ALL ABOUT DRY MIXES
Using Vasari dry mix is fast, easy and economical. Dry mix is less expensive than our wet ready to apply products, 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, but 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 see the difference. Also, when ordering more than 10 buckets of dry mix (or wet), it is helpful if we can ship to you on a pallet.
When using our dry mix, you'll have to tint your own plaster. You can purchase tints from us or you can buy them 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 more than 5-10 minutes to mix and tint. The sand in our Marmorino makes it particularly easy to mix, as it helps pulverize any little bits of plaster. If the Marmorino still has any chunks you can pour it through a fiberglass window screen.
Veneziano needs to be very smooth and creamy when you apply it. Make sure your mix is as smooth as possible. When you mix the plaster, it should be thin enough to pass through a filter. A regular paint strainer for a five gallon bucket works to get small lumps out if necessary but this is rarely necessary.
HOW TO MIX IT
SAFETY FIRST: ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION, GLOVES AND A RESPIRATOR / DUST MASK WHEN WORKING WITH DRY MIXES.
Dry mixes come in a 5 gallon container. You can mix the whole bucket or just take as much as you need. If you wish to mix smaller batches, mix up the dry power first ensuring that it's homogenous, 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. This is very necessary. Plaster doesn't dissolve in water as easily as cement or drywall mud. A typical 1200 rpm mixer is a 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. Buy whichever ones fits the profile. The Milwaukee costs about $300 new in most hardware stores. Used ones 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 your 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 (start with less than you need until you get to a consistency that works for you). Cold or hot will work, but warmer water will make it dissolve quicker with less chances of undissolved bits of plaster left over.
Gently pour enough powder into the water to leave some room for mixing. Immerse your paddle and mix on low speed (if you have it) otherwise give a very short sporadic mix until the powder is mostly diluted. If you're on high speed, you might spin the plaster and water out of the bucket making a nice mess.
Mix until everything is diluted. Then repeat the process until the last of the dry powder is finished. Take a stir stick and scrape the inside edges of the bucket to get any remaining dry 'clumps' and mix again for several minutes until there are no clumps left. Have extra water in case the mix is too thick. Pour only small amounts at a time. Try mixing quickly as it will ensure a smoother mix . This will prevent undissolved plaster.
When you mix, air will get into the mix. After a few hours or days, the plaster might feel a little 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 bubbles in the mix it might get a little crusty. That's why we recommend mixing it again after the first time.
When air escapes the mix, bubbles might pop out projecting the plaster upwards of up to several feet..meaning it can hit you in the eyes. ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION. We're not kidding. It's not fun when you get it in your eyes. We know.
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 a few days until it's thick and creamy enough to use. When mixed thin, it's easy to strain. When straining, you can use a fiberglass door and window screen mesh for the Marmorino or a paint strainer for the Veneziano. With the paint strainer, you might have to squeeze it through with your hands. Make sure to wear gloves (and all 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 jiggsaw, leaving only the frame of the lid. Remove the rubber gasket from the frame, insert your screen, then reinsert the rubber gasket back into the lid. This way you have a screener that fits on top of the bucket and 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. Make sure to scrape the sides down well, spray the top with a thin layer of water, and seal it tight. Many of our customers have been able to use their original product for patching up to ten years after the original application.
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. If that is the case, wait at least a day if not longer to let it thicken. If you need it right away and it's too thin, you can roll on the plaster to 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 use this process for all of your coats if you prefer.
Dry mixing can be tricky at first if you're not used to mixing plaster. The worst case scenario is that it gets too clumpy and you have to strain for longer than you expected. You can't completely ruin it. It will get much easier. Contact us if you have any problems.