Ornamental, Flat, and Acoustic Plaster -Restoration & Replication

Having a complete understanding of the material composition ensures the correct approach gets taken.

Ornamental Plaster
Ornamental Plaster

Over the years, plaster has been used and applied in many ways and can be commonly found in historic structures.  It can be used in several ways from a standard construction medium for regular flat surfaces or for ornamentation in the form of decorative architectural elements such as cornices and entablatures.

Because of the many forms plaster could become, it was often relied on as much for its durability as well as its compatibility as a substrate and medium for decorative finishes and artwork. Plaster itself can also be a decorative medium in the form of scagliola, Venetian plaster, or Caen stone.

A skilled craft that requires years to perfect and refine the proper techniques, Canning’s expertise in plaster restoration and replication is among the most respected in the industry.  Our craftsmen are trained in traditional three-coat flat plaster, traditional lime plaster and moulding plaster for the replication of delicate period elements. Just some of the techniques that our skilled artisans are adept in include running moulds and ornamental fabrication, seamless acoustical plaster, integrally pigmented plaster, traditional plaster renders, scagliola plaster fabrication and conservation methods, and simulated effects such as ashlar block and textured plasters. 


"Canning understands materials and specifications, especially traditional materials and techniques, and understands and appreciates the benefits of a truly collaborative effort in design excellence. [WV Capitol Dome].”


“The end result is a much more accurate restoration. The quality of both the ornamental plaster repairs and the decorative painting is beyond what any of the project team hoped for.”


Our Process

 The process of plaster restoration varies from project to project based on a number of factors. That being said, the following is a generalized outline portraying our process when it comes to plaster preservation and new design.

At the beginning of each engagement, our first aim is to understand the history of the structure so that we can ensure that our work will preserve and enhance the historic fabric of the building. This may involve conducting archival research to help us fill in the gaps.

It’s important for the success of any new plaster or repair projects that we have an understanding of the materials and the science behind them. So, part of the process involves determining the exact type of historic plaster that currently exists and needs to be restored or replicated (i.e. traditional three-coat flat plaster or traditional lime plaster).   

Having a complete understanding of the material composition ensures the correct approach gets taken.

For Scagliola plaster fabrication projects, we use various techniques for producing marble like columns, and other architectural elements that resemble inlays in marble and semi-precious stones. This technique involves the use of specially pigmented plasters. If integrally pigmented plaster is involved, the pigments that will be used needs to be determined.

Depending on the project, plaster design can be involved and include traditional plaster renders and moulds to assist in the restoration and/or replication and creation of ornamental plaster. If necessary, the fabrication of moulds takes place through the process of casting and sculpting to create decorative architectural plaster elements.   

The process of plaster preservation and new design typically involves the combination of both work in the field as well as in the studio from our expert skilled artisans.

Cost Factors

The exact cost of plaster restoration and replication naturally depends on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Whether or not the process begins with a plaster conditions survey
  • The size of the work
  • The complexity of the work
  • The location of the work, and required access (for example, whether or not scaffolding will be required to access the space)
  • Special materials cost, such as consolidants, adhesives, and sourced material etc.

For this reason, it is difficult to say what the “typical” cost plaster preservation and new design may be. The surest way to get an accurate idea of what costs your project may entail is to contact us directly.

Our Specialties

In addition to ornamental, flat and acoustic plaster restoration and replication, we specialize in a number of other complementary services, including:


Cosmos Mural Restoration

Canning. scheduled all trades and performed specialty contracting to conserve and restore fine-art murals, ornamental plaster, gilding, decorative finishes and the parquet floor of the ornately decorated Cosmos Club ballroom in Washington, DC.

This project required that we stabilize and repair the plaster as well as of matching, conservation and decorative painting.

Our team provided restoration of the plaster, decorative painting, and historic woodwork repair and refinishing at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building.

We provided historic paint analysis and restoration of decorative paint and plaster bringing Waterbury City Hall back to its historical glory.

Historic paint analysis uncovered the original church decoration which was restored for 22 fine art murals and a series of simulated stained glass windows..

Church Architect Duncan Stroik chose John Canning & Co. to create the iconic interior decoration scheme to compliment the newly constructed Classical-style shrine.