Refurbishment Projects and Asbestos Exposure from Artex

Refurbishment Projects and Asbestos Exposure from Artex

14th December 2016

We’re probably all familiar with Artex, the surface coating that decorators have used to apply texture to walls and ceilings in homes and buildings throughout the UK.  Artex has been extremely popular due to its ability to cover up a range of imperfections and can be applied without the need to learn any plastering skills.  The coating seemed to reach its heyday in the 1970s with a plethora of swirled and stippled patterns being applied on the ceilings of homes across the land.  The coating can be painted over time and time again when redecorating, but is so difficult to remove that it is still in place in so many homes, even though the homeowners may not like the look. 

Artex is the trademark of Artex Ltd, a UK based company that was founded way back in 1935.  It became part of BP’s group of holdings in 1972 and BP was acquired by French company Saint-Gobain, a large building products company, in 2005.

The name Artex is derived from the phrase “artistic textures” which pretty much describes some of the finishes seen when Artex is skilfully applied.  Until the mid 1980’s, the coating was bade using white asbestos to strengthen it – this means that Artex applied after 1990  is unlikely to contain asbestos, but unless you know for sure, the presence of Artex should always be considered as a health risk.  The textured coating is only harmful when in powder form, so as long as the coating is left undisturbed and covered with emulsion paint, it’s pretty safe.

However, removing the textured coating can expose decorators to hazardous dust particles which is why it’s always safer to leave the Artex in place, as long as it is not deteriorating in any way.  When it becomes necessary to remove Artex coatings, the job will need to be done by a licensed professional taking all the necessary health and safety precautions.  The area being worked on will need to be properly sealed off and the contractors removing the coating will need to wear the appropriate safety clothing and dust masks.  When the coating has been removed, it must then be treated as hazardous waste material and disposed of according to the regulations that cover hazardous waste disposal.

If you’re a small construction company doing some remodelling or refurbishment work on a property that  contains Artex on the walls or ceilings, leaving it in place is definitely the easiest and cheapest option.  The surfaces can be painted over with emulsion to give it a more modern look and feel in keeping with the 21st Century.  If you discover Artex that is deteriorating or damaged in any way, then it’s worth getting it surveyed by a professional in order to ascertain the best way of dealing with it.  If the damage or deterioration is not too severe, the easiest way to treat it may be to seal it by plastering over it.