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How to Polish Venetian Plaster

Brynne Chandler

Venetian plaster finishes were created in the 1550s, in Venice, Italy; Venetian plaster was originally made of kiln-fired aged lime, marble dust and pigment. Today’s Venetian plaster kits involve a multi-step process that can be tricky to master, though the results are well worth the effort.

Polishing Venetian plaster brings out a deep luster that works with the texture to create a gentle, fascinating play of light across the surface of your walls.

  1. Let your final coat of Venetian plaster dry until it just starts to take on a matte finish. Don’t let it dry for more than one hour, or polishing it will be too difficult.

  2. Hold your steel spatula flat against the wall, press lightly and move it in small circles. This flattens and burnishes the plaster, bringing out the contrasting colors. Don’t let the spatula’s corners nick or scratch the plaster. If you do, repair the nick right away.

  3. Use clean shop cloths to wipe away any dust created by your spatula. Lint-free shop cloths work best on textured walls, because they don’t snag or leave any fibers behind.

  4. Go over your wall again, either with 400-grit sandpaper followed by 600-grit, or with #0000 steel wool. Work in small areas, using circular motions and light pressure. The finer-grained the surface of the wall is, the glossier it will be, and the more light it will reflect.

  5. Wipe down your walls, being careful to remove any dust. Check for nicks or cracks, and repair them. Let any repaired spots dry and then polish them to match the rest of the walls.

  6. Apply a protective finish to make it easier to clean your walls, especially in high-traffic areas. Coatings are available in many different forms, from waxes to sprays; consult your home improvement or interior design specialist to choose the finish that fits your budget and skill level, and will provide the final look that you prefer.

  7. Tip

    Always wear a dust mask when sanding.


    Never use an electric sander on Venetian plaster, because they make it too hard to control the results.