Removing Your Artex Ceilings (5 Popular Methods)

We take you through 5 of the most popular methods to remove your artex ceilings. These include steaming, overboarding, skimming & using XTex.
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Written by Tom Yates . Edited 12th April 2024

Fact Checked by William Wright, NEBOSH


Artex was all the rage during the 1970s and 1980s and many people loved the amazing textured patterns it could make on your ceilings. However, today, Artex has long-since fallen out of favour – mainly because it looks dated, but also because oftentimes it contained asbestos which as we know can be incredibly dangerous. 

Artex can usually be identified by its unique patterns & texture (swirls, stipples, shaped patterns) 

So, how do you get rid of this aged ceiling texturing if it still lingers in your home? Below, I look at how to remove Artex using four common methods. 

The Problem With Artex Ceilings

Before we jump into the removal methods, let’s take a brief look at the problems Artex has compared to smooth plastered ceilings: 

  • The texturing looks dated compared to a smooth plaster finish.
  • Repairs are virtually impossible to do and still maintain the pattern.
  • Artex before the 1990s had a high chance of containing asbestos. 

From a visual perspective, the textured pattern look is just dated and it’s from a bygone era! Also, speaking from experience, if your Artex ceiling has any damage, attempting to reapply the pattern and make it look good is impossible. Lastly, Artex applied before the 1990s has a chance of containing asbestos which can cause severe respiratory issues like asbestosis[1] and mesothelioma[2]. 

Before Removal – Test for Asbestos

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If you want to get rid of your Artex ceiling, I advise first testing for traces of asbestos. If your property was built before 1999 then its worth testing as this is before asbestos was banned in the UK. When disturbed asbestos dust can be released into the air which can cause a multitude of health issues when inhaled so its important that any asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are is handled with care.

I have an ugly Artex ceiling in my living room, but my property was built in the mid-2000s so I know its safe even if it looks horrendous.

If you are unsure, we supply asbestos testing kits. Our product is easy to use and contain all the relevant PPE so you can take an Artex sample safely to send off to a lab for testing. 

How to Remove Artex Ceilings – Five Simple Methods

There are four commonly accepted methods to remove Artex ceilings and which you use depends on what you want to achieve, and whether your Artex ceiling contains asbestos or not.

If your artex wall or ceiling coatings do contain asbestos then we recommend getting an asbestos removal company in to do the removal works for you to prevent any unnecessary exposure to asbestos fibres. If you do decide to do it yourself please ensure you are wearing appropriate PPE including (FFP3 Respirator, Cat 6 Coveralls, Nitrile Gloves) and seek advice from the HSE website.

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Method 1 – Steaming

Using steamer and chisel to scrape off artex

The steaming method should only be used if you have tested the Artex and results show it doesn’t contain asbestos. This is because you will be physically scraping the Artex from the ceiling so fibres would be released if it did contain asbestos.

The process is simple – use a wallpaper steamer to loosen the Artex coating and then scrape it off using a plaster scraper. This is the longest and most time-consuming process but is arguably the cheapest as you can do it yourself and you don’t need any specialist chemicals or tools (other than some basic ppe)

Note: This technique can also be used on walls & ceilings. 

Method 2 – Plastering / Skimming Over

Skimming over artex wall

The skimming over method should also only be used if your Artex coating doesn’t contain asbestos. This is because you have to scrape or sand down any high spots of Artex to give a level surface for the new plaster.

Essentially, a new layer of plaster is being applied over the Artex to cover it up. Unless you are skilled and have experience with plastering, I advise hiring a decorator to do this for you as they will be able to get a fantastic, smooth finish that properly covers the Artex.

Method 3 – Board Over

Boarding over an artex ceiling

Using plasterboard to cover the ceiling is a popular method if you find that the Artex contains asbestos and you don’t want it removed. Basically, a new layer of plasterboard is secured over the current Artex ceiling to completely cover it. 

This should eliminate the risk of disturbing the asbestos afterwards and you also get a nicely finished surface. Just remember to be incredibly careful if you need to fit any fixtures such as lights in the future that require drilling into the plasterboard (as you don't want to drill into any existing Artex coating which contains asbestos). Its also worth noting that if you have anyone carry out work on your property make them aware that there is asbestos Artex above the plasterboard so they know not to disturb it.

Method 4 – Chemical Artex Remover

Using X-Tex to remove artex coatings

If you find asbestos in your Artex ceiling and want it removed, a chemical Artex paint remover is the best option (this is what most asbestos removal companies will use). These specially designed chemical removers like X-Tex dampen the textured coating and turn it into a gel-like substance to limit the release of the potentially dangerous fibres.

You can then scrape it off safely. Even when using a chemical remover, we still advise wearing the appropriate PPE including a respirator mask, coveralls, and gloves to protect yourself. Also, make sure that no one else is in the room while you are working.

Lastly, the Artex should be disposed of properly using red and white asbestos waste disposal bags to avoid contamination.

Note: This technique can also be used on walls & ceilings. 

Method 5 - Removal of the ceiling

Depending on the type of ceiling, sometimes the easiest way to remove the artex is to simply drop the ceiling in its entirety and have a new ceiling installing in its place. This is a popular choice for asbestos removal & artex removal companies where the artex is applied to a lath & plaster ceiling or is proving too difficult to scrape using X-Tex / Chemical Artex Remover. 

NOTE: This can be a dangerous job as if you don't know what you're doing can end up with the ceiling falling in on you, so please ensure you take care or use the professionals.

Always seal off the area when dropping a ceiling to limit the amount of dust passing into other rooms. 

References 

[1] – NHS – Asbestosis

[2] – NHS - Mesothelioma

Full PPE Included

Full Asbestos Testing Kit

Regular price From $77.57
Regular price Sale price From $77.57
incl VAT

Test for asbestos yourself using one of our kits

  • Results within 24hrs
  • Tested at UKAS Accredited Lab
  • Instructions & PPE Included
Best Selling

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