Faux vs Real Venetian Plaster: Tell the Difference

Venetian polished plaster

For those who favour a sophisticated interior finish, one that offers unique appeal, Venetian polished plaster has become the product of choice. For homes of distinction, and commercial and retail premises that are high end, this is the ornate plastering style that really stands out.

Tracing its origins back to ancient Roman times, artisan Venetian plaster displays a truly luxurious effect that shimmers naturally thanks to its crushed marble content. This is a handcrafted technique that calls for the highest standards of technical knowledge, imagination and materials expertise in order to achieve the lavish results that the finish has become so renowned for the world over.

The best Venetian plaster finishes demand the steadiest hand, the most boundless imagination and the deepest creativity, especially when incorporating specialist decorative finishes such as stencilling and banding.

Venetian polished plaster: beware imposters!

All this considered, it is clear to see the effort and expertise that go into creating Venetian polished plaster finishes. The real ones, that is. Why do we say that? Because, as with so many high end products, there are imposters, waiting in the wings to try and fool you into thinking you have the real thing.

Indeed, there is such a thing as faux Venetian plaster materials. It is a much less costly option than real polished plaster, although, some might say, it can look similar. But on taking a closer look, it does become apparent that there are considerable differences between the authentic article and its fake counterpart. If you are thinking of going down the faux Venetian polished plaster route, and are interested to know how it varies from the genuine product, read on.

Lime versus acrylic

Real Venetian plaster is created from a limestone base. This makes it a ‘lifetime finish’ that very rarely cracks or shrinks, that is eco-friendly and that is incredibly straightforward to care for. Lime is breathable, which means that when it gets wet it dries quickly, preventing moisture from becoming trapped under the surface and so avoiding mould forming.

Faux Venetian polished plaster however is made from acrylic, together with natural or artificial pigment. It is supposed to replicate Scagliola, an Italian plastering technique that looks like real marble. But whilst it may carry the look, it does not match the real thing in terms of longevity, mainly in part due to the fact it does not contain lime.

Artisan appeal

There are very few artisan Venetian plaster specialists, making this a truly special finish and something that is hard to come by. You may have to hang on for some time before your chosen polished plaster expert becomes available to complete your interior renovation, but you will be satisfied that it has been worth the wait.

Faux Venetian plaster on the other hand does not require such specialist input and is therefore more readily available. Whilst it is not the same, as in it doesn’t call for artisan expertise that is handed down from generation to generation, there is not such a wait. For some, there is no option other than the real thing. For others, availability is a deciding factor. Where a wait is not acceptable, the faux polished plaster route could be the right choice.


Genuine Venetian polished plaster consists of at least 40 per cent marble dust, combined with pigment of the highest quality. This places it at the top end of the price bracket.

Faux Venetian plaster on the other hand is a whole lot more affordable. The cost factor does however need to be traded off against the longevity of the product. For the best long term investment, real Venetian plaster will deliver the greatest value.

Application technique

The skilled method of applying Venetian plaster involves layering over and over multiple times with a trowel, followed by the polishing stage which gives the finish its mirror-finish and illusion of depth and texture. Between each layer, the plaster needs to be left to dry thoroughly, making the technique quite a lengthy and labour intensive one.

The application of faux Venetian plaster however is a much faster process. Instead of a trowel, a spatula is used, and there are just two or three thin layers involved. The final finish is given a last sand over to achieve the look of marble or natural stone.


Because faux Venetian plaster consists only of up to three thin layers, it is a great deal more susceptible to scratching, cracking, shrinking and damage. Genuine Venetian polished plaster however is made up of numerous layers, making it all the more thicker and less prone to damage. Plus the lime content of real Venetian plaster makes it far less likely to shrink and crack, or suffer from moisture related damage.

Faux Venetian plaster tends to only be used as an interior finish, whereas the genuine article is robust enough to be used effectively for exteriors too.


The best Venetian plaster exudes the charm of yesteryear. It is sophisticated, elegant, and naturally beautiful. When you are aware of the time and effort that has gone into creating the look, you can feel satisfied and proud that you have before you something truly spectacular.

Artisan Venetian plaster from Evoke: the polished plaster experts you can trust

If you have been seeking the ultimate luxury finish for your residential or commercial interior project, look no further than Evoke Polished Plaster.

As highly trained, long term experienced artisans, our polished plaster experts have been putting their in-depth skills to use in creating stunning finishes with polished plaster for many years.

We have served the likes of Harrods, Audi, McLaren, Wagamama and Quaglinos through some of the most renowned architects, interiors experts and fit-out contractors in the United Kingdom.

Specialising in bespoke finishes designed to suit the personal vision of the client, we pride ourselves on achieving the most exquisite finishes.

To learn more about the merits of genuine Venetian polished plaster over the faux alternative, and to discuss your individual project with one of our knowledgeable experts, you are welcome to get in touch.

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