Artex Removal: A Comprehensive Guide

Artex Removal: Artex, a textured coating applied to ceilings and walls, was popular in the past for its decorative appeal. However, due to health concerns related to asbestos, many homeowners and property owners seek to remove artex from their properties. This comprehensive guide explores the process of artex removal, including safety considerations, methods, and tips for a successful and smooth removal project. Whether you’re a homeowner looking to update your interior or a professional contractor, understanding the intricacies of artex removal is crucial to ensure a safe environment and achieve the desired aesthetic outcome.

What is Artex?

Artex is a textured coating that was commonly applied to ceilings and walls for decorative purposes. It gained popularity in the mid-20th century for its ability to add visual interest and dimension to interior spaces. Artex creates a textured pattern on surfaces, giving them a unique and distinctive appearance. The patterns can range from stipple, which creates a fine textured effect, to swirl or comb patterns that create more intricate designs.

Artex was typically applied using a variety of techniques and tools, such as brushes, combs, or sprayers, depending on the desired pattern. The coating is typically made of a mixture of gypsum plaster or cement and water, which is then applied and textured while still wet. Once dry, it forms a hard and durable textured surface.

However, it is important to note that some older formulations of artex contained asbestos, a hazardous material known for its health risks. Asbestos was widely used in construction materials until its ban due to its harmful effects on human health. Therefore, it is crucial to determine whether your artex contains asbestos before removal. Professional assessment and asbestos testing can help identify the presence of asbestos in artex and ensure appropriate safety measures are taken during the removal process.

Assessing the Artex and Asbestos Testing

  • Professional Assessment: Consider hiring a professional to assess the artex and determine if it contains asbestos. Professionals can conduct thorough inspections and collect samples for testing in certified laboratories.
  • DIY Testing Kits: If you prefer to conduct the testing yourself, asbestos testing kits are available for purchase. Follow the instructions carefully to collect samples safely and send them to a certified laboratory for analysis.
  • Safety Precautions: Regardless of the testing method, it is important to take safety precautions when handling potential asbestos-containing materials. Wear protective clothing, including gloves and masks, and ensure proper ventilation during the testing process.
  • Understanding Test Results: Once the test results are obtained, consult with professionals or experts to interpret the findings accurately. They can provide guidance on the appropriate steps to take based on the results.

Artex Removal Methods

When it comes to removing artex, there are several methods you can choose from, depending on factors such as the type of artex, your skill level, and safety considerations. Here are some commonly used artex removal methods:

Scrape and Steam Method

This method involves using a scraping tool, such as a wide putty knife or a specific artex scraper, to carefully scrape off the artex texture. Prior to scraping, you can soften the artex by using a steam wallpaper stripper or a steam machine. The steam helps to loosen the texture, making it easier to remove. This method requires patience, as it can be time-consuming, particularly for larger areas. It is important to ensure that the surface is adequately softened with steam to avoid damaging the underlying substrate.

Chemical Removal

Chemical removal involves using specialized artex removal products that soften the texture, making it easier to scrape off. These products are applied to the artex, following the manufacturer’s instructions. They typically need some time to penetrate and soften the texture before scraping. It is essential to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure proper ventilation when working with chemical products. Always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and dispose of any chemical waste responsibly.

Skimming or Replastering

Instead of completely removing the artex, an alternative option is to skim over the texture with a new layer of plaster. Skimming involves applying a thin coat of plaster over the artex, creating a smooth surface for further treatment or decoration. This method is suitable when the artex is not excessively textured or if you prefer to avoid the more labor-intensive removal techniques. However, it is important to note that skimming may not be suitable for all types of artex textures, particularly those with deep patterns.

Professional Asbestos Removal

If your artex contains asbestos, it is strongly recommended to hire professionals who are trained in asbestos removal. Asbestos is a hazardous material, and its removal requires specialized skills and equipment to ensure the safety of both the removal team and the occupants of the building. Certified asbestos removal professionals will follow strict procedures to safely handle and dispose of asbestos-containing materials according to local regulations.

Safety Considerations and Precautions

When it comes to artex removal, safety considerations and precautions are of utmost importance to protect yourself and others from potential health risks. Here are some key safety measures to keep in mind:

  1. Asbestos Testing: Before undertaking any artex removal project, it is crucial to determine whether the material contains asbestos. Hiring a professional to conduct asbestos testing or using a certified DIY testing kit is essential for accurate identification. Never assume that artex is asbestos-free based on its age or appearance alone.
  2. Professional Assistance for Asbestos Removal: If asbestos is present in the artex, it is strongly recommended to hire professionals who are trained in asbestos removal. They have the expertise, equipment, and knowledge to safely handle and dispose of asbestos-containing materials. Attempting to remove asbestos without proper training and protective measures can lead to severe health risks.
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Regardless of whether asbestos is present, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential during artex removal. This includes disposable coveralls, gloves, masks with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, and safety goggles. PPE helps minimize the inhalation of dust particles and protects against chemical irritants.
  4. Ventilation: Adequate ventilation is crucial during artex removal to ensure good airflow and reduce the concentration of airborne dust and fumes. Open windows and use fans to create a well-ventilated workspace. Consider using air purifiers or air filtration systems to further improve air quality.
  5. Wetting and Dust Suppression: Before commencing removal, dampen the artex with water to help minimize the release of dust particles. Use a fine mist or spray bottle to wet the surface. Additionally, employ dust suppression techniques such as misting the area with water during the removal process to control dust.
  6. Proper Waste Disposal: Dispose of the removed artex and any materials contaminated with asbestos in accordance with local regulations. Use sealed bags or containers labeled for asbestos waste and arrange for proper disposal at an authorized waste management facility. Improper disposal can pose risks to public health and the environment.
  7. Safe Work Practices: Follow safe work practices throughout the removal process. Minimize the spread of dust by working systematically and carefully. Avoid dry scraping or sanding artex, as it can release harmful particles into the air. Use wet removal methods, such as scraping with a wet scraper or using chemical removal products.
  8. Hygiene Practices: After completing the removal, clean the work area thoroughly using wet wiping or vacuuming with HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaners. Remove and dispose of protective clothing, gloves, masks, and any disposable materials properly. Wash your hands and face with soap and water before leaving the workspace.

After Artex Removal

  • Surface Preparation: Once the artex has been removed, it is important to prepare the surface for further treatment or finishing. This may involve sanding, priming, and repairing any imperfections before applying a new coating or finish.
  • Further Treatment Options: Consider your desired aesthetic outcome for the surface. Options include painting, wallpapering, or applying a new textured finish. Consult with professionals or explore DIY resources to determine the best course of action.
  • Professional Assistance: If you’re unsure about handling the post-removal process, seek advice or hire professionals for surface preparation and finishing to achieve the desired results.


Artex removal requires careful consideration of safety, testing for asbestos, and appropriate removal methods. Whether you choose to hire professionals or opt for DIY removal, adhering to safety guidelines is crucial to protect yourself and others from potential health risks. By following the comprehensive guide outlined in this article, you can confidently approach artex removal projects, ensuring a safe environment and achieving the desired aesthetic outcome.

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