Artex is a type of interior plaster coating usually applied to ceilings, but occasionally also found on walls. Although the name itself is actually a trademark for the UK company Artex Ltd, the term has been commonly used for years for any form of heavily textured interior plasterwork. It is applied using a thick, raised effect to create decorative swirls and patterns, and was a popular choice in Britain in the 1970-80s for people with no plastering skills. It is now generally considered to be outmoded and unfashionable, and so many people that still have it in their homes, want it removed and replaced with more modern smoother plaster styles.
Should I remove my Artex?
The outdated appearance of Artex means that most people today want it removed purely on stylistic grounds. The heavily patterned and swirled designs of Artex do not sit well with the smooth, even look of most contemporary room styles. There is, however, an even more important reason why it's a good idea to replace your Artex. The word 'Artex' is an acronym for Asbestos Reinforced TEXtured coating, and up until the year 2000 it often had white asbestos added to the mixture to strengthen it. But don't panic, if you currently have Artex in your house, you are perfectly safe! So long as it remains in situ and undamaged on your ceiling or walls, it's harmless. Artex only poses a potential risk when it's in a powdered form and small dust particles released from it might be inhaled. This therefore, creates a problem when Artex needs to be removed. The moment it is damaged or destroyed in any way it becomes potentially hazardous and toxic. It is therefore advisable to never attempt to sand or drill it yourself, and although it only contains the less dangerous white asbestos, it is still vitally important to use professionals when attempting any removal of this product. Even the release of fine dust particles from more modern, non-asbestos Artex can be a problem as these may still enter the lungs. It is recommended therefore that no Artex should be removed by non-experts.
You may be wondering at this stage why asbestos was ever added to plaster in the first place. The reason is because before the dangers of this chemical were realised and better understood, it's lightness, strength and thermal insulation properties made it an ideal choice for interior walls. The health problems weren’t fully appreciated or acknowledged until many years after it had already been added to plaster and made it's way onto the walls of numerous properties throughout the country. The company Artex Ltd itself stopped adding asbestos in the mid 1980s, but several other manufacturers continued it's use up until around twenty years ago.
Because of the health risks involved, removal of an Artex ceiling is covered under the government's Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. This sets out the requirements for working with any sort of asbestos materials. There is more information available at the Health and Safety Executive website.
If you decide to have your Artex removed, there are a variety of methods that can be used. For those willing to take the risks themselves, there are a variety of videos and how-to guides available on sites such YouTube or Google. One suggested method is to use heated wallpaper strippers to melt the Artex allowing it to be peeled away from the wall underneath. It stops the majority of fine asbestos dust particles from being released into the air, but it is both messy and very time-consuming. It's a method often tried by people looking to save money by doing it themselves instead of employing experienced professionals. There are, however, still a great many risks involved with this process, because although it reduces the amount of dust, even a small amount of asbestos released into the environment can be dangerous and has the possibility to risk the health of everyone in the building. For those who still think it's a good idea, it's worth noting that it is a legal requirement to notify th Health and Safety Executive before attempting to melt any form of Artex in the home.
This informative blog post has more information on removing Artex and textured ceilings.
Because of the dangers and risk to health associated with handling asbestos, it is highly recommended that you use only trained professionals to attempt to remove any Artex in your home. The Health and Safety Executive also advises home owners to only hire trained personnel rather than attempting to do it themselves. It's always worth spending a bit more to safeguard your health, and that of your family.
The Plasterers Sheffield team are available to remove your Artex cleanly and professionally for a price you'll love. Let us take the stress and worry out of your hands and leave you with a job well done. And once it's all gone we're also here to replace it with smooth modern plasterwork to give your home a wonderful contemporary look.
What are my options for professional Artex removal?
If you decide to have your Artex removed, Plasterers Sheffield are here for you. Give us a ring and let's discuss what you need. Here are a few options we might consider.
For many ceilings, the simplest solution is often to apply a new layer of plaster over the existing Artex to create a new smooth even surface. For this to work properly, however, the Artex must first be clean, dry and firmly bonded to the wall or boards underneath. Unfortunately, Artex was often used in the past as a cheap method to hide cracked or damaged plaster, and if this has been the case in your property, skimming is not a good idea as the additional weight may lead to a collapse. This may also be the case if the Artex was not properly bonded to the underlying plaster. A detailed prior inspection of the condition of the structure is therefore a necessary precaution before any work begins. Once this is completed and the ceiling is deemed suitable for skimming, all loose plaster must be painstakingly removed along with any prominent peaks in the Artex pattern. Depending on how enthusiastic the plasterer was, some peaks can stand proud by over 10mm from the surface, and these may be visible through a skim coat unless they are either sanded or chipped away beforehand. If the Artex contains asbestos this will be a potentially hazardous job.
Hiding Artex with a skim coat is a relatively simple way to create a flat even ceiling and modernise a room, but it nevertheless requires careful preparation and strict adherence to the regulations around working with asbestos materials. Plasterers Sheffield will plaster over your Artex for a great price and leave you free from the dangers of attempting to do it yourself.
This is a method that requires the Artex ceiling to be covered over with successive layers of a bonding agent before a skim of plaster is applied. Each layer is applied separately, smoothed and then dried before the next one is added over it. Bonding layers are extremely sticky so will easily bind to the Artex. The final layer of plaster skim creates a flat smooth ceiling.
This is a very safe method of covering your ceiling because the Artex is left intact so there is no danger of releasing asbestos into your home. It does however require your ceiling to be strong and in good condition beforehand.
Scrape, Sand and Skim
In situations where Artex needs to be removed it can be done so by gradually chipping away at the surface, either until it is completely gone, or until it is level enough for a new skim of plaster to be applied. Although this has the distinct advantage of removing the majority of the Artex for good, it does release a lot of potentially hazardous dust into the environment which needs to be dealt with carefully and professionally.
If you would prefer complete removal of your Artex this is probably the best option to choose. For an even more complete measure, the entire ceiling can be removed, re-boarded and plastered. This is quicker than chiselling off the Artex but is likely to be more expensive.
This remains a popular choice amongst our customers as it's less time-consuming than other options and the result is a perfectly smooth modern ceiling. During this method, plaster boards are laid over the existing Artex ceiling and fixed to the joists. They are then sealed and skimmed for a smooth finish. Because there is no removal of the Artex there is no risk of releasing any asbestos into the environment. There is also the added benefit of being able to add features such as holes for light fittings. This is particularly useful in kitchens and bathrooms where rows of modern downlighters can be installed at the same time. Plaster boards also offer additional sound and heat insulation in your home, by creating double thickness ceilings.
Although this is a fairly straight-forward process and doesn't require any asbestos management procedures, it is still a job best handled by professionals. Plaster boarding requires at least two strong people to handle the heavy sheets, and a skilled plasterer to ensure a perfectly bonded and flat surface on top for painting. Plasterers Sheffield will expertly plaster board your Artex ceiling for a great price and leave you safe in the knowledge of a job well done.