As a wall finish over primed or low-sheen painted surfaces, such as those done in a flat or eggshell paint, a Venetian plaster technique can bring a fabulously unique Old-World look to your home.
This technique dates back to the ancient finishing methods practiced by the artisans of Italy’s Venice region. Referring to a polished plaster of either slaked lime or natural resins, this type of wall finish differs from what many think of as ‘faux’ finishes because of the use of real plaster.
Marmorino Venetian plaster, containing crushed marble or marble dust, originates as a traditional wall finish popular in Northern Italy. The added marble adds an understated sparkle to the finish as well as giving it an extremely smooth, satiny, and cool-to-the-touch feel. Preferred marmorino plasters contain at least 40 percent real marble and no synthetic materials.
Manufacturers of premium imported Venetian plasters age the material in large, underground vats. In addition to thoroughly hydrating the plaster, this method also causes the absorption of trace minerals from the surrounding rock. To produce marmorino Venetian plaster, marble is added afterward.
Imported Venetian plasters differ from those made in the United States. U.S.-made Venetian plasters almost always contain synthetic materials such as acrylic polymers or ethylene glycol.
The organic makeup of imported Venetian plasters enables the plaster to ‘breathe’ and the alkalinity from the lime makes it highly resistant to mold. Additionally, premium imported Venetian plasters made from organic materials produce a depth of effect untouchable by synthetics.
Although the quality of imported Venetian plasters makes them much more desirable, the price of the ‘real thing’ can trigger pause for consideration. Authentic, imported Venetian plasters can cost up to 10 times the price of domestically manufactured Venetian plasters. When real marble gets added to the mix, the cost soars even higher.
Not only does the imported version cost more, you’ll be hard pressed to find it. Big-box stores like Home Depot or Lowes carry only the less expensive domestic variety. An online search on the Internet presents the most likely avenue of purchasing bona fide imported Venetian plaster.
Venetian plasters, including marmorino Venetian plasters, create a beautiful wall finish sought after by many. The quality of the treatment, however, depends as so many things do, on the shape of your bank account. So the decision is up to you: Will it be real or American-style Venetian plaster?