Search for ‘Artex Ceilings’ on Google, and you’re guaranteed to find a wide range of different forums with many asking, “How do I get rid of Artex Ceilings?” or “How can I smooth over Artex Ceilings?” Because let’s face it, the dated and unsightly textured ceilings have lost their popularity, mainly because of their appearance, but especially since some Artex ceilings contain asbestos which, as we all know, pose potential health risks.
What are Artex Ceilings?
Artex (a trademark of the UK Company Artex Ltd) is a trade name that refers to texturised coatings on walls and ceilings, all aimed to provide a decorative finish. Whilst the appearance of Artex can differ depending on the specific decorative finish, they are usually formed of peaks or patterns and white in colour. The image below shows a typical Artex effect:
The finish was particularly popular during the mid-1980s, because it was relatively easy and cheap to apply. However, as a quicker alternative to plastering, it is prone to discolouration, is usually poorly applied and if a ceiling becomes damaged due to a leak or any other incident, it can make patching in a ceiling very difficult.
Many Artex ceilings pose potential health risks, as the Artex coating was originally formed of white asbestos to help strengthen it. Asbestos was commonly used in the industrialised world, but it wasn’t until 1999 that a total ban was imposed. Therefore, whilst ceilings post the year 2000 are less likely to contain asbestos, it isn’t guaranteed. And according to an article published in the Guardian, “your home has a 50% chance of harbouring asbestos, which could be lethal if disturbed”. For example, there is an increased risk of developing lung cancer, or asbestosis or mesothelioma – a cancer affecting the lining of the chest or abdomen.
This may sound extreme; especially considering so many ceilings/walls may contain asbestos, unbeknown to those living amongst it. However, experts mention that asbestos is only harmful if it’s released into the air; but bear in mind, this could happen at any time, whether through general DIY, home improvement, or if a pipe bursts and causes damage.
Based on the level of uncertainty surrounding asbestos contamination in Artex, it is strongly recommended that you seek a professional to assess the wall/ceiling, in order to limit any health problems that could arise if you were to by tackle the job yourself. More information on this can be found via the HSE website.
Why Seek a Professional?
As previously mentioned, when it comes to Artex, it isn’t as simple as going straight in and scraping a ceiling back or ripping down a ceiling. There needs to be a full risk assessment to determine the safest possible way of removing it. If the risk of asbestos is high, a room would need to be completely sealed off whilst a ceiling is taken down and disposed of within designated asbestos sites. Sometimes if the presence of asbestos is uncertain, it still isn’t worth taking the chance and the ceiling would need to be disposed of in the same way.
But What If I Don’t Want a Brand New Ceiling?
There are now more sophisticated products on the market which turn Artex ceilings into a 'jelly-like' form, enabling it to be scraped back in a safe way. I.e. no dust.
Scraping back a dry ceiling is dangerous because it is in a powder form and easier to inhale. Even though it is possible to overbeard an artex ceiling, whilst screwing into the artex ceiling for fiing, you penetrate the artex which causes dust. This may contain asbestos. Always be very careful and opt for professional help.
Some of Our Work:
Here are some before and after shots of some Artex ceilings we have developed for clients. Remember, for a free quotation and to discuss any Artex ceiling questions, you can contact us by phone, email or by filling out the form on our contact page.
Before Shot - Artex Ceiling
After - Plastered ceiling