Handling, Working with and Testing Asbestos Artex

Around 25 years ago textured Artex ceilings were the type of interior design feature that Hyacinth Bucket would have bragged to her neighbours about.  However, today most of us can’t wait to get rid of it.  So what’s the easiest way of handling, working with and testing asbestos Artex?

What is Artex?

Artex is a water-based coating which was commonly applied for decorative purposes and mostly on ceilings. Painter, decorators and plasterers developed innovative methods of applying it. They were also highly imaginative in their designs. Swirls, circles even miniature glacier peaks would miraculously appear from their specialist brushes, combs and rollers. It was an extremely popular finish during the 50s right through to the 70s.  Sadly the Artex used during those periods often contained asbestos. If you are considering doing anything with ceilings from that time you must think seriously about testing asbestos Artex.

Why testing asbestos Artex is essential?

If you have just purchased an older property, Artex ceilings may contain asbestos.  You have absolutely no way of knowing unless you test.  You may feel like sanding them down or scraping the textured coating off but you must test it first.  If you disturb it in any way, and it does contain asbestos, you will release deadly fibres into the air. Unless you have a specially designed, filtered mask you may breathe in the fibres. An ordinary DIY painter’s mask or a cloth wrapped around your face isn’t going to stop the fine fibres penetrating.  When fibres get into the respiratory system there’s a good chance that you’ll develop Mesothelioma. But you probably won’t know about this silent killer for at least 20 years, by which time it will be too late.

Mesothelioma, the cancer related to asbestos exposure, mimics many conditions. Unless your doctor knows you have been exposed to asbestos it’s easy to misdiagnose. You may be short of breath in which case your GP might think you have asthma. Maybe you have pain in your lower back or on one side of your chest. Coughing, excessive perspiration, fever, losing weight or being overwhelming tired are other symptoms of the disease. You might also find it difficult to swallow.

How do I know if my ceilings contain asbestos?

Firstly you need to know how long the ceiling has been decorated with the coating. It’s unlikely to contain asbestos if it was applied after 1999. Not that many people would have considered it after 1999 because it had lost its popularity! But since the ban in the UK, no textured coating should contain asbestos.

Bear in mind it isn’t so much the age of the ceiling you need to know but the age of the textured coating. The only way to be certain is by testing asbestos Artex. An asbestos testing kit cost £39.95 and contains all the items you need to take samples. The cost varies in terms of how many rooms you want to test and how many samples you take.

What are the dangers of asbestos Artex?

The material is not so dangerous that you need a license to take samples of it. You won’t need a license to carry out renovation work. However, the type of renovation you do could cause the textured coating to deteriorate or break up. For example, if you intend to steam the Artex off it will cause serious disintegration. For any form of large scale removal it’s advisable to employ a professional, qualified operative. For more detailed information regarding health and safety regulations click on non-licensed work with asbestos

If the Artex is in good condition you could consider placing ceiling boards over it. It’s the least messy and simplest way to hide it.

What is an Asbestos Self Testing Kit?

An asbestos self-testing kit is a product that contains gloves, a special filtration, personal protective equipment, sample bags, anti-bacterial wipes and simple instructions for taking samples at home or in any other building.

Asbestos self-testing kit by Asbestos Sampling

The kit provided by Asbestos Sampling contains everything required so that samples can be taken without causing damage to your health.

Here we break down what you will receive:

  • Step by step instructions to take you through the procedure for taking samples from start to finish
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) which has been approved by the Health & Safety Executive. The hooded CAT 5/6 coverall is made from fabric that is anti-static, soft and breathable. It’s ideal for protecting you from asbestos fibres.
  • P3 Filtered Mask which is specifically designed to protect you from breathing in the finest dust.
  • Powder free Nitrile Gloves made from synthetic rubber to prevent asbestos fibres from contaminating your hands
  • Anti-bacterial wipes to moisten your PPE before taking it off and disposing of it in the bag provided. The wipes prevent any more fibres being released from the PPE.
  • Two high grade asbestos bags, the red to place your PPE and samples in and the clear to place the first bag in. Regulations dictate that asbestos waste must be double bagged.
  • Prepaid delivery for you to return the bag to our laboratory which is UKAS approved.

When do I get the results?

You will ordinarily receive results via your mobile phone or email within 24 hours of our laboratory receiving the samples.

Check out our video below to see how simple the process is.

What happens if the results test positive for asbestos?

If it is confirmed that you have asbestos in your home don’t panic as you have options. If the asbestos is not broken or damaged in any way, you can ignore it or seal the area. However,  if it is crumbling or in bad condition you’ll need to arrange for its removal quickly.  The process of removal should only be undertaken by a specialist, asbestos abatement company. You can look for a licensed, local firm on the internet or call Asbestos Sampling and we will consult our database.

Why you need an asbestos self-testing kit

If you suspect there is asbestos anywhere in your home, an asbestos self-testing kit will allow you to find out rapidly.  If your home is more than 17 years old you can almost guarantee there will be asbestos somewhere.  Maybe it’s contained within decorative plaster such as Artex or insulating your pipes. It could be in ceiling, wall or insulation panels. It may even be in the ironing board you inherited from your grandmother!  Best to test and be safe!

If you are in any doubt that you need to test, watch this enlightening video:

For more information feel free to contact us at any time. Our staff are friendly and helpful and will be happy to share their knowledge with you.

Where to Find Asbestos in the Home

Asbestos was widely used in home construction from 1930 to around 2000, particularly from 1960 onward. You may be wondering where to find asbestos in the home. Houses/flats built around this time may contain asbestos materials. Properties built since the mid 80’s are unlikely to have asbestos in the fabric of the building and from 1990 extremely unlikely.

Asbestos was outlawed in the UK in 1999

Below are some common places where asbestos can be found in the home. If in doubt get it tested!


A – Asbestos cement water tank
B – Pipe Lagging
C – Loose fill insulation
D – *Textured decorative coating (Artex)
E – *AIB ceiling tiles
F – AIB bath panels
G – Toilet seat andcistern
H – AIB Fuse box
I – AIB airing cupboard and/or sprayed insulation coating boiler
J – AIB partition wall
K – AIB interior window panel
L – AIB around boiler
M – Vinyl floor tiles
N – AIB behind fire


O – Gutters and asbestos downpipes
P – Soffits – AIB or asbestos cement
Q – AIB exterior window panel
R – Asbestos cement roof
S – Asbestos cement panels T-Roofing felt

* AIB = Asbestos Insulation Board

It’s not easy to distinguish asbestos insulation board from other types of board used in construction.  If you have partition walls, ceiling tiles, soffits or any other area with boarding it really makes sense to buy an asbestos testing kit. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry! And remember the golden rule – test it before you touch it. It might delay your project by a few days but what price would you put on preserving your health?


Artex was a very popular textured coating during the 70s and 80s. Do you remember all those swirly patterns and the popcorn effect?  Homeowners loved the fashionable, decorative look and it was both durable and inexpensive.

Its sound proofing and heat resistant properties also led to the material being widely used in both residential and commercial buildings en masse. These excellent qualities were not least due to the fact that Artex and similar textured coatings contained asbestos.

Disturbing the asbestos in Artex

If you have Artex on your walls or ceilings it isn’t the end of the world if it is in excellent condition, unless you disturb the asbestos in it.  Demolishing walls, drilling a hole in a wall or ceiling, removing ceiling or wall boards and re-plastering are just some of the ways lethal fibres can escape into the air. Like insulation boards, there is no way of knowing whether the textured coatings in your property contain asbestos without testing.

An asbestos testing kit will alleviate any concerns you may have.

Where to find asbestos in the home and how to test it

If you would like more information about where to find asbestos in the home or the testing of it, check out our video below.

Alternatively contact us and we will be happy to discuss your specific problem and advise you accordingly.


Asbestos Testing for Floor Tiles

If floor tiles are more than 30 years old it’s likely you’ll want to replace them. However, asbestos testing is essential before you rip them up.

Tiles of this age often contain white asbestos (chrysolite) set in polymer.  They are not particularly high risk unless damaged, resulting in the release of the asbestos fibres. Business and homeowners often wonder whether to replace the floor tiles or just leave them where they are.  Here is some information that might help you decide.

Damaged asbestos floor tiles

Over a 30 year period you can imagine that high traffic and regular cleaning is likely to wear the tiles. More damage can occur when furniture is moved around or when rooms have been renovated without covering the tiles properly.  Exposure to sunlight is also a factor to consider because it makes them vitreous. Long term exposure can cause asbestos floor tiles to weaken and crumble underfoot. All of this damaging activity can cause fibres to become airborne.

Before you think about doing anything with this potentially harmful floor covering, invest in an inexpensive, asbestos self-testing kit.  The results of tests from the samples you take will define what happens next.

An asbestos self testing kit can be with you within 24 hours of ordering and samples tested rapidly. There is no hold up waiting for an available surveyor, which could create unnecessary delays in your project.

Asbestos testing results

Samples tested will reveal whether there is a high, medium, low or negative asbestos risk.  For example, if the test comes back as low risk you might want to get an expert in to repair any damage. The same applies to medium risk. With both low and medium results you could consider laying new flooring over the existing tiles. However, with a high risk result it’s always worth calling licensed professionals to remove and dispose of the material.

Other hazards of asbestos flooring

If you love the retro look and want to keep low risk flooring when it has been repaired bear in mind the following:

Old asbestos tiling was often laid in bathrooms and kitchens, both being areas where floors can become wet. Renowned for not being anti-slip some people remember slipping on them and landing with a heavy thud.

Whilst the retro look may be in vogue, you’re best advised to buy new flooring with a retro design.  This is particularly pertinent if an accident happens in the workplace. Can your business afford a hefty compensation claim? This type of floor is not good for children or the elderly who are more prone to accidents.

If you would like to know more about asbestos testing please don’t hesitate to contact Asbestos Sampling. Our friendly team provides 24/7 support so you can call us any time on Freephone 0800 368 88 49. Be safe rather than sorry!