Venetian Plaster Modern Ancient Wall Finishes

Venetian plaster has the reflective effect of ripples on water — a deep, multidimensional look not often seen in common wall finishes. Look deep enough into the reflection and you just might see a glimpse of Old World Italy.
Polished plaster wall finishes have been around since 900 B.C. in Egypt, but true Venetian plaster gained widespread popularity in Venice in the 1500s. Venetians wanted to replicate the elegance of marble-covered walls in mainland Italy, but solid marble was heavy and their city was built on sand and mud.
Venetian plaster, a blended paste of aged slaked lime, ground marble and color pigment. This durable, mold-resistant plaster created the look the Venetians desired without the weight of traditional solid marble. That same basic formula is still used today but applied by a new generation of artists.
Venetian plaster is cold to the touch, durable, scratch- and dirt-resistant. Its colors and appearance of depth change with the natural light in the room but it won’t fade. Its anti-mold/mildew allergy-free properties are perfect for high moisture environments like bathrooms and showers and it’s often listed with “green” home-building products.
It can be done in a variety of finishes, anything from a polished marble/mirror look, to a coarse, pitted limestone look, or suede, distressed stone. And it breathes in wet environments, releasing moisture back into the air, so you won’t get mold.Venetian plaster application starts around $6 to $9 per square foot.
That’s only slightly more expensive than tile installation fees. Most 1,000-square-foot jobs can be completed in one week, with no more distress to the household than a paint job.
The great part about this plaster is that it can be applied to new finished drywall or existing painted walls and it gives it a completely new, brighter look, like a renovation, but without the mess. It’s like fresh-painted on steroids.
It’s suitable for foyers, whole rooms or as a decorative accent like a bedroom headboard wall, fireplace wall, framed by decorative moulding, or anywhere a unique, impressive wall finish is desired.
Good Venetian plaster is in the product, yes, but also in the artistry of the applicator. There are several layers applied in the process, each adding richness and depth to the end product. The final step of steel troweling, or burnishing, is where the polished appearance is developed and makes the wall appear as one seamless piece of marble, bringing out the color and subtle texture in the layers.
The tools Now the shape of the trowel raises a lot of eyebrows because it is in the shape of a trapezoid. If you see and old workman’s trowel in Italy, it starts off in a rectangular shape and after several years it start taking a trapezoid shape. This is because you work on the full length of the blade the whole time and one end becomes narrower as a result.
Many craftsmen in Italy would prefer to work with old trowels they inherited, as opposed to working with a new tool because it actually becomes better with age.

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