DIY Projects: How to smooth a textured/Artex ceiling

Artex be gone! Actually not gone at all, more like 'safely covered over but left fully intact due to the risk of asbestos exposure' (but that's not nearly as catchy a strapline is it!?)


When I took the bull by the horns and tackled my dodgy ceiling a few weeks back, I did not anticipate the degree of interest this DIY project would receive. The Tiktok I shared documenting the process went viral and I had hundreds of people get in touch because they too had a ceiling of doom that they wanted rid of but couldn't afford to pay for a professional to come in and do the job. Before I go any further, waffling on about how I got my ceiling as smooth as a proverbial baby's bottom (I've always thought that was a weird analogy?!) I need to write the following note/caveat which will hopefully placate the minority of raging (I'm not exaggerating, they are literally raging in some of the comments!) tradespeople who pop up every now and then to troll my social media posts as they are strongly against DIY...


I respect and admire professional plasterers, in fact, (and this next bit probably sounds a bit weird tbh) I'd go so far as to say that fresh, new plaster is one of my favourite things; a perfectly plastered wall or ceiling is a thing of beauty. Plastering is a highly skilled job and takes time and dedication to master and I'm in no way undermining that. In an ideal world, people would have endless home renovation and maintenance budgets and could hire professionals to come in and undertake every home-related job, but that's just not real life, especially at the moment when the cost of living in the UK has been defined as an actual crisis.


The harsh reality is that many people around the UK have resigned themselves to the fact that they'll just have to live with certain undesirable features of their home interiors because they don't have the funds to change them. And that's where I come in, to suggest which jobs lend themselves to a DIY effort & on the other hand, to point of which jobs definitely don't (anything plumbing or electrical for a start). I would say that skimming your own Artex ceiling probably belongs somewhere in the middle (that doesn't sound very helpful does it, bear with me!) and the deciding factor, in this case, comes down to the individual would-be DIYer, rather than the task itself.


For example, if you are an avid DIYer, with plenty of experience patching, smoothing, and skimming walls, then this is a no-brainer, grab your tools and crack on! But if your DIY experience is limited to a bit of light painting and you've never been up a ladder let alone grappled with a plastering trowel and pan at the same time, then this is a job best to avoid, or at least one to work up to by gaining loads of practice (with the products, tools, and technique) on every square inch of bumpy wall in your home.


In addition to DIY experience, with this task, I would say mindset is key because the perfect finish relies on a combination of attention to detail and tenacity as well as a bit of good old fashion grit and determination... oh and not having an issue with being stuck up a ladder for literally hours and hours with your neck craned in all manner of unnatural angles! And if that little pep talk hasn't put you off, then steel yourself as here comes the Health & Safety briefing...


⚠️SAFETY NOTE: if skimming over untested Artex make sure not to disturb it (eg drill, sand, or scrape) in case it contains asbestos. Asbestos is not harmful if left intact, but if the fine dust form is breathed in it can cause life-threatening illness. ⚠️ 


At this point, if you're still with me, then you're my kind of DIYer... let's get into the step-by-step.

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