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Artex and Textured Coatings – Possible Asbestos Risks

This article about artex and asbestos is a guide to help raise awareness of the possible risks – if you need help with asbestos, contact a professional such as ourselves for help and advice. Asbestos is a hazardous substance which, if is found in materials (particularly if it is disturbed) can cause serious health risks to those exposed to it. If in doubt about something containing asbestos, get it tested – never assume it doesn’t.

In our recent article about Ceiling Leak Risks, we mentioned about the potential dangers to be aware of specific to ceilings, one of which is possible asbestos containing materials (ACMs). This can include textured coatings and Artex ceilings in properties, which come in many designs, most commonly in ‘swirls’ or a stippled effect which people sometimes call ‘popcorn ceiling’. They are found on walls sometimes too.

Artex Ceiling Patterns
Artex Ceiling – Textured Ceiling Patterns

Firstly, it is important to say that ‘Artex’ is actually a brand name and so not all textured coated ceilings are strictly speaking Artex. However, partly because of it being a well known and established brand historically, it has become synonymous with such ceilings and people often use that brand name rather than the generic term ‘texture coated ceiling’ or ‘texture coated wall coating’ for example.

More on that later, but for now, when we mention either, we’re referring to both or similar coatings. You may be interested in our article about hazard symbols.

Asbestos in Artex and Textured Coated Ceilings

It is also important to point out that, as the asbestos page explains “the importation, supply and use of all asbestos has been banned in the UK since 1999”.

But equally, as mentioned on the Wikipedia Artex page“coatings applied after 2000 may or may not contain asbestos” this in part because people may have stocks of products purchased before then (perhaps unbeknown to them). Again, another reason to be cautious, as we always are.

Asbestos Survey Sign
Asbestos Survey Sign

As we have said previously, our leak detection engineers are trained in asbestos awareness and asbestos sampling for testing so they know what to look out for and what safety practices to follow. They also treat any potential ACM as though it is asbestos until such point that asbestos testing has been carried out to confirm that it is positive (containing asbestos) or negative (not containing asbestos), including textured coatings.

This can include carrying out what is called temporary encapsulation (which can be done in a number of ways depending on the situation) as a precautionary safety measure, as seen with an example of a temporary encapsulation after a water leak too:

Artex Ceiling - Safety
Artex Ceiling – Safety (encapsulation)

Artex Ceilings and Other Coatings

As we said earlier, people often use the name artex when they are talking about textured coated ceiling coatings when in actual fact it may be from another manufacturer all together. Similarly, an ‘artex roller’ might just be a roller which paints in a pattern.

This is what’s often called a ‘genericised trademark’ – a brand name people use rather than a generic term, in a colloquial way. It is a bit like when people use a brand name for other things such as these below:

  • Hoover – when they mean vacuum cleaner
  • Sellotape – when they mean adhesive tape
  • Coke – when they mean cola
  • Jacuzzi – when they mean hot tub
  • Post-it note – when they mean sticky note
  • Sharpie – when they mean permanent marker

The other thing with textured coatings is that, if you are looking at it many years after it has been installed, you will likely not know what brand it is as it will not have labelling like other products may have! People also paint over these surfaces so ‘artex paint’ as people might say can be just a painted texture coated ceiling.

Plus, it is possible that people mixed different solutions together. They often came in powdered form and were then mixed, a bit like plaster would be mixed. Which brings us onto another interesting topic related to this.

Plastering Over Artex - Risks
Plastering Over Artex – Risks

We mention artex ceilings in our article about Christmas water damage safety too.

Plastering Over Artex – Risks

The image above shows where someone has plastered over artex ceiling coating at some point. You can see at the bottom part of the image where the smooth, skimmed surface has been used to cover over the textured coating swirly pattern.

This shows that you cannot assume that because a ceiling is smooth on the surface that it does not include potentially asbestos containing material fibres, such as those possibly in artex coatings. We discuss asbestos fibres, including how small they might be, in our page about air quality meters.

People potentially plaster over artex or other coatings over the years because of a number of possible reasons including:

  • They did not like the pattern or design
  • They did not want to pay for artex ceiling removal
  • The artex ceiling may have been cracked or stained
  • Linked to that, artex ceiling repair can be very tricky to match it

Whatever the reason, it is not to say that someone covered over artex for suspicious reasons, it could be entirely innocent and people did not realise that the coating could contain asbestos. It should be said that skimming over artex can possibly disturb the asbestos when doing that too.

Artex Ceiling Water Leak
Artex Ceiling Water Leak

Artex Ceiling Water Leak

When people experience an artex ceiling leak, like when a bath leaks through ceilings, we offer an asbestos testing service to both residential and business customers either as an addition to our water leak trace and access services or as a stand-alone service, if people want to get items tested that they think may contain asbestos, test results are normally available within a few business days and we will share results ASAP.

If you suspect you might have asbestos in your home, and are looking for artex testing in York or nearby, get help from a qualified professional such as ourselves. Do not touch, move or disturb the materials and avoid the area.

Where is Artex Found?

We have mentioned previously this asbestos guide “Introduction to Asbestos essentials” from the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it gives lots of useful information including some useful information on where asbestos, including artex and other textured coatings can be potentially found (as you can see there are many).We have an article about where asbestos is found in homes, explaining this in more detail too.

Amongst other things, it includes these really useful diagram for homes:

Where is Asbestos Found - Homes, York.
Where is Asbestos Found in Residential Homes.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence’.

You can see for number 8 on the list, they mention ‘Textured decorative coating on walls and ceilings eg Artex’ – notice how they mention walls too, artex and other coatings are not always just on ceilings! This topic can crop up when considering work for residential landlords associations, who we work with.

What Asbestos is in Artex Coatings?

Again, to stress the point, not all artex ceilings (or other textured coatings) contain asbestos, but there is a risk. If a ceiling does contain asbestos, most commonly it is Chrysotile Asbestos which is also known as white asbestos which was added to help strengthen the material. It is what is known as a serpentine asbestos.

Interestingly, according to the wikipedia page on Artex Ltd – the name Artex is suggested as coming from “Asbestos Reinforced TEXtured Coating“, with the asbestos being the reinforcement.

When artex is disturbed (if it contains asbestos), then you potentially risk exposure to these harmful asbestos fibres which can cause the lung disease asbestosis, pleural mesothelioma a cancer of the lining of the lung and even peritoneal mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the abdomen. You can see why it is potentially very risky and must be taken seriously with great caution, especially when it is being removed.

Artex – Top Tip
Artex or other textured coatings are not the only potential source of asbestos in homes but it is one of the most commonly found, along with other things such as thermoplastic tiles and bitumen adhesive. If you think you have any of these, contact a professional for help and do not disturb or remove it yourself“.

Leak Detection Team

Artex Removal from Ceilings

Artex removal, when it is confirmed to contain asbestos, is one of the more common asbestos removal tasks in domestic properties. It needs to be done by qualified and experienced asbestos removal experts, like we have available to use within the Rainbow Restoration network.

Once the asbestos is removed, it needs to be disposed of by the proper means too.

Rainbow International - Asbestos Testing, York and North Yorkshire
Asbestos Testing & Removal

If you think you might have a asbestos in your property or suspect you have need water leak repairs and want help and advice from our friendly, experienced and local team – get in touch with us and and we will help and advise you.

We are experts in dealing with many types of hazardous situations, including crime scene cleaning York and the Yorkshire Coast area. So if you need help with these, contact our friendly team to arrange for help and guidance. We also deal with water leaks in Yorkshire homes and businesses, including water leak detection in York.

At Rainbow Restoration – York & Yorkshire Coast we are experts in Leak Detection and Water Damage Restoration, so if you need help finding a water leak or getting your property back to normal after a leak or flood, get in touch with our friendly local team.

How do you remove an artex ceiling?

Asbestos Testing - 'Artex'. York, Yorkshire.

When it comes to removing an artex ceiling (or any textured coating), the first and most important thing to establish before anything is whether or not the it contains asbestos. It is extremely important to get it professionally tested before disturbing the material (several samples are likely to be taken as the presence can be patchy / uneven). Then, if it does contain asbestos, a professional asbestos removal company will be required to safely remove it and dispose of it.

How much does it cost to test artex for asbestos?

Asbestos Testing - 'Artex'. York, Yorkshire.

The cost of testing an artex ceiling for asbestos will depend on the number of ceilings being tested in a property and the size of the ceiling as larger ceilings will likely need more tests. That said, the cost of testing a single ceiling in the UK is likely to cost in the region of £100 to £200 and the results will be available usually within a few working days. If asbestos is found the test will identify what type of asbestos. This can help decide next steps.

Does artex need to be removed?

Asbestos Testing - 'Artex'. York, Yorkshire.

Whether or not artex needs to be removed in will depend on a number of factors. Firstly, and most importantly, if it contains asbestos that will make a difference from a safety and cost perspective. Each situation is different and is best discussed with an experienced expert as there are pros and cons to leaving it (or covering it) and the risks that brings vs the risks of removing it, which will inevitably involve disturbing the materials too. There are various options to consider.

Leak Detection Logo
Leak Detection Logo