How to tint or color plaster

Click on the digital fandeck/color chart below to see our colors:

 plaster colorchart stucco venetian lime

When placing an order, pick from our 130 standard colors as shown above. The colors are an average representation of the final color on your walls, depending on burnishing or sealing. If choosing custom colors, contact us at

Our secondary (and older) fandeck can be found HERE. Notice that each digital color chip is compared to four major paint companies to give you a better sense of the 'real' color, as opposed to the digital representation (since your device and monitor settings affect how colors appear digitally on your device) of our online fandeck. The colors are an average representation of the final color on your walls, although burnishing or sealing also affects the end result. The colors on the older fandeck are not among the online shopping color choices; contact us at to order these colors.


Pigments, colorants and tints all refer to the same thing: that with which you color your plaster, lime wash, paint, etc. There are many different tints on the market; some natural, some synthetic. There are liquid colorants and powdered pigments (discussed further below). The powdered ones are usually natural and most are from some kind of mineral oxide. Oxides are great for plasters, especially lime plasters like Vasari’s. Oxide colors don't fade as easily as synthetic ones. Any fading is generally due to sun exposure.

Most paint companies use liquid colorants to tint their products. These are sometime referred to as 'Universal Tints'. There are about a dozen different colorants that are used in combination to produce specific colors. Usually 2 to 4 colors are used to craft the desired color. Most of the colors in this set are from naturally produced oxides, and a few are synthetic.

Here's a list of the most common colorants used to tint plasters and paints. They’re referred to by their common name or a designated letter (don’t expect it to make sense):

C - Yellow Oxide
L - Raw Umber (Oxide)
I - Brown Oxide
B - Lamp Black (Oxide)
F - Red Oxide
D - Phalo Green
E - Pthalo Blue
R - Organic Red
V - Magenta
T - Medium Yellow
AXX - Organic Yellow

Most paint companies are familiar with these colorant names, although some have different names for different colors, or additional colors not listed above. Not all colorants are equal or interchangeable; some are lighter, brighter, more saturated, etc.

Vasari uses zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) eco-friendly and low-odor colorants to create an infinite palette of colors. Our colorants are the same as those used for specialty 'green' paints, and are the best and cleanest in the industry.

So when you order a color from us, we use a combination of the above tints to create the color, and of course you can create your own colors.


Our plaster will dry much lighter than paint or other products. The reason is the whiteness of the lime. So when mixing colors, add more colorant than you would for paint. If you have a formula for a paint color, just add more colorant than the formula calls for. About 50% more for lighter colors, 100% more for medium tones, and up to 300% more colorant for deeper colors. The most colorant our plaster can take is about 3 quarts.

Here's an example of a formula for 5 gallons of a popular golden color:
C - 5y
L - 2y24
I - 40p

So, 5y means 5 ounces, oddly Y means 1 ounce. There are 48 points in an ounce. So, 40p means 40 points. Sometimes there's no 'p' written, as in 2y24. This means 2 ounces and 24 points, or 2 and a half ounces.

The above formula is therefore 5 ounces of Yellow Oxide, 2 and a half ounces of Raw Umber, and 40 points of Iron Oxide.

We’re happy to share our formulas, contact us at or phone 805.667.8454 with any questions. Also, your local paint store can help you.


Powdered pigments are used when you are looking for a very particular historical color that is hard to reproduce with the standard combinations of tints. Vasari doesn't use powdered pigments. Powdered pigments are mostly effective in Lime Washes and artistic applications. Here are the most important things you should know about these pigments:

  1. Not all powder pigments will work in plaster. Some pigments are insoluble in water.
  2. When adding pigments to plaster, always, always – dissolve pigments into water first and fully – making a paste or thick slurry. Otherwise, you’ll get dry particles that leave harsh streaks of color on the wall.
  3. As with Universal tints, powdered pigmented plaster will dry much lighter than it looks when wet.
  4. A few pigments are coarser than others; making them difficult to use in Veneziano plaster, where they can leave scratches. Some of these pigments must be very well strained before use.

As always, contact us at or phone 805.667.8454 with any questions.

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