Venetian plaster walls are a great way to cover up imperfections or unwanted textures that can seem dated.
My pet peeve is the “orange peel” that a lot of homes are cursed with. No one wants orange peel on their thighs so what makes these builders think we want it on our walls? It’s a nightmare to repair. Worse, it screams tract home.
Most high-end or custom homes have smooth walls or some type of plaster finish. Although it costs more, it’s much more versatile from a design standpoint.
It’s pretty hard to wallpaper, apply faux linen texture, or paint stripes on your bumpy walls without plastering them smooth first. Thankfully, there is Venetian plaster.
Instead of re-plastering your whole house, you can do accent walls or ceilings in Venetian plaster techniques to break the orange peel monotony. Master bedroom designs like this banquette seating area (photo above) are easy to do all by yourself, and guess what? It's also fun! Unlike spackling compound, Venetian plaster has a light creamy texture so it goes with on with ease, just like icing a cake!
You may think Venetian plaster is only for Old World decor like Tuscan, French, or English Country, but that is not the case.
Venetian plaster walls can also be modern and dazzling! There's a great video further down this page that shows how to apply metallic plasters. You can also use regular Venetian plaster and apply a shimmering topcoat in gold or pearl, or how about an oxidized metal or rust finish for an urban grunge look?
With Venetian plasters, you can create the look of marble and stone without the heavy weight or expense.
Just as easily, you can use Venetian plaster walls to display the rich textures of lace, linen, and suede.
~ Venetian plaster walls in Cosco, Peru hotel~
If you have an orange peel or other deep texture on your wall, start with an acrylic primer and after 24 hours, apply a base coat of cheap drywall mud to level it out a bit. Sand just enough to smooth any points or straight lines caused by the trowel. This is not the same as getting a wall totally flat and small variations add character, so don’t go overboard on the sanding.
Tone-on-tone means you use the same color but apply it in layers, allowing several hours to dry in between (the thinner the coats, the faster it dries). This gives Venetian plaster walls dimension even though it is all one color.
Modern Masters Inc. has so many wonderful and environmentally friendly products and wall decorating ideas, but one of my favorites is their Venetian Plaster. Colors come in anything your heart desires because the base can be tinted like paint, and it can compliment many different decorating themes.
Check out Modern Masters web site for more inspiration, and see their video demonstration on applying metallic plasters below.
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Stop by my remodel ideas for fireplaces page to see another video, only this time I'm the one demonstrating Venetian plaster techniques on a fireplace surround.
One technique is to buy two Venetian plaster colors, one to serve as the dominant color and the other to peek out from behind. Our neighbors were inspired by our plaster but came up with their own recipe, which was perfect for their decorating theme.
They used dark brown as the base color, with a creamy white over it. You see hints of the brown in the trowel marks but the dominant color is cream.
The texture is almost smooth, but irregular enough to know it’s been hand plastered. The finish has a luminous quality and was achieved using a sealer mixed part matte, part gloss.
Their decorating theme has always been English Country but with orange peel walls, it never quite felt English Country. With Venetian plaster walls, the house feel solid, timeless, and custom. Every piece of furniture and wall art they had went back but the transformation is amazing! Even the kitchen, backsplash and all, is the same plaster and it flows from one room to another.
Another reason this house flows so well is that they also plastered over textured ceilings. They saved money by using cheap drywall mud, which is $5/gallon vs. $50 to $80/gallon for Venetian plaster colors. The new ceilings were painted the same creamy color as the walls, only one shade lighter (in an eggshell finish) and now blend seamlessly with the walls.
The way to achieve the look of marble or travertine, with all of its swirling movement and depth of colors, is to have three colors of plaster.
Pick two colors from the same paint fan that are one shade apart and a third, darker one, depending on how you want it to look.
The darker color is only about 10% of the overall effect so a quart is all you should need.
The other two colors you can buy in gallons if you are doing a whole wall.
It helps if you have a color inspiration to start with such as a sample piece of marble or travertine that you would like to recreate. Our inspiration was a dinner plate that we had the Venetian plaster colors matched to, along with a lighter shade to layer it with.
Venetian plaster walls mimic stone using three different colors of plaster.
Our contractor preferred to use just two Venetian plaster wall colors. Then on the 3rd and final coat of plaster he added a bit of a darker liquid colorant to one of the two shades of plaster.
This makes the final pass quicker because the material is a bit thinned out and easier to swirl. It’s a slightly different technique but still looks fantastic.
Your paint store should be able to put a little of the colorant in a can for you if that’s the way you choose to go.
Venetian plaster walls give you more impact for less, and is something you will love once you try it. Yes, it is more time consuming than painting and it certainly will be more expensive if you hire someone rather than doing it yourself. But it can literally make a room.
If you have a little time one weekend, get one or two quarts tinted and experiment on a sample board. Or better yet, why not start with a small project like the fireplace remodel in this photo?
Another great way to learn how to apply Venetian plaster to walls is to start with a kitchen backsplash. You can customize your colors to match your cabinets and countertops and save a fortune over tile or granite.
Come back often for new ideas and photos to inspire your home remodeling and decorating!