A Venetian plaster finish on your walls not only looks great but its silk smooth finish also feels great. What’s more with a Venetian plaster finish on your walls you don’t need to bother with any further decoration of them. Whilst the use of colors in the plaster mixture is one of the inherent properties of Venetian plaster, the days of having to work with the traditional mixture of gypsum, lime, sand and marble dust have passed. Today you can alternatively get acrylic compositions that are easier to work and yet still give that traditional polished look.
Venetian Plaster Mixes
Using a commercial Venetian plaster mix will mean that you can start the job as soon as the wall has been prepared. Whether you buy a modern acrylic Venetian plaster mix or a more traditional pre-mixed Venetian plaster with up to 50% marble dust, it will save you a lot of time and laborious effort. A reputable DIY supplier will even mix the color additive of your choice into the Venetian plaster.
Should you wish to mix yourself a truly traditional Venetian plaster you’ll need plenty of lime and marble dust should make up at least 40% of the bulk in the final mix. Apart from then adding the color of your choice, traditionally a multitude of other things can be added like: fig juice, egg white, animal fats and blood; all of which apparently improve the strength and setting ability of the Venetian plaster.
How to Apply Venetian Plaster
The basic technique for Venetian plastering is the same as ‘ordinary’ plastering, the difference is really in the finish to the work. After all the whole idea of Venetian plastering is that it doesn’t need covering with paint or wallpaper. Like any aspect of wall decorating – preparation is king!
Having a clean and smooth wall to work on will help you get a great finish to the job. Rubbing the wall down with a coarse to medium sandpaper will also help the base coat of plaster adhere to the wall. So, presuming you already know about loading the plastering trowel and how to hold it at the different angles, first of all apply the base coat of plaster with the trowel at an angle of about 300.
After about 4 hours you can apply the second coat of plaster. This time you can hold the trowel so that it’s almost flat to the wall. Use overlapping short and long strokes, then leave to dry for at least 24 hours.
The final coat can then be applied. At this point you need to be confident that you have the right color mix for the effect you want to create in the room. Having left the top coat to dry for a further 24 hours you can then start the ‘burnishing’ process which gives the Venetian plaster its characteristic sheen of polished marble.
To burnish the wall all you have to do is rub it as if you’re tracing circles around the wall, using fine (400-grit) sandpaper; for this task – patience is king! You need to end up with a consistent sheen to the whole wall, so be prepared to frequently break off from the burnishing to stand back and look at the whole wall, so that you can make sure you’re achieving a consistent finish to your Venetian plaster.
Finally use a damp cloth to remove any Venetian plaster dust from the wall. A really experienced plasterer might rub a clean metal trowel over the Venetian plaster surface to enhance the polished marble effect. For those less experienced, you could consider applying a coat of clear lacquer to embellish the sheen; this will also act as a protective layer to the Venetian plaster itself.
See Also: How to Protect Venetian Plaster