Artex, a water-based decorative covering for walls and ceilings, is one of the things you either love or hate. If you’re not too fond of it but you have Artex in your home, you might wonder how to get rid of it.
There are various ways to remove this decorative coating on your own. You could use a paint stripper, a scraper or a wallpaper steamer.
Regardless of the method of your choice, remember that Artex may contain asbestos. In this case, Artex removal could be a potentially dangerous job that is best left to professionals.
Why Is Artex Removal Important?
Popular since the 1960s, Artex was widely embraced as an alternative to classic smooth walls. The textured finish creates unique patterns on walls and ceilings, adding visual depth and focal interest to otherwise plain surfaces.
However, as interior design trends shifted over time, the popularity of Artex diminished.
Smoother and more minimalist surfaces became favoured, and most homeowners now seek to remove or cover up existing Artex textures to give their spaces a clean contemporary look.
The loss of popularity isn’t the only reason to remove Artex, though.
If you just moved into an older home that was decorated before the 1980s, the Artex on your walls could actually contain asbestos.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was commonly used in various building materials and products until the 1980s, due to its heat resistance, durability and insulating capabilities.
Since then, the health hazards associated with asbestos became widely recognised, and this mineral is not used any longer.
The danger lies in the microscopic fibres of this material, which can become airborne contaminants when damaged or disturbed.
When inhaled, asbestos particles can cause long-term health issues, including asbestosis and cancer.
5 Reasons to Remove Artex
If you live in a home decorated with Artex after the 1980s, the texture on your walls is likely free of asbestos.
However, there are other reasons why you should remove or cover the decorative surface.
1. Outdated Aesthetics
Artex was popular in the past for its textured appearance, but it is now an outdated interior feature. Removing it can help you give your space a more contemporary feel that aligns with current design trends.
Smooth walls can significantly improve the overall aesthetics of your space, giving it a fresh look. If you want to create a focal point, you can do so with contrasting colours or wallpaper.
2. Increased Property Value
Since Artex isn’t a desired feature anymore, removing it can enhance the value of your property.
Potential buyers or renters often prefer homes with modern, smooth ceilings and walls. By removing Artex, you can make your property more appealing and potentially increase its market value.
3. Surface Restoration
Artex can hide underlying surface defects, such as cracks or unevenness. By removing the textured coating, you can assess the condition of the substrate and address any structural or cosmetic issues.
This allows for proper repairs and restoration, resulting in a more stable and visually appealing surface.
4. Design Flexibility
Smooth ceilings and walls provide greater flexibility for decorating and personalising a space.
Once Artex is removed, you can easily apply a fresh coat of paint, wallpaper or other decorative finishes without the limitations imposed by the texture.
This opens up a wide range of design possibilities, allowing you to customise your space according to your preferences and style.
5. Better Lighting and Acoustics
Artex textures can create shadows and uneven lighting, reducing the effectiveness of artificial and natural light sources.
On the contrary, smoother surfaces reflect light more evenly, enhancing the overall brightness and ambiance of a room.
Additionally, removing Artex can improve the acoustics of a space, as textured surfaces tend to absorb sound. Smooth surfaces reflect sound, resulting in better sound quality and clarity.
How Much Does It Cost To Remove Artex?
Whether you hire a professional or plan to remove Artex yourself, doing so isn’t free. The table below provides a breakdown of costs.
|Asbestos testing (DIY, with online kit)||£30 - £50|
|Asbestos survey (professional)||£200 - £250|
|Asbestos removal (DIY)||£50 - £500|
|Asbestos removal (professional)||£400 - £2,000|
|Asbestos sealing||£225 - £500|
|Asbestos coating (with paint products or panels)||£300 - £700|
Asbestos removal can cost you anywhere between £50 and £2,000, depending on the amount of work and who does it. DIY removal is the cheapest, but you should only remove the texture yourself if it is free of asbestos.
You can check for asbestos yourself with an online test kit. However, these kits are not always reliable.
If your walls or ceilings were textured in the 1980s or before, it is best to hire a professional to conduct an asbestos survey.
In the case asbestos is revealed and you don’t want to spend on professional removal, you can cover the texture with plasterboard or plywood and then paint over the new surface.
Sealing is another solution, but it doesn’t remove the texture. However, sealing traps the asbestos particles, preventing them from spreading throughout your home.
11 Artex Removal Methods
If your Artex contains no asbestos and you don’t want to pay a professional, you’ll be happy to know that there are various removal methods you can employ.
Check the condition of the Artex on your walls beforehand to choose the right method.
1. Scrape and Sand
This is one of the easiest ways of removing Artex.
Start by wetting the textured surface to minimise the release of dust particles. Then, use a scraper to gently lift the texture from the surface, taking care not to damage the underlying substrate.
Work in small sections at a time and only move to the next section when the first one is cleared.
Once the majority of the Artex is removed, smooth the surface further using sandpaper or a sanding machine. This method is labour-intensive but cost-effective, especially for smaller areas.
2. Strip with Steam
Steam stripping involves using a steam wallpaper stripper or a high-pressure steamer to soften the Artex, making it easier to remove. The steam penetrates the texture, loosening its bond with the substrate.
Once the surface is softened, use a scraper to gently lift the texture from the surface.
This method is effective for larger areas or when dealing with multiple layers of Artex. However, pay attention not to oversaturate the surface or damage the underlying structure.
3. Use a Chemical Remover
Specialised Artex removal products can help you get rid of the texture with minimum hassle. These products are often more expensive than a scraper, but cheaper than a steamer. They could also help you finish the task faster.
Chemical Artex strippers act directly onto the surface, dissolving or softening the texture.
Follow the instructions on the label to apply the product – usually with a paintbrush, roller or spray. Wait for the indicated time, then scrape away the softened material.
If you decide to use chemical strippers, remember that ventilation is essential.
4. Use Acid-Based Solutions
Another category of chemicals worth considering are acid-based solutions specifically formulated to remove Artex.
These solutions contain ingredients that react with the texture, breaking down its adhesive properties. It’s important to follow safety precautions, including wearing protective clothing and ensuring proper ventilation when working with acid-based products.
Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply the product. Wait for it to react (usually around 12 to 48 hours), then remove the texture with a scraper.
5. Use Mechanical Methods
For larger areas or stubborn Artex, mechanical methods such as power sanding or sandblasting can be effective.
Power sanding involves using a power sander with a coarse-grit sandpaper to remove the texture layer by layer.
Sandblasting utilises compressed air to propel fine sand particles against the surface, effectively stripping the texture away.
These methods are best suited for experienced individuals or professionals due to the potential for creating a significant amount of dust and the risk of damaging the underlying surface. However, you can hire these tools at most home improvement stores, should you want to give them a try.
6. Heat Gun Method
Steamers can soften and loosen the Artex texture with moisture and heat. However, these machines are expensive to buy or rent.
If you want to save a quid, you can use a heat gun instead – if you don’t have one, you can buy or rent one without breaking the bank.
Heat the surface with the gun, focusing on small sections at a time, and then scrape away the softened texture using a scraper.
Take care not to overheat the surface, as it can damage the underlying substrate. This method requires caution, as heat guns can be a fire hazard and produce harmful fumes. Ensure proper ventilation and wear protective equipment while using this method.
Similar to stripping, this method is laborious and best suited for smaller surfaces.
7. Fill with Plasterboard Compound
Sometimes, filling rather than removing Artex could be your best bet. This method allows you to freshen up your home without spending days on end removing the texture.
The plasterboard compound is designed to fill in the plasterboard joints. However, you can use it to fill in the spaces in the Artex texture.
Spread the compound over the Artex design using a trowel. Make sure to fill in all crevices and create a flat finish.
Allow the compound to dry for at least 24 hours, then sand the surface to remove imperfections and achieve the desired smoothness. You can now paint the area with your favourite paint product.
While this method requires some skill in applying and finishing the compound, but it can be an efficient option for smaller areas.
8. Skim Coat the Area
Skim coating is similar to filling with plasterboard compound, but it uses joint compound instead.
The method involves applying a thin layer of joint compound or plaster over the Artex to create a smooth surface.
Similar to filling with plasterboard compound, the method requires some skill in applying and feathering the joint compound to achieve a seamless finish.
Once the skim coat dries, sand the surface until it is smooth to the touch. Skim coating is particularly useful when dealing with shallow or less pronounced Artex textures.
9. Cover with Plasterboard
If the Artex is too stubborn to remove and the underlying surface is in too poor of a condition to fill the texture with plasterboard or joint compound, you could cover the whole area with plasterboard.
The method is as straightforward as it gets, and involves fixing plasterboard directly over the Artex to create a smooth surface for further decoration.
Before applying the plasterboard, ensure the surface is clean and stable. Use plasterboard adhesive or fasteners to fix the panels in place. Then, fill and seal the joints between the boards with plasterboard compound to create a seamless finish.
This is one of the easiest methods to get rid of Artex without hassle. However, keep in mind that the new boards will take up some of the space in your room, reducing its size. On the bright side, the new panels are very easy to install and decorate.
10. Combine the Methods
If you don’t want to fill in the Artex texture nor cover it with plasterboard, you can combine several of the removal methods above to deal with a stubborn area.
For instance, you can use a combination of steam stripping, scraping and sanding. You can soften the texture with a chemical stripper, scrape out everything, then sand off the residues. Alternatively, you can remove the Artex residues with a heat gun.
The only thing to keep in mind if you decide to combine more methods is that chemicals should never mix together.
Don’t apply chemical stripper and acid-based removers at the same time, and rinse thoroughly between one chemical product and the next, to prevent unwanted reactions.
To decide which methods to use simultaneously, assess the condition of the surface and choose the most appropriate combination based on the texture, thickness and adherence of the Artex.
11. Hire a Professional
When everything else fails, or for complex or extensive Artex removal projects, hiring a professional may be the most efficient and safest option.
Contractors have the necessary expertise, tools and experience to tackle challenging removals. They can assess the condition of the substrate, recommend the most suitable method and ensure the project is completed to a high standard.
While it may involve additional costs, professional removal can save time and provide peace of mind.
Artex is an old-fashioned decorative texture you can find on the walls and ceilings of older homes. Whether you want to redecorate or increase your home’s resale value, there are various ways to remove Artex and create a smooth surface for painting.
Before embarking on a DIY project, remember that older Artex surfaces may contain asbestos, which is a potentially dangerous mineral. To stay on the safe side, always test the Artex beforehand, and hire a professional if asbestos is revealed.
Otherwise, we hope this guide can help you pick the right Artex removal method for you.