What is Artex?

Artex is a common surface coating frequently seen on domestic ceilings across the UK. Today Artex is used as a general term to describe a particular design of ceiling coating. However, the name comes from the company Artex Limited, who popularised the style throughout the latter half of the 20th century.

When people refer to Artex, they usually mean the ceiling style/design rather than the company themselves. Artex ceilings are also historically associated with asbestos, which still exists within many properties today. 

Does Artex still contain asbestos?

Due to the material being widely used in Artex ceilings up until the 1980s, many of them still contain asbestos today. As asbestos was used in some ceilings and not others, it’s hard to know exactly where it is unless that ceiling is tested for asbestos.

This is why the ceiling should be tested before any renovation work begins on it. Asbestos within an Artex ceiling is safe if left alone, but once disturbed the particles can become airborne. This is where the problems begin – and the danger. 

What does asbestos Artex look like?

Artex (with or without asbestos) is often white in a bumpy swirling pattern / texture . It can be found on ceilings & walls all over the UK in homes and offices. It’s also used in a range of different rooms such as bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchens.

Most of us will be familiar with the style of Artex when we see it. It’s similar to many other ceiling designs too, but ceilings that are unmistakably Artex should be tested for asbestos before any renovation work begins.

Have you thought about using an asbestos testing kit to check your ceilings & walls?

Our kits have been specifically designed to enable you to quickly and safely take a sample of your artex coatings and send them off to a UKAS accredited lab for testing. Results are issued within 24hrs of us receiving them.

  • Full Protective Equipment Included (including FFP3 Respirator, Cat 5 Coveralls & Gloves)
  • Have your certificate results within 24hrs
  • Free Return Postage to the UKAS Lab
  • Easy to follow instructions included.
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When was it used?

Asbestos was made illegal at the turn of the millennium, so it has not been used since. The material was used widely throughout the 20th century, all the way through to the 1970s - a time when many UK homes were built.

During the 1980s however, the use of Artex asbestos declined as more and more information came to light about the risks it posed (including cancer, pleural thickening, asbestosis and various lung diseases). But due to its popularity, a significant amount of asbestos had already been used in Artex ceilings.

Artex is still used today but without asbestos. This has made Artex containing asbestos harder to identify as it is indistinguishable from today’s safe Artex. This is why having the material tested is so essential.

Of course, a ceiling may have been replaced since Artex asbestos was used, but if you’re unsure, use a testing kit for peace of mind. If you discover asbestos is there, you can then arrange removal by qualified professionals. – We can help you arrange this. 

Why was asbestos used in Artex?

Asbestos was used in many construction projects throughout the UK, not just in Artex. For a long time, those in the building trade referred to asbestos as ‘the magic material’. This is why it’s still turning up today.

It was found to be none-conductive and useful as a form of insulation. This is why it was used in Artex ceilings. It helped ceilings be studier and more insulated. It was also cheap and easy to use/produce, something that unfortunately resulted in it becoming so popular. At least until the danger was discovered.

Surprisingly the main use of asbestos to create artex coatings was to help create texture within the paint! So watch out for that swirly or bumpy textured design next time you you're inspecting a property.

What percentage of asbestos is in Artex / textured coating?

In general the approximate percentage of asbestos in Artex coatings is between 2-5%. Each mix of textured coating can differ. Even though the percentage content sounds low its important to remember that asbestos is still present and it should be dealt with accordingly. Removing asbestos is task which should be left to the professionals.

How to take an artex sample?

A sample of artex / textured coating can be taken by scraping the coating into a sample bag using a chisel, screwdriver or similar tool. This sample can then be sent off for analysis at an asbestos lab.

Our asbestos testing kits come with full instructions and personal protective equipment including RPE (Respiratory protective equipment), High Grade disposable coveralls and gloves. This way, you’ll be able to take a sample safely and easily. But if you need some support or would like us to walk you through the process, we’d be happy to do so.

Once your sample has been retrieved, you can send it to us for testing. We’ll aim to test it on the same day we receive it, to not keep you waiting. We’ll contact you soon after with the results.

If your sample tests positive for asbestos, we’ll advise you of what your next steps should be. Of course, what you do next is your choice, but we’ll make sure you know how to arrange for the safe removal of the asbestos.  

How to take an artex sample

Is it dangerous?

Asbestos Artex is only dangerous when the material is disturbed, and the asbestos particles escape into the air. Once this happens, they can be inhaled (asbestos exposure) and cause a range of nasty respiratory disorders and even lung cancer & mesothelioma over time. Whilst non-friable materials such as asbestos cement, floor tiles & textured coating are considered low risk they should still be handled with care. We always recommend wearing adequate PPE & RPE when handling asbestos-containing materials - Exposure to asbestos fibers poses a significant risk to health.

When left alone Artex that contains asbestos poses little risk. But all ceilings need maintenance or replacing eventually. Before this happens, Artex should be tested for asbestos, so those in the vicinity are safe from harm.

Do you need a license to remove asbestos Artex?

According to the HSE, removal of artex does not require a license[1]. However removal of a large area may require notification to the health & safety executive (NNLW).

Whilst a license is not required to remove a small amount of asbestos, you should ensure you leave any removal to the professionals.

We'd always recommend using an asbestos removal company to remove any artex in your home. An asbestos removal company should seal off the areas to prevent the spread of asbestos fibres during the removal process. The material will then be scraped off the ceiling using X-Tex or similar product (alternatively it may be that removing the whole ceiling is the best option - especially if refurbishment works and being carried out). Once the textured coating has been safely removed a contractor can then re-plaster the ceiling.

If you are instructing a contractor to remove asbestos artex for you, who do not hold an asbestos license - You should check to ensure their workers have received adequate asbestos removal training. It is however the contractors responsibility to ensure the health & safety of their staff including insuring they are trained and correctly protected.

Who should I contact for more information about Artex?

You can contact us, of course! If you're unsure if asbestos is present in your home. Or if you're working on a construction project and want to make sure your workers are not handling asbestos then get in touch today. Simply use our contact form located in the menu and we'll be happy to help. Alternatively contact your local licensed asbestos removal company for advice regarding removal.

Artex Testing Kits

Test your artex ceiling yourself using our sampling kits only £49.95

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  • 1. "A28 - Asbestos Essentials", Health & Safety Executive [view source] . Retrived 06th August 2023