How To Remove Artex Walls and Ceilings

Project Guide Overview: We’re going to be looking at how to remove Artex walls and ceilings as well as offer decorating advice on how to make them look nice if you’re not comfortable with the removal process.

Artex walls and ceiling were so popular back in the sixties and seventies that the brand name became synonymous with all textured wall coatings in much the same way that Kleenex became a generic word for tissues. Some find a nostalgic charm in Artex but if you’re not a fan you may find yourself facing the challenging and messy project of removing it from floors and walls in your home in favour of a smooth plaster finish.

These step-by-step instructions will guide you through the process and help you to navigate through any health and safety considerations.

Artex being removed from a ceiling.

Can You Remove Artex Yourself?

If you suspect the Artex in your home contains asbestos do not attempt to remove the potentially hazardous material yourself, before getting identification on the presence of asbestos and carrying out a risk assessment.

Other options worth considering instead of removal, are plastering over the textured finish (this will usually take a minimum of two coats of plaster) or alternatively, covering it with new plasterboards.

If the Artex was applied this century and you’ve identified that it is asbestos-free and you are comfortable undertaking the work then yes you can remove the textured finish yourself without issue.

Can You Use Wallpaper Paste To Remove Artex Walls and Ceilings?

This is a cost-effective method of removing old Artex from walls. It can get messy though so prepare the space with drop cloths to facilitate clean-up afterward.

  1. Apply a generous coat of thick wallpaper paste with a brush to the Artex finish.
  2. Leave to dry for about an hour.
  3. Use a wide metal paint scraper or a wood chisel to remove the textured decorative coating from the wall.

Be careful not to damage the plasterboards underneath or you may end up with more work and expense than anticipated.

How To Remove Artex Walls

Removing Artex from a wall.

There is a range of specialised removal products on the market, which you can paint onto Artex on walls and ceilings. Up to an hour of drying time is required after which you should be able to peel off the Artex relatively easily.

A tried and tested, if the slightly more labour-intensive way to remove Artex from walls, is by using a steamer. This requires both time and patience but can achieve good results.

  1. Protect floors and furnishings with dust cloths
  2. Wear a dust mask and gloves
  3. Fill the wallpaper steamer with hot water and when ready, slowly and steadily apply the steam across the surface
  4. Test as you go to see if Artex has been steam-softened sufficiently.
  5. Use a long-handled metal scraper with a firm but even pressure to remove the material from the substrate.

Bear in mind that leaving the steamer in one place for an extended period of time can damage the substrate. I’d recommend moving the steamer at a slow but steady pace across the surface. Artex has a tendency to liquefy when it gets too hot and can drip and stain surfaces.

How To Remove Artex From Ceilings

Example of an Artex ceiling.
Removing an Artex ceiling can get messy!

Scraping and sanding off Artex from the ceiling is often the preferred method. The only thing guaranteed when removing Artex from a ceiling is that it’s going to get messy.

Step 1: Preparation is vital. If you can, remove all furniture from the room. Cover all remaining items with plastic and protect floors with drop cloth

Step 2: Safety first. Wear goggles to protect your eyes from debris, a dust mask, and work gloves.

Step 3: Work in sections. Use a stripping knife to remove as much of the Artex from each section before moving on to the next

Step 4: Prepare joint compound as per manufacturer’s instructions and apply a thin layer with a taping knife to even out the surface. Leave to dry overnight

Step 5: Lightly sand back the surface with fine sandpaper until smooth.

Step 6: Once wiped clean with a damp cloth your ceiling is ready for painting.

Safety Considerations

Just the mention of removing Artex can raise concerned eyebrows and questions about Asbestos. You need to be aware before starting any renovations that Artex and any other textured decorative finished walls and ceilings may contain asbestos.

It was commonly used in production to stiffen the textured coating to help form patterns in the finish. There’s no way to know by looking at it whether or not your Artex contains Asbestos. However, with the knowledge that it wasn’t outlawed until 1999 and asbestos-containing materials were extensively used in the decades prior to this, it is best to err on the side of caution.

A general rule of thumb is that Artex applied prior to 1980 is most likely to contain asbestos. Textured finishes from the 80s and 90s may well also contain asbestos. Materials used after 1999, with some rare exceptions, should not have any asbestos in them.

Whilst asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and textured decorative coatings containing it are considered safe when left in situ undisturbed and in good condition, asbestos can be dangerous and even carcinogenic when inhaled as dust, for example during removal.

If you think your ceiling or wall textured coating may contain asbestos seeking expert advice is recommended. You can contact a specialist asbestos monitoring company to identify and assess the potential risks.

An alternative option is to purchase an asbestos sampling kit and send off a small sample of the material to a specialist lab to test it, this can be done relatively cheaply online and you will get results in a few days.

If you’re removing Artex from a number of places in your home it’s probably best to test samples from each area as you cannot be sure all were applied at the same time using the same coating.

Final Thoughts

There’s no denying that, regardless of the method you select, removing Artex is not an easy task. If the Artex contains Asbestos, choose to freshen it up with a coat of paint. Alternatively, covering it with plaster or plasterboards can sometimes be a better option than disturbing it through removal.

If it is asbestos-free and you’re determined to be rid of it for good then with a little preparation, patience and time it will be a job worth doing.