Primo Sustainable Brings
Venetian Plaster Production
to the American Midwest

For Curtis Dunning, a lightbulb began to switch on over his head as he was taking a class on Venetian Plaster. “We were working with Italian materials, and everything was very expensive,” he related. “But they really stressed how those were ancient formulas.” Ancient, as in the Roman Coliseum. Ancient, as in the Aqueducts.

Fascinated, Dunning sought to learn more. That led him to Orazio De Gennaro, a master at marmorino finishes who is based in Brooklyn. Like many traditional craftsmen, De Gennaro makes his own plasters, and inspired Curtis to do the same. “He told me that I would need lime putty, marble flour, olive oil, and soap wax,” said Dunning.

In developing his own recipe, Duning was determined to use all natural ingredients like those classic Roman and renaissance artisans. “We had already worked with some European products, but they have a lot of synthetic rhealogic modifiers in them. In my mind they could not be classified as green, and we really wanted to focus on the non-toxic, sustainable aspect,” he told us. “And it seemed obvious that using the historic natural materials would lead to a better result.”

Dunning preferred to find those materials as close as possible to his Augusta, Kansas, base. He found a source for very white, high-calcium lime in nearby Missouri. Through trial and error, he began creating formulas for lime putty, lime paint, and his first love – marmorino plaster.

Curtis tried the products out on his own house, and then sent samples to some experienced applicators. The verdict? Dunning had created a line of eco-friendly, non-toxic lime finishes that performed as well or better than the imported products – without using any petrochemical additives.

But there's no scrimping on quality ingredients. The marmorino, for example, uses 3 different marble types, aged lime putty, two natural oils, and casein, which combine to give applicators a creamy workable blend. By comparison, says Dunning, plasters that rely on synthetic plasticizers often have a ‘gluey' consistency.

Other items from Primo Sustainable Products include a chalk-resistant lime paint, a selection of fade resistant pigments, and 2 different natural sealers.

While the product line is made for the pro, it has also turned out to be rather novice friendly. “I have heard from a man and his wife in New Mexico who are doing their entire 2,500 square foot house in Marmorino, and they never touched a trowel before,” said Dunning. That said, it has also held up to the demands of its most challenging applicator. “I have personally applied several thousand square feet so I know it works,” Curtis insists. That includes applications over drywall, concrete, and plywood. Once the finish cures – typically, in about 3 weeks – it forms a thin coating of limestone on the wall or ceiling. “I haven't had any fail yet, and I've pushed this stuff as hard as I can.”

At its simplest, Marmorino is a traditional alternative to drywall and paint. Unlike sheetrock, “There's also that aesthetic appeal which draws your hand to it - you just want to touch it,” said Dunning.

But beauty aside, there are other important advantages. Limestone is naturally mold and mildew resistant, and dust mites can't burrow into it. Unlike painted surfaces, there is no outgassing; in fact, the lime actually contributes to improved indoor air quality.

Primo now has a dealer program that can accommodate either pro or DIY oriented dealers/distributors. • 866-799-5576

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