How to Burnish Venetian Plaster the Easy Way

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Venetian plaster is a finish that uses thin layers of tinted plaster, adding color and depth to just about any wall. The technique, known for its smooth appearance with colors swirling beneath a polished surface, comes from hours of careful burnishing. This burnishing, traditionally done by hand with a trowel, builds up the finish by friction alone. An easier way exists for those unable to make the necessary labor commitment. You can achieve that famous glossy finish in a fraction of the time by using a hand-held sander.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand-held power sander
  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • Wait for the final coat of plaster to dry on the wall for 24 hours before burnishing, so you don't remove the plaster. The plaster should be slightly tacky to the touch when you begin burnishing.

  • Attach 600-grit sandpaper to a hand-held power sander.

  • Turn on the sander and lightly run the sandpaper over the surface of the plaster. Work in small circles along the wall until the plaster surface develops a light gloss and the color deepens.

  • Sand the wall multiple times until you reach the level of glossiness you desire. Each pass with the sander will raise the gloss level slightly, but also reduces the color variations in the plaster.

  • Wipe the wall with a clean cloth to remove burnishing residue after you make the final pass with the sandpaper.

Tips & Warnings

  • If a gouge develops in the plaster during the burnishing process, place a thin layer of plaster onto the damage and allow it to dry before burnishing the patch.

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