Decorative Plaster Specialists

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Venetian plaster FAQ's of our specialists

Do you sell product?

No we do not sell the product alone, we are an application company and supply product only for our commisions and projects.

Venetian plaster - what is it?

Venetian plaster can be divided into two types of finishes, smooth polished plasters and textured finishes.

The best known smooth finish is Grassello, made from lime putty and fine marble flour. The finish is totally smooth and may be burnished to a high sheen to give a mirror like gloss with a marbling pattern within. Murano Venetian plasters are a carefully mixed combination of Grassello polished plaster and metallic shot powders. These have a similar finished style to Grassello with a soft satin like sheen and metallic effect. Marmorino is made with a coarser and marble flour, there are several grades which produce a totally smooth finish, with differing levels of sheen. There is decorative movement of light and shade sometime likened to cut or honed stone. Whilst not traditional Venetian plasters the modern Moroccan finish tadelakt finishes have a similar vista to a matt marmorino.

Traditional Venetian plasters often had mineral additives for decorative effect, Mineral finishes like Rasato Calce (Salt and Pepper) with colour marble or volcanic sands, or Marmorino con Coccio, mixed with fine terracotta powders also has the aditional benefit of the plasters drying ability in wet conditions. Mother of pearl (madreperla)  along with Ancient Stone offer decorative glints of mica, metals and crushed shell within the surface finish. 

Intonachino are widely used in Italy on the exterior of buildings with a sponged finish, found in differing grades of coarsenesses when pressed have a smooth surface but with decorative pitting within. Using combinations of Intonachino finishes we may make a dragged Venetian plaster. The decorative pattern is made bespoke by the artisan to make a finish liken to lightly honed and riven stone. In a similar style there is Travertino which has a look of natural travertine with directional pitting used to great effect. Lightly textured but smooth to touch, Baroque offers a unique riven style.

New urban design call for industrial looks and there is no better than Concrete wall finishes, floors too may be decorated with Flooring Marmorino, to strengthen the finish resins and other additives are used to make it more practical and durable. 

Modern synthetic finishes like Spatolato which too mimic the traditional Venetian plastering of Grassello and Marmorino and textured finishes like Terrano give a fast track option.


Venetian Plaster History

The decorative plasters of Venice can be traced back thousands of years to Mesopotamia, where raw lime and limestone plasters were being used and painted with frescoes. Later in the remains of the Roman villas of Pompei show how the use of these plasters had spread and changed. The Romans knew the benefits of using burnt lime which was than was then slaked (properly mixed with water) and then left to age so as to improve workability. Much of their techniques has been learned from the writings of Marcus Vitruvius in "De Architecture". This15th century document describes the building and architectural practices of Rome 1BC. Walls were plastered with 3 coats of a sand and lime mixture followed by 3 coat of a fine marble dust and lime mix to make a smooth polished finish. Whilst the plaster was wet, colours were then introduced to provide a strong, easy to clean decorative surface.


It was the rediscovery of these practices that gave way to their widespread use in 15th century Venice. The lagoon area of Venice had an abundance of wealth and a newly found appetite for classical architecture. The transportation of sand around the lagoon was difficult and expensive, there was also an abundance of waste terracotta from the brick and roof tile industries. So plaster renders were made instead with ground terracotta and hydraulic lime to make a highly breathable surface adept to the damp atmosphere of the lagoon area. From the marble quarries the was more tailings, this was then ground, combined with lime to create fine plaster finishes or marmorino. Left white to portray the stone of Istria (modern day Croatia) which was favoured by Venetian builders, or painted with frescoes to mimic more exotic marble. For the sinking city, the weight of the marmorino was considerably less than the classic Roman style of using slab pieces of stone or marble.


The use of Venetian plaster disappeared late in the 1800's until the architect Carlo Scarpa in the 1950's brought to the attention of the world these most ornate wall coverings. Whilst some plasters are now made with synthetic acrylic resins. Many still hold true to the original recipe of lime and marble powder, with the inclusion of adhesives so as to be used on modern building surfaces such as drywall.

What surfaces can Venetian Plaster be applied to?

Most building surfaces are suitable for the application of our range of Venetian plasters. Old and new plaster, lime and cement based renders, plasterboard, MDF etc. Care should be taken with dry-lining that no ridges are made in the boards.
The surfaces however need to be fairly even and smooth, and free of movement, however most remedial work can be corrected and even the weakest surface be strengthened with a fibrous mesh.

How best to clean Venetian plaster?

Firstly ithe Venetian plaster we do not recommend cleaning polished plasters with water or especially detergent, as this can spread any dirt to leave smudges.

Polished plaster wall finishes are sealed with wax, therefore any dirt should left to dry on the surface and then removed with a dry lint free cloth.

Should a Venetian plaster marmorino be somehow spoilt by staining it may possible to use a special paste which wraps around the particles of dirt and can then be cleaned off.