What Causes Venetian Plaster Damage?

As one of the oldest surviving man-made construction materials, Venetian plaster walls have a reputation for lasting a lifetime, one that is not entirely unfounded.

Given that there are so many surviving examples such as Pompeii that date back to Ancient Rome, the secret to Venetian plaster’s success both aesthetically and in terms of longevity is how lime is used in the mixing process.

As long as it was installed correctly, mixed well and is maintained appropriately, Venetian plaster can last an exceptionally long time, and typically external factors are to blame in the exceptionally rare cases when Venetian plaster cracks or needs repairs.

In terms of causes within the control of the homeowner, attempting to apply Venetian plaster without professional help is the largest cause of problems, as ensuring the incredibly polished marble look and lifetime stability requires a specialist’s eye.

This typically takes the form of poor mixing, where the marble and slaked lime are not mixed in the correct proportions. Not leaving enough time to cure or failing to seal the seams correctly can also cause cracks to emerge.

Finally, using intense cleaning materials can sometimes damage the finish. Typically, mild soap and water are perfectly suited for polished plaster and will help protect the surface for years to come.

However, there are external factors that can cause issues with polished plaster along with other materials.

These include the building shifting, either through inadequate foundations, sinkholes or general movement, external seismic activity, gale-force winds striking against it and other instances of intense weather phenomena.

These are problems that can affect practically any finish and many building materials, but it is particularly noticeable with Venetian plaster as the cracks can break the wall’s delicate marble look, and unlike other forms of plaster needs a specialist to apply repairs.

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