Asbestos in Artex

Last Updated on 26th October 2023 by max2021

What is Artex and does it contain asbestos?

Firstly, before we discuss asbestos in Artex, let’s talk about what Artex actually is.

What is Artex?

Artex is a common surface coating, mainly found on older ceilings and walls, and is still used today for interior decorating, although these days it is asbestos-free Artex.

Artex used to be very popular amongst decorators as it allowed them to add texture to it very easily. The most common is a swirl pattern which you will see on a lot of older ceilings.

Decorators could also add a stippled pattern on walls as well as ceilings. Artex was great at disguising flaws such as cracks.

Artex you could say is similar to plaster. Where it differs from plaster is that it was marketed solely as a material intended to receive a textured finish.

The product was aimed at DIY enthusiasts with no plastering skills.

No particular skills are needed to get the required textured finish.

asbestos in artex ceilings - swirl pattern artex ceiling
Swirl pattern Artex ceiling

Artex was used a lot throughout the 1970s, mainly on ceilings but also on interior walls.

Artex Asbestos Ceilings

Artex-textured ceilings are not as popular as they once were. The product is still sold and used, although it doesn’t contain asbestos fibres anymore.

It has declined over the years because when carrying out repair jobs, it’s impossible to match up the pattern exactly.

This results in a poor finish, which has harmed its popularity.

Another issue is that Artex is extremely difficult to remove from ceilings, which puts people off from using it.

Is asbestos in Artex harmful?

So is asbestos in Artex harmful? Does Artex contain Asbestos all the time?

Up until the mid-1980s, Artex was made with white asbestos (chrysotile) to help strengthen it.

Artex that was manufactured before 1992, when asbestos was banned, may contain chrysotile (white) asbestos.

There is therefore a risk of asbestos exposure, but only when the Artex is being drilled, sanded or removed.

However, it’s worth noting that not all Artex coatings contain asbestos. If the Artex was manufactured after the asbestos ban in 1992 it shouldn’t contain any chrysotile.

But it’s wise to always have the Artex decorative coating tested for the presence of asbestos.

If you are in any doubt about when the textured coating was applied, then have it tested for asbestos.

asbestos in artex - stippled textured coating on wall
The stippled textured coating on the wall

Asbestos-containing materials such as Artex pose no risk at all if left undisturbed. No drilling holes, hammering nails into it and so on. It can be painted over with regular emulsion paint.

It is only when older Artex textured coatings are removed or damaged that there is a potential health risk from asbestos.

The danger comes when inhaling asbestos fibres that are in the Artex as they cause a number of deadly diseases, including the lung disease asbestosis, a cancer of the lining of the lungs called pleural mesothelioma, and cancer of the lining of the abdomen peritoneal mesothelioma.

How do you know if your Artex ceiling contains asbestos?

If you are planning on repairing or removing Artex textured coatings from ceilings or walls in your home, you should first seek the advice of a professional Asbestos Surveyor.

They will be able to safely take a sample and have it tested in an independent laboratory and see if it does contain asbestos.

The Laboratory will confirm whether the Artex contains asbestos or not.

If it is confirmed that there is asbestos in the textured coating, and you wish to go ahead with repair work or removal, then a licensed contractor won’t be required.

Removing Artex

The removal work falls within exemptions to the HSE’s licensing requirements.

It is classed as non-licensable work, in the HSE’s website in their L143 guide on managing and working with asbestos:-

” Work with textured decorative coatings will not normally be licensable work, as work with this material will usually not meet the conditions in the definition of licensable work in regulation 2(1).”

Hse Managing and working with asbestos L143

However, the removal contractor/builder needs to be trained in Cat B (non-licensed asbestos training).

According to the HSE’S guide, they state:-

“Although it does not require a licence issued by HSE, all non-licensable work with asbestos will still need to be carried out in accordance with the requirements contained in the Regulations. In particular, it needs to be carried out by trained and competent workers in accordance with a plan of work, using appropriate control measures to prevent exposure and the spread of asbestos.”

Hse Managing and working with asbestos L143

The UK’s Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 governs the removal of asbestos.

Disposal of asbestos in textured coatings

The HSE advise that asbestos waste must be packed in UN-approved packaging. It must also have the CDG hazard label and asbestos code information visible. It must be double-wrapped and labelled asbestos waste.

Standard practice is to use a red inner bag with asbestos warnings, and a clear outer bag. Please refer to the HSE guidance document.

It is also advised to avoid breaking up large pieces of asbestos waste such as Artex. Instead, you must double wrap in suitable polythene sheeting (1000-gauge) and label accordingly.

Any ceiling or textured coating containing asbestos has to be disposed of correctly. It is a high risk material that is classed as hazardous waste and needs to be disposed of at a licensed disposal site.

It has to be transported there by a vehicle that holds a waste carrier license.

If the asbestos removal contractor does not hold a waste carrier license to safely transport and dispose of any hazardous asbestos waste, then arrangements must be made for a registered waste carrier to attend the property and transport the asbestos to the licensed disposal site.

In the event that you decide to leave the Artex ceiling or wall in situ and undamaged, then it should be perfectly safe to do so and there should be no risk from asbestos, but it’s advised in the HSE’s guidance documents that an annual inspection is carried out by a professional (applies to domestic properties only).


Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their properties, carrying out an asbestos survey in their buildings so as not to put employees at risk.

So make sure you contact our Armco office to arrange asbestos testing or an asbestos survey before it’s too late! 

Whether you need an asbestos management survey or a refurbishment/ demolition survey, contact us at 0161 763 3727 or by visiting https://www.armco.org.uk/

Finally, for all your asbestos training needs call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/to book an asbestos awareness training course.

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Published Feb 18, 2019

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