Can You Paint Over Venetian Plaster Walls and How To Do It Right

Bob Thomas


Venetian plaster walls are a beautiful and elegant addition to any home, but there may come a time when you want to change their appearance.

If you're wondering whether you can paint over Venetian plaster walls, the answer is yes.

In this article, I'll guide you through the process step by step, so you can transform your walls while preserving their unique texture. 

Quick Summary

To paint over Venetian plaster walls, follow these steps: 1) Clean the surface, 2) Apply a bonding primer, 3) Choose the right paint, 4) Paint using a proper technique, and 5) Add a protective topcoat. By following these steps and using the right tools and materials, you can successfully paint over your Venetian plaster walls and achieve a long-lasting finish.

Check For Wax First

If there is wax on the Venetian plaster, you will need to remove it before applying primer and paint.

Wax acts as a barrier and can prevent the primer and paint from adhering properly to the surface.

Here's a step-by-step guide to remove wax from Venetian plaster walls:

  1. Prepare the area: Remove any furniture or items near the walls, and cover the floor with drop cloths to protect it from any debris or cleaning agents.
  2. Clean the surface: Use a soft cloth or sponge dampened with a solution of warm water and mild dish soap to gently clean the walls. This will help remove any dirt or grime before addressing the wax.
  3. Apply a wax remover: Choose a wax remover suitable for Venetian plaster (e.g., mineral spirits or a specialized wax-stripping product). Apply the wax remover to a clean cloth or sponge and gently rub it onto the wall in a circular motion. Make sure to work in small sections and change the cloth or sponge frequently to avoid spreading the wax.
  4. Wipe the surface: After applying the wax remover, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe away the residue. It may be necessary to repeat steps 3 and 4 multiple times to remove all the wax effectively.
  5. Allow the wall to dry: Once you've removed the wax, let the wall dry completely before proceeding with the painting process. This may take several hours or even a full day, depending on the room's humidity and ventilation.
  6. Sand the surface: Once the wall is dry, lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper (e.g., 220-grit) to create a smooth, even surface for primer application.

How To Tell If the Surface Has Wax On

To determine if there is wax on the surface of Venetian plaster, you can perform a simple test.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Choose an inconspicuous area: Select a small, less-visible area on the wall to perform the test. This will prevent any noticeable damage or marks if the wall does have wax on it.
  2. Prepare a small solution: Mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid with warm water in a small container. The dishwashing liquid will help to cut through any wax present on the surface.
  3. Dampen a cloth or sponge: Dip a clean cloth or sponge into the soapy solution, then wring it out so it's damp but not soaking wet.
  4. Gently rub the area: Use the damp cloth or sponge to gently rub the selected area on the wall in a circular motion.
  5. Observe the results:
  • If the surface becomes clean and shows no resistance or beading of water, it's likely there is no wax present.
  • If the water beads up on the surface, or the area appears to repel the water, it's an indication that there is wax on the wall.
  • If you notice a slick or greasy residue on the cloth or sponge, this may also be a sign that wax is present.

If you determine that there is wax on the surface, follow the steps outlined in the previous answer to remove it before painting.

Clean the Surface

Before you start painting, it's essential to clean the Venetian plaster surface.

Remove any dust, dirt, or debris using a soft cloth or a vacuum with a brush attachment.

For stubborn stains, use a mild soap and water solution with a soft sponge or cloth.

Rinse the surface with clean water and allow it to dry completely.

Apply a Bonding Primer

To ensure proper adhesion between the paint and the Venetian plaster, it's crucial to apply a bonding primer.

Use a high-quality, water-based acrylic primer specifically designed for use on plaster surfaces.

Apply the primer with a synthetic brush or roller, covering the entire surface evenly.

Allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions, usually around 2-4 hours.

Pro Tip: Use a tinted primer that matches the color of your chosen paint for better coverage and a more uniform finish.

Choose the Right Paint

Select a high-quality, water-based acrylic paint for your Venetian plaster walls.

Avoid using oil-based paints, as they can react negatively with the plaster, causing discoloration and peeling.

Consider using a paint with a matte or eggshell finish to preserve the texture and subtle sheen of the plaster.

Paint Using a Proper Technique

When painting over Venetian plaster, use a synthetic brush for cutting in around edges and a high-quality roller for larger areas.

Start at the top of the wall and work your way down, applying the paint in a "W" or "M" pattern.

This technique ensures even coverage and reduces the chances of visible roller marks.

Apply at least two coats of paint, allowing the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat.

Add a Protective Topcoat

Once the paint has dried, consider applying a water-based clear topcoat to protect the painted surface and enhance its durability.

Choose a topcoat with a matte or satin finish to maintain the desired look of your Venetian plaster walls.

Apply the topcoat using a synthetic brush or roller, following the manufacturer's instructions for drying times and the number of coats needed.

Safety, Risks, and Considerations

When painting over Venetian plaster walls, it's important to be aware of the potential safety risks and considerations to ensure a successful outcome.

Here are some key aspects to keep in mind:

Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation in the room where you're painting.

Open windows and doors to provide adequate airflow, or use fans to circulate the air.

This helps reduce the risk of inhaling harmful fumes from the paint and primer.

Protective gear: Wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves, goggles, and a mask, to protect yourself from paint splatters and fumes.

A long-sleeved shirt and pants are also recommended to protect your skin.

Ladder safety: If you need to use a ladder to reach high areas, make sure it is stable and secure.

Have someone hold the ladder for added stability, and never overreach or lean too far to one side while on the ladder.

Paint and primer storage: Store paint and primer containers in a cool, dry place away from heat sources, open flames, and direct sunlight.

Always close the lids tightly to prevent spills and evaporation.

Disposal of materials: Dispose of used paintbrushes, rollers, and other materials responsibly.

Follow local regulations for disposing of paint and other hazardous waste.

Surface preparation: Properly clean and prepare the Venetian plaster surface before painting.

Failing to do so may result in poor adhesion, paint peeling, or an uneven finish.

Test a small area: Before painting the entire wall, test a small, inconspicuous area to ensure the primer and paint adhere well to the Venetian plaster surface.

Allow the test area to dry completely before assessing the results.

Drying time: Allow adequate drying time between applying the primer and paint to ensure proper adhesion and a long-lasting finish.

Rushing this process can result in peeling or bubbling of the paint.

Paint compatibility: Be aware of the compatibility between the primer, paint, and the Venetian plaster.

Using incompatible materials may lead to poor adhesion or a compromised finish.

By taking the necessary precautions and being aware of potential risks, you can paint over Venetian plaster walls safely and achieve a beautiful result.


When painting over Venetian plaster walls, you may encounter some challenges or issues.

Here is a troubleshooting guide to help you address these common problems:

  1. Peeling or bubbling paint:
    • Cause: Insufficient drying time between primer and paint application or poor surface preparation.
    • Solution: Remove the peeling or bubbling paint, clean the surface thoroughly, and reapply the primer and paint, allowing adequate drying time between each coat.
  2. Poor paint adhesion:
    • Cause: Incompatibility between the primer, paint, and Venetian plaster or inadequate surface preparation.
    • Solution: Remove the paint, ensure the surface is clean and free of dust or debris, and choose a primer and paint that are compatible with the Venetian plaster.
  3. Uneven paint coverage:
    • Cause: Applying paint too thickly, unevenly, or not using enough coats.
    • Solution: Apply multiple thin, even coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next. Use a quality paintbrush or roller to ensure even application.
  4. Visible brush or roller marks:
    • Cause: Using low-quality brushes or rollers or applying too much pressure during painting.
    • Solution: Choose high-quality brushes or rollers and apply paint with light, even pressure to minimize visible marks.
  5. Streaks or drips:
    • Cause: Applying too much paint or not maintaining a wet edge while painting.
    • Solution: Apply paint in thinner coats and maintain a wet edge to minimize streaks and drips. Use a paintbrush to smooth out any visible streaks or drips before they dry.
  6. Primer or paint discoloration:
    • Cause: Contaminants on the surface, such as dirt, dust, or grease, mixing with the primer or paint.
    • Solution: Clean the surface thoroughly before applying primer and paint to avoid discoloration.
  7. Difficulty in covering the original Venetian plaster color:
    • Cause: Using a paint with low hiding power or not applying enough coats.
    • Solution: Choose a high-quality paint with good hiding power and apply multiple coats until the original color is no longer visible.

By addressing these common issues, you can achieve a smooth, professional-looking finish when painting over Venetian plaster walls.

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Can I use a paint sprayer to apply paint over Venetian plaster?

  A: Yes, you can use a paint sprayer to apply paint over Venetian plaster.

However, it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the sprayer and use the correct nozzle size for the type of paint you're using.

Additionally, make sure the surface has been properly prepared and primed before using the paint sprayer.

Q. How long should I wait between applying the primer and painting over Venetian plaster?

  A: It's crucial to allow the primer to dry completely before applying paint.

Typically, it's best to wait at least 24 hours, but it may take longer in humid or cold conditions.

Check the primer's label for specific drying times and recommendations.

Q. How can I achieve a textured look when painting over Venetian plaster?

  A: You can create a textured look by using specialized paint and painting techniques, such as using a sponge, rag, or textured roller.

Alternatively, you can add texture additives to the paint and apply it with a brush, roller, or sprayer.

Experiment with different techniques on a small, inconspicuous area before committing to the entire wall.

Q. Will painting over Venetian plaster diminish its unique characteristics?

  A: Painting over Venetian plaster may alter or cover the original texture and sheen of the surface.

If you're looking to maintain the unique characteristics of Venetian plaster, consider applying a tinted protective finish or exploring other decorative techniques that enhance the plaster's appearance.

Q. How do I fix imperfections or damage on Venetian plaster walls before painting?

  A: For minor imperfections or damage, lightly sand the affected area, clean it with a damp cloth, and let it dry completely.

If necessary, apply a thin layer of Venetian plaster to the area, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Allow the plaster to dry and cure fully before proceeding with the priming and painting process.


Painting over Venetian plaster walls is a great way to update your space without losing the unique texture and character of the plaster.

By following the steps outlined above and using the right tools and materials, you can achieve a professional, long-lasting finish.

So, go ahead and give your Venetian plaster walls a fresh, new look!

Suggested Products:

  1. High-quality primer: KILZ Adhesion High-Bonding Interior/Exterior Primer - This primer is designed to provide excellent adhesion on various surfaces, including Venetian plaster walls. Using this primer will help create a uniform surface for painting, ensuring a professional-looking result.
  2. Acrylic-latex paint: Benjamin Moore Regal Select Interior Paint - This premium acrylic-latex paint offers excellent coverage and durability, making it ideal for painting over Venetian plaster walls. Its water-based formula allows for easy clean-up and is less prone to damage compared to oil-based paints.
  3. Paintbrush: Purdy XL Series Glide Angular Trim Paintbrush - This high-quality paintbrush is designed to provide a smooth, even application of paint. The angled bristles make it easier to paint edges and corners, helping you achieve a professional finish on your Venetian plaster walls.
  4. Paint roller: Wooster Pro High-Density Woven Roller Cover - This roller cover is made from high-density woven fabric, ensuring a smooth, lint-free finish. It's perfect for applying acrylic-latex paint over Venetian plaster, providing even coverage and reducing the number of coats needed.
  5. Paint sprayer: Graco Magnum X5 Airless Paint Sprayer - If you prefer using a paint sprayer, the Graco Magnum X5 is a reliable option for painting over Venetian plaster. It's designed for DIYers and offers adjustable pressure control, allowing you to achieve the desired finish on your walls.
  6. Sandpaper: 3M Pro Grade Precision Sanding Sheets - To properly prepare your Venetian plaster walls for painting, you'll need high-quality sandpaper. These 3M sanding sheets offer various grits and are designed to create a smooth surface, ensuring a better bond between the primer and the plaster.
  7. Tinted protective finish: Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish - If you'd like to maintain the unique characteristics of Venetian plaster, this tinted protective finish is an excellent option. It's a water-based, low-odor formula that dries quickly and provides a protective layer to enhance and preserve the beauty of your plaster walls.

Helpful Resources

Images of a completed Venetian Plaster Paint Job (

An article on a forum that shows the steps to paint over venetian plaster with images of the before and after. 

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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