How to Take a Sample of Artex – A Step-by-Step Guide

Artex was incredibly popular before the 2000s and you could find Artex-coated ceilings in many homes. It gave ceilings a pleasant textured appearance and was often applied in patterns. However, today, Artex is not as popular and plain, smooth ceilings are preferable.

If your property was built before the 1990s and has Artex ceilings, there is a chance that it could be asbestos Artex which can be dangerous. In the below guide, we look at how to take Artex samples using our Asbestos Sampling kits.

Advised Personal Protective Equipment

Part of the asbestos sampling kit includes protective equipment. This includes an FFP3 respirator, Cat 5/6 coveralls, antibacterial wipes, powder free nitrile gloves, and heavy duty asbestos wastes bags. These items are specifically included as they offer the level of protection required to take an asbestos sample. Please don't be tempted to use alternatives without checking the level of protection offered by the PPE. It's particularly important that the respirator can protect against asbestos fibres. FFP3 is the minimum level of protection you should be wearing. 

Taking Your Artex Sample

Artex textured coating[1] is a difficult product to sample as it’s not the easiest to break off like other asbestos products such as rope, board, and cement roofing sheets. It requires physically chiselling or scraping pieces off which can be tricky. If you follow our step-by-step guide, however, you should be able to do it safely.

Step 1 – Take responsibility, alert people on the premises, and cordon the area 

When dealing with asbestos at work or in a commercial property, the person responsible for the premises is known as the duty holder and the HSE has guidelines for what the duty holder must do. This includes notifying people on the premises of the potential presence of asbestos, and obtaining samples to determine if there are ACM or not. 

Before you conduct the sampling, make sure everyone knows your plan and where the suspected ACM is. If possible, cordon the room off where the Artex is too and close any doors and windows once you are inside with all your needed PPE and equipment.

If you are carrying our sampling on your own domestic property then you should let your family members & people in the household know what you're doing and not to enter the room until you've finished.

Step 2 – Put on the required PPE

We provided the PPE for a reason – to keep you safe. Therefore, once you have notified everyone, enter the area / room which you plan to take samples from and gear up.

Make sure everything is tight and there are no gaps between the coveralls and that the mask is adjusted properly. You should also have the antibacterial wipes, tools, and waste disposal bags with you.

We recommend using tape to seal the coveralls to the gloves making your PPE fully air tight.

Step 3 – Remove a piece of the Artex ceiling 

As stated, Artex is trickier to obtain samples from. You have to physically scrape or chisel pieces of the ceiling coating which can be time consuming and difficult.

First, set your ladders up in a secure position so that you can work from a safe distance as opposed to stretching and potentially tripping.

Before you begin attempting to collect your sample you should first dampen down the surface you intent to disturb. We recommend using a spray bottle filled with water and a few drops of washing up liquid. Spray the area well ensuring its as saturated as possible (this helps with dust suppression)

Have a sample bag in hand ready to collect the sample as you begin scraping, alternatively holding one of the wet wipes under the chisel ready to catch any falling debris.

taking an artex sample

Next, climb the ladders and use a knife, chisel, or wallpaper scraper to carefully scrape a small section of Artex from the ceiling into the sample bag. The sample only has to be small – around the size of a 50p coin so there is no need to do more than this.

Make sure you chisel the sample at arm’s length and that you are scraping nowhere near your face. This is why the ladder is essential as it allows you to get high enough to stretch your arms out and scrap the sample at a safe distance from your body. 

NOTE: When sampling artex we recommend taking a sample from a few different locations of the same surface (combining them into 1 bag) this ensures an accurate representation of the material (asbestos in artex is known to be sporadic).

Step 4 – Place in the sample bags and label appropriately

Once you have safely obtained the sample, climb down the ladder and place the sealed sample bag into another sample bag (the outer sample bag). The outer bag should have a label on that you must fill out. 

NOTE: To be clear it's important that each sample taken is double bagged.

It’s also important to remember that if you are taking samples from different ceilings in multiple rooms, you must place each sample in a separate bag. This helps the testing lab and makes sure your results are accurate.

Fill in the label on each sample bag with the unique sample reference number, the date, and the location of the sample (such as “Artex ceiling in Living Room”). 

Step 6 – Dampen and dispose of your PPE                                           

With the sample bags labelled and sealed, you must now dispose of your PPE properly. The antibacterial wipes included in the kit should be used to wipe your PPE to dampen it. This stops any dust that potentially fell on you while chiselling from becoming airborne.

Also wipe the tools you used and the ladder and dispose of the wipes in the red waste bag. We advise checking the floor underneath the area you took the sample from to see if any dust scattered – if so, clean it up using the antibacterial wipes.

wipe down the tools

All of your waste and PPE from the sampling process must first be placed inside the red waste disposal bag. This bag once sealed then goes inside the clear waste disposal bag as per standard asbestos disposal procedures.


Safety Advice for Taking Artex Samples 

  • Even if you are tall, don’t be tempted to try and reach up to take the Artex ceiling sample. By reaching, dust and asbestos fibres could potentially fall in your face while you are chiselling.
  • To make the extraction easier, look for raised areas of the Artex ceiling coating where the pattern is more pronounced – these should be easier to scrap off as opposed to the flatter surfaces.
  • If your property was built after 1990 then there is a much lower chance that any Artex ceilings contain asbestos.
  • Its possible that the Artex coating is painted onto an asbestos containing board. We recommend trying to also take a sample of the ceiling board too if you suspect it may be asbestos (this should be treated as a separate sample)


[1] – HSE – Textured Coatings

The content on this page/article was last updated on the 6th December 2023 by our team and was reviewed and fact checked by William Wright, DipNEBOSH on the 6th December 2023.

William is a qualified health & safety consultant who holds NEBOSH & IOSH certifications.