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Is flaking artex dangerous with man spraying to protect the surface

Is flaking artex dangerous?

15/01/2024
(Last Updated: 24/01/2024)
5 min read

Ceilings were often covered with a textured coating containing asbestos within the mixture. After the dangers of using asbestos were made aware, most manufacturers stopped using asbestos (most commonly Chrysotile ‘white’ asbestos) within their products in 1983.

Whilst the manufacturers stopped including asbestos in their mixtures in 1983, there is no guarantee that if you have a textured ceiling from 1984 onward, the textured coating isn't from the pre-1983 batch. The builder or homeowner may have even imported the ceiling materials from overseas, where artex could still be included within it.

Textured ceilings and walls became out of fashion in the early 2000s, coinciding with the ban on all asbestos use in August 1999. The challenge for buyers or homeowners living with artex ceilings is the worry they'll damage or disturb it and release asbestos fibres into the air. You must get an Asbestos Survey before undertaking work in any areas where there are textured materials on the wall or ceiling.

What is asbestos?

There are 6 types of asbestos, which are naturally occurring minerals. They are bundles of fibres resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity. For home builders, this offered a solution for areas such as the boiler and kitchen ceiling to prevent the spread of fire.

After its widespread use in the building industry, it was discovered that asbestos is a carcinogen and dangerous to humans exposed to it.

Why is flaking Artex dangerous?

If the artex ceiling is disturbed, flaking, sanded down, cracked or if removed, tiny asbestos fibres are released into the air and can be breathed in. This leads to them getting trapped in the lungs, remaining there for a long time, which can lead to scarring and inflammation of the lungs.

The durability of the fibres, which was fantastic for its application within the industry, is the downfall of the human body as it remains in the lungs. According to IARC, there is sufficient evidence that asbestos causes mesothelioma (a rare cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen) and cancers of the lung, larynx, and ovary. Most mesotheliomas are due to asbestos exposure.

Is Artex asbestos?

Artex isn't asbestos. It is a trading name of a building materials company - Artex Limited. Before 1983, you could find asbestos within the Artex's textured coating applied to ceilings, walls and around boilers. There were other brands at the time offering similarly textured ceiling paste, such as Marblecoat, Newtex and Pebblecoat.

How do I find out if the artex contains asbestos?

Since 1999, the use of asbestos materials has been banned in the UK; however, when surveyors undertake home surveys, if the property was built earlier than 1999 and there are textured coatings on the ceilings or walls, they will flag the potential of asbestos. This does not mean there is asbestos.

You should instruct an Asbestos Surveyor to attend the property, take samples from all areas of concern, send the tests to a laboratory, and the results confirm if there is asbestos and what type it is. The three types of asbestos fibres most commonly used in the UK are:

  • blue (crocidolite),
  • brown (amosite) and
  • white (chrysotile)

Can you live in a house with asbestos?

You can live in a house with asbestos and never encounter any problems. Here is what you can do:

  • Cover the affected area. You can use specific paint to cover the affected area and avoid any flaking or cracking spread into the air. You could then skim over the area with plaster avoiding not to disturb the affected area.
  • Don't disturb the area. Asbestos fibres are only dangerous if you disturb the area and release them into the air.
  • Remove the asbestos. You can hire a BOHS-accredited asbestos surveyor to remove the asbestos from the property. They'll take down all the materials and ventilate. You'll then be able to plasterboard, plaster and decorate.

Does a RICS surveyor test Artex for asbestos?

The RICS Level 1-3 Home Survey does not include any testing for asbestos; however, if the surveyor identifies building materials that could be of an age that may include asbestos, they'll state in their report:

We would recommend a sample be tested for asbestos before any invasive work is undertaken.

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Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing
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Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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