• Thu. Sep 28th, 2023

What is the difference between plaster and Venetian plaster?

ByTahlia Mills

Aug 24, 2021

Venetian plaster was one used as an aesthetically beautiful décor in Roman palaces. Gradually, it become the standard material used in both residential and formal architecture. Like much of what the Roman’s left behind, Venetian plaster has stood the test of time and to this day, is still an incredibly popular decorative finish technique. 

But, what is the different between standard plaster (of Faux Venetian), and Venetian plaster? Is it worth paying that bit extra for Venetian plaster? Or can you get away with the standard application instead? Let’s find out! 


Materials: acrylic vs. lime

First of all, real Venetian plaster is made using limestone and ground marble dust. Standard plaster on the other hand is made using acrylic and natural (or artificial) pigments. 

Certainly, the standard plaster is mean to replicate the look of marble. However, true Venetian plaster actually uses marble dust, including other natural minerals like limestone. This gives Venetian a certain authenticity that you simply can’t match with different materials. 



Availability and authenticity 

The recipes for truly authentic Venetian plaster are passed down from generation to generation, within the Italian artisans and craftsmen community. In other words, there are few people out there who fully understand how to mix and manufacture the most authentic Venetian plaster. 

Due to that fact, faux Venetian (and standard) plaster is far more common, you’ll find many people opt for this replication, as opposed to an original lime and marble dust blend. Similar effects, though it is not quite the same!  



At this stage, you’ll have likely guessed that true Venetian plaster is more expensive than standard plaster. But right good reason! True Venetian is made up using up to 40% marble dust, and expensive pigment which makes Venetian plaster relatively expensive in comparison to its standard counterpart. However, when you add that to its limited availability, it makes Venetian plaster all the more enticing!


Application techniques (and time taken)

The traditional application method when opting for Venetian plaster finishes is quite a refined process. Artisans apply layer after layer using a trowel. Following that, the finish is polished giving it the illusion of greater texture and depth. The Venetian plaster must also be dried thoroughly between each application, making the process much longer than that of a standard plaster application. And of course, the wall’s surface must be perfectly smooth before the application process can begin. 

Standard plaster on the other hand, is applied using a spatula, and then sanded smooth to have the appearance of marble. 

Again, the application process for true Venetian plaster takes longer, as more layers are required, with time to dry in between each. Faux Venetian (or standard) plaster however, can be applied in a fraction of the time. 



True Venetian plaster is applied in many layer, thus thickening the surface and making it significantly harder to damage. Faux Venetian on the other hand tends to have a much thinner coating and can damage easily. 

Standard plaster is also best kept as an inside wall treatment. True Venetian on the other hand, can easily be applied to surfaces outside given its increased durability and higher quality. 


True Venetian wins! 

There’s something really rather special about Venetian plaster finishes. It adds a world charm, an irrefutable sophistication, and a certain elegance that will make your home the envy of all your friends and family! 

However, that’s not to say that a style like Venetian plaster will be no good. In fact, you can save an awful lot of time and money by opting for a standard faux Venetian style finish. Most people can’t really tell the difference between the two at a glance anyway. So, if you aren’t particularly fussed and would prefer to save some money, then we would highly recommend a Venetian style finish! 



All in all, both decorative finishes are beautiful. It’s all about finding the right balance for you. If having the real deal is crucial to you, then go for an authentic Venetian finish. However, if you don’t mind a faux finish, then you’ll be delighted by some of the replica Venetian style finishes that are available on the market today. 


For more information, check out a reputable painting and decorating company, like Platinum 3 Painting. There you’ll be able to explore the various other faux styles available. 


Best of luck with your home renovation project!