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Science Not Solvents: How to remove artex SAFELY

EcoSolutions News

Artex® is a water-based covering, usually used to decorate ceilings, and generally brought to a textured finish with the use of a brush or comb. Some older artex® may contain asbestos and it is extremely unwise to sand down or scrape without seeking the advice of an asbestos specialist as this can potentially damage your health and anybody around you. Contact your local council for help with this.

If you have any questions about Artex please visit our FAQ page

Once confirmed that the artex® does not contain asbestos fibres and can be removed safely with no risk there are a number of different ways this can be done. Firstly it can be “steamed” off using a wallpaper steamer. This can be a very messy and also very slow process. It cannot be done at speed or with the steam plate left in one area too long…if it is, there is a possibility of damaging the ceiling or wall behind it and also the risk that the artex® will liquefy and run everywhere.

If done carefully and with some care, steaming will enable you to soak and strip without damaging either yourself or the surface you are working on. Place the steamer plate on the surface for several seconds at a time, testing very frequently with a handheld scraper to monitor how soft it is getting and then scraping off once soft enough to do so. Having artex® tested for asbestos can be costly, so if you work on the fact that it more than likely has asbestos in it then steaming is not the safest route to take as it will dry during and after removal and then can create a cloud of dust.

Removing Artex® using Eco Solutions X-Tex® WORKING WET SYSTEM
One of the quickest and easiest ways that we have found to remove artex® is with this amazing product. Simply paint over the artex®, on a horizontal or vertical surface, and scrape off when softened. Called a working wet system – this means that the artex® is kept wet at all times which results in no asbestos fibres becoming airborne, and when scraped will fall directly to the floor (we recommend to cover the floor with lots of old newspapers and just wrap the artex® up in the paper, bag and dispose of at your local council recycling centre. Most refuse sites now take asbestos waste).

Most artex® has been painted over the years with various coats of emulsions and this does need to be removed before you can start removing the artex®. The most difficult of these is vinyl silk which contains plastic polymers, and once softened by any type of paint remover can turn it into a gooey mess!  Vinyl silk is hard to penetrate with any type of paint remover, so the first recommendation is to lightly score the surface with a blade to let X-Tex penetrate the paint and lift it from underneath. You do not want to score too deeply, as not to disturb the Artex® underneath. You can also apply X-Tex prior to scoring the surface which will prevent any dust from becoming airborne if you score below the surface.

Removal is made easier with a long-handled blade scraper which helps to lift it from the surface rather than spreading it around the wall, which usually happens when using a standard steel scraper.

Another great tip is to apply X-Tex® and cover with foil or plastic film and leave overnight. The foil prevents the X-Tex® from drying out and also forces the product down and in most cases softens both the emulsion and the artex® in one application. This is highly recommended to obtain the best results and to save you product.

Demo video – How to remove artex® safely

Plastering over Artex®
Artex® can also be plastered over. Firstly make absolutely sure that there are no flaking or loose sections of the artex®, or indeed ceiling/wall. Then remove all obviously “high spots” of artex®, where the stipples hang down. You can do this using a hand scraper or wall scraper and if you want to go the extra step you can also sand it down and get it as flat as possible as this will further aid in the final finish and also the ease in which it can be plastered over. Again, before you do this, please, please ensure that the artex® you are working on does not contain any asbestos. If you are unsure, get it checked out before you start, but would recommend not plastering over if it does contain asbestos. Best way is to remove it and have peace of mind.

Artex® (*registered Trade Mark of BPB UK Ltd)