URM (Unreinforced Masonry) historic buildings can be generally arranged into three categories: adobe, brick and stone masonry. However, a common feature of URM structures is typically the low mechanical properties of the masonry material, especially in terms of shear strength. URM buildings are not amenable to seismic analysis, and the relatively low strength of stone and brickwork masonry often requires expensive and invasive retrofitting intervention. Hard, intractable stones broke artificially or naturally into random shapes were often used for construction in many parts of Europe and constitute the main material of historic buildings. Thin, cement or lime-based renders are often employed to protect masonry construction, but these are frequently ignored in analysis and design. This paper shows how standard, thin, cement-based renderings can highly enhance the lateral load-capacity and shear stiffness of wall panels. An experimental campaign was carried out on-site to assess the effect of cement-based renders. In detail, compression and shear tests were conducted on twelve full-scale wall panels up to failure, and comparisons are presented to study the effect of cement-based renders on the structural behavior of stone and brickwork masonry panels.