Artexed ceilings are quite old-fashioned – most people prefer a smooth finish now. However, plastering a ceiling smooth is not easy so if you are doing a lot of DIY yourself you may prefer to use an Artex textured finish. Or perhaps you’re going for a retro look – Artexed ceilings were seen a lot in the 1970s.
What Is Artex?
Artex is actually a brand name. The product itself is an interior surface coating, which differs from plaster in that it is intended to be used with a textured effect. It dries slower than plaster, allowing more time to apply the texture.
Artex used to be made with asbestos to add strength, so if you have an old Artexed ceiling and are thinking of trying to remove it, get a professional to look at it first.
Artex can be bought as a ready-mixed paste, or as a powder. If you are just repairing a section, the ready-mixed paste is ideal, but if you are tackling a whole ceiling or ceilings you may prefer to buy a bag of power as it will go further and be more cost effective. A 25kg bag of Artex Ceiling Finish will cover 25-40m2 depending on the texture finish.
Before You Start
Artex can be applied to plasterboard, plastered or painted surfaces. If you are applying directly to plasterboard, joints need to be taped and filled, and nail heads need to be filled. Both plasterboard and new plaster require a coat of diluted Artex sealer or PVA bonding. Artex cannot be applied over wallpaper – the wallpaper will need to be stripped off and the paste removed.
Emulsion paint can usually be Artexed straight over, but if it has a satin finish it is a good idea to sand over it first. Dark colours should be painted over with white before Artexing.
Applying Artex is a very messy job, so empty the room as much as possible and put down dustsheets. Wear overalls and safety glasses to protect yourself.
What You Will Need
Dustsheets, coveralls and safety glasses have already been mentioned above – make sure you have all of these or you will regret it!
You will need a clean bucket to mix the Artex in, and a tool to mix it with. You can purchase a specialist Artex mixing tool, or if you have one you can use a plaster mixing tool which attaches to a drill. You will need a supply of cold water to mix the Artex powder with.
A thick brush or roller is required for applying the Artex, and depending on which texture you plan to apply, you may need a specialist brush, roller or comb.
Applying the Artex
It is a good idea to have a practice run before you start on the ceiling. Try applying some Artex to a piece of board, and try out your chosen texture to make sure you are confident before moving on to work on the ceiling. Mix the Artex according to the package instructions.
Use a brush or roller to apply a liberal coating of Artex to the ceiling. Do not try to cover the whole ceiling in one go, or it will dry before you have a chance to work on the texturing. Work on an area roughly 1m x 0.5m – you should be able to reach this without moving your ladder. Once you have applied the Artex, texture it to your chosen pattern using the guide below.
Cover the narrowest width of the room first, then work your way across. Carefully blend in each join between working areas so that when you are finished you have an even pattern covering the whole ceiling.
Textures and Patterns
Use a stipple brush for this texture. After applying the mixture, use the brush in a circular motion before pulling it away from the surface cleanly. Repeat this action, overlapping each swirl slightly and forming a random pattern.
Use a comb to work this texture after applying the mixture. Hold the comb at a 30 degree angle to the ceiling, and firmly bring it around in a circular motion. Overlap each circle to the bottom and the side to form a repeating pattern.
Stippling is probably the easiest texture to achieve. Apply the mixture to the surface, then take a stipple brush and bounce it over the surface. Move the brush cleanly away each time without twisting it. Change the angle of the brush as you go so that you don’t get square edges anywhere. Clean excess Artex off the brush at intervals when necessary.
Take a stipple brush and cover it with a polythene bag. Apply the mixture, then bounce the polythene-covered brush over the surface, twisting it left and right as you go.
This effect does not require any special tools. Apply the mixture to the surface, run your fingers through it to create a random pattern. Wear a rubber glove to protect your hands.
Use a bark textured roller for this effect – simply run the roller over the Artex, overlapping to produce a random texture.
Use a 4” filling knife to work on this texture. Apply the mixture to the surface, then take the knife and pull it across the surface. Keep working at it, changing your angle and overlapping to create a random effect.
When you are happy with the texture you’ve produced, don’t be tempted to overwork it. Allow 12 to 24 hours for the Artex to dry fully. Make sure the temperature is above 5oC and the area is well ventilated to allow the material to dry properly. Once you are sure it is completely dry, you can paint over it using standard emulsion paint.