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Italian Plaster [also known as Venetian Plaster or decorative plaster]  is the name given to a range of products and techniques, which resemble Stucco Veneziano, a type of lime putty.  The original materials and processes, developed in Italy, have been in use since the Roman Empire as a decorative wall surface material designed to simulate marble and granite.  It works admirably when the material is correctly applied due to its illustrious feel and legendary shine.  Venerable Italian architect Carlo Scarpa used Venetian Plaster routinely in his stunning design scenarios.

Of the many 'Venetian Plasters' available Buon Fresco prefers the synthetics for their ease of use, mirror like qualities when burnished, non toxic constitution and shelf life. 

Lime based plasters on the other hand, while they have their place and specific applications, such as Marmorino - one of our favorite Lime Plasters, but are problematic to apply, dry quickly on the wall AND in the can, and are toxic to the practitioner, who must handle the caustic when wet - highly alkaline Lime.

Top quality Venetian Plaster that have replaced the lime, such as that which Buon Fresco uses for most of the work in their gallery, are generally light viscosity plasters which tint beautifully and offers up depths of color unsurpassed by a painted surface.

 When highly polished the plaster may give the appearance of natural materials such as glass, marble, or rock.  Heavier 'Stucco' applications are also possible. Examples of a number of finish styles may be seen on the Venetian Plaster Effects Page.

One of the wonderful traits of Venetian plaster is the feel of the finished surface. The silky smooth walls must be felt to be believed.  Do not be surprised when your houseguests canít keep their hands off the walls! Not to worry though -- polished Venetian Plaster is finger print and stain resistant, durable and easily cleaned. The properly wax sealed surface is also water resistant.

Though more than how it feels, more than how long it lasts or how durable it is, the best thing that can be attributed to this most popular Italian import since Sophia Loren is its STAR quality!  After all, how many people have you ever seen HUG a painted wall?

MATTE Venetian Plaster.  Buon Fresco launched their new MATTE MAXIMILLION Venetian Plaster in November of 2011.  This plaster provides the same mirror smooth surface loved by MILLIONS! as applied using the Buon Fresco technique, but now instead of Marble Shine, a cashmere smooth surface in a Matte gloss is now possible for your clients who simply don't want shine.

Award Winning Studio Buon Fresco has perfected techniques utilizing damask patterns and 'painted' plaster color effects that further enhance the glorious surface of Venetian Plaster walls. Click to see applications of Venetian Plaster coupled with custom-designed Stencils. Other technical innovations include  Faux Damask Fabric, Silk, Marble, and Porcelain Venetian Plaster. All of our design innovations can be found on our Venetian Plaster Homepage.

The final good news is, we teach what we do. And we CAN turn YOU too - into a successful craftsman of Italian Plasters .


  • If I decide to have a Venetian Plaster application in my home, can I  change my mind in the future and have it painted over?

Answer: YES.  Buon Fresco applications of Italian Plaster contain anywhere from 5 to 9 coats of plaster.  Though the result is no more than 5 mils thick. [The thickness of  painters tape.] AND it is as smooth as a mirror.  We ONLY do Stucco when that type of finish is specifically called for, and frankly that is rarely.  The smooth finish winds up to be a finer substrate than paint by far.

 To cover over it requires only a primer coat and then two coats of latex or oil paint. 

If the plaster application has had a wax treatment, the waxed surface  needs only to be  sanded, then the same procedure of primer and painting may follow.  Finally, our finished plaster is as smooth as a mirror making it a far finer substrate for paint than say, a wall of rolled latex paint!

Final Note: Please understand that we can speak only for those materials and processes used by our studio.  Other studio's results may differ.

  •  Is there anything to the argument that certain 'natural Venetian plasters' are superior to the synthetic Venetian plasters?

Answer:  Not in our opinion.  Our preference has and continues to be the number of fine quality 'synthetics' available.  Due to the absence of noxious ingredients, ease of use, and magnificent results  we recommend a number of the high quality synthetics available on the market today.  

  • How can you tell the difference between the genuine article and artificial plaster?

Answer: By its application:  Genuine Venetian Plaster needs to be 'trowel' applied, not rolled with a roller like paint. 

Answer: By its appearance: Genuine plaster has a splendid translucence that produces a surface with depth and nuance reminiscent of marble or glass already with a basic application.  Artificial 'Venetian Plaster' may have a shine, though it will be similar to a high gloss latex paint and the top coat will appear opaque - hiding the layers beneath.

  • Isn't Venetian Plaster prohibitively expensive?

Answer: The application of genuine Italian Plaster can be laborious and time consuming, and consequently carries a higher initial price tag than a painted glaze. 

However once applied, the material lasts indefinitely, may be cleaned or repaired easily and is highly stain resistant to begin with, making its long term application more cost effective than paint which requires recoating periodically.

To reduce the overall cost of the initial application, Buon Fresco recommends the strategic and artistic use of 'Focal Walls'.  That means applying the decorative plaster to a limited wall space as an accent to other finishes or plain paint.  Like the patent leather belt between fabric pants and skirt, the polished look of plaster with its vibrant colors will enhance the simplest design scenario.


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