and then continue the process. You can use more than one applications of wax to get a truly glossy finish.
Applying Venetian plaster is fairly straight-forward but to achieve a perfect finish, you need a good degree of skill. Although the process above lays out the basics, it does not cover all the aspects of plaster application. Here are some supplementary FAQs to cover a few other important parts of using plaster.
How long do you leave render before floating?
Typically, you will need to wait about 10 minutes before using a float on the render. Floating is used to ensure an even spread of the render to achieve a smooth finish. If you use float on the render and the render sticks to it so that the float ends up tugging at the render, this means that the render is not ready to be floated yet. In such a case, wait for another 10 minutes before you float. If the problem persists, you will need to wait until the float no longer tugs at the render.
How is screeding done?
Screeding refers to the application of render material to the floor. In screeding, cement-based render is most often used. However, it is also possible to use plaster based mortar in screeding. This is often done to achieve a more dramatic and pronounced effect. To apply screed, a coating of the mortar is laid on the floor. Because this can be done, any pipes or cables passing through the floor are identified and enclosed in ducts so that they can be easily accessed later. Once the mortar is laid, it is smoothed and then allowed to dry for a day or two. In the case of plaster-based screeding, burnishing may be done once the plaster has fully dried to achieve a shiny finish.
How thick is a skim coat of plaster?
A skim coat of plaster is the one that is applied on top of a backing coat. While the backing coat is responsible for achieving a flat surface, a skim coat is significantly thinner and is aimed exclusively at achieving a flat surface. Typically, a skim coat is only 2 – 3 mm thick.
What is the process of plastering?
The process of plastering involves a number of steps. Breaking down the process, these are the basic steps involved:
First coat application, also known as backing coat
Second coat application, also known as skim coat
Possible third coat application
Sanding and burnishing
Waxing for sheen
How do you seal plaster?
After Venetian plaster has been applied and dried during the render process, you will often need to apply a sealant. A sealant, often a kind of wax, is important as it enhances the longevity of the plaster. To apply the sealant, you can use a piece of sponge or the trowel itself. When using trowel, make sure you apply a very thin film without exerting any pressure on the trowel. This must be done gently.
Alternatively, you can use a piece of sponge to gently rub the sealant into plaster in small circles. In either case, once the wax has been applied, you can burnish with the trowel once again to achieve a high gloss.
How do you burnish plaster?
You can use sandpaper or a trowel to burnish plaster. When using sandpaper, 400-grit or 600-grit sandpaper is the best choice. Simply rub the sandpaper on the plaster in small circles. When using trowel, use the flat side of a trowel to rub the surface. In either case, use a damp cloth to wipe the surface clean after you are done.
How do you apply final coat of plaster?
The final coat of plaster is also known as a skim coat. When applying a skim coat, make sure you maintain a minimum thickness. In most cases, the skim coat is only 2 – 3 mm in thickness. If you are not satisfied with a single coat, you can apply two skim coats or final coats to achieve the desired results.
At a glance:
You can hire a professional or take a DIY approach to applying Venetian plaster. If you choose to take a DIY approach, make sure you practise applying plaster on drywall sheets first.
Before applying plaster, fill up any holes, cracks or uneven areas in a wall with putty. Use a sandpaper to smooth out the edges once the filler putty dries.
Use a recommended primer on the surface. A primer helps create a surface on which plaster can easily adhere.
Apply the first coat of plaster. Apply small quantities with a trowel and smooth them as well as possible. Try to achieve an even surface.
Let the first coat dry for a few hours and then apply a second coat. With the second coat, aim to cover any gaps left in the first layer and achieve a consistently smooth finish.
Let the second coat dry. If the surface is still not smooth enough, you can use a third coat as well. This is the skim coat, aimed only at removing unevenness in the plaster application.
Allow the final coat of plaster to dry for at least 24 hours. Then burnish it using sandpaper or trowel. Rub the surface of the plaster in small, circular portions. Use damp cloth to wipe the dust.
To seal the plaster and achieve a superior finish, use a sealant or wax. A sponge can be used to apply the wax for an even application. If a single application does not suffice, apply the wax a second time.
Working with plaster
Is it possible to apply render over render?
It is possible to apply render over render. However, it is not generally recommended. This is because the old layer of the previous render may carry various imperfections. It may not offer good bonding, the integrity of the render may have been compromised due to stress and there may permanent layers of dirty deposits on the top of the render. To top it off, the true strength of a render lies in layer by layer application. When you are applying render over render, you will be dealing with the topcoat or the topmost layer only. This puts the new render application at risk – you don’t know if it’s going to bond well and stand in its place or come off as the older layer of render comes off. Therefore, you should either meticulously inspect and analyse the older render before applying a new render on top of it, or simply remove the old render and then add a replacement.
It is possible to apply Venetian plaster render over a surface with existing render?
Venetian plaster can be applied over existing render. However, the existing render must be in good condition and offer a good degree of integral strength and bonding. This is because the longevity and staying power of the plaster will greatly depend on the render itself, as the Venetian plaster render will be applied on top of it.
The arrangement is sometimes very useful when you want to ensure both strength and a luxe appearance in a wall. The first layer of render effectively waterproofs the wall and adds strength to it. The layers of Venetian plaster render applied on top then add both additional strength and décor elements. This is particularly useful for interior walls in areas where humidity may be a concern.
Why is it so special? Venetian Plaster Pros and Cons
Venetian plaster render has made a massive comeback in the recent years. From cafes and restaurants to homes and public sites, plaster render is increasingly used to achieve both classic and modern finishes that are highly customised and look elegant. Compared to other types of finishes and renders, Venetian plaster render offers a wide range of advantages. These include:
Benefits of Venetian Plaster Render
Versatile and Customisable
Venetian plaster is incredibly versatile and customisable. It mainly makes use of marble dust and various grains to achieve a variety of textures. You get to choose from a virtually endless range of colours, textures and finishing options. This means that it is possible to create a unique and altogether new type of plaster finish with each render. With such sheer versatility, it is possible for tradesmen to treat the material creatively and achieve highly customised renders that suit your needs and requirements perfectly.
You can choose pre-coloured plaster varieties, mix your own colours and then add them to plaster, have the tradesmen add other ingredients like volcanic ash to achieve more dramatic effects and so on. Similarly, when it comes to the finished outlook, you can choose from matte, glossy, metallic, shiny, pearlescent and other options. The tradesman will then use the right techniques your desired finish.
One of the best things about using Venetian plaster is that it is incredibly flexible. When applying plaster, it is possible for the tradesman to achieve a variety of render finishes. Such flexibility allows for endless creativity when using Venetian plaster. You can also explore such flexibility when taking a DIY approach to plaster render. Another reason why this flexibility is important is that it allows for a quick and easy application over curved surfaces such as columns. Cutting standard marble to go around a curved surface like a column can be very time-consuming and cost a tidy sum. In contrast, Venetian plaster render is able to achieve a very marble-like effect without the time and cost involved – instead, the tradesmen can easily apply it around virtually any curved area. This is one of the reasons why endless creations and effects are possible when using Venetian plaster.
Compared to many other finishing materials that are available in the market today, Venetian plaster is probably the most eco-friendly option. It is mostly composed from lime which is a 100% organic ingredient. The great thing about lime is that it is naturally antibiotic. When you use Venetian plaster on a wall, it effectively prevents the growth of any bacterial growths on or near that wall. This means that you don’t have to worry about the growth of fungi and mildew on walls where Venetian plaster has been used. It also effectively filters the air around and improves the air quality.
Plaster render is typically applied in multiple layers to a wall or ceiling. This adds layers of insulation to your home, improving its overall efficiency. With these benefits, you may see some improvement in your heating and air conditioning costs.
Another excellent eco-friendly feature of Venetian plaster is that it absorbs carbon dioxide from the air. This effectively cleans and filters the air naturally.
One of the key benefits which Venetian plaster render offers, especially for modern homes and establishments, is that it is incredibly low maintenance. Unlike tiles which have to be cleaned and grouted often, Venetian plaster needs very little long-term maintenance. As it has no seams, there is no chance of dirt, grime or other debris gathering up anywhere on the plaster. Instead, the plaster render has a perfectly smooth surface. You can wipe this surface clean by simply rubbing a damp cloth across it. Plaster is also waterproof so that water will cling to the surface and not be absorbed by the render. This makes it a good material of choice for wet walls as well.
Venetian plaster is a breathable material, which means that although it will not absorb water or humidity, it allows the moisture to escape from its substrate layer. This has numerous benefits. This ensures the longevity and hardness of the plaster. It also makes sure that your home remains free from humidity during the summers. Its ability to regulate humidity also makes Venetian plaster a perfect material for use in bathroom walls and other areas with high moisture in the air.
Venetian plaster draws its name from medieval Venice. It was at this great city state of the Middle Ages that this particular type of plaster was used extensively in public and private construction projects. The actual history of Venetian plaster dates back even further, to ancient Rome and beyond. It has been used over the centuries and millennia to create luxurious and timeless finishes which carry elegance with a hint of the dramatic.
Using Venetian plaster on a surface actually brings this long history, elegance and class to that surface. For the knowing, a look at the Venetian plaster is a throwback to the magnificent structures of ancient Rome and medieval Venice. It also offers a departure from the more traditional and commonly used types of finishing materials, effectively making a wall or ceiling truly stand apart.
Venetian plaster is a cost-effective material for render. This is particularly so as it has very little long-term maintenance costs. In the short term, you may need to pay more for the materials and application. It is also possible to save on the application costs by taking a DIY approach, although this is not advisable if you are not experienced in the area or if you are covering a fairly large area. Even if you pay up for the initial application, Venetian plaster render is able to cover it costs fairly quickly in the long-run as it doesn’t need any long-term maintenance. Plus, the exceptional luxurious and opulent looks achieved with Venetian plaster render more than covers its costs.
Ease of Application
When you want to renovate or finish a wall, ceiling or another surface, the fall-out debris from the process is a major concern. With many conventional finishing materials, you can expect a lot of debris. Venetian plaster, in contrast, offers numerous advantages when it comes to the process of application. You can purchase it in powdered form or in ready-made gallons from a hardware store. A good tradesman will typically create the putty or mortar on site. This ensures that there is not a lot of material to carry and transport, saving your prep costs.
Applying the plaster is also a fairly straight-forward process and requires a few simply tools like trowel. It is time-consuming but a relatively quiet process. With some preparation, you can also ensure that the interiors remain rather neat during the process.
Plaster is applied in thin layers. So even if you have an existing finishing which has incurred flaws, it is possible to have the new layers of plaster render adding on top of it. This makes plaster render a quickly and affordable way of touching up virtually any surface in a very brief time.
Perfect for Touching Up Surfaces
Venetian plaster render can be applied to drywalls, bricks, stone, wood and a variety of other surfaces. It is the perfect remedy to turn old and worn-out surfaces into all-new and elegant surfaces. This makes Venetian plaster great for not only new render jobs but also for the renovation of existing walls and ceilings. In some cases, you will only need to add topcoats to enhance an existing surface and add a luxurious touch to it. In other cases, you may need to go the full haul and use both backing coats and skim coats. In either case, Venetian plaster is one of the quickest way of touching up old walls, ceilings and other surfaces.
Many homeowners and businesses across Australia today prefer Venetian plaster for the fact that using it is a fashion statement in itself. It is in stark contrast to many other finishing materials which offer limited customisation. With plaster renders, you can achieve virtually any effect, colour and look that you want. With more professional applications, you can be sure to turn the heads of any visitors or onlookers.
Venetian plaster render is typically applied used a consistent composition of mortar. This makes sure that the finished surface is smooth and even once the plaster has been applied. The whole application is also seamless which makes sure that there is very little likelihood of cracks and other problems over time. These qualities make Venetian plaster a very durable finishing material. Plaster is also excellently resistant to dampness and shrinking so that you don’t have to worry about the weather effects when using it on a surface. It is precisely for these properties that Venetian plaster renders are often deemed lifetime so that you don’t have to worry about any damage or wear-and-tear for a very long time after an application.
Disadvantages of Using Venetian Plaster
One of the key disadvantages of using Venetian plaster is that it costs significantly more. When you hire a tradesman to do the application, you can expect to incur high installation costs. This is because applying plaster and achieving a beautiful finish is a specialised skill. You can trim down the overall costs by applying the mortar yourself but this may not result in a good enough finish.
Not Suitable for Humid Environment
Another downside to using Venetian plaster is that it is not suitable for humid environments. Some varieties can be used on wet walls but more varieties are not recommended in areas with extensive exposure to water. You can go with Tadelakt, another plaster variety that is breathable and best suited to areas with water exposure.
Common FAQs About Using Venetian Plaster
Does rendering a house add value?
In most cases, rendering does add value to a property. This is because rendering does an excellent job at lifting up the aesthetics and finishing of your house. Especially when it comes to interior Venetian plaster rendering, it can significantly improve the outlook of the living spaces, providing that luxurious and opulent feel that is often found in high-end homes. However, it is important to get rendering right. In the case of Venetian plaster render, it is usually a good choice if you are going to use it all over your home. This provides a consistent décor while also giving your house a high-end feel all over.
If you apply it to only one section and let the others out, it can lead to mixed results. If primary costs are a concern, you can use plaster render selectively all over your home, such as at kitchen splash-back areas, bathroom walls, entrance lobby floors and so on. You will need to carefully plan the application of Venetian plaster render if you want to add definite value to a house. If you are not sure, it is best to consult a décor professional.
What are the disadvantages of using plaster?
One of the most notable disadvantages of using plaster, if price is a key concern, is that it costs significantly more than other finishing options like paint. You will need to dish out more money on the materials. Plus, if you hire a tradesman to do the application, you will have to spend considerably on the labour costs as well. Even if you take a DIY approach, plaster render will definitely cost more than paint. The higher costs are off-set in the long-term but for immediate concerns plaster is a more expensive option.
Another concern is durability. Although plaster is incredibly durable and most applications will last a life-time, this depends heavily on the atmosphere of the house. If plaster is not properly applied, it may start coming loose when exposed to consistent moisture. Weakness of the underlying framework, poor bonding and poorly applied plaster layers can also lead to deterioration in the quality fairly soon. This will then necessitate frequent repairs, costing you even more.
Is it better to plaster or drywall?
Both plaster and drywall have their pros and cons. The right choice ultimately depends on your preferences. Drywall is typically easier to install and costs a lot less. However, the finish is not very durable not does it look great. However, it’s a quick and easy finish for any surface. Plaster, in comparison, costs more and applying it is a specialised skill. Once plaster has been applied, it is incredibly durable and also adds aesthetic value to any surface, especially in the case of Venetian plaster. If you want to keep costs minimum, you may want to go with drywall. But if you are looking for a durable and elegant finish, plaster is the right choice for you.
Working with Venetian Plaster Render
It is important to note that Venetian plaster render is a lot different from drywall. Drywall typically has no support behind it. In contrast, Venetian plaster is applied on top of a support framework, such as that of wood, metal or even drywall. This makes Venetian plaster more of a layer on top of an underlying support, whereas drywall has no such support under it.
The average thickness of a drywall is also considerably less than that of Venetian plaster render. In most cases, drywall is only about ½-inch thick. In contrast, plaster can range from ¾-inches to about 1 inch in thickness.
Hanging Objects on Plaster Walls
This vital difference between plaster and other types of finishes means that you must treat plaster differently. Especially when it comes to everyday tasks such as hanging objects of the wall, you simply can’t take up a nail and hammer it into a plaster wall. Plaster walls are very brittle and hard. If you try to use a nail on them, the wall will chip or crack and you will have no luck in getting an anchor in to hang your objects.
To hang objects on a plaster wall, you will need to take a different approach. Here are some methods you can use to hang objects ranging from light to heavy on a plaster wall.
Use a Picture Rail to hang light-weight objects
Traditionally, a picture rail has been used with plaster walls to allow the hanging of objects. A picture rail is a sort of rail that is installed close to the ceiling. The rail is attached directly to the studs, which makes it considerably strong and able to bear a decent amount of load. If you are fortunate enough to have a picture rail on your plaster walls, you don’t have to worry about hanging objects on a plaster wall. If you are in the process of applying plaster to the walls, you can save yourself a lot of hassle down the road by having a rail installed now.
Assuming you have a picture rail, you can use hooks and chords to hang various objects on the plaster wall. The hooks are hung on the rail and attached with the chord to pictures or other small objects you may want to hang. The great thing about a picture rail is that it lets you move objects around easily, sliding them across the rail. You can also alter the height of a hung object by simply adjusting the length of the chord.
Picture rails are perfect for hanging picture frames and other objects which do not weigh much. However, if you want to hang or attach heavy objects to a plaster wall, a picture rail will simply not be sufficient. In this case, you will need a more secure support anchored in the wall. Similarly, if you don’t have a picture rail or don’t want to add one on your plaster wall, you will need to directly hang items. Here’s how to do it.
How to hang light-weight items directly on plaster wall?
On a drywall, you can hammer a nail into the wall and hang objects. This is simply not possible with a plaster wall. On a plaster wall, you can’t use nails, period. Instead, you will have to resort to using screws. When you want to hang light-weight objects directly on the wall, you can use screws sized at around 1 ¼ inches. Make sure the screw is suitably fastened to the wall before you attempt to hang an object. It is preferable if the screw also enters the lath behind the plaster layer but in the case of light-weight objects, that’s not exactly necessary.
How do you hang something heavy on a plaster wall?
If you are going to hang more heavy-weight objects on a plaster wall, you will need additional support. This involves more support in the screw itself as well as the position of the screw in the wall. For better support in the screw, use larger screws for heavier objects. A screw sized at about 2 inches will be sufficient to do the job.
For additional support in the wall, it is important to hit the studs when positioning a screw in the wall. Finding studs can be a cumbersome process and you may normally need to screw at least a couple times before you hit it. If you don’t want to do this, you can use a magnet to locate the studs. Once the screw is securely attached to a stud, it is possible to hang a significant amount of weight on it.
If you are not able to find studs, or don’t want go about looking for them, or there’s no stud at the precise location where you want to hang an item, anchors are your next best option. Anchors are able to add a lot more grip and staying power to a screw. A variety of anchors are typically available in the market and you can get one that you require at the local hardware store. Anchors are rated by the amount of load they can hold, so be sure to find one that suits your requirements.
A downside to using anchors is that you will first need to drill a hole in the wall. Make sure you get the drilling right or you will need to drill more than once to get it right. Once you have a hold, tap the anchor in place and then use the screw. With an anchor and a screw, you can hang even considerably heavy objects on a plaster wall without the risk of damaging the wall.
A word of caution
If you don’t have a picture rail, you will inevitably resort to the use of screws when trying to hang objects on a plaster wall. If you’re confident that you can do a good job at it, go ahead. However, if you fear that you may end up damaging the plaster in the process, it is best to consult a professional. A professional has an everyday experience of drilling and screwing into plaster walls, so you will be in safe hands.
If you still end up damaging your plaster wall, you will need to perform some repairs. It is relatively easy to patch up a damaged section on a drywall, provided you can precisely match the texture around that. Patch repairs and texture matching is considerably harder for Venetian plaster which usually has richer and deeper textures. Again, if you do incur damage on your Venetian plaster wall, it is best to talk to an expert.
Applying Plaster Over Existing Wallpaper
A common question asked by homeowners who are seeking to renovate the house is ‘Can you Venetian plaster over wallpaper?’ The answer to this is yes.
If you have a wall with wallpaper, it is possible to use Venetian plaster over the existing wallpaper. This eliminates the need to first remove the wallpaper which can damage the wall and also increase the costs of touching up the wall.
When applying Venetian plaster over existing wallpaper, care must be taken to make sure that the wallpaper is even before plaster can be applied. This is because plaster typically needs a smooth surface on which it is to be used. To ensure this, simply glue the loose sections of the wallpaper to the wall and let dry. Once the glue has dried up and the wallpaper is attached to the wall all over, it is time to care of the seams between wallpaper sections. For this purpose, you can use a joint compound or even the plaster mortar. Simply apply the compound or mortar along the seams of the wallpaper. The aim here is to make sure that the seams are essentially removed and an even surface is created for subsequent coats of plaster.
Once the compound has filled up all the seams and is dry, it is time to use sandpaper to rub away the excess compound. You can use a 400-grit or 600-grit sandpaper for the job. After sanding, use a damp towel to remove the debris from the surface.
The next step is to apply bonding primer to the wall. The primer serves an important purpose – it provides the plaster with a surface to which it can attach itself. So it is vital to apply the primer layer properly. You can use any shade of primer or go with a neutral colour. Eventually, you will be applying plaster on top of the primer, so it will be fully covered.
The primer must be allowed to dry for at least 24 hours. Once it is dry, you can begin applying the first layer of Venetian plaster. This variety of plaster can be embellished to recreate a virtually endless range of colours and textures. If you want to achieve a particular effect or shade, be sure to mix the plaster mortar accordingly. If you don’t know how to achieve the shade you require, consult a professional.
Venetian plaster is typically applied by using a metal trowel. The trowel is first used to apply the plaster to the desired surface in small quantities, and then used to level it into the layered application. The first layer of plaster should be around ¼ inch thick. Once you have completely applied the first layer, let it dry for around 4 hours. Then use a sandpaper to rub all over the surface and smooth over any rough sections.
After you have sanded the first layer, the wall is ready for a second coat of plaster. The basic aim with the second coat is to cover any sections that have been left out in the first layer and to create a smoother surface. The second layer should ideally be thinner than the first layer. It is known as a skim coat, so your aims should be to simply skim on top of the first layer and fill up any holes and other imperfections. Once the second layer is laid down, it is time to let it dry and then sand.
Sometimes, a third layer may also be needed if the second layer hasn’t done a good job at making the surface smooth. If this is the case, repeat the same process as the first and second layers.
Once you have a sufficiently smooth and even application of plaster, it is time to apply the topcoat. If you want to achieve the glossy finish which is often associated with Venetian plaster, a topcoat is essential. You can use a topcoat of your choice and then apply it the same way you have applied the previous coat, with a trowel. Once the topcoat is applied, allow the entire plaster application to dry for nearly 24 hours.
By this stage, your wallpaper has been effectively covered with Venetian plaster render. You can stop at this stage and the wall is good to go. However, you can further accentuate the finish by undertaking a few other steps. One important measure is to burnish the plaster. Burnishing is the key to achieving a glossy and high-sheen polished finish for Venetian plaster. You may use sandpaper or the flat side of a metal trowel for this purpose. Regardless of which one you choose to use, rub it against the plastered surface in small circular motions and then wipe off the dust with a wet cloth.
Once you have burnished the surface, a final step is to add protection against moisture and other elements. A quality sealant or wax will do the job quite well. Simply use a sponge to apply small quantities of wax at a time. Rub the wax into the surface layer of the plaster and make sure it evenly spread so that you have a consistent feel and finish. If a single application of wax doesn’t seem sufficient, use a second application achieve the desired results.
Applying Venetian Plaster Over Wood
Venetian plaster is a versatile material that can be applied on a variety of surfaces. Another common question from homeowners is ‘Can you Venetian plaster over wood?’ Unlike applying plaster over a wallpaper which has a backing framework and is fairly straightforward, plastering over wood is more complicated.
It is possible to use Venetian plaster on top of wood. However, you will need to take certain measures before you can start applying plaster. This is because on its own, plaster can’t adhere properly to a plain wood surface. You may succeed at applying it but the overall strength and durability of the plaster application will be compromised.
To make sure a plaster application stays in place when used on a wood surface, you will need a physical key. A key is anything to which the plaster can firmly adhere. A common example is wood laths. Wood laths with gaps are perfect as a physical key for the plaster. When plaster is applied to a wood lath, the plaster pushes through the gaps upon application. Once the plaster dries, it shrinks and firmly grips the lath structure. This ensures that the plaster will stay in place for a long time.
More recently, other options like metal laths have also become available. Metal laths are first affixed to the timber framework and the plaster is then applied to the lath structure. Metal laths typically come in sheets of various sizes. You can choose a sheet type and size that best suits your needs.
Applying Venetian Plaster Over Tiles
One of the fairly popular finishing options for a variety of surfaces is tiles. Tiles offer many benefits but the overwhelming downside to using them is the sheer amount of maintenance required. Tiles will need to be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. Even so, grout lines will form up on tiles and you will need to have the tiles re-grouted every few years.
It is for this reason that many homeowners across Australia increasingly choose applying Venetian plaster over tiles. The process involved is fairly straightforward and simpler compared to applying Venetian plaster over a new surface.
In order to apply plaster over tiles, you will first need to prepare the tiles. This is because tiles are fairly plain and do not provide an adhesive surface for plaster to latch on to. You can change this by using a 120-grit sandpaper on the tiles. Use the sandpaper to scuff up the tiles and create a sort of rough surface.
Once the tiles are ready, it is time to apply plaster. Use a trowel to take small portions of Venetian plaster and apply it to the tile surface. Make sure no edges show through the plaster layer by trying to smooth it as much as possible. After the first layer is applied, give the plaster some time to dry. Typically, the base coat will dry in about 3 to 4 hours.
After the backing coat, it is time to apply a second coat. This is quite similar to applying the first coat, with a minor difference. Use the trowel at a 60-degree or 90-degree angle to apply the mortar so that any uneven areas or gaps in the first coat are suitably filled in. Again, allow around 3 to 4 hours to allow the plaster to dry. If the finish is smooth enough, you don’t need to apply another coat. However, if you are still not satisfied with the coat, you can go ahead and apply a third coat.
Once the third coat is dry, use sandpaper or trowel to burnish the dry plaster surface. This final step is vitally important as it usually gives plaster the iconic sheen and polish for which it is coveted. Use the trowel or sandpaper to scuff the plaster in small, circular motions. You can then use a damp cloth to wipe away the dust.
Applying Tiles Over Venetian Plaster
Sometimes, a homeowner may want to replace an existing surface of Venetian plaster with tiles, by simply using the tiles on top of the plaster. If you are wondering ‘can you tile on lime plaster’, the answer is yes. However, some considerations must be taken into account before you can attempt this.
Plaster has a certain limit when it comes to the weight it can bear. On average, a good plaster application will bear up 20 kilos per square meter. This means that you can’t use virtually any tiles. The best option here would be to use tiles that are not too thick and heavy, as they can strain the plaster’s adhesive backing and come off pretty soon. Relatively thinner tiles will do the job a lot better.
Before you can start applying the tiles, it is important to sandpaper the plaster. This creates an adhesive surface to which tiles can be securely attached. It is equally important to add a layer of primer and then start applying tiles on the top.
Applying tiles over Venetian plaster is usually done when having the plaster removed is impractical or too costly. However, the strength of the tile application will not be same as when applied on a rougher surface compared to plaster.