How to paint over waxed venetian plaster

Updated July 12, 2018

True Venetian plaster has a depth, transparency and glass-smooth texture that is nothing short of breathtaking. There is no mystery as to why it has been beloved for centuries, though it’s not quite clear why anyone would want to cover Venetian plaster. Do-it-yourself Venetian plaster is not quite as smooth, or rich, though many kits include tinted plaster and wax, which brings out the colours. It is not hard to paint Venetian plaster, but it does take some prep work. Covering Venetian plaster that is roughly textured should be done by a professional to avoid damaging walls.

Splash about 1/4 cup of white spirit onto a clean, lint-free cloth. Rub the dampened cloth against the wall. Let the spot dry, and check to see if the wax has been removed. If it has, continue until it has been entirely stripped away.

Attach 80-grit sandpaper to your palm sander and go over the walls lightly if the white spirit did not remove the wax. Wipe away the dust with a damp cloth.

Change to 120-grit sandpaper and go over the walls again. Wipe them down with a clean cloth.

Put painter’s tape over any trim, electrical sockets or switch plates that you do not want to get paint on, and put dust sheets on the floor.

Pour a few inches of alkyd or quartz primer into paint tray. Use the edging brush to work around your painter’s tape, and a long-handled roller to do the rest of the walls. Apply the primer in a thin, even coat. Let it dry according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Fill a paint tray about halfway with latex paint. Use a clean edging brush to work around the painter’s tape on the trim. Paint the rest of the walls with a clean, long-handled roller. Let the latex paint dry according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Remove the painter’s tape while the paint is still damp to avoid pulling up any dried paint. Use the edging brush to make small repairs if needed.

Apply a second coat if you think the room needs it. Let the paint dry overnight.


Open all of the windows to ventilate the room and help the paint dry faster.


Do not try to remove thick Venetian plaster by yourself. It requires a hammer, chisel and belt sander, and the possibilities for disaster are legion.

Things You'll Need

  • White spirit
  • Clean, lint-free shop cloths
  • Dust mask
  • Palm sander
  • 80- and 120-grit sandpaper
  • Dust sheets
  • Painter’s tape
  • Alkyd or quartz primer
  • Paint trays
  • Edging brushes
  • Long-handled paint rollers
  • Latex paint
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About the Author

Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.