venetian plaster

A Complete Guide to Working with Venetian Plaster

In some cases, different building and construction styles are cyclical, with what was historically popular becoming new again. Venetian plaster is a good example. While it has historical roots and has a certain classic appeal, many people are still turning to it as a component to add to the finish of drywall, brick, paints, and tile. However, it’s important that drywall professionals and any contractor looking to use this product understand the key benefits, as well as what separates it from the rest.

What Is Venetian Plaster?

In essence, Venetian plaster is a modern incarnation of an ancient practice. Before, skilled artisans would apply a stucco surface to walls and ceilings to give the appearance of marble. Today, while the aesthetic appearance is still similar, the components of Venetian plaster have changed slightly. Generally, this product is either made from fire limestone or marble dust mixed with water. There are different types of Venetian plaster available, such as Scagliola, Marmorino, and Sgraffito. These differ slightly in terms of features and prices. 

Photo by Yarlander

While emulating these classic styles without actually having to work with stone is a major appeal of Venetian plaster, there are other significant benefits that should be covered as well. 

Low upkeep: This may surprise some considering the aesthetic appeal of Venetian plaster, but over an extended period, you don’t need to put nearly as much effort into maintenance as you may think. Because it is mixed with a variety of pigments, it doesn’t fade away for years. This means that painting and repainting aren’t necessary. Also, it dries quickly, making it easy to clean and needing fewer repairs. This helps offset the higher initial costs.

Durability: On top of being easy to take care of, Venetian plaster is also extremely hard, which means it doesn’t have as many problems with dampness, shrinking, or pressure.

Versatility: You can apply Venetian plaster to just about any type of surface, including older ones. This makes it a great asset if you need to hide worn sections of drywall or stones. In addition, it will help make them smoother.

Additional support: You may not associate Venetian plaster with air quality, but it can help. It’s mixed with lime, which helps keep bacteria and fungus from forming on the ceiling or walls. It can also improve insulation by adding another layer.

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Photo by Andrii Anna photographer

Making The Most of Venetian Plaster

So, now that the benefits of using Venetian plaster are clear, what are some of the things you can do to take full advantage of it in your business? One key thing to do is make sure that you have a variety of different Venetian plaster colors to offer. The aesthetic factor is one of the most important parts of plaster, so offering a complete set of colors helps you double down on that advantage to potential customers. Earthy tones like white, beige, brown, and black are generally the most popular. Considering the nature of marble, which Venetian plaster emulates, this isn’t a surprise.

Generally, when it comes to implementing Venetian plaster finish, be sure to understand that this is a long-term process, especially for authentic plaster, as opposed to a homemade finish or synthetic paint. Some professionals require as much as ten days of drying time between each coat. Prior to applying the plaster, you want to make sure that the substrate is flat or smooth. This means if you are working with a raised texture, you’ll want to sand the substrate first. After this, you can tint your plaster compound, apply it, and let it dry. To implement colors, you want to use a paintbrush to go over lighter areas of the surface.

We should also talk about what you or your customers will need to do to maintain their plaster. While it’s not as much work as other finishes, it still needs to be done in order to help it last its longest. Generally, dusting the surface each week using an electrostatic duster is a good starting point. If the surface shows a stain or grime, you can clean it using a soft cloth with a dish soap and water mixture. A second pass with a damp cloth is needed to get rid of the soap solution.

One question you may have is how much your average contractor charges in terms of Venetian plaster cost. In terms of finishing options, it is a bit on the expensive side. Average prices range from $12-$15 per square foot. However, certain colored options can go as high as $25 per square foot. If your customers are on the fence about paying that price, be sure to remind them that they will save in the long run with fewer repairs and overall maintenance work.

Photo by Andrii Anna photographer

For drywall professionals looking to expand their offerings, Venetian plaster walls are a great place to start. However, whenever you offer a new service, there’s a substantial amount of work that goes into making the decision. For example, where are you going to procure materials like Venetian plaster paint? How are you going to onboard your team to use this new offering? And most importantly, what type of cost can you charge in order to ensure that this is profitable?

The best way to approach all these decisions is through data-based decision making, but where do you get the data from? Project management software, like eSUB, is the ideal solution. Gather your entire financial record in the cloud so you can compare bids and actuals to find the ideal balance between profit and customer appeal. Be sure to make use of our tracking tools to make it easier for you to see exactly how your teams are doing when installing the Venetian plaster ceiling early on. We have all the tools you need to get off on the right foot.

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