Asbestos in artex ceilings

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What is Artex?


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

Artex is a common surface coating, mainly found on older ceilings, and is still used today for interior decorating.

It used to be very popular amongst decorators as it allowed them to add a texture to it very easily, the most common being 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, so Artex was great at disguising flaws such as cracks.

Artex you could say is similar to plaster, but 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, as no particular skills were needed to get the required textured finish.

asbestos in artex ceilings - swirl pattern artex ceiling
Asbestos in artex ceilings – swirl pattern artex ceiling

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

Today, Artex textured ceilings are not as popular as they once were, although the product is still sold and used.

One of the main reasons for its decline over the years is that when carrying out repair jobs on ceilings, it’s impossible to match up the pattern exactly.

This results in a poor finish, which has harmed it’s popularity.

And another issue is that Artex ceiling removal and removing Artex from interior walls is extremely difficult, which puts people off using it.

Asbestos in Artex

So is asbestos in Artex harmful? Do all Artex ceilings and textured coatings contain asbestos?

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

Therefore, any old Artex that was manufactured before the asbestos ban in the year 2000 will likely contain chrysotile (white) asbestos.

There is therefore a risk of Artex asbestos exposure, but only when the Artex is in powder form, ie when it’s being sanded or removed.

However, it’s worth noting that Artex textured coatings manufactured after the asbestos ban in 2000 shouldn’t contain any chyrostile.

But it’s wise to always have the artex textured coating tested for the presence of asbestos if in any doubt about the date of manufacture or when the textured coating was applied.

asbestos in artex - stippled textured coating on wall
Asbestos in artex – stippled textured coating on wall

The asbestos in Artex poses no risk at all if left undisturbed and in situ ie no drilling holes, hammering nails into it and so on, and it can be painted over with regular emulsion paint.

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

The danger comes when inhaling asbestos fibers 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.

Artex ceiling removal

If you are planning on repairing or removing Artex textured coatings from ceilings or walls in your home, then you should firstly seek the advice of a professional Asbestos Surveyor to identify if infact there is any asbestos present in the Artex.

They will be able to safely take a sample and have it tested in an independent laboratory and confirm whether it contains asbestos or not.

If it is confirmed that there is asbestos in Artex textured coating, and you wish to go ahead with repair work or removal, then a licensed contractor won’t be required to remove the asbestos as this work falls within exemptions to the HSE’s licensing requirements, so is classed an non-licenseable work, as is stated on 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 to 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 Artex textured coatings

The HSE advise that asbestos waste must be packed in UN-approved packaging with a 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 with the CDG label, if required. 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 Artex ceiling or textured coating containing asbestos has to be disposed of correctly as hazardous waste at a licensed disposal site and 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).

Did you find this article interesting?  Then check out our other interesting articles below.

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

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

Whether you need an asbestos management survey, or a refurbishment/ demolition survey, contact us on 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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