Do you love the look of aged plastered walls? European country manors and old-world cottages are full of Venetian plastered walls. That doesn’t mean its time has passed yet, as aged Venetian plastered walls are still very popular.
Originally this technique was somewhat time-consuming. It required mixing ground stone into the plaster. Then, it was layered on the walls and sanded down to create a finish that resembled smooth stone. The mellow, worn appearance is very popular today.
That being said, applying Venetian plaster is not for the faint of heart. Even though the process itself is pretty straightforward, the fact that, unlike painting, you cannot stop in the middle of a step and then, later on, start again when you are good and ready has served to intimidate countless DIY enthusiasts.
In addition, since the application of Venetian plaster is not a single-step process, others have been scared away into reaching for the old standbys of paint and brush.
No need to worry though. Learning how to do Venetian plaster walls in 3 steps is actually a lot easier than it sounds and if you follow through, you will be rewarded with a high-class look and feel of your room.
Materials and tools needed
Purchase Venetian plaster from your local paint or home improvement store. If you can’t find it look up where to buy Venetian plaster and head there. Use pre-tinted plaster so that you can easily get the same tint for future touch-ups. Get a primer that has a similar shade as the plaster you are using.
Get a paint tray, paint roller, small steel trowel, large steel trowel, putty knife and mud tray to apply the plaster.
Purchase 100 and 400-grit sandpaper that you will use to sand the plaster. Get an electric hand sander to make sanding easier, which can save time especially when tackling bigger projects.
Gather miscellaneous items such as painter’s tape, drop cloth, gloves, eye goggles and mask to make yourself a little more comfortable when the times come to sand the walls.
Prepare the walls
Clear out the wall hangings and remove the hooks or nails. Patch gaping holes on the walls or ceilings. Do not patch the minor scratches, holes, and cracks. The plaster can cover up these minor imperfections. Put painter’s tape prior to primer if you need it.
If you for some reason have to remove plaster walls, here is a link to a guide for that.
Clean your walls thoroughly. If you have wallpaper that has been partially scraped off or paint which is chipped in areas, complete the process of removal.
If your walls have been painted with high gloss paint (like they used to do in apartments to make the cleanup in between tenants easier), rough up the surface with sandpaper before applying the Venetian plaster to your walls.
You don’t need to remove the glossy paint completely, just go over it with 100-grit sandpaper. Wipe off the dust and vacuum it out of the room.
Apply primer and let it dry completely. Applying a primer with the same tint as the plaster will eliminate the original wall or ceiling color from showing. Omit the primer application when the original wall color is already similar to the plaster.
How to do Venetian plaster walls in 3 steps
Applying Venetian plaster is a time-consuming process. It involves applying plaster usually in three thin layers and allowing drying time in-between applications. The third layer is usually a top coat that is used for durability. Bathrooms and high traffic rooms are good examples.
Step 1: With the walls matted, primered and clean, apply the base coat. You need a clean, rust free trowel, putty knife, patience, and a steady hand.
To get through the walls you need to work at a steady pace and with the trowel at an angle; do not allow any drying base coat to remain on your trowel. Wipe it off to remove bits and pieces of dried matter.
The trick to applying the base coat is to spread the initial coating thinly onto the wall with generous strokes. Think big and let your arms follow suit. Don’t forget, behind every great plastered wall stands a great but thin base coat.
The drying time spans about five hours. It can be more if you live in a humid climate and less if you chose quick-drying Venetian plaster base coats. Refer to the package for actual drying time and then add one hour for good measure.
Step 2: Now is the time to apply a second coat of the Venetian plaster. Much like the first coat, do not let dried on bits and pieces get mixed under the wet stuff.
Unlike the first time, this time around you want to make big strokes but also short ones in random patterns. In addition, do not hold your trowel at an angle anymore but flatten it against the wall.
To get the best Venetian plaster texture, spread the plaster in a haphazard way to give it more depth and texture. Choose whichever direction you prefer; there is no right or wrong way. The beauty of this application is that you can make the design the way you want it to look.
This is hard to do and in the beginning a lot of the Venetian plaster will fall on the floor at first, but before long you’ll get the hang of it.
Work until the wall is completely covered and no more of the original paint or wallpaper shines through. Walk away for about 24 hours (or however long the manufacturer suggests).
Optional: You can use the top coat if you like. It’s best if you buy from the same manufacturer so it goes well with the Venetian plaster you’ve already used to the walls. Check the manufacturer info when it’s supposed to be used, usually, it’s right after the second coat is dry.
Step 3: When you come back after 24 hours, bring some 400-grit sandpaper and the shop vac with you. Although your arms are probably already feeling like lead, you now need to rough up the plaster you spread in a circular motion.
Sanding polishes the plaster to give it a smooth and lustrous finish. Check if the plaster shows a reflection. Stop when it is shiny and smooth to the touch. You should end up with a finish that is marble-like in appearance.
What you see is what you get. Use the shop vac to clean up all the dust and use a wet rag on the walls to get the dust off there, too.
This how-to-do Venetian plaster surfaces guide is only one way to do it. Of course, there are plenty of other ways to apply Venetian plaster and in some cases, the application varies, depending on the product you choose.
The most high-end products in this department can make your walls look like a million bucks. That is if you follow some highly specialized instructions and modify your drying times.
Looking at the finished products, if you have applied Venetian plaster to walls before and are ready for a bigger challenge, this might be the way to go.
Also, if you need to do some ground work on your walls before Venetian plaster, check out this guide on plastering walls with cement plaster.