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  • Writer's pictureMatt Weber

Venetian Plaster for Exotic Finishes

With the right tools, coloring and texturing techniques, the walls of your home can become works of art. Gian Carlo Sagasti, founder of Exotic Wall Finishes & Design, uses Venetian Plaster to create beautiful art pieces on interior walls. According to Gian, the goal is to leave your walls looking “sexy,” using a number of decorative wall finishing techniques, including Marmorino, Venetian Plaster, Faux finishes, Lime Paint and Lime Washes, offering matte or textured finishes, shiny polished finishes, and more.

Venetian plaster is lime plaster mixed with marble dust, applied as a decorative finish to walls or ceilings using a trowel in thin, multiple layers with a single color which, when compressed and burnished, produces different colors or shades to achieve an artistic effect. The burnishing process creates a smooth surface with the illusion of depth and texture.

Marmorino is a lime-based plaster used for both interiors and exteriors. It can be finished in an elegant matte finish or the traditional shiny Venetian plaster finish. The natural composition of Marmorino makes it mildew resistant and waterproof, and its visual effect makes it a great alternative to marble and ceramic tiles.

Application Basics

Venetian plaster can be applied to most walls and ceiling surfaces that are flat and smooth. Although porous surfaces work best, modern Venetian plasters contain polymers that adhere to well-prepared drywall. Any cracks or holes in the wall surface should first be filled and sanded. The surfaces should then be primed or covered with flat, water-based paint before you apply the Venetian plaster. Lime-based plasters will require a special primer to protect the walls.

Venetian plaster is sold in home centers and paint-supply stores, or online from many retailers. Some products are sold pre-tinted, but others require additives to achieve your preferred color. Ask or search for ‘Authentic Venetian Plaster’ to find the best materials.

The first thin layer of plaster is typically applied to a wall using a flexible steel trowel similar to a drywall knife. Beginning at one corner of the wall, apply a thin coat of plaster while working the trowel at a 15- to 30-degree angle to the wall. Apply the plaster with strokes that vary in length and angle for a natural appearance.

You’ll want to keep the surface fairly smooth, and the differentiation between layers will help add to the appearance of depth and texture. Clean the trowel frequently to prevent dried plaster from disrupting your finish.

Let the plaster dry thoroughly (at least four hours) before applying the second coat, just like the first. For a smooth finish, use the same color of plaster for the second and third coat, but hold the trowel at a 30- to 45-degree angle to apply a thinner layer. Use overlapping (X-shaped) strokes to thoroughly cover the surface and remove any high spots.

You can achieve a highly polished look by burnishing this third last layer as you go, every 3-4 feet. Burnishing is accomplished by using a well conditioned, high-grade stainless steel trowel in long strokes and with steady pressure to compress and polish the surface as it dries.

Add protection to the Venetian plaster surface by applying a top coat. Choose a product that is specifically recommended for whatever brand of plaster you applied. The top coat is often applied with a trowel soon after the plaster has dried. Paste wax used as a top coat can create a sheen and add protection. You can then buff the surface with a clean white cloth or even an electric buffing tool.

A smooth finish isn’t the only option, however. You can use full a range of tools to create certain textured finishes, from rollers with different patterns and notched trowels for a “drag effect” finish—even tools to create a “crocodile skin” appearance. The best way to improve your skills is to purchase some drywall and experiment with various textures, colors and finish techniques before you apply them to your home.

Gian Sagasti has been applying Venetian plaster since 2003 and demonstrates his application techniques through a huge catalog of online videos available on YouTube and Instagram. If you’d like to learn more about applying Venetian plaster, check out Gian’s free how-to videos on YouTube by searching: “Venetian plaster, Exotic Wall Finishes Gian Sagasti.”

Plus, Gian’s website offers all the application tools you’ll need to get started at

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