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|