How to Finish a Wall for a Rustic Look

Updated February 21, 2017

Today's walls need not be limited to perfectly smooth plaster or wallboard painted in monochromatic tones or boring colours. Walls can be covered with wood or tile or made to come alive with faux paint finishes. There are also many fabulous finishes available that are reminiscent of old Italian villas or picturesque Mexican haciendas. This rustic look can be achieved with lime-based plasters and clays that have been treated to guard against mould while maintaining a highly breathable surface. Smooth, rough or stone look textures may be created in a vast array of colours suited to any decor. Unsightly cracks and imperfections are covered to produce stunning, old-world walls that perform and enhance like new.

Brush down the surface of the wall with your scrub brush.

Attach the soft brush attachment to your vacuum.

Vacuum any dust and debris from the surface of the wall.

Apply one coat of quartz primer using a paint pan and low pile roller. Primer is not needed for walls composed of new, lime-based plaster. Gypsum, plasterboard, old plaster, limewash, polished lime, medium density and painted walls should all be primed to produce maximum plaster adhesion.

Order the plaster in your choice of colour and texture. Stucco Italiano offers applied samples for purchase and a colour chart with 107 colour choices for Intonachinno plaster.

Apply the first coat with a metal trowel to evenly cover the wall to the approximate thickness of a credit card.

Allow the surface to dry completely. This process takes at least 12 hours.

Apply a second coat, moving seamlessly across the wall surface.

Wipe the surface with your dry sponge trowel immediately after applying the second coat and then again after a few minutes to achieve surface uniformity.

Wipe the surface with your wet sponge trowel to create lighter and darker areas. The wetter areas will dry lighter in tone as the water deposits lime on the surface of the plaster.

Apply a finish coat of water repellent sealer using a clean paint pan and roller. This will protect your finish from dirt and moisture. Allow the walls to dry for a minimum of 48 hours before the sealer is applied.


Place a floor lamp behind you and parallel to the wall to allow you to see the finish as you work. Move the lamp as you move across the wall. Use extra fine plaster for smooth finishes. Progressively rougher surfaces require fine, medium.or coarse plaster blends. Wipe plaster spills and drips promptly with a moistened cloth for easy clean-up.


Do not apply plaster in temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius or when the relative humidity exceeds 85 per cent.

Things You'll Need

  • Lime-based plaster- extra fine, fine, medium or coarse
  • Colour- your choice
  • Scrub brush
  • Vacuum
  • Soft brush attachment
  • Quartz primer
  • Paint pan
  • Paint roller- low pile
  • Metal trowel
  • Dry sponge trowel
  • Wet sponge trowel
  • Floor lamp
  • Extension cord
  • Water repellent sealer
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About the Author

Kevin Ann Reinhart, a retired teacher-librarian, has written professionally since 1976. Reinhart first published in "Writers' Undercover" Cambridge Writers Collective II. She has a bachelor's degree in English and religious studies from the University of Waterloo and a librarian specialist certificate from Queen's University and the University of Toronto.