Artex is a surface coating used for interior decorating, most often found on ceilings, which allows the decorator to add a texture to it. The name Artex is a trademark of Artex Ltd., a company based in the United Kingdom. The name is a genericised trademark often used to refer to similar products from other manufacturers. Since 2005, the company has belonged to France's Saint-Gobain group.
Artex differs from plaster in that it was marketed as a material intended to receive a textured finish, thus enabling a ceiling to be finished without plastering skills. It was very widely used in Britain in the 1970s, mainly with the familiar stippled and swirled patterns. Artex was also occasionally used on walls.
As of 2012[update] Artex is still sold, but the textured ceiling finishes are a good deal less popular.
One issue with Artex ceilings is that matching the pattern seamlessly when repairing is impossible. The poor appearance of repaired ceilings harmed its popularity. Furthermore, removal of Artex can be rather difficult.
Artex and health risks
Until the mid-1980s, the Artex coating was made with white asbestos to strengthen it. This means that only old Artex manufactured by Artex Ltd. will contain asbestos and most probably any Artex applied after 1990 will not contain any harmful material whatsoever. It is also worth noting that the texture is only harmful when in a powder form, i.e., being sanded, and poses no risk whatsoever while it is undisturbed on ceilings or walls and covered with emulsion paint.
Removing even more modern non-asbestos coatings can expose the operator to hazardous dust particles. Older coatings, containing asbestos, pose a particularly serious hazard. Inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, a fibrosing lung disease; pleural mesothelioma; a cancer of the lining (pleura) of the lung; and peritoneal mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining (peritoneum) of the abdomen. Those removing the coating or working with a surface covered with it should wear effective dust-proof protective clothing and masks —— and the area being worked on should be sealed off. Professional advice is advisable. Removal of Artex is covered by the UK's Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 2006, which make it unlawful (if it contains asbestos) for a contractor not licensed by the country's Health and Safety Executive to undertake most work on asbestos coatings. However, this has been recently reviewed. In the UK, once removed, Artex and any other substance containing asbestos must be disposed of as hazardous waste. If the coating is left alone and coated with paint and undamaged, it may be safe to leave the coating in place and managed in situ by annual inspection. Plastering over the coating may ensure it is safely encapsulated
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