Originally called “Italian lime plaster,” Venetian plaster is a stunning and effective finish for various home features, including walls and ceilings. It consists of authentic lime plasters mixed with colorants such as ground marble dust, and is applied to concrete or wood surfaces to create either a smooth or matte finish.
Remember that not all custom home builders are trained and experienced in the art of Venetian plaster, a specialized technique that surpasses the application of many more conventional wall coverings and surfaces. Some of the specific styles of Venetian plaster include the scagliola, sgraffito and the marmorino.
- Scagliola – Originally from Italy’s Tuscany region in the 17th century, this technique comes from an Italian word meaning “chips” (scaglia) and has traditionally been used to produce stucco columns and other architectural features that resemble inlays in marble and other hard stones. The material may be veined with colors and applied to a core, or a pattern might be carved into a prepared matrix. The melding of materials and method provides an appealing complex texture and richness of color.
- Sgraffito (or scraffito) – When used for wall décor, this particular Venetian plaster technique and effect is created by applying layers of plaster tinted in contrasting colors to a moistened surface, and then scratching to produce an outline drawing. Recently there has been a renewed and increasing interest in this old technique, the procedures of which are similar to the painting of frescoes.
- Marmorino Veneziano is a plaster decoration primarily used on walls. It dates back to Roman times, and became fashionable again during the Renaissance in Venice (hence the word “Veneziano” in its name). Made from crushed marble and lime putty, the range of color tinting available with the marmorino technique is vast. This is also true for the range of possible textures, which includes that of polished marble or natural stone. In addition to its visual appeal, the waterproof and anti-bacterial qualities of marmorino style Venetian plaster also make it an excellent choice for luxury bathrooms.
Synthetic and Authentic Venetian Plaster
Nowadays, some custom home builders provide their customers with two choices: a natural and authentic Venetian plaster, or a synthetic or acrylic-based plaster.
Authentic Venetian plasters are made from marble, lime putty and other completely natural aggregates. The use of real plasters can offer a greater variety of finishes and effects that cannot be achieved by their synthetic counterparts. These natural plasters also inhibit bacteria growth, which can prevent the possibility of mildew and molds causing damage or deterioration.
Synthetic plasters are usually made from acrylic paints, polymers resins, cements and sometimes even petroleum products, and do not always offer the same level of beauty and sturdy finish that an authentic plaster can. If you are thinking of incorporating the many advantages of Venetian plaster into your décor, your best option is to hire custom home builders who shun the synthetics and pride themselves on using the more traditional materials. There are definite benefits, not only from an esthetic perspective, but from an environmental standpoint, as well.
Where Can Custom Home Builders Use Venetian Plaster?
Since Venetian plaster can create a highly polished, marble-like and rock-hard finish, it can be applied in lieu of more costly and harder to source solid marbles. This gorgeous Old-World plaster technique is highly practical and decorative at the same time. And because of its waterproof quality, it can be used successfully on either interior or exterior surfaces.
Walls, ceilings, pillars and even corbels (pieces of masonry jutting out of a wall to carry any overlying weight) can all be attractively finished by accomplished custom home builders using Venetian plasters. Some homeowners opt to have their spacious and elegant bathrooms finished with these particular plasters, for the ultimate in beauty and practicality. Known to reflect and absorb light, Venetian plaster also works well for sunrooms, patios, and roof decks, making these areas appear even more interesting due to the nuances of the texture.
Venetian Plaster and Custom Home Builders’ Pride
A Venetian plaster finish can provide a warm Renaissance look to the ambiance of any home. Ask custom home builders with true mastery of this traditional Italian technique to achieve a dramatic or a more subtle effect; the choice is yours. Few features will assure the true individuality of your décor like Venetian plaster, the time-honored practice of skilled artisans.
Greg Nelson is the owner of Nelson Construction & Renovations Inc. He is a Florida State Certified Building Contractor, creating artistry in all areas of design and construction projects. He is a musician, and artist. A husband and father, Greg appreciates all the wonderful elements of family life.
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