How to Create A Venetian Plaster Faux Finish


Venetian plaster is a faux finish technique for house painting, where the wall surface is painted using a trowel and a thick paint material called venetian plaster. Thin coats of venetian plaster are applied to the wall by holding the trowel at an angle. The trowel process for venetian plaster is very similar to mudding newly installed drywall, but this type of a faux finish will require more time to complete.

Venetian plaster creates a unique marble or stone-like appearance, with interesting variation in color. When light penetrates the venetian plaster surface it will look very smooth and the surface is actually very smooth to the touch.

Creating a faux finish such as venetian plaster is a little time consuming, but with some practice you can give your walls a new and impressive appearance.

The following steps will help you learn how to create a venetian plaster faux finish on a wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Venetian plaster
  • Venetian plaster trowel
  • Primer (only if the drywall is new)
  • Painting supplies
  • Drop cloths
  • Choose the colors for your venetian plaster. Having a basic understanding of color and color schemes will really help you make a good choice. Refer to my article in the resources section below called - How to Choose Color Schemes For House Painting.

  • Purchase your venetian plaster and faux finish supplies. You will need to buy a container of venetian plaster. Behr has a venetian plaster product that's easy to work with, but you can go to any paint store. Purchase a venetian plaster trowel or steel spatula, a practice board of drywall, and painting supplies such as drop cloths and tape.

  • Prepare and protect the area before you begin working with venetian plaster. Repair any holes in the wall and cover the baseboard with tape. Remove outlet covers and protect the floors with drop cloths.

  • Practice venetian plaster faux finish techniques on a sample board first, before you proceed to the walls.

  • Scoop out a small amount of venetian plaster and apply it to the sample piece. Apply the venetian plaster in an overlapping pattern or an "x" motion. Work in small sections and avoid leaving clumps or heavy edges of ventian plaster on the surface. Continue overlapping the venetian plaster until you have spread a thin coat on the entire surface. You don't have to completely cover the surface yet for the first coat. It's okay to let some parts of the wall show through. Keep your edges random to avoid leaving a pattern as you move across the wall.

  • Let the first coat of venetian plaster dry for at least 1-4 hours. The surface will appear to be lighter in color once it has dried. Darker wet spots of plaster will need to dry completely before proceeding.

  • Wash off any dried pieces of venetian plaster from the trowel. If you don't clean the trowel, the pieces will fall into the fresh venetian plaster container and leave noticeable marks when you apply the next coat.

  • After the initial coat of venetian plaster has dried, begin applying the next coat. Scoop up a small amount of venetian plaster with the trowel again. Holding the trowel at a 90° angle, skim the surface filling in any lower leveled areas with venetian plaster. This faux finish technique gives the appearance of a smooth and leveled surface. After the entire surface is coated, allow more time to dry again. If you want to have more depth or texture on the surface then you can repeat this step and apply a third or fourth coat of venetian plaster.

  • Now apply the final coat to complete the faux finish. Lightly polish the surface in circular motions with a piece of 100 grit sandpaper or a hand sander. You can use the trowel to get a more polished appearance. Hold the trowel almost flat against the wall and rub rapidly in a circular motion while applying pressure. This is called burnishing the surface. The longer you burnish the surface with the trowel or sandpaper, the more sheen or polished appearance it will have. Remember to keep the trowel free of dried venetian plaster pieces that can leave marks on the surface while burnishing.

  • Now take your faux finish technique and apply the venetian plaster to your walls. It's a time consuming process, but you can play around with it to make it look just right. If you want the walls to have more texture and dimension, add more venetian plaster and burnish the surface again.

Tips & Warnings

  • Practice faux finish techniques on sample drywall boards before applying venetian plaster to the walls
  • Keep trowel clean while working with venetian plaster
  • Prime walls (if they are brand new) before applying venetian plaster
  • Don't leave clumps or piled up edges of venetian plaster on the wall
  • Don't push too hard when burnishing the surface of the venetian plaster

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