Removing Artless Artex from Property

Removing Artless Artex from Property

Last week I gave some tips for durable and easy decorating. This week I’ll look at how to deal with unwanted Artex permanently.

Artex was popular in the ‘80s as a decorative surface dressing to walls and ceilings, and, along with woodchip wallpaper, as a dodge to cover up uneven surfaces. Hence removing it may open its own can of worms. If you are sure that the surface underneath is flat, it can often be steamed off with a wallpaper steamer. Be careful though, as some of the older stuff can contain asbestos fibres as a binder. Some types of later non-asbestos Artex use mica instead, which looks like small metallic flakes. But this still isn’t a complete guarantee that it’s asbestos-free. It’s therefore a very bad idea to sand it back unless you’re sure!

Unfortunately if you just plaster over Artex, even with PVA adhesive, the plaster won’t stick reliably and it may peel away in future.

Artex ceiling

A better alternative is to cover it with sheets of plasterboard screwed to the ceiling joists or wall timbers beneath, then skim with plaster. If it’s on a solid wall and there’s no timber to screw to, the best alternative may still be to steam or hack it off and re-plaster. Another alternative is to cover the wall in 2” x 1” battens with the centres 400mm apart, and to plasterboard over them, but this is very labour-intensive. Quicker is to ‘dot and dab’ plasterboard over the offending Artex. Hack off small patches, prime the bare patches with PVA, and use dabs of plasterboard adhesive (a plaster-based mix) on the bare bits to attach sheets of plasterboard to get a flat surface.

Next week I’m going to discuss strategies to get and retain good tradesmen. This is essential if you have multiple rental properties, or if like me you are involved in developing flats.


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