Asbestos Textured Coating (Artex)

artexAsbestos in Artex

Artex is a trade name (along with Wondertex, Suretex, Newtex, Pebblecoat and Marblecoat ) which has come to be used to describe all thick plaster-like paints that were used to create decorative effects, most commonly on ceilings, but, often on walls too. Within the building trade these are referred to as textured coatings and the non-asbestos versions are still used to this day.

Up until 1984 the manufacturers (or even the ‘Artexers’ themselves) added small amounts (3-5%) of Chrysotile (‘white asbestos’) to their decorative paints. The fibres gave strength and consistency to the compound and made it much easier to apply.

There are no overwhelming safety reasons to remove Artex because its perfectly safe when left in-situ. In fact, the opposite is true because the removal process (through scraping) disturbs the material and causes fibre-release.

Up until 2006 contractors needed a license to remove this material but this is no longer true. That said its always best to use a specialist when removing asbestos because they use techniques to prevent fibre release.

There are specialist products available that soak into the paint and turn it into a mulch that can be easily scraped off. This is not for the faint-hearted as these products contain some pretty unpleasant chemicals. You would certainly need to wear adequate protective clothing to ensure that your face and skin don’t get splashed.

More recently new products have become available that allow you to ‘plaster’ over the textured coating and produce a flat surface. These are certainly the cheapest and safest option but presumably the finish isn’t too good (unless you’re a plasterer).

Does my Artex contain asbestos?

There is a very strong chance that your Artex does contain asbestos if your building was built before 1970 and your textured coating appears to have been applied at that time. If it was built in the 70s/early eighties then it is less likely and if it was built after 1984 it is very unlikely.

The only only hard and fast way to find out is to get the material analysed by a specialised laboratory (see sample analysis).

Table 1. Textured Coating (Artex) overview
Period Used Up until 1984 but non-asbestos paints were available from the 1970s onwards Location Walls and ceilings.
Asbestos Types Chrysotile Use Decorative paint.
Content 3-5% Risk (High, Medium or Low) Low

3 thoughts on “Asbestos Textured Coating (Artex)

  1. Atherton

    We are in process of buying a flat built around 1981, had a survey done and surveyor suggested the artex may contain asbestos?

  2. Tom Berry

    So long as the Artex is in good condition, it will pose practically no harm to health. If you intend to start drilling, cutting into it – to replace light fittings for example – that is when it could become hazardous.

    I would recommend that before doing ANY diy involving the disturbance of the Artex, you get it analysed by an appropriately licenced company. (cost aroung £30 per sample back in 2005)

    If all you intend to do is paint over it, there should be no worries.

  3. sarah

    What is the likelihood of a flat built between 87 and 88 having asbestos in the artex. The artex in two rooms was damaged by water upstairs. A plasterer has covered up the ceiling with a flat ceiling but said he ‘scrapped’ off the high spots. Thanks


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