Removing or plastering over Artex

Popular in the 1970s and 1980s, Artex was used to create texture on ceilings and walls.

Most houses built or renovated in the 1970s or 1980s have Artex throughout, whether on ceilings or walls. Often used to create a fan pattern or those stalactite-like textures, Artex has increasingly become less popular, and many homeowners are looking to remove or cover it up. Before the mid-1980s, Artex was strengthened with white asbestos, so it is absolutely crucial to the safety of yourself and your family that you have a professional test your Artex. If you begin working with asbestos-laden Artex without the proper safety equipment and measures, you risk inhaling the fine fibres, which cause the lung diseases associated with the material.

Level of difficulty

Removing artex – Level 1: Easy

Plastering over the artex – Level 2: Intermediate

Things you’ll need

Removing with steam:
A wallpaper steamer
A hand-held scraper

Removing with artex remover:
Textured coating remover
A paint brush
A hand-held scraper

Plastering over the artex:
Dust sheets
Safety goggles
A milk crate or sturdy ladder when needed
A scraper
Sandpaper
Safety glasses
PVA adhesive
A stirrer
A clean bucket
A large emulsion brush
Rubber gloves
Stop end beads
Skim plaster
Another bucket, or the same one cleaned out
Electric drill and paddle attachment
A hawk (a hand-held board)
A plasterer’s trowel
A half-inch soft paint brush
A dampened cloth

The steps to follow

Removing with steam

  1. Have a professional determine that the artex is safe to work with before doing anything to it
  2. Use the steamer to soften a small area of artex, in a way similar to the removal of wallpaper
  3. Scrape off the artex
  4. Repeat until all the artex has been removed

Removing with artex remover

  1. Have a professional determine that the artex is safe to work with before doing anything to it
  2. Paint the remover on the artex surface
  3. Wait until the artex has softened. This can take anywhere from one to eight hours, depending on the thickness of the artex
  4. Scrape off the artex with the scraper

Plastering over the artex

  1. Have a professional determine that the artex is safe to work with before doing anything to it
  2. If you are a beginner, you should practice the technique of laying plaster to ensure you are able to do it well before attempting to do it in a visible place. Limit the area you plaster at a time, the general advice is to do no more than an area of 2 metres square on ceilings and 2.4m by 2.5m on walls at any one time
  3. Once you know the artex is safe to work put down the dust sheets and put on the safety goggles
  4. Check the area for loose sections or places where the artex is flaking. Remove these bits
  5. Remove the “high spots”, the places where the artex stipples hang down lowest. This can be done with a scraper, and you can get the surface even flatter by sanding down the area
  6. In a clean bucket, mix one part water with one part PVA adhesive
  7. Paint this on the area with your large emulsion brush. Take care to cover the entire surface. The PVA adhesive is important for two reasons. First, it is a glue that will grip onto the plaster well. Second, it will fill in the microscopic holes in the artex which would otherwise suck the moisture out of the plaster, causing the plaster to dry out too fast. The PVA adhesive slows down that absorption, giving you more time to work with the plaster before it dries
  8. When the adhesive has dried, paint another coat on, just to make sure the plaster goes up correctly. Do this to an off cut as well, for later use
  9. Put on the rubber gloves and safety goggles, and check the dust sheets are all in place. Plaster is corrosive, so it can burn the skin or eyes, and if any gets on your shoes or clothing, it can easily be tracked throughout the house
  10. If you want to work on smaller areas at a time, put up stop end beads. These help divide your area into smaller sections but are flat on top, so they finish flush with the surface of the plaster. Once they are decorated over, they are invisible
  11. Follow the instructions on the bag of skim plaster to prepare a very small amount of plaster. Apply it to the PVA adhesive-treated off cut. Time it to see how long it takes for the plaster to go firm, but not hard. This will be the point when the trowel marks disappear. You will then be able to determine when the plaster hardens, which will be useful at the end of the project
  12. Mix up the plaster in a clean bucket, but do not mix up too much at any one time. It should be a creamy consistency, and you can mix it easily using an electric drill with a paddle attachment
  13. Apply the plaster to the area

i) Put no more than two trowels’ worth of plaster on the hawk
ii) Holding the trowel at a 90 angle to the hawk, cut into a small section of the plaster, taking care not to put too much plaster on the trowel
iii) To load up the correct amount of plaster on the trowel, tilt the hawk towards yourself whilst at the same time pushing and scooping the trowel away
iv) Spread the plaster evenly on the surface, without attempting to smooth it. Concentrate instead on keeping the thickness of the plaster layer consistent.
v) If you are plastering a ceiling, do not try to plaster the space directly above your head or face.


Please note that all our DIY guides and ‘Expert answers’ advice have been written strictly for reference only. Rated People do not accept any liability for any damage caused to an individual, property or anything else as a result of following our DIY guides and using our ‘Expert answers’ advice.

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