Venetian plaster was originally designed and used in Italy to emulate the luxurious appearance of real marble, whilst being more practical to install, relatively light-weight in comparison, and far more cost-effective.
However, in comparison with other more common decorative finishes, such as paint or wallpaper, Venetian plaster can be a more costly option.
You may therefore be wondering, what is special about venetian plaster, and is venetian plaster worth it?
In this blog post, we will explore the many aesthetic, environmental and practical advantages of choosing Venetian plaster as a decorative finish for your project and how, in the long run, it may actually work out to be a more cost-effective option.
Venetian polished plaster is an extremely versatile product.
Not only can Venetian plaster be applied to various surfaces (such as walls, ceilings, MDF panels and plasterboard with a tape and jointed / skimmed finish), but it can also be applied to surfaces which are not flat or straight, making it a popular choice with features such as archways, columns or curved walls.
With Venetian plaster, it is possible to achieve such a wide range of finishes with varying degrees of texture. Venetian plaster is an excellent choice if you are looking to introduce a sense of light, warmth, depth, or movement into your internal space. Our Venetian plaster is hand-trowelled, so even when selecting a standard finish option, the final result will always be somewhat unique, whilst still retaining an element of consistency.
Colourwashes can also be used to enhance the colours and contrast of the plaster, and waxes can be used to heighten the shine of the finished surface.
At Marmo, we offer a range of standard venetian polished finishes and concrete effect finishes.
However, Venetian plaster is also customisable. Here at Marmo, we are able to explore different application methods and utilise a range of tools, materials and stencils in order to help you achieve a unique, bespoke finish if required. Whilst we offer a wide range of standard colour options, we are also able to accurately colour match to any samples or references you are able to provide for us.
We have had the opportunity to create bespoke finishes for some of the UK’s leading brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Adidas, Samsung and many more.
Venetian plaster is one of the most eco-friendly decorative surface finishes available on the market.
Unlike some other decorative finishes, Venetian plaster is a natural product which contains no harmful or toxic materials, and in turn does not emit any volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Lime is burnt at a lower temperature during the production process than cement is, and the manufacture process of lime products releases 20% less CO2 than the manufacture process of cement products. In fact, once applied, Venetian plaster will actually continue to absorb CO2 from its surroundings.
Venetian plaster is odourless, and therefore free from odour-causing chemicals, meaning it does not pose any health risks for those affected by allergies, asthma or other respiratory issues.
Anti-Bacterial, Mould and Damp Repellent:
Lime is antibacterial in nature. The lime content means that Venetian plaster has a high pH level. Due to this alkalinity, Venetian plaster possesses fungicidal qualities, and is able to repel mould and mildew.
Venetian plaster is a breathable material, therefore allowing moisture to be released from the substrate underneath. It dries quickly, which prevents moisture being trapped beneath the surface. For these reasons, Venetian plaster is a good choice for areas with high humidity.
Venetian plaster is applied in several thin layers, each of which adds an extra layer of protection and insulation, meaning that Venetian plastering can help a room or building retain heat in winter, and remain cool in summer.
Venetian plaster is not a good conductor of fire, as the lime-based products it is comprised of are non-flammable and non-combustible. We often receive requests to apply polished plaster to chimney breasts or around fireplaces, and clients will often ask if it safe to apply polished plaster in these locations. Due to it’s anti-flammable properties, Venetian plaster can be safely exposed to heat, and therefore safely installed in this type of location. We do, however, usually suggest installing an anti-crack mesh system within the base layer of our plaster, in order to strengthen the plaster, and reduce the risk of cracks appearing as a result of heat exposure.
All products in our plaster range are fire-rated in accordance with the criteria reported in EN 13501-1:2009 - European Class of reaction to fire: A1.
Due to the natural lime content, Venetian plaster finishes are tough and durable.
After application and during the drying process, the lime plaster will begin to absorb CO2 in the air surrounding it. This re-carbonisation of the lime results in the recreation of limestone, a process which hardens the plaster and therefore strengthens the surface it is applied to. The harvest, production and re-carbonisation of lime is referred to as “The Lime Cycle”.
In comparison with other decorative finishes, Venetian plaster is less prone to cracking or shrinking than cement plaster, will not strain or tear like wallpaper, and will not fade or flake like paint.
However, it is important to note that Venetian plaster is only as strong and stable as the substrate to which it is applied. For this reason, we always provide detailed substrate preparation guidance within our tender packages, to ensure that the wall/surface is in optimal condition prior to application.
Easy to Clean:
Venetian plaster is reasonably easy to clean for a number of reasons.
Firstly, due to the smooth, sometimes shiny, finish which is achieved by burnishing (polishing).
Secondly, the surface is often sealed with a wax coating, which acts as a protective layer and helps to repel dirt.
Thirdly, Venetian plaster is quick-drying, meaning that it will not retain moisture and is therefore not conducive to damp.
You can usually clean Venetian plaster with only water and mild soap, but the plaster must be cleaned very gently and dried thoroughly with a soft dry cloth, using circular motions.
Please click HERE for more detailed guidance on how to clean Venetian plaster.
As discussed, Venetian plaster is a durable product, and with the correct substrate preparation, the plaster rarely cracks, moves or flakes. This means there is far less requirement for maintenance, upkeep or repairs, in comparison with other decorative finishes such as wallpaper or paint.
Venetian plaster usually just requires a polish and a wax every so often, in order to maintain the quality and effect of the finish, and to maintain the protective layer.
If you do encounter damage to your Venetian plaster, such as cracks or scratches, we recommend that you always call a specialist to assess and advise how best to proceed.
Prior to reading this blog post, you may have been considering specifying Venetian plaster as part of you design project. You may initially have been enticed by the aesthetic appeal of Venetian polished plaster interiors, but perhaps did not feel you had enough knowledge about the product and materials to make a fully informed decision.
Venetian plaster is clearly a beautifully versatile product, but hopefully this blog post has also highlighted its many other practical qualities, and explained why it can also be an excellent choice for the health, safety and environmentally conscious.
Whilst it may be a more expensive option than some of the alternative decorative finishes available on the market today, there is no doubt that in the long run, the benefits of Venetian plastering far outweigh the cost.