Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Artex and Asbestos

Asbestos in Artex

Artex is a trade name which was used to describe all thick plaster-like paints that were used to create decorative effects, most commonly on ceilings, but, often on walls too. In the building trade these are referred to as textured coatings and the non-asbestos versions are still being used.
Up until 1984 the manufacturers (or even the ‘Artexers’ themselves) added small amounts (3-5%) of Chrysotile (‘white asbestos’) to their decorative paints. The fibres gave strength and consistency to the compound and made it much easier to apply.
There are no overwhelming safety reasons to remove Artex because its perfectly safe when left in-situ. In fact, the opposite is true because the removal process disturbs the material and causes fibre-release.
Up until 2006 contractors needed a license to remove this material.
There are specialist products available (such as Biostrip Artex Remover) that soak into the paint and turn it into a gel that can be scraped off. This is quite an arduous task and should not be undertaken lightly. Some of the products on the market, unlike the water based Biostrip range, can contain hazardous solvents – always check the label.
More recently new products have become available that allow you to ‘plaster’ over the textured coating and produce a flat surface. These are certainly the cheapest and safest option but presumably the finish isn’t too good (unless you’re a plasterer).

Does my Artex contain asbestos?

There is a very strong chance that your Artex does contain asbestos if your building was built before 1970 and your textured coating appears to have been applied at that time. If it was built in the 70s/early eighties then it is less likely and if it was built after 1984 it is very unlikely.
The only only hard and fast way to find out is to get the material analysed by a specialised laboratory

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