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chiefneil

Venetian plaster diary entry with photos

chiefneil
15 years ago

Some of you might remember my moving in diary from a couple years back. I thought I'd do an update from a recent failed and then rescued venetian plaster project for my powder room.

7/15/2007: In a fit of enthusiasm, decide to DIY Venetian plaster in the powder room.

7/16/2007: Buy plaster and lots of manly tools. Feeling productive.

7/28/2007: Start project. Slap on mud. This is too easy.

7/29/2007: Slap on plaster. Still easy. Start burnishing plaster. Uh oh. Not so easy. Exert copious amounts of effort, sweat, and swearing - in that order - to finish puny 3x3Â section of wall.

7/30/2007: Ridiculously lame repeat of yesterdayÂs efforts. Console myself with the fact that IÂm getting a good workout and will have arms like The Rock in no time.

7/31/2007: Wicked sore muscles. Making muscles is hard.

8/1/2007: Still with the sore muscles. Making muscles is really hard.

8/5/2007: Excruciating repeat of the previous weekend. Swearing getting repetitive. Results suck. Arms still puny. Am plunged into despair. Note to self: you suck at Venetian plaster.

8/12/2007: Take a break from evil plaster project. Not feeling productive. Note to self: YouÂre a nerd with skinny arms and proud of it. Well, the skinny arms and nerd part are true, at least.

8/15/2007: Waiting for nerdly inspiration on how to get myself out of this crazy project.

8/19/2007: Still waiting for inspiration. Feeling like Tim "The Toolman" Taylor. WhereÂs Al when you need him? DW asks when sheÂs getting her powder room back. Reply that IÂm working on it.

8/25/2007: Powder room is gathering dust. Unmistakable air of abandoned project setting in.

8/27/2007: While in cleaning, housekeeperÂs assistant tells DW that her husband works for Venetian plaster company, does work on the side. Asks if we want him to give an estimate. Hell yes! I knew if I waited long enough the problem would solve itself. Am amazed at my remarkable powers of foresight. Must be GodÂs compensation for the skinny arms. DW queues it up.

8/28/2007: Plaster guy comes by for estimate. Am surprised he doesnÂt fall over laughing at my work. Discuss work to be done, plaster guy seems surprised that I actually know what IÂm talking about. Or maybe heÂs humoring me. Says heÂll call later with estimate. Tell DW IÂll be happy if itÂs under $1000.

8/29/2007: Plaster guy calls with estimate - $350. Am glad weÂre having the conversation over the phone as my poker face would have him going all-in. Play it cool and repeat in incredulous voice "$350"?!? Plaster guy starts to give me materials cost breakdown to justify the price. Give grudging acceptance. DW later asks why I gave him a hard time. Tell her that itÂs the principle of the thing.

8/29/2007: Plaster guy actually shows up on time, thinks so highly of my work that he completely covers it with joint compound and primer. Derive guilty pleasure from sitting on my butt surfing web while listening to him finish the evil plaster project. Almost feel bad that I wonÂt have The RockÂs arms. Eat Haagan Dazs to assuage my guilt.

9/5/2007: Plaster guy finishes project, looks fantastic. Happily fork over $350. Notice plaster guy has arms like The Rock. Realize that in a movie IÂd be the rich but nerdy city slicker villain. Tell myself thatÂs better than being the poor noble guy with arms like The Rock. Resolve to tell visitors that I started the project but got too busy to finish it. Haagen Dazs makes me feel better.

Comments (44)

  • kelntx
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    ROFL! Oh my gosh that was the funniest thing I have read!! I was laughing to hard I thought I would wake up DD! I loved the reference to Tim Taylor! I loved that show.

    Looks great!!!!

  • amyks
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    chiefneil, you've done it again. I am laughing despite the impending doom of getting this house on the market and all that entails....I didn't think anyone could make me crack so much as a grin but you did it. I thank you, my DH thanks you...

    Gorgeous plaster job...the end product, that is. I give you lots of points for trying. $350? Worth that and twice that.

    Amy

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  • fishpants
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Good laugh! The end product looks rather nice! Really like the color.
    I can relate-I've been using that American Clay plaster in a few rooms in our build. Yeah, the arms and neck really hurt...
    But the absolute worst is doing a ceiling! I did it in our small bath, about the same size as yours. Never again! Walls are SO much easier in comparison. Not!

  • vfish
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    That is so funny, I laughed out loud and DH is wondering what new web site I have discovered!
    Wonderful project results and good on you for the ice cream fix!

  • dtinbna
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    9/6/2007 Venetian plaster goes out of style.

  • gardenchick1
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    That was absolutely hilarious! I can relate so much to this story because my DH is a plastering contractor but hasn't actually worked on a wall in years because he's in the office or in meetings all day. He decided to tackle our powder room and even though it turned out fabulously it was a lot more physical work than he expected or remembered. That powder room became awfully closed in when he began to sweat with all the exertion!

  • dixiedoodle
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hysterical! I especially liked the "making muscles is hard" and "making muscles is really hard" part! Looks great at the end...I think you should take even more credit than you are.

  • cork2win
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Too funny. $350, what a steal!!

  • talley_sue_nyc
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Play it cool and repeat in incredulous voice "$350"?!? Plaster guy starts to give me materials cost breakdown to justify the price. Give grudging acceptance. DW later asks why I gave him a hard time. Tell her that its the principle of the thing.

    I had that experience w/ the florists for my wedding. Price $350.

    "$350?" I saw w/ rising inflection, note of incredulity. "You do have the right number of bouquets and stuff, right?"

    "Well," she says, "those were 'Dallas' roses, and they're sort of expensive." They start to justify expense. I'm sure the lady was thinking that she's already given me a big break cause my folks are friends (I'm guessing here--I sure didn't ask for one), and how was she going to be sure she got paid, andshe didn't want a fight.

    Unlike you, I actually said, "No, no, I'm just surprised it wasn't more. You didn't forget anything."

    Oh,and I like this one: " Swearing getting repetitive. "

    That stinks when that happens, doesn't it?

  • chiefneil
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Yeah yeah, go ahead and laugh at the skinny nerd! This was actually quite the learning experience for me, as I didn't think it would be all that hard. I would've actually finished it up myself if I didn't think my results looked horrible! The finish was really inconsistent from one area to the next and I couldn't see living with it, which was why I gave up.

    The plaster guy actually did such great work and was so good about always showing up on time and cleaning up after himself that we're going to have him do more work. His price isn't much more than what I guess faux-finish artists would charge, and for that I get to put "authentic Venetian plaster" on the brochure if I ever sell the house.

  • antiquesilver
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    OMG! That's exactly what I want in my bathroom; I've been waiting to be inspired but paint colors weren't doing it. Now I have to research this since I know nothing of Venetian plaster, but in my area it's next to impossible to get a plasterer to show up, much less for a small job so I may be the one to try it. I like the color you were using when you started. Was this a type of base color or did you change color when the plasterer did it?
    Hester

  • mindstorm
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    chiefneil, I love your squawk card there almost as much as I love the room. Am very very glad I have read it as I was quite seriously thinking of DIYing venetian plaster for our entire library. I figured: "how hard can it be? Afterall, the Venetians did it and they lived all those many years ago when they weren't smart enough to discover electricity or invent air-conditioning or even Haagen-dazs. As a smart woman of modern times, it should be an evening's work for me.".

    But then again, isn't that the very rationale that gets DIY projects started and never progress past the first strokes? Many professional jobs likewise. Anyhow, glad you set me straight. I'm a small (85lb) nerdy woman with skinny arms. This could have become a problem.

    Kudos to your housekeeper's husband. He does nice work and the whole room looks great.

  • igloochic
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm doing venetian plaster in several rooms. When I say "I'm" I mean...well me :oP I hope to have skinny arms when I'm done :)

    I did try to find someone experienced and found one person...out of state, who supplied a quote of about $10,000. This is enough motivation for me to do it myself.

    Ordering the plaster was a trip...the plaster cost almost as much as the shipping...really close! My banker was a bit suprised at the increase in the budget for "paint" but then he hasn't seen VP in person :)

    If it makes you feel any better chifeneil, it's SUPPOSED to look like crap on the first coat. If it does not, you're not doing it right. :)

    Anyone ready to try Marmarino Plaster? Its even more fun heh heh heh (and you can learn "Huck Finn" style in my master bath if anyone wants to try)

  • dallasbill
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Wow... well done! You got one heck of a deal. VP is about $10-12 a sq ft of surface here from the best (that's for Marmarino, inc. product).

    We did our entire house in American Clay -- 9000 sq ft of surface. With a pot life of months, instead of ~30 minutes, it's a lot easier to work with, looks great and is repaired easily compared to VP. And, without deals like yours, it's cheaper... ;-)

  • mahatmacat1
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    chiefneil, I'm saving this forever--just HILARIOUS.

    Favorite line: "Plaster guy...thinks so highly of my work that he completely covers it with joint compound and primer."

    ROFL...

    And what a deal! Where do you live?? Is it wonderful to touch? Probably not supposed to do that, but I loved rubbing my hands over the plaster I saw in a show home once.

    On another topic: dallasbill, how was the American Clay to work with? I love it, and it's readily available in my area, but I'm concerned about touchups and if someday we tire of the color...

  • chiefneil
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ha, it's always easy to laugh about it afterward, but when you're in over your head it's never funny in the middle!

    Igloochic and mindstorm, I think I had two problems. One was only doing one coat of joint compound since the walls are textured. I figured that out pretty quickly. The other problem was more significant, IMHO, and that was using fake acrylic "Venetian plaster" from Lowes. Even after a few coats there was no depth or variation to the color - it was like multiple coats of paint, basically. If I hadn't been rescued by Plaster Guy, I might have tried authentic Venetian plaster. Or maybe I would've just painted it over, who knows?

    Anyway, the only variation in color I got was from the burnishing. I actually put more effort into the burnishing than the pro, as mine actually did look like polished marble up close. The final job is smooth and nice to the touch, flyleft, but not super-polished like my pitiful initial effort. The plaster guy did ask if I wanted it more polished, but I figured I got enough work out of him already for the $350.

    I'm not sure exactly what type of plaster he uses. We have something of a language barrier, but he got across to me that it's imported from Italy.

    Dallasbill, have you posted photos of your American Clay? I'm not familiar with it and would love to see what it looks like.

  • muscat
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Mindstorm, dont forget- the pyramids were also built without electricity.....:)

    It looks very nice. I did not even know what venetian plaster was, but I like the results!

  • igloochic
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Venetian Plaster is basically made from marble dust, and you're right, the stuff from Home Despot does polish up better on it's own but it has no where near the debth of a finish that a real plaster has (which obviously you have). But if you want to enhance that more, you can finish it with wax (use the professional stuff) and as an added benefit...you'll get strong arms :oP (same movement over and over and overrrrrr)

    Real plaster (venetian or marmarmino) does go on a very different color from it's final product. Mine in the powder room is a match to my onyx sink, a soft green...on the olive side, but the wet plaster is pretty bright...maybe a light apple green. Kind of frightening really :)

    Marmarmino plaster has lime in the mix so that it won't grow mold (good for bathrooms with showers/tubs and other rooms that see high moisture).

    If I could get my plaster done for the price you paid, heck I'd do it in a heart beat! I don't suppose if I fly the housekeepers assistant's husband's cousin's brother in law...to Alaska he'd cut me a deal? heh heh

    Flyleft...I touch it all the time. A well finished wall is like butter in my opinion...or silk :) It's just to fabulous not to touch (which is probably why I have to finish mine with wax LOL)

  • monicakm_gw
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    That was just priceless :) Thanks for the laugh and a glimpse at your beautiful powder room! LOVE the color :)
    Monica

  • nor176
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The final results look very pleasing.

    To all those thinking of doing "VENITIAN PLASTER", just a few tidbits of info from a professional decorative artist.

    Venitian Plaster is a generic term. In actuality there are numerous variations from synthetic to tradiditional.

    Quite a few of the synthetic products can product quite lovely results. Synthetic plasters are also much easier to work with for the non professional. Only downfall is that they do not burnish (get the shine) as traditional which have marble dust in there ingredients. I have had many clients who want the texture & dimension on their spaces without the shine. In fact in a recent designer showhouse located in the Hamptons this past summer, many walls were featured with no shiny plaster work.

    Traditional plaster comes in a variety of categories (some dependent on manufacturer) Stucco Lustro, Marmarino & Veniziano to name a few.

    Synthetic are also much more forgiving when you overlap sections (wet edges) and with the right topcoats or waxes the possibiliites are endless. Metallic powders added to waxes etc...

    To any DIY I reccomend you purchase a small quantity of the product and try it out on a extra piece of drywall.

    Good Luck in your endeavors.

  • sombreuil_mongrel
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Don't you think it looks kind of dark? Maybe paint it a creamy yellow. I hear SW "Blonde" is quite popular...
    "don't hate me because I'm wicked" ;-)
    Casey

  • chiefneil
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "Don't you think it looks kind of dark? Maybe paint it a creamy yellow. I hear SW "Blonde" is quite popular... "

    Gaaahh!!!

    Hester, we actually had the plaster guy use a completely different color. I initially picked that reddish color from Lowe's based on a sample chip that was the darker shade shown in my 2nd photo. But it dried to the light red color, and I could only get the darker color by burnishing. The color I asked from the plaster guy had a bit of a purplish eggplant tone, but the final product ended up as the straight brown shown.

  • mindstorm
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    nor176, Thanks for the explanation - it is most helpful.

    Chiefneil, thanks for defining what you did.

    muscat, That comment above was made tongue in cheek. Even I am not quite so vain nor so idiotic as to assume that intelligence and sophistication is confined to the 21st century.

  • gardenchick1
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Here is the polished plaster that my DH did in our powder room which I was quite impressed with. It looks like a sheet of copper and like flyleft does I love to run my hands over it since it's so shiny and smooth. It is comparable to the marmarino plaster finish. Forgive the flash of light in the middle -- it was the only way I could get a true picture of the color.

    {{gwi:1501003}}

  • Phobie Privett
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    OMG! Hilarious!! And just the break I needed from packing boxes for moving and garage sale!!
    Chiefneil and Gardenchick-those rooms are absolutely GORGEOUS! Just what I want for my own! I was actually picturing something similar on my tray ceiling for my MB. I chickened out just thinking about a faux finish, much less something like VP! I'm jealous, they are so beautiful!

  • chiefneil
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Whoa gardenchick! That is gorgeous! I've been trying to decide what color to do my foyer, and I think I just found it! How many coats of plaster did you DH use, and were they all the same color?

  • igloochic
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Gardenchick if mine comes out half that gorgeous I'll be thrilled. That color makes me want to send back all of my plaster and re order in copper LOL It's fabulous!

    I can't even remember what color my masterbedroom is...I was shooting for something golden honey...I hope it's close to that type of a finish! Or ummm maybe your DH could fly up and spend a little time in our bedroom...heck he can bring you...(but you have to stay out of the bedroom until he's done!) :oP

  • gardenchick1
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    According to DH, it was a total of 4 coats, the last one having real copper dust in the mix. The first two coats are drywall plaster, then what is called a keycoat, then the last is the colorwash which is like a light wax that contains the copper dust. This is where my DH developed some muscles because the rubbing is hard work. The product we used is by Armourcoat which is a company out of England. I don't believe it's available to the general public, but their website shows some real amazing finishes that are available to trained applicators... sorry, chiefneil I guess they don't want a repeat of your evil plaster project :)

  • kitchendetective
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Haagen Dazs makes me feel better.
    --chiefneil

    That's my problem.

    Anyway--plaster looks fabulous!

  • chiefneil
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "Haagen Dazs makes me feel better.
    --chiefneil

    That's my problem. "

    Eating Haagen Dazs is a problem?

    :-)

  • dallasbill
    15 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    flyleft... it's as easy (or hard!) to apply as Venetion from the POV of the arm shoulder and wrist action involved. Wimps need not apply! That being said, we hired it out and I would never do it all myself.

    You can beeswax or seal it for a different look if you tire of what you have. You can also paint over it with latex. However, if you have the loma finish (fine, fine, fine sandpaper finish) then that will still somewhat show through. Repair is dead simple: add some water to the dried leftovers you have (the clay, not last night's dinner) and re-trowel the area after misting it with water. Done!

    cheifneil... it's been a long time since I posted pics. Here are two below. You can see many more at the American Clay site at bottom, where they have some of our home. The color shifts all the time -- it's actually a 1/2 pigment amount Napa Olive, loma finish here.

    morning daylight

    late afternoon flash

  • kitchendetective
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Dallasbill,
    You need to have a party. We all need to see your cool digs in person. Chiefneil will bring the HAgen Dazs.

  • nosyrosie
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Chiefneil, I was thinking about doing Venetian Plaster in my family room, so I looked up these key words to see other people's experiences.
    Well, now I've got quite a lot to think about!
    Did you know you were such a funny writer!!!!

    thanks'Rose

  • chiefneil
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks Rosie! I got a chuckle out of re-reading my post just now too. And I should take this opportunity to let Dallasbill know that his American Clay looks awesome - I'm sorry I neglected to thank him earlier for posting those photos. That great room looks fantastic with the clay.

  • napagirl
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Just wanted to drop in and say how much I enjoyed reading this and seeing the photos.
    Gardenchick1, your powder room is fantastic. Kudos to your DH for a job well done.

  • dallasbill
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks Chief... and rum, no ice cream... ;-)

  • atlasvi
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    How much more does venetian plaster or american clay cost above typical drywall and paint?

  • chiefneil
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi napagirl, I'm glad you enjoyed my little adventure.

    Atlasvi, plaster and clay are very labor-intensive. I don't know about clay specifically, but venetian plaster requires three passes - two coats of plaster then a round of burnishing to smooth and polish it up. I can't quote you a per-square-foot price, but my guess would be at least 3-6x the cost of paint. In my case it was applied on top of drywall, not like old-style plaster and lathe.

  • atlasvi
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    chiefneil,

    Thanks for answering my question.

  • sheltieche
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thank you much for posting, I found it hilarious reading and very educational.
    I have house with old fashioned plaster and lathe walls and had to quickly learn how to repair it.
    This venetian plaster looks like a badly done patch job to me- and here I am always trying to do seamless smoothest evenest wall possible...
    you just made my next wall repair project much easier ;)

  • mahatmacat1
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Oh dear, Dallasbill...I just saw this post because chiefneil was kind enough to link to the thread on another forum.

    Thank you so much for posting the pics and linking to more. Your house takes my breath away. That is the *perfect* wall treatment for the design of the home. That last picture of the several planes of wall with the different inflections of the finish...calls to mind Georgia O'Keefe for some reason, that same stillness...

    Going back to look at it again and sigh.

  • dallasbill
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks for your very kind words, flyleft.

    Now that you mention it, that last pic at the Am. Clay website is very "Georgia O'Keefe-like" We've been to her gallery in Santa Fe a couple of times and you nailed it.

    Reminds me of these:
    www.phillipscollection.org/american_art/artwork/OKeeffe-Ranchos_Church+.htm

    www.nga.gov/cgi-bin/pimage?68978+0+0

  • chiefneil
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks lindalana! I still get a chuckle when reading this post. Venetian plaster is different from "regular" plaster used in older US homes, which does have an even, paint-like look to it. VP is supposed to have a lot of depth and color variation but be very smooth and soft to the touch. If you have VP throughout your house then you're very fortunate!

  • vwhippiechick
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I have absolutely no interest in DIY'ing venetion plaster, just clicked on the thread to see pics for inspiration in our bathroom remodel. As others have said I was ROFL and trying not to wake up my DH in the next room. As a long-time DIY'er I can relate to so many of your comments. Great laugh and lovely plaster!!