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Old 02-09-2016, 09:36 PM   #1
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Default Working with venitian plaster

Hello everyone. My first post here. I was recently hired by my friend to help on a renovation project. I've already done a few jobs for him like painting the windows and doors with regular paint. But now he asked me to do venitian plaster walls for the whole house. So I watched a bunch of youtube and I already finished one wall, we waxed it today so I should see the final results tomorrow. But since I'll be doing the whole house I just want to get it perfect. So I had a few questions about my technique.

First off based on all the vids that I watched the plaster is applied very easily almost like paint (expect with a spatula) but the plaster I have which I think is Modeo or something is pretty thick, so I have to use both hands on the spatula to spread it out. Is there any way I can thin it? Like adding water maybe?

Secondly I'm wondering if there are any resources anyone can suggest on how to create the actual pattern. The pattern I made on the first wall looks ok, but I'm not entirely happy, it just looks too random.

Lastly I would like know how to keep my equipment clean. Everyday I come in and my spatulas are rock hard with little rocks of plaster that I have to clean off, is there anything I can put them in overnight so that the plaster won't solidify?

Thanks for you any help you can provide.
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Old 02-09-2016, 09:48 PM   #2
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Welcome to paint talk! Glad you joined us.
Faux lynn is a great source of info for this type of question. I'm sure when she sees this she'll happily help you along.

Also, under the tab "professional painters" there is an area for decorative stuff such as this. You may find it to be a good source of help to you also. Happy painting! (Or plastering in your case)
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Old 02-09-2016, 09:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilpaintchic View Post
Welcome to paint talk! Glad you joined us.
Faux lynn is a great source of info for this type of question. I'm sure when she sees this she'll happily help you along.

Also, under the tab "professional painters" there is an area for decorative stuff such as this. You may find it to be a good source of help to you also. Happy painting! (Or plastering in your case)
Thank you for a quick replay, this seems such a great forum, glad to be a part of it now . I will check out the pro painters section, and hopefully lynn will have a say here as well. Thank you!
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:11 PM   #4
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UHi.

It's Meoded Paints and Plaster, I believe.....in California.

Wow, the whole house,huh? Must be a really good friend.

First, NO you cannot thin it with water! I'm not sure why you would need to. It should be like spreading soft butter on a piece of toast.

I know a lot of guys have their own way of working. In that sense, maybe they have a pattern. The goal of many faux finishes, including this plaster is to NOT have a discernable pattern. (Unless you want a pattern such as a stencil, different story)

If you can detect a regular pattern, then you're doing it wrong. I was taught to make'organic' shapes.

Lastly, WHAT? Your tools are a mess at the end of the day? JK, but not.

Sorry....your tools need to spotless the entire time you are working that wall. I always have a second spatula to routinely scrape off excess or crap that shouldn't be on your trowel or knife or whatever. And it doesn't go back in the pan either, I tend to wipe my trowel across my jeans....yeah, yuk. It is waste. I never have too much product in my pan, because it is drying out the whole time it is sitting. Also, the amount on your applicator should be pretty minimal.

How are the walls looking if your applicator is dirty? Does it have scratch marks?

You might want to go over to FauxForum and peruse the VP section. There are a couple of very knowledgable VPers over there.

Good luck.

Oh, I forgot....you could call Meoded. I think the guy's name is Salaman....I might have that wrong. They are great and would be able to give you more specific information for the product you are using.
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:41 PM   #5
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This might be helpful to you, different company, but should be similar in application.

You might want to skip ahead to the two minute mark and keep in mind, some of this may not be applicable to your situation.

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Old 02-10-2016, 12:30 AM   #6
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Use a squeegee.
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Old 02-10-2016, 11:48 AM   #7
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UHi.

It's Meoded Paints and Plaster, I believe.....in California.

Wow, the whole house,huh? Must be a really good friend.

First, NO you cannot thin it with water! I'm not sure why you would need to. It should be like spreading soft butter on a piece of toast.

I know a lot of guys have their own way of working. In that sense, maybe they have a pattern. The goal of many faux finishes, including this plaster is to NOT have a discernable pattern. (Unless you want a pattern such as a stencil, different story)

If you can detect a regular pattern, then you're doing it wrong. I was taught to make'organic' shapes.

Lastly, WHAT? Your tools are a mess at the end of the day? JK, but not.

Sorry....your tools need to spotless the entire time you are working that wall. I always have a second spatula to routinely scrape off excess or crap that shouldn't be on your trowel or knife or whatever. And it doesn't go back in the pan either, I tend to wipe my trowel across my jeans....yeah, yuk. It is waste. I never have too much product in my pan, because it is drying out the whole time it is sitting. Also, the amount on your applicator should be pretty minimal.

How are the walls looking if your applicator is dirty? Does it have scratch marks?

You might want to go over to FauxForum and peruse the VP section. There are a couple of very knowledgable VPers over there.

Good luck.

Oh, I forgot....you could call Meoded. I think the guy's name is Salaman....I might have that wrong. They are great and would be able to give you more specific information for the product you are using.

Thank you for such a detailed explanation, Lynn! Yea I was surprised also that he gave me the whole house, but he's a really good friend of mine, and he's behind on a project and wants to save some money (he agreed to pay me $700 for about 7 walls).

I'm glad you cleared up the thinning part for me, as this construction manager friend of mine keeps telling me to add water to the plaster. By the way video that you linked is the exact one that I learned from, I must have watched it 20 times by now trying to catch every detail.

I just have one more question I forgot to ask before, when I lay the first coat the video says it should be even and cover the whole wall, which is exactly how I'm doing it now, but I was wondering if the strokes and direction of them matters for this coat. Should I still try to make natural movements or as long as it's flat and even it doesn't matter.

What about the second coat? The guy in the video does these big arcs, but doesn't seem to put too much emphais on the pattern.

Another thing related to that, for some reason after my wall dried even the third coat kind of blended in together with other coats, when the wax was applied it looked much nicer and popped out, but once the wax dried too it faded again.

Thanks you again for all your help and suggestsions, I will also look into the other forum for any advice.

Edit: Oh yes, about the cleanliness my spatulas do leavel nasty lines, I don't wash the whole thing but just use my fingers to take the material off the edge and the lines go away but it's really annoying. I'm going to try to work cleaner, and get the right spatula while I'm at it as right now I'm using what my friend gave me, which is a curved non-stainless steel concrete trowel. Sigh...

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Old 02-10-2016, 01:23 PM   #8
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Like I said, he must be a really good friend. $700,smh


I will try to point out some basics, maybe it will help. Some VPs are three coats, some two, some waxed, some not, some burnished,some not. I don't know what your product recommends.


In an ideal world, the walls should be prepped to level 5. VP is not for hiding inperfections. it will accentuate imperfections.

You need to work fast. FAST! You cannot have stuff drying on your trowel or in the pan. If you need to keep replenshing your pan, so be it.

Just my habit, but seems every second or third pass, I clean my trowel, WITH A PUTTY KNIFE! Scrape it off! I still wipe it on my jeans,too.

The pattern is THERE IS NO PATTERN!

First coat coverage 100%. Get it up there, in no discernable pattern. It will have an affect on subsequent layers. For example, you wouldn't want to make like a square and fill it in. I usually start upper right corner and move left, but you dont have to. The passes I make are not all the same size or length. Im not sure how to explain it better than that.

Also, when you apply the VP, there is a a certain amount of pressure applied to the trowel. This helps with the final look.

Ahhh, almost forgot. IF the VP is to be burnished, you need to pay attention to the timing. Some of the products are very specific as to how long to wait. A couple guys I know that are absolute masters at VP have worked it out to a science. Wait too long and it cannot be buffed to a shiny shine, wait too little and you could gouge the wall.

As far as the wall going dull.......is the VP you are using required to be burnished? Some of them get burnished whether wax is going on it or not. That would be a question for Meoded. Never heard of a wax going dull.

Do you think your friend told you to water down the product because there isn't enough?
That could be a problem later, if additional product has to mixed.
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Old 02-10-2016, 01:31 PM   #9
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At the risk of overstepping here, since you're an adult....

This guy is putting you in a bad position here. People pay thousands and thousands of dollars for this type of work. It is not something that a person just learns overnight..

I commend your conscientiousness in trying to learn and do it properly. I just hope you don't have some of this come back to bite you.
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Old 02-10-2016, 01:40 PM   #10
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Use a squeegee.

This is for you,sweetie


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Old 02-10-2016, 02:06 PM   #11
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Your friend would be getting a great deal even for a standard latex paint job for 7 walls for $700.00.
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Old 02-10-2016, 04:58 PM   #12
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Wow 700$?
He's not a good friend , trust me "my friend"
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Old 02-10-2016, 09:13 PM   #13
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Ditto to what's been said. The only way this is worth doing is if you're just in it to learn. If it comes out well charge 10x as much next time.
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Old 03-02-2016, 10:50 PM   #14
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I'm so sorry I didn't reply this long. I've been so cought up in this project that I forgot I made this thread. So it's been almost a month that we've been working on this. This friend of mine has given me extra responsibility, I had to lay floor tiles on a huge balcony and tile the entire bathroom, so took a break from plaster for a while. Now that were done with the menial tasks he relegated me back to plastering which I have been doing for more than a week now.

@fauxlynn. Thank you for all the advice, it's definitely helpful. I've been taking out way too much plaster from the bucket and it just ends up hardening and I have to remix it.

I've also learned the hard way to keep my spatula clean, I use a razor blade every 10 minutes or so, and a separate scoop spatula with which I apply plaster to the working spatula and clean the working one every few strokes.

So far I have about half the house in two coats. But I've once again run into some problems. I've learned how to create the "pattern" as in the pretty swirly waves, flowing in and out. However I can't get the burninishing part right. So on my third coat, I lay a very thin square of about 4x4in. Then swipe in irregular natural movements holding the spatula at 45deg. I've got that part almost to a reflex, and the pattern comes out very nice. However I noticed that if I don't burnish it right away it just fades into nothingness. I was going crazy yesterday, I did half a wall and stepped away for a smoke break, I come back and it's like I haven't even painted it yet. So I started burnishing. Some pattern came back out but very very faint. So I did a bunch of experimentation, picked 10 clean wall spots (with a flat coat already applied in previous days) and just tried to get it right. I learned that if you burnish it right away as soon as you lay it, it pops very very well, but I have to come back and reburnish it every 2-3 mintues or so, then it just looks amazing. The only problem with that is that it leaves a horrible mess of my orginal pattern, when I step back it looks so smudged and stretched and has a bunch of unnatural lines. So I tried waiting longer before I burnish, 2 min, 5 min, 10 min. All on separate walls so I can compare the results, the thing is that at 2-5 min, lines still show up! At 10 min it fades too much. I'm going out of my mind and don't know what to do.

I did a lot of reading last night and someone said spray water on the spatula, tried it, didn't work, or rather made it worse. Second thing I tried was to rehydrate the coat before brandishing with another very thin layer of plaster. That works somewhat, but it's so difficult. I basically have to trace out the same pattern with another thin layer then the lines seem to disappear. But it's very slow and difficult work especially in the corners.

Is there any way I can post a few pictures of my progress so far, so you guys can tell me if it's acceptable? As of right now I really don't like it, but my project manager friend is absolutely happy and has promised me a bonus (will do $1200 for 15 walls).

I'm sorry for this huge post, but I've got yet another question, the only supplies my friend bought me was one 12 in stainless steel trowel from home depot. I did my best to make it work, I sharpened the two long edges into almost blades, but from that youtube video I mentioned earlier I notieced that guy was using a trowel with rounded corners, mine has straight sharp ones and my friend is refusing to get the expensive one ($45) that I've found in my local Benjamin Moore store. Is that something that I should really push for him to get, or it's not that important? To be honest this spatula is really big and I don't ever use the whole surface, I just apply a bit the the top of it and use the corner of it to apply plaster, but it's so big that it's not that comfortable, especially by windows and corners.

Another thing, I realize that it's very little money for such a large job (have to do an entire 4 bedroom house with the kitchen, which is about 15 pretty big walls, not counting the little adjoining walls) but I don't have any experience and could easily mess everything up, he couldn't afford a pro so he gave me a chance to learn. Says if I'll pull through he could pay very well in future projects. Anyways, I'm really enjoying doing this, it's not everyday people let you learn full venitian plaster process on $350/bucket plaster. So I'm just glad I got the opportunity.

Thanks for reading, again sorry for long, late post. But hopefully you guys can help me out somewhat, and I will post pictures once I get back from the site tomorrow.
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Old 03-02-2016, 11:04 PM   #15
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Hey, I have a l lime sand float finish I need done at my house. I will feed you and pay you $800. While your at it can you tile my shower and do some minor plumbing and electrical.
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:35 AM   #16
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You really seem to be eager to learn, and there's no quicker way than hands-on experience. Just a few suggestions. Don't do anything extra at an even more discounted rate in the hopes that you'll be getting extra work or that $1,200 bonus. Stick around here for a while. Read threads even from less than a week ago that talks about this very thing. Also, I'd be a bit pissed off if I'm getting paid by the job, but didn't have the proper tools to achieve desired results. If your arrangement with him is that he provides the tools, then that is his responsibility. Tell him instead of the $1,200 bonus he promised you, (which you'll likely never get), you'll gladly accept $1,100 in exchange for the $45 trowel he's been too cheap to get you. Lastly, once you get your system down, make sure you're recording your time, so you'll have a better understanding as to what to charge for future work.

If you end up getting licensed and completely legit, I believe you'll look back on this and have an entirely different perception of your, "friend". He sounds like the typical shady GC who cuts his costs and others throats by any means necessary. Just my humble opinion. Hope I'm wrong. Good luck though, and post some pics of your finished work.
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Old 03-03-2016, 10:47 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VanillaSnake21 View Post
.....I've been taking out way too much plaster from the bucket and it just ends up hardening and I have to remix it.

So far I have about half the house in two coats. But I've once again run into some problems. I've learned how to create the "pattern" as in the pretty swirly waves, flowing in and out. However I can't get the burninishing part right. So on my third coat, I lay a very thin square of about 4x4in. Then swipe in irregular natural movements holding the spatula at 45deg. I've got that part almost to a reflex, and the pattern comes out very nice. However I noticed that if I don't burnish it right away it just fades into nothingness. I was going crazy yesterday, I did half a wall and stepped away for a smoke break, I come back and it's like I haven't even painted it yet. So I started burnishing. Some pattern came back out but very very faint. So I did a bunch of experimentation, picked 10 clean wall spots (with a flat coat already applied in previous days) and just tried to get it right. I learned that if you burnish it right away as soon as you lay it, it pops very very well, but I have to come back and reburnish it every 2-3 mintues or so, then it just looks amazing. The only problem with that is that it leaves a horrible mess of my orginal pattern, when I step back it looks so smudged and stretched and has a bunch of unnatural lines. So I tried waiting longer before I burnish, 2 min, 5 min, 10 min. All on separate walls so I can compare the results, the thing is that at 2-5 min, lines still show up! At 10 min it fades too much. I'm going out of my mind and don't know what to do.

I did a lot of reading last night and someone said spray water on the spatula, tried it, didn't work, or rather made it worse. Second thing I tried was to rehydrate the coat before brandishing with another very thin layer of plaster. That works somewhat, but it's so difficult. I basically have to trace out the same pattern with another thin layer then the lines seem to disappear. But it's very slow and difficult work especially in the corners.


I'm sorry for this huge post, but I've got yet another question, the only supplies my friend bought me was one 12 in stainless steel trowel from home depot. I did my best to make it work, I sharpened the two long edges into almost blades, but from that youtube video I mentioned earlier I notieced that guy was using a trowel with rounded corners, mine has straight sharp ones and my friend is refusing to get the expensive one ($45) that I've found in my local Benjamin Moore store. Is that something that I should really push for him to get, or it's not that important? To be honest this spatula is really big and I don't ever use the whole surface, I just apply a bit the the top of it and use the corner of it to apply plaster, but it's so big that it's not that comfortable, especially by windows and corners.....

What do you mean when you say 'remix'? Please tell me you are not mixing this as you go along. What product are you using? Is it already tinted? Did it come pre-tinted or did you tint it?

My favorite trowel is nothing special.
Working with venitian plaster-image.jpg

When I first got it, I ground down the edges, they should be rounded. If memory serves, I may have also ground down the long edges, beveled them. In any case, they are beveled, no hard edge.Sharpening them is only going to produce more scratches,IMHO.

I'm going to post two more pics of my trowel. Unfortunately, Painttalk doesn't like my iPad, so I can only upload one pic at a time.
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Old 03-03-2016, 10:50 AM   #18
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Working with venitian plaster-image.jpg

Not sure if you can tell the edge is beveled. In a tight spot, such as near windows,etc.,you can get by with a 2,3 or 4" putty knife if you have to.
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Old 03-03-2016, 10:52 AM   #19
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Working with venitian plaster-image.jpg

It's curved on its own from use.
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Old 03-03-2016, 11:08 AM   #20
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Okay, back to your post.

You're having issues with lines showing through. Yes, any undesirable mark is going to show through in subsequent layers. You will need to sand out any bad marks that you want to get rid of.

The burnishing timeline is critical, that is why I asked which product you are using. DO NOT BURNISH IMMEDIATELY AFTER APPLICATION. THIS IS DOING YOU NO GOOD AND IS WASTING PRODUCT. Frankly, I'm surprised it's not ripping up the wall.

Some products you have to wait longer than others to burnish, if at all. If you are applying 'wax', you may not need to burnish. For the proper timing for the product you are using, you need to consult the manufacturer's recommendation. If the product is too 'wet',it will gouge or peel, if the product is too 'dry', you will get nothing.

Before you do a final coat on anything, you need to figure out the burnishing times.You cannot do the whole house third coat until that is resolved.

I think a 45 degree angle is too steep for a final pass. It should be lower, closer to the wall.

When I load up my trowel, I get rid of everything on it, on the wall. Less waste.

I can understand getting hung up on a classic VP pattern, but retracing the pattern to fix something is unecessary.
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