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 UK. Since 2005, the company has belonged to France's Saint-Gobain group.
Artex is the horse of the legendary hero Atreyu, the protagonist of The Neverending Story.
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 will contain asbestos and most probably any artex applied within the last 25 years 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. Inhaling microscopic asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis and mesothelioma - defined by the World Health Organization as cancers - so anyone removing the coating or working with a surface covered with it should wear protective clothing and masks – and the area being worked on should be sealed off. Professional advice is advisable and there is a national UK website where tradesman offer such advice at www.artex.co.uk. Removal of Artex is covered by the UK’s Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 2006, which make it illegal (if it contains asbestos) for a contractor not licensed by the country’s Health and Safety Commission 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.