1. You’ve heard: “Venetian plaster is a faux finish.” The truth: Authentic Venetian plaster is not a faux finish. In fact, it’s the most authentic veneer wall finish you can have. When natural, lime-based Venetian plaster is applied it will eventually return to its original state, which is lime and marble, AKA stone.
2. You’ve heard: You can buy Venetian plaster at Lowes or Home Depot. The truth: You will find products labeled “Venetian plaster,” but they are actually composed of acrylic polymers and fillers such as gypsum and/or clay. While these synthetic Venetian plasters made by paint manufacturers may look somewhat similar to the real thing to the untrained eye, it’s been our experience that these synthetics will ultimately fade and become “tired” looking over a relatively short period of time, just like painted walls. Unlike real Venetian Plaster, synthetic Venetians are more closely related to paint than to stone, so this should come as no surprise. 3. You’ve heard: Venetian plaster can’t be applied in the shower, on exteriors, or on any surface that will get wet. The truth: True Italian Venetian plaster is actually a wonderful choice for surfaces that will get wet. Lime plasters perform extremely well in wet climates by simply allowing any water that is absorbed into the plaster to quickly evaporate and exit the structure. That’s why they’re called Venetian plaster, because they can tolerate rising damp and canal-side applications like in the lagoons of Venice that would cause failure in acrylic and cement plasters. Traditional Moroccan lime plaster Tadelakt has been used in the Hammams (the traditional Moroccan steam baths), and in the riads of Marrakech for centuries. 4. You’ve heard: Anyone can apply Venetian plaster in their home. The truth: Well, it’s true that anyone can apply it. But applying it well is a different story. While we definitely aren’t saying you’ll be a pro after one day, our new Half day learn a finish class, is a good place for a beginner to start understanding the do’s and don’ts of Venetian plaster application. Also, consider hiring certified applicator to do the job. 5. You’ve heard: Installing Venetian plaster in your home will break the bank. The truth: Unlike paints which must be reapplied over and over, Venetian plaster is a lifetime finish. The material is self-healing, much less likely to crack than cement finishes, and naturally mold-resistant, resulting in beautiful walls that will withstand the test of time. Green building will be a key part of America’s economic future, and authentic Venetian plasters are not only beautiful, they fit perfectly into the future of green building. 6. You’ve heard: Venetian plaster is really shiny. The truth: Yes, Venetian plaster can be brought up to a natural high sheen by compressing the material as it dries. The more compression, the higher the sheen. However, natural lime plasters can also be finished to a rustic matte or satin sheen, depending on which material is used and how it is applied. The possible looks and finishes for Venetian plaster are limitless!
Got any more questions about Venetian plaster? Feel free to ask and we’ll do our best to shed some light on the subject. Ready to experience authentic Venetian plaster for yourself? Visit our store and get all the materialsyou need, or sign up for one of our classes and learn how to plaster like a pro.
Environmentally Friendly Plasters
Stucco Italiano is a member of the US Green Building Council. Naturally high in pH, lime finishes act as an anti-bacterial surface, neutralizing the development of organic substances such as mold and fungus.
Non-toxic and green, our lime plasters are ideal for interiors or exteriors. A breathable system, our lime plasters allow water vapor to permeate freely so moisture evaporates quickly, unlike acrylic finishes which can trap moisture inside the wall.
Why Lime? Authentic, Natural Venetian Plaster Has History and Benefits
Imagine a beautiful villa in Italy. The walls are as artistic as the architecture itself, and have withstood the test of time by lasting over 300 years. Why not recreate Venetian plaster in your projects.
With the support of a trained certified professional, lime plasters can elevate the appearance of a building and enable construction professionals to differentiate their work, recapture the tradition of artisans from generations before, and create art on the wall. Benefits:
• Very Breathable
• Self-Healing properties
• Wets and Dries Out Fast on exteriors
• Naturally Mold-Resistant
• Natural & Green
Stucco Italiano lime plasters are extremely durable and less prone to shrinking and cracking than the traditional cement finishes.
A breathable system, our lime plasters allow water vapor to permeate freely so moisture evaporates quickly, unlike acrylic finishes which can trap moisture inside the wall.
When lime plasters cure, the result is hard-as-stone, long-lasting mineral coating. Our natural, Dyes and oxide pigment systems results in the preservation of lasting color in your walls. Non-toxic and green, our lime plasters are ideal for interiors. Applied as a two- or three-coat seamless veneer system, your walls will be left with excellent absorption and diffusion characteristics, leading to optimal indoor air quality.
Naturally high in pH, lime finishes act as an anti-bacterial surface, neutralizing the development of organic substances such as mold and fungus.
Along with being a member of the US Green Building Council, we are proud to be LEED licensed as well as Rina Green Plus certified.
History: Marmorino is well known as a classic Venetian plaster. However, its origins are much older, dating to ancient Roman times. We can see evidence of it today in the villas of Pompei and in various Roman structures. In addition, it was written about in Vitruvio’s “De Architectura”, a 1st Century B.C. history of Rome.
Marmorino made a resurgence centuries after the discovery of Vitruvio’s ancient treatise in the 15th century.
This ‘new’ plaster conformed well to the classical ideal that had recently become fashionable in the 15th century Venetian lagoon area.
The first record of work being done with marmorino is a building contract with the nuns of Santa Chiara of Murano in 1473. In this document, it is written that before the marmorino could be applied, the wall had to be prepared with a mortar made of lime and “coccio pesto” (ground terra cotta). This “coccio pesto” was excavated from tailings of bricks or recycled from old roof tiles. This allows a pozzolanic reaction, the rediscovery of Roman architectural practices as described by Vitruvius in De architectura, also led to the reintroduction of lime-pozzolan binders. Particularly the strength, durability and hydraulic capability of hardening underwater made them popular construction materials during the 16th–18th century..
At this point, to better understand the popularity of marmorino in Venetian life, two facts need to be considered. The first is that in a city that extends over water, the transport of sand for making plaster and the disposal of tailings was, and still is, a huge problem. So, the use of marmorino was successful not only because the substrate was prepared using terra cotta scraps, but also the finish, marmorino, was made with leftover stone and marble, which were in great abundance at that time. These ground discards were mixed with lime to create marmorino. One of the first recycling and reuse of materials in an environmentally conscious way. This today would certainly be called green building practices and qualify for the highest LEED rating on credits, as its locally sourced and minimizes VOC output.
Marmorino and substrates made of “coccio pesto” resisted the ambient dampness of the lagoon better than almost any other plaster. The first because it is extremely breathable by virtue of the kind of lime used (the only lime which sets on exposure to air after losing excess water) and the second, because it contains terra cotta which, when added to lime, makes the mixture pozzolanic (hydraulic). Therefore, it’s effective even in very damp conditions (because it contains silica and aluminium, bases of modern cement and hydraulic lime preparations). The second consideration is that an aesthetically pleasing result could be achieved in an era dominated by the return of a classical Greco-Roman style, allowing less weight to be transmitted to the foundation when compared to the habit of covering facades with slabs of stone.
Usually, marmorino was white to imitate the stone of Istria, which was most often used in Venetian construction, but was occasionally decorated with frescoes to imitate the marble, which Venetian merchants brought home from their voyages to the Orient. (In this fascinating period of the Republic of Venice, merchants felt obliged to return home bearing precious, exotic marble as a tribute to the beauty of their own city).
Marmorino maintained its prestige for centuries until the end of the 1800′s when interest in it faded and was considered only an economical solution to the use of marble. Only at the end of the 1970′s, thanks in part to the architect Carlo Scarpa’s use of marmorino, did this finishing technique return to the interest of the best modern architects.