Asbestos Artex - Frequently Asked Questions
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. 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 of them 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. It can be found on ceilings 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.
When was asbestos Artex 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. 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 using an asbestos testing kit 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.
How to take a sample of asbestos Artex
Our asbestos testing kits come with full instructions and personal protective equipment. 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.
Is asbestos Artex 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 and cause a range of nasty respiratory disorders and even lung cancer over time.
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?
Yes. Never attempt to remove or interact with asbestos yourself; the risk to health is too great. Only qualified experts who are trained in asbestos removal should ever attempt this.
Before asbestos can be removed though, it needs to be identified by using an asbestos testing kit.