How to Apply Venetian Plaster

Learning how to apply Venetian plaster is a wonderful way to express your inner artist. Unlike the plain white or off-white plaster walls that you might be accustomed to seeing in most homes, offices, or buildings, Venetian plaster brings texture and color into the environment. And the end result of learning how to apply Venetian plaster strongly resembles the work of today's fine art - classic, rich, and tasteful.

So how do you bring this treat into your home? The first thing you'll need to get your hands on is some Venetian Plaster, of course. Prepare yourself for a slight shocker when opening a can of this stuff... again, it's not the Plaster Paris that you've grown up with!

First-Timer? Here's a Heads Up

While learning how to apply Venetian plaster, you'll be faced with a thick mixture of colored lime or gypsum with sand and water (that's plaster). In fact, this plaster is so thick, you'll need a steel trowel to get it out of the can (but don't worry - it's fun to work with).

For a uniform color, you can use a single color. Before learning how to apply Venetian plaster, it's important that you understand that variation in texture can sometimes offer as much eye-entertainment as variation in color. So if you're a little color shy and aren't too keen on splashing your walls with a rainbow effect, you can take comfort in knowing that a single color will accomplish a pleasing, yet interesting look.

Apply the First Coat

Having selected the color you want to use, you'll basically scoop a little bit of the Venetian plaster from its can at a time with the trowel. Here's a tip from some old pro's who know how to apply Venetian plaster: If the corners of your trowel are sharp and pointy, sand them down so that you don't accidentally scrape off the plaster you apply while using it!

Are you ready to apply Venetian plaster? Start in the corner and gently but firmly wipe the plaster off of your trowel onto your wall in one direction. Leave a little white space between each wipe. After about every fifteen to twenty wipes, return to where you began and then smooth the plaster from one wipe that you made earlier to the next.

The objective in this step is to cover the white spaces that you left earlier. This latter step is rather tricky when you apply Venetian plaster. On one hand, you want a little of the wall's original color to show through the plaster, yet on the other hand, you don't want to completely cover the wall so that the plaster ends up looking like a single coat of paint.

While you apply Venetian plaster, your first wipes should end up looking a little spotty because this is the first step in creating the textured look that you'll enjoy in the end. Continue in this fashion until the entire wall is covered.

Apply the Second Coat

Before applying a second coat, let the first application dry for about four hours. Again, after about fifteen to twenty wipes, return to where you began and smooth the plaster from one wipe that you made earlier to the next. Allow this coat a whole twenty-four hours to dry before you move on to apply Venetian plaster.

Finishing Layer

To protect all the tedious work you just did to apply Venetian plaster, you can 'seal' it with a topcoat - most commonly referred to as a Venetian Plaster topcoat. This finishing layer should give it a slight sheen. Apply this finish thinly (again, with a trowel) so that you don't inadvertently create thick milky puddles.

Final Step

After another twenty-four hours have passed, sand down your 'masterpiece in the rough' with 400 or 600 grit sandpaper. Making circular motions, you want to sand away any roughness that the Venetian plaster might have created. Just be careful not to sand the plaster all the way down to the bare wall.

Once that's complete, take a damp cloth and wipe away the dust that resulted from sanding.

See Also:

Decorative Stuccos