How to tackle unwanted Artex

General, Interiors

A few years back (probably 20 or more) the textured Artex ceiling might have seemed like the epitome of class. It is long lasting and easy to paint over as many times as you like. However, in the cold light of the 21st century Artex is an absolute nightmare. When faced with even a few rooms of ceiling Artex, it can be enough to put someone off buying a property all together. So what is the best way to tackle it safely, quickly and inexpensively?Asbestos-Artex

Tackling Artex

Artex is usually used to decorate ceilings and is a water based covering, given a textured finish with a special brush or roller technique. It was very popular throughout the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and unfortunately much of the Artex from this period may contain asbestos. If you think your Artex ceiling contains asbestos please see the lower paragraphs.


If you are happy that your Artex is not hazardous and you are able to remove the Artex yourself, a wallpaper steamer can be very effective. Even though it’s still quite hard work. Steam small areas at a time and use a scraper to ease the Artex off the walls. You need to take your time with this job as the heat can damage your walls if you hold the steamer in place for too long. This is a long job and not easy, but this is one of the best ways to remove Artex.

Special products

DIY stores also sell products designed for removing Artex. You simply paint them on, leave them for a while for the structure of the Artex to break down and once again scrape the Artex off.

Plastering over

If you don’t want the mess associated with the above methods then plastering over your existing Artex is the next best solution. Even for the average DIY plasterer this is a pretty easy job. The Artex will need to be sanded down to get rid of any particularly high points before the plastering begins. Then coat the walls with PVA to prevent the plaster from soaking into the wall or ceiling. The first layer of plaster will need to be thick enough to cover most of the existing surface and then add another layer or two until it is smooth. The great thing about plastering over Artex is that the surface is often quite rough allowing the plaster to adhere easily.

Wallpapering over

If you find all of this a little too laborious then a good strong thick wall paper over a lining paper may be enough to hide your Artex on certain walls. For ceilings a dropped ceiling of plasterboard might be an appropriate option to hide it away. For those with the problem of asbestos this might be your only option.

The dreaded A-word – ASBESTOS

In the past Artex has been known to contain Abestos. Artex is a water–based covering, usually used to decorate ceilings, and generally brought to a textured finish with the use of a brush or comb. Some older artex may contain asbestos and it is extremely unwise to sand down or scrape without seeking the advice of an asbestos specialist as this can potentially damage your health. Contact your local council for help with this.

Does my ceiling contain asbestos?

All Artex has been free of asbestos for around 20-30 years now, so the first step is to establish the age of your ceiling. As a rough guide anything after 1990 should not contain asbestos.

If you don’t know how old your artex ceiling it is, then you can get it tested. Tests cost around £30 per room and local companies will be able to test it for you.

How dangerous is it?

Work on any type of asbestos can be dangerous. However, work on textured coatings can be carried out by non-licensed workers who are appropriately trained. This work would generally not need to be notified. If the work is likely to cause significant break up and deterioration of the material such as large scale removal using steaming or gelling methods, then notification would be required.

Asbestos essentials includes a number of task sheets which will show you how to safely carry out non-licensed work on textured coatings.

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