How to use dry mix plasters
Watch the video and read the instructions below.
Using Vasari dry mixes is fast, easy and economical. Dry mixes are less expensive than our wet mixes, cheaper to ship, lighter to deal with per bucket, keeps forever and can't freeze. When doing larger jobs, dry mix can be a huge cost saver. If you're working on something that requires 10 or more 5 gallons buckets, dry mix can save you thousands of dollars on material costs. If you only need a bucket or two and you don't have the proper mixing tools, it's not worth it. Take a look at our price list to compare prices. Also, when ordering more than 10 buckets of dry mix (or wet), give us a call and we'll work with you to find the most affordable shipping solution.
When using dry mixes, you'll have to tint your own plaster. You can purchase tint from us or you can buy tints from your local paint store. They can formulate your custom color, or you can purchase unmixed tints and do your own mixing. Check out our Colorants section for more information on coloring your own plasters.
Each bucket shouldn't take you more than 5 minutes to mix and tint. Mixing the Marmorino, Stucco and Lime Wash is particularly fast. The sand helps pulverize any little bits of plaster and the Lime Wash tends to easily dissolve in water. If the Marmorino is still a little chunky, you can pour it through a fiberglass window screen to remove the larger particles of colorant which may leave streaks on your wall.
Veneziano needs to be very smooth and creamy when you apply it. With every bucket of dry mix Veneziano, we provide a 5 gallon paint strainer to make sure your mix is as smooth as possible. When you mix the plaster, it should be thin enough to pass through a filter. Sometimes you need to squeeze the filter bag to make sure it goes through.
HOW TO MIX DRY PLASTERS
SAFETY FIRST: ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION, GLOVES AND A RESPIRATOR/DUST MASK WHEN WORKING WITH DRY MIXES.
Dry mixes come in 5 gallon containers. You can mix the whole bucket or just use as much as you need. If you want to mix smaller batches, mix the dry power in first to ensure that it's blended uniformly, then divide the water/powder mix accordingly. During shipping, lime tends to float to the top of the bucket, so if you skim off the top for small batches, make sure to mix the powder completely first.
Use a 1200 rpm mixer and a 30" mixing paddle with a 4-5" head. These specifications are important. The plaster doesn't dissolve in water as easily as cement or drywall mud. A common 1200 rpm mixer brand is the Milwaukee Hole Hawg; it's 7.5 Amp, with a 1/2" bit and has a low speed setting for 300 rpm. There are other tools of the same caliber, find one that fits the specifications profile. The Milwaukee costs about $300 new in most hardware stores. Used one are available at used tool stores for half the price. The 30" mixing paddle is sometimes tricky to find. They're almost always available at masonry stores and Ace Hardware. You can use a vortex head or one that looks more like an eggbeater. The square heads used for drywall mud can also be used but aren't as efficient. 'Squirrel' mixers don't work very well. If you’re mixing smaller batches, you can use 24" paddles. Proper mixing tools make a huge difference in your productivity and sanity. Don't improvise.
Because the plaster compacts in shipping, loosen the dry mix so it doesn't fall out all at once. In a separate bucket, prepare about 10 quarts of water. Cold or hot will work, but warmer water will make it dissolve more quickly with less likelihood that undissolved bits of plaster remain. Gently pour the powder into the water until it's full. Immerse your paddle and mix on low speed if you have that option, otherwise mix with very short, sporadic bursts until the powder is mostly diluted. If you use high speed, the plaster and water can spin out of the bucket making a big mess. Next, quickly add as much powder as fits into the bucket, mixing until that's diluted. Then repeat the process until the last of the dry powder is incorporated. Use a stir stick to scrape the interior sides of the bucket to catch any remaining dry clumps, and mix again for several minutes until there are no clumps left. Keep more water on hand in case the mix is too thick. Pour only small amounts of water at a time. Mixing quickly helps ensure a smoother mix and prevents undissolved plaster.
As you mix, air will get into the mix. After a few hours or longer, the plaster texture may be a bit foamy as the air is mixed into the product. If you mix it again, the air will pop out and leave you with a nice dense and creamy plaster. If it sits around for weeks with air entrapped, the bubbles in the mix might get a bit crusty. We recommend you remix it after the first time.
When air escapes the mix, bubbles might 'plop' out projecting the plaster upwards of up to several feet. It can hit you in the eyes. WEAR EYE PROTECTION. Our plasters are easy on the eye to look at on a wall, but NOT pleasant to get in your eyes.
The plaster can be mixed thick or thin. If it's mixed thick, you can use it right away. If it's thin, it will settle in a few hours or days until it's thick and creamy enough to use. When mixed thin it is easy to strain for any larger particles. When straining, you can use a fiberglass door and window screen mesh for the Marmorino or the provided paint strainer for the Veneziano. With the paint strainer, you may have to squeeze it through with your hands. Be sure to wear gloves (in addition to the other protection). Straining doesn't have to be done on the first coat. It's the last coat that counts.
A small tip for straining with window screen is to take a 5 gallon bucket lid, cut the inside of the lid out with a jigsaw, leaving only the frame of the lid. Remove the rubber gasket from the frame, insert your screen, and then reinsert the rubber gasket back into the lid. This way you have a screener that fits on top of the bucket that won't move when your plaster goes through it.
Plaster will continue to thicken for a few weeks. When you plan to store plaster, always mix more water into the product and make it slightly soupy.
When tinting plaster, if you use more than 20 ounces of tint for a medium to dark tone color, expect your plaster to become thinner. In this case, wait at least a day if not longer to let it thicken. If you need to use the plaster right away and it's too thin, you can roll the plaster onto the wall with a thick paint roller and back-trowel the plaster. This is more efficient with Veneziano because it's a thinner product. You can even do this process for all your coats if need be.
When mixing dry lime washes, just add a little less water than the powder. You can stir it with a stick. Within a day, all the powder will dissolve in the water. If you feel you have too much water, let the wash settle for a day and the lime wash will settle to the bottom leaving the water on the top making it easy to pour out.
Dry mixing can be tricky at first if you're not used to mixing plaster. Worst case scenario is that it gets too clumpy and you have to strain it more than expected. You can't completely ruin it. It gets easier once you’ve worked with it a few times. Contact us if you have any problems.
As always, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us at 805.667.8454 with any questions.