Can you DIY Venetian plaster? Is Venetian plaster hard to do? Can you apply Venetian plaster over drywall?

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Venetian plaster is a stunning and sought-after finish, turning interiors into opulent and lavish rooms with an air of timeless sophistication. However, can you DIY Venetian plaster? Is it difficult to do? And are you able to apply Venetian plaster over existing drywall?

Can you DIY Venetian plaster?
The short answer is yes. Whether you can do as good a job as the seasoned professionals however, is a different story altogether.
For experienced DIY lovers, applying homemade and synthetic Venetian plaster treatments is easy enough to do. That said, such applications do require superior DIY abilities and isn’t recommended for a first-timer (e.g., you may struggle without experience using a hawk and trowel when taking on a DIY Venetian plaster installation).
If you are looking for an authentic, lime Venetian plaster treatment however, we strongly advise that you seek out professional help with such a complicated installation.

Is Venetian plaster hard to do?
Yes. Venetian plaster is difficult to apply without experience. Again, there are easier ways of getting around it, e.g., using homemade and synthetic (of ‘faux’) variants. However, for a proper, authentic lime Venetian plaster finish, it is very difficult to do.

Can you apply Venetian plaster over drywall?
Venetian plaster is made from aged lime putty and marble powder. This finishing technique dates all the back to the 1500s. The faux Venetian plaster finishing technique on the other hand, was popularised some years later during the 50’s and 60’s.
Whilst authentic Venetian plaster mixes are available today, they can only be effectively applied over porous surfaces. In other words, authentic Venetian plaster cannot be applied over drywall.
However, modern Venetian plasters, which contain adhesive polymers, can indeed be applied to drywall, as follows:

Clear the room of furniture
Remove any walls hangings including nails
Patch up holes and allow to dry completely
Wash the walls with water and detergent (allow to dry completely)
Use masking tape to cover the edges of doors, windows, and trim
Cover the floors with tarp

Base coat
Slowly stir the Venetian plaster mix and avoid bubbling
Dip your trowel into the Venetian plaster ready for application
Holding your trowel at a minor angle against the wall, overlap the plaster with short ‘X-like’ strokes (be sure to vary stroke length and angle in order to avoid a consistent pattern)
Continue working out from the corner of the wall, overlapping with each stroke
Create a thin layer over the drywall
Remember to clean your trowel regularly to avoid mixing dried plaster in
Allow this base coat to dry thoroughly

Second coat
Using your trowel, hold it at a 90-degree (ish) angle against the top left corner of the wall and begin applying a second thin layer
Use a variation of both short and long strokes
Fill in any low spots and push down ridges in order to create a nice and smooth look (though do not attempt to create a perfect, uniformed surface just yet)
Work your way across the entire surface, overlapping on each section (and remembering to clean your trowel)
Take a moment now and again to look at your progress. Following that, you can adjust your angle and the amount of pressure with each stroke accordingly in order to try and create harmony with the walls appearance
Allow this second layer at least 24-hours to dry out thoroughly

Don a pair of safety goggles and a dust mask (PPE is crucial with any DIY project)
Finely sand the surface using 600-grit sandpaper wrapped around a block. If you want a deeper shine, press hard against the surface, otherwise, use a lighter touch for a subtler effect
Using a damp rag, clean away the sanding dust

Dip a fresh trowel into paste wax
Holding your trowel at a slight angle, use gentle strokes to apply a thin layer of wax from the top left corner of the wall
Work your way across the entire surface, overlapping your strokes. Again, regularly survey your progress to ensure that you are applying even coverage
Allow the wax to dry completely over night
Finally, holding a clean trowel flat against the wall, rub gently in order to burnish the wax

As you can see, even the process of applying faux Venetian plaster is lengthy and complicated. As such, when you want an authentic, lime Venetian plaster finish, we recommend hiring the seasoned professionals. For more information on this amazing decorative finish, look for authoritative practitioners of the centuries-old treatment like