Art of Skimming Over Artex Ceilings

Artex ceilings were a popular design choice in the past, known for their textured appearance and ability to add depth to a room. However, tastes change, and many homeowners now prefer a smoother, more modern finish. Skimming over an Artex ceiling is a cost-effective way to update the look of a room without the hassle of completely removing the textured surface. In this guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of skimming over an Artex ceiling, providing tips, techniques, and precautions to ensure a successful outcome.

Understanding Artex Ceilings:

Before diving into the skimming process, it’s essential to understand the characteristics of Artex ceilings. Artex is a textured coating applied to ceilings and walls using a variety of techniques, including stippling, swirled patterns, or raised patterns. Removing Artex can be labor-intensive and potentially hazardous due to the presence of asbestos in older formulations. Skimming offers a safer and more convenient alternative for updating the look of an Artex ceiling.


Preparation is key to achieving a smooth and professional finish when skimming over an Artex ceiling. Begin by clearing the room of furniture and covering floors and remaining furnishings with protective sheets. Next, inspect the ceiling for any cracks, holes, or loose Artex, and repair them using a suitable filler or joint compound. It’s also essential to clean the surface thoroughly to remove dust, dirt, and grease, as these can affect adhesion.


Priming the ceiling before skimming is crucial for ensuring proper adhesion and a smooth finish. Choose a high-quality primer suitable for both Artex and the chosen skim coat material. Apply the primer evenly using a roller or brush, following the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying times and coverage.

Choosing the Skim Coat Material:

Several options are available for skim coat materials, including plaster, joint compound, or specialized skim coat products. The choice depends on factors such as the desired finish, drying time, and personal preference. Traditional plaster offers excellent durability and a smooth finish but requires more skill to apply. Joint compound, also known as drywall mud, is easier to work with and dries relatively quickly, making it ideal for DIY projects. Specialized skim coat products offer convenience and consistency but may be more expensive.

Applying the Skim Coat:

Once the primer has dried, it’s time to apply the skim coat. Begin by mixing the skim coat material according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring a smooth and lump-free consistency. Using a trowel or wide-bladed knife, apply the skim coat evenly over the entire ceiling, working in small sections to maintain control. Use long, smooth strokes to spread the material evenly, feathering the edges to blend with the surrounding surface.

Smoothing and Finishing:

After applying the skim coat, allow it to dry partially before smoothing and finishing the surface. Use a damp sponge or float to gently smooth out any imperfections, working in circular motions to blend the edges and achieve a uniform texture. For a perfectly smooth finish, sand the surface lightly once the skim coat has dried completely, taking care not to over-sand and damage the underlying surface.

Final Steps:

Once the skim coat has dried and been smoothed to satisfaction, it’s time to apply any desired finishes, such as paint or wallpaper. Choose high-quality products suitable for use on freshly skimmed surfaces, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application and drying times. Finally, carefully remove any protective coverings and clean up the workspace, taking care to dispose of any waste materials properly.


Skimming over an Artex ceiling is a practical and cost-effective way to update the look of a room without the need for extensive renovations. By following the steps outlined in this guide and paying attention to detail, homeowners can achieve a smooth and professional finish that enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of their living space. With proper preparation, the right materials, and a bit of patience, anyone can master the art of skimming over Artex ceilings.


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