Tadelakt vs Venetian plaster finishes

Moroccan Bathroom Design

Venetian plaster is a desired option for wall finishes, but increasingly the ancient form of Moroccan plaster known as tadelakt is becoming increasingly popular. But what exactly are the differences between tadelakt and Venetian plaster?

In this article, we’ll look at their similarities and differences to help you get a better understanding and make the right choice for your home.


What is Tadelakt

Tadelakt is a waterproof, decorative lime plaster that traces its traditions in 11th century Moroccan architecture that originated in Marrakesh and spread to the rest of North Africa. Used to renovate riads (Moroccan homes and palaces with interior gardens), in Arabic, tadelakt roughly translates to “to knead” or “to rub.”

Applying Tadelakt

The traditional application of tadelakt is a laborious process. Lime powder is mixed with silica or marble sand in water for 12 to 15 hours before adding the pigment. After applying it on walls, it is polished with a stone harder than the plaster then sealed with olive oil soap.

Done properly, tadelakt turns out smooth like natural stone, feels soft when touched, and glows warmly with a satin sheen.

Why Choose Tadelakt

  • Tadelakt is a unique alternative to tiles. The lime used in tadelakt is antibacterial, hypoallergenic, and regulates moisture well. This makes it perfect for finishing your bathroom and kitchen. Instead of the usual tiling, tadelakt can be a fresh look without sacrificing the qualities necessary for a clean space that requires waterproof walls.
  • Tadelakt is environmentally friendly. Traditional lime plaster does not have any toxic compounds. It absorbs carbon dioxide from the air and the plaster is also 100% recyclable.
  • Tadelakt is flexible. Although it is mainly used for spaces exposed to water, tadelakt can be applied on just about any wall. From hallways to living rooms, tadelakt will look good and help keep the area clean as long as it is maintained.
  • Tadelakt is unique. This type of finish is not very common outside Morocco, given that the technique was mostly passed on from master to apprentice orally. An expert hand is required to apply it correctly, but the result is worth the effort. It is a point of pride for any property owner, as their walls stand out from the rest.

Venetian Plaster

What is Venetian Plaster

Venetian plaster is a lime-based finish with roots dating as far back as 3000 BC. The fine lime putty it is made of was first used by the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks around 900 BC for public and private property.

The Venetian plaster we know now was popularised by architect Andrea Palladio in Italy during the Renaissance.

Applying Venetian Plaster

Traditional Venetian plaster is made from fired limestone mixed with water, but there are versions now that have aggregates like marble dust in the mixture. The plaster is applied in multiple layers of thin coating using a spatula or trowel.

Once burnished, it hardens considerably and with marble dust making up around 40% of the plaster’s constituents, it can also give the wall it is applied to a marble-like appearance. Wax is used to seal Venetian plaster.

Why Choose Venetian Plaster

  • Venetian plaster is a practical alternative to marble. With Venetian plaster, your walls and ceilings can have the luxurious look of marble without the much more expensive price tag. Decorative elements like columns carved out of real marble is costly, while Venetian plaster achieves the same effect for less.
  • Venetian plaster is versatile. Apart from being a marble substitute, Venetian plaster can be applied in a number of different ways to suit a particular aesthetic. Bold coloured Venetian plaster can be buffed with beeswax to give high sheen and depth. A light polish on untinted Venetian plaster is understated elegance that helps accentuate ornate designs surrounding your walls.
  • Venetian plaster is durable and easy to maintain. Its balance of hardness and breathability make it resistant to both shrinking and cracking due to moisture. Mould and mildew are nothing to worry about either. Maintenance is as simple as cleaning it with a damp cloth and mild washing powder, and then lightly sanding it with fine steel wool. Modern Venetian plaster can be replaced in patches, so you don’t have to replaster a whole wall when one part gets damaged.
    Venetian plaster

Tadelakt or Venetian Plaster?

Both types of finishes have commonalities. They are lime-based, so eco-conscious property owners can’t go wrong with either. They go well with a classic style because of their clean, restrained radiance. They can last a long time with regular maintenance.

The difference is made clear through how both are used. Tadelakt is distinguished through its beauty and effectiveness in moisture-heavy spaces such as bathrooms and kitchens. If you don’t want tiles in those areas, tadelakt is perfect.

Tadelakt can ultimately make a much bigger impression from an interior design point of view, as Venetian plaster is relatively ubiquitous in comparison so doesn’t have the same exotic feel.

Ultimately, the choice between tadelakt and Venetian plaster depends on what you want to accomplish with your property, but for a truly unique and stunning middle eastern finish, we’d always recommend tadelakt.

Categories: Bathroom