New Venetian plaster products can be utilized as an affordable wall solution, to create a personalized look for customers in both ends of the market: residential and high-end commercial sectors. Walls & Ceilings found three contractors that utilize these products and have found great success in doing so. Not only do these products save time and money on projects, they also create a strong niche service that provides unique results.



In North Ogden, Utah, Hammerhead Construction Inc.’s Curt Russell has found success after finding his niche in applying Specialized Building Products’ Vella Venetian Plaster. He says faux finish systems comprise 85 percent of his business. One of his favorite aspects of the job has been working with both residential homeowners and interior designers to create customized wall finishes that are created with custom colors and application techniques. He’s even applied some of the Venetian plaster in his own home.

“The product always looks fantastic,” he says. “When you finish it up with wax, it looks excellent. There’s a big call for that high-end look.”

In Newport Beach, Calif., Erin Kennedy, a partner at T.C. Collins & Associates, which is a property management firm, says Specialized Building Products gave the company a demo of the products. T.C. Collins loved what they saw and have begun using the Vella Venetian Plaster product. 

“From an aesthetic standpoint it was very clean, and I was impressed; you just work with water instead of a bunch of chemicals,” Kennedy says. “The overall speed is faster, you save time, money, and you don’t have a reduced aesthetic.”

In Bosman and Helena Montana, Justin Mund Drywall says another positive note is how easy the product is to work with.

“It was really easy to work with, you can sand the product out, and it was a lot easier to work with than some other finishes,” says Jared Mund, brother to owner Justin.

Mund points out the waxing part of the application process is the most difficult to get the hang of, but as with anything, after a few jobs, it becomes easier.

“The waxing takes a bit of elbow grease,” Mund says. “The first coat is a tight coat, then a second coat is where you can change the texture for however the customer wants it, and then you touch it up and clean up the angles before you wax it.”

The wax coat was compared to shoe polish by Mund, saying you have to rub it in very well.

“If you don’t rub it in very well and consistently, it will show when it dries,” he says.

Vella Venetian Plaster Systems does have an Instructions Manual on its website, and they also offer free training sessions.

All three contractors have been able to find success by meeting the needs of customers in the niche market for Venetian plaster solutions. Not only do all contractors say the products are easy to apply, but that they all found them at Sherwin Williams (who serves as a distributor for Specialized Building Products).

The product seems to be an easy sell to customers as well, as Russell explains he shows each customer how durable it is, how it is applied, and what the materials can become in the final result.

“I would say my closure rate on Venetian plaster is 100 percent,” Russell says. “I get the bid every time because I explain to them and show them the materials.”

After showing the materials and process of application to customers, another appealing aspect that customers love is coming up with their own custom color, Russell says.

“It can also help increase a home’s value,” he says. W&C




Faux finishing and faux painting are terms used to describe a wide range of decorative painting or plastering techniques. The name comes from the French word faux meaning “false,” as these techniques started as a form of replicating materials, such as marble and wood with paint, but have subsequently come to encompass many other decorative finishes for walls and ceilings.

In modern day faux finishing, there are two major materials/processes used. Glaze work involves using a translucent mixture of paint and glaze applied with a brush, roller, rag or sponge. The plaster work can be done with tinted plasters or washed over with earth pigments, and is generally applied with a trowel or spatula. The finished result can be either flat to the touch or textured.

Venetian plaster is a thin specialty decorative plaster coating that can be used over any standard gypsum wallboard system or plaster base and can be categorized as either a traditional or faux finish depending the product’s materials and application.  The colors and textures are unique to the material used and application procedure.

All Venetian or “Venetian-like” plasters are proprietary coatings. Three main types of venetian plaster exist with different characteristics and price points:

Natural lime-based: Historical Venetian plaster is traditionally composed of a lime slake, natural minerals and pigments.  A two to four part process (coats), this labor-intensive plaster is applied with standard plastering tools, abusive-resistant and can be used for exterior and interior purposes.

Acrylic-based: Less labor intensive, acrylics formulated for exterior use are applied by a plasterer to a properly densified brown coat or an acrylic- modified skim coat.  Finishers apply this material to a level five gypsum wallboard finish.

Gypsum-based: Often the most cost effective, gypsum venetian plaster performs and is installed very much like gypsum wallboard compound.  These products tend to be the least labor-intensive but they are not as abusive resistant as traditional lime plasters.


 Supplied by Bryan Stanley CSI, CEP, Technical Advisor at the Technical Services Information Bureau/ WWCCA.