Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
My review and experience with it
Published on May 1, 2005 By Draginol In Home Improvement

If you decide you want to finish your basement there are lots of options to consider.  Do you do it yourself? Do you contract it out? Maybe do a little in between? For me and my wife, we just aren't handy enough to try to finish a basement on our own.  So we decided we'd contract the whole thing out.

Once you decide you're going to contract it out, then it's a matter of deciding what direction to take with it. Do you go with drywall? The problem with drywall is that it takes months to put in (how long do you want contractors going in and out of your house?).  It makes a lot of mess (expects months if not years of drywall dust to be floating around your house), it's susceptible to damage from a wide range of sources (water, normal wear and tear due to it being in a basement).  So we wanted our basement finished but drywall had a lot of negatives to it.

That's when we heard about the Owens Corning Basement System.  After intense negotiations, we had it done.  And below you can read about our experiences during the sales process, installation, and after effects.  I hope you find it useful.

The Owens Corning Basement System has been in place now for our basement for about a month now so I've had time to get used to it.

The project went pretty smoothly except for a few hiccups that I'll talk about here. So what's the verdict? Here are the things I really liked about it:

  1. It's fast. In 2 weeks it's all done.
  2. It's clean. No dry wall dust all over.
  3. It's durable. It's virtually impossible to damage. Basements, unlike the rest of the house, are more prone to dings since that's where most people store things too.
  4. It's virtually sound proof. This was an unexpected benefit. But the kids can go and play down there without having to hear music, TV, yelling throughout the house.
  5. It looks pretty nice still (but not as nice as dry wall in my opinion).
  6. It is nice to know that in 20 years it'll look the same as today. Dry wall in basements tend to not look so good. At best you'll have to repaint larger areas. With this, you don't have to.

The big thing for us though was the speed of it. My first basement was done with dry wall and I have no regrets about that. It was nicely done. But it took months to do and over a year for the house to stop having more dust in it than before. The dry wall dust simply gets everywhere.

If you're as unhandy as me, then you likely want contractors to do pretty much all the building. It can be uncomfortable having strangers in your house for months. In contrast, the Owens Corning Basement System was installed in our roughly 1100 to 1200 square foot area in about 2 weeks (closer to 10 days).

In short, I was willing to pay a premium to not have to deal with a summer of construction. The fact that it looks nice and can't be damaged easily was a real bonus. My 3 year old already put that to the test by taking a permanent marker to one of the walls. In a few minutes we were able to wipe it off with some bleach and you can't even tell where it was. Contrast that to having to repaint that area with a dry wall basement. Not to mention all the nicks and gouges that would be there due to moving stuff down there.

That said, here are things that I ran into that I didn't like that you should be aware of:

I really didn't like the sales strategy of their sales people. High pressure combined with little specifics created a lot of headaches during the project.

First off, people who can afford to pay a premium for their basement being done aren't fools. Even so, they used the same tactic on us as they would on some gullible yokel. No offense, but the reason we can afford this stuff is because we have some financial savvy. So don't march into our houses with magazines showing that the "Average" basement costs over $50 per square foot to finish. Because that's nonsense and does more to harm your sale than anything else. Sure, if you're going to have bathrooms and kitchens and tiled areas and wet bars and such it will cost more, but the Owens Corning System doesn't take care of any of that. They just do the "walls", drop down ceiling, electrical, and a few other things. They're not going to build you a bar or tile your floor for you (unless you make a special deal with them). Just for reference, a typical basement done with dry wall with nothing too fancy done shouldn't cost much more than $20 per square foot. Our last dry wall basement cost around $17 per square foot.

The price you should try to get with the Owens Corning Basement System is somewhere between $25 and $35 per square foot. They may balk at $25 but $35 they should certainly take. I paid about $28 per square foot. $30 per square foot would be good. Anything much higher and you're paying too much. Which is why they do the high pressure tactic to get you to sign right there.  To the sales guy's horror, I made him sit there while I had my laptop doing net searches on how much other people have paid. By the way, be aware that most states do have a law that allow you to back out of contracts within 72 hours. So if they did manage to get you to commit for $55 per square foot or something you aren't up the creek.

The second thing I didn't care for was the amount of vagueness to the agreement. Because of the high pressure sales tactics, the sales guy didn't write down a lot of our specific needs on his "agreement" (which was literally just a 1 page form he hand wrote notes on which I was pretty unhappy about). For instance, we said we wanted padded carpet so he suggested Home Depot. Which we did. But they didn't cut the doors so that they would fit on padded carpet so when we put in the carpeting, we had to take off the doors. It took us 3 weeks to get them to make good on this. They argued it wasn't their responsibility to fix the doors. Nonsense. We told them up front that we were going to get padded carpet. For us to fix would have meant bringing in another contractor. They agreed to fix it only after I made it clear that I would ensure that my experiences with the Owens Corning Basement System would show up high on google. It took the guy 30 minutes to fix it once he dropped by. So they made good but it did mar an otherwise fairly seamless experience.

So make sure that you are clear (and document) exactly what they do and what they expect you to do. The Owens Corning contractors don't tend to do as much as regular full service basement contractors. They weren't planning on putting in our phone and cable lines for example but luckily that was written into that agreement.

Thirdly, the only negative I've run into since putting it in is that it is, contrary to what they said, not that easy to hang things up on the walls. Since they're not drywall, you can't just put in a nail and put stuff up. You have to use special clipper thingies. These work nice on light things. But they didn't give us any samples or directions or order forms to get things for putting up heavier items (like a big white board for example). This has been a source of some ire since it's turning out not easy to find these "mending plates" in low quantities. Office Max and Staples don't seem to have them. None of the hardware stores we've looked at have them. I've looked on the net and I can buy them in quantity (like 1000 at a time) but I only need like 5. My suggestion is to insist that they provide you with 100 of the t-pins (small stuff) and 100 mending plates (big stuff) as part of the agreement.

Fourthly, this gets back to the "customers are suckers" sales pitch. The sales guy and his materials really went hard on the mold scare tactic. Mold is definitely something not to blow off. But it should not be your motivating factor to spend a third again as much on a basement. Would you pay $15000 more on your house for a "lightning strike resistant" design? The kinds of houses most people who would put this stuff in are usually newer and on the premium side. The basements, in short, don't get wet very easily. That isn't to say they shouldn't mention mold, but it should be more of a "bonus" feature rather than as the principle selling point.

Now that it's all done, I'm pretty happy with it. I like knowing that I won't have to mess around with painting or touching up the basement in a few years. I do wish it was easier to modify with other things. For instance, I can't just build out a bar from it. But that is no biggie really. The basement does what it was supposed to do. And even better, since I want to have a theatre down there eventually, it's got incredible acoustics. If you have the money and are more interested in having your basement be finished quickly and cleanly rather than having some incredible basement palace created, this is something you should seriously consider.

Completion date: September 2003.

Update: September 2005: I have created a second article for people who want to share their experiences (good and bad) with the Owens Corning Basement System. GO HERE to discuss.

update: 10/2003 - still pretty happy with the basement. thanks for all your emails. if you have any questions, ask them in the comments area or you can email me at bwardell@stardock.com.

update: 5/1/2005 - still happy with how it's turned out. I get a  lot of email on this stuff from people, I don't usually get to answer it. But I will say that we are happy with it still. It absorbs sound. But I maintain that the main reason to get it is that you want to save time. If you don't mind having people working on your basement for 6 to 10 weeks and the drywall dust and other dirt that is inevitable with dry-wall then get the dry-wall.  But for me, having it all over in a week or so was the key and no mess afterwards.


Comments (Page 48)
on Jun 03, 2006
less than $10 a sqft wow. Considering the average drywall job your size takes about a month with a two man team. What I'm trying to say is you are being lowballed. depending where you live the labor end alone will take up most of that $8000 not to mention material, overhead and a little thing called profit
on Jun 10, 2006
Hi Jeff. How did the job turn out? If I may ask, where in NJ do you live? We are in Northern NJ and received a crazy quote for a section of our basement (375sf)
on Jun 16, 2006


I have just completed a training class in the cleveland area .. one of the trainers Dave P said that most of the comments on this sight are from him and the owner ,, please be aware that most of this is made up stuff .. i am a christian and i told them how unethical this was.. a Week later i was told that they are no longer doing the system and was told to sell 'spray on siding '' After all this insight i would call owens corning they have been doin this for 10 years and have a much better warrenty

on Jun 16, 2006
Amen to drywall problems. My husband and I had Owens Corning out and my husband told the salesman he was full of it. We had a contractor out and asked him about mold and he said not to worry! 4 months later our sump pump went out and we had a little water. 3 months later we had a smell of musty. 1year after we had our basement done, we are now having it taken out. total cost 45000.00 that includes the mold abatement! Insurance does not pay for it, we had to take and borrow and dip into our childerns college fund. I am sorry we didn't listen. Problem is when we are done we will have paid more than it would of cost if we would have done Owens corning. Now we cannot afford anything.
on Jun 29, 2006
Like everyone else here, I came across this site while searching for some honest info on the OC system so heavily advertised on TV. While I haven't gone through the sales pitch for the OC product, I *do* have 2 kids with Asthma, one of whom is allergic to indoor molds, I've owned a house with a finished and unfinished basement, and I've had the misfortune to suffer a house flood which required months of repair (literally our entire 1st floor) and mold remediation. So I think I'm in a good position to make a quick comment about this OC system;

There is *no* mold proof system for finishing a house. Almost anything in the house can (and will in the right circumstances) and will get mold. Inside wood trim, furniture, carpets. I'll be happy to admit that the more pourous and moisture-retaining the material, the easier it will be for mold to take root in it. Bottom line, if mold is a concern, you have to carefully manage the overall moisture levels in your house and keep areas like bathrooms disinfected to help avoid it taking root. I'd venture to say that if there is any way moisture can wick into an OC panel, then not only could it be a place where mold could grow, but it might be very hard to get rid of. So I'd beware of the logic of paying incredible amounts because you think the panels will eliminate potential mold issues. And keep in mind that an OC basement does nothing to prevent mold issues in the rest of the house.

Re: water issues; if you have a basement that is prone to moisture problems, putting up *anything* that seals off the moisture is just asking for major trouble. The moisture will never go away and WILL end up causing problems, it's just a matter of time. People have mentioned the OC panels getting wet from a flood and them drying them out, but I wonder if a mostly sealed insulation panel would ever get properly dry if moisture wicked into it from a flood.

The second thing I want to mention for families with astmatics is that drywall is considered a very safe material to use in construction, and it does not give off chemical emissions that I know of, though some paints do - while in general insulation is something you always want to keep away from; there is a reason that installers wear respirators while working with it. The OC system is too new for anyone to know if the panels give off any particulate matter, when new or after they age a while, so again it's hard for me to believe claims they make - especially if backed up by hard sell sales practices that prey on customer fear.

OK, enough commentary about the OC materials. Last thing I want to say is that to remember we are talking about a system that is mainly comprised of insulation panels, and I can only assume that most posters who characterizes this system as "the cadillac" or "the high end" or "the best thing since sliced bread" of basement options is connected directly or indirectly with OC, and I sincerely hope that at some point they get caught posting falsely as if they were customers.
on Jun 30, 2006
I have read all the posts in here with great interest. Many differing opinions in here. We had the OC system installed in May 2006 after researching all alternatives. For us, this was the only way to go. Too much dirt, dust and time the conventional way. The OC system cost us $28 per sq foot and was completed in 7 days. With respect to "odors", we did experience the same odor many have talked about but ours is now gone. Hate to keep harping on this mold thing that appears so prevelant in this forum, but the final selling point for me was when my nephew came down with a "strange" lung problem. He basically spends all his time in the basement of my sister's house she purchased a couple of years ago with a finished basement. The problem was traced to mold and when they ripped out one drywall panel, we could not believe our eyes. Mold everywhere and the basement had to be gutted. I'm not to sell anybody on this system, everyone has to make their own call but I am glad we went this route.
on Jul 06, 2006
We have just purchased the OC system for our basement in MA. I have read a lot about the $/sq. ft on the site. Since we have a basement with a 90 degree central stairwell we chose to have interior walls developed for the width of the basement (with a few angles near the stairwell). If I were to push all the walls out to the foundation it would give me approx. 33% more sq. ft. (for the same wall footage) - but I would have no storage for outdoor furniture, supplies, etc. I do find the nature of the basement a big factor in the equation.

My wife and I went through the sales pitch ... I didn't find it a big deal although we didn't like the "sign-today" tactic ... but have been through that kind of thing before and never bit. We negotiated down the price about 30% - plus they are installing a 6 ft. picture window, along with the usual electrical, ceiling, walls, etc. The reason I bought the system was because it had a similar ( slightly higher ) cost than a drywall basement we have been pursuing for over 2 years. I'll let you know how it goes if you're interested.



on Jul 11, 2006
I wish I had found this site this time yesterday and cancelled our meeting with the salesman we had lastnight and into this morning. First of all our appointment was for 7:30 and he showed up at 7:00 PM while we were still eating dinner but other than that he seemed very nice and laid back but then he broke out the flip chart of the evil mold and the constant reminder that OC is a $500 Billion company.

After about 90 minutes of him going over each slide and saying the same thing over and over we finally got to see some of the product samples. He answered our questions to our satisfaction and about 75 more minutes later we went down to the basement to discuss our options. Our basement is an "L" shape and isn't huge so our ideas of how to finish it were way off from his. To his credit he gave us some good ideas for how to lay it out and maximize our space while maintaining about 40% of it for storage.

After that we came up stairs while he stayed down there for easily 30 minutes. We then sat back down at the table and discussed some other issues and ideas he had come up with. Well it was 11 PM before he started writing up our estimate even though we told him we would not sign anything right then. It was about 11:45 when he called us back to the table to go over his layout that he had drawn up. Everything looked good there but then there was the price of $30600 for 510 square feet that came out to about $60 a square foot. He told us that it would cost us about 10K more if we wanted a finished half bath installed too. Our jaws dropped and told him that we were at least a year out from finishing our basement at a price like that...thinking he'd leave. We called him out on the bathroom, saying that is impossible when people have had thier entire basements finished for that amount and that our half bath is already roughed in by the builder. He held firm at the estimate for the bathroom and we looked at each other and just shook our heads.

Instead of leaving he did the opposite, he called his boss which surprised me anyone is answering a phone 12:10 AM but someone did (probably his coworker sitting at his house drinking beer). What came of that was the pitch of saving us $4600 if we signed right then but again we declined. He kept asking can we afford $200 a month for 20 years, we said we can afford it but we have other items that need to be paid off first then we will worry about paying for a basement. We live in a nice house in a nice neighboorhood so I'm sure that he figured we do well and would just jump at the opportunity to pay through the nose without even getting to discuss it without him around. They then offered to front us for 12 months and that prompted him to call into the "office" again at 12:30 AM.

He started to say something else and I finally had to tell him that we were not going to listen to anything else and he had to leave. Well it was 12:50 before I finally locked our front door behind him...FIVE HOURS AND FIFTY MINUTES LATER!!

I guess part of the issue is we allowed him to be there that long but we're polite people that like the system but not the hard sell that came with it. We over heard him saying to the manager several times that "yes he understood the great deal that he was offering us and obviously we didn't and it was a shame that such a nice couple would end up paying $5000 more becuase we wouldn't sign right then".

My wife said to me at 1:15 as we finally climbed into bed that it was worse than a car salesman becuase you can at least walk out of the dealership on your own free will, this guy wouldn't leave. As he was writing up the estimate I leaned over to my wife and asked if we could charge the guy rent for being at our house for so long.

Two things stick out to me this morning:
1. I'm dead tired after getting up and coming to work after a wasted evening last night
2. I love the system but not for the price. The ONLY good thing that came out of the meeting last night was that we now have a better picture of how to finish the basement when we end up doing it with the traditional building materials.

The product is cool, but not practical.
on Jul 12, 2006
What an interesting site!

When I bought my windows I found a site like this with a discussion board about windows and the various companies that sell them. I found it to be very helpful.

Just like this site it had the satisfied people that had made quality purchases that related thier experiences. On the flip side it had a lot of disgruntled people and like this site, most of the disgruntled people hadn't purchased any windows.

It just lends credence to the old saying that bad news travels 10 times faster than good. For every disatisfied person that complains... There are probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 totally satisfied people that never say a peep. After all good news does travel very slow.

During my life as an internet programmer and owner of a website named after a world famous city, I've discovered a few things about blogs and other various sites that have an anonymous posting system, and that is this. Rarely are you reading the truth.

Seriously it would be my estimate that a good 90% of whats posted here is either posted by an OC Rep, or one of thier competitors in the BFS world. On my community discussion board I can look and see the individual IP adresses of those posting, and it's hilarious how they'll change thier user name and then come back with another story in support of thier position. As though validation from another supporting party settles the matter. HA! Typically I'll send these characters one warning to not do it again, if they pull it a second time, then I ban their IP address from accessing the site again.

But still, I'll use the info on this site to help me in deciding how to do my basement, but I'll disregard all of the posts from those that didn't like the system and are now bad mouthing it, because I smell sour grapes. Yeah I've had to do a lot of sales in life to get to the level of success that I've acheived, so I don't mind them coming in and giving me the pitch, been there done that. And because I've had to sell to make my business's grow; I'll buy the night the guy comes out, I'm not uneducated and do know a good deal when I see it.

Do I need to pray on it? Nah I reckon not, I'm a christian and my father is a minister, so I learned early in life not to pray in vain. Instead, I'll save my prayers for world peace and things like that. If the price is right, I'll own it. If not I'll research other venues, and choose amongst them.

One thing I sure won't be doing is coming here badmouthing anyone... I'd love to be the site administrator here so I could see how many of the posters are posting under multiple names. One good indicator as to who a rep is, and who a competitor is how many times they've posted. If an entity has posted over 3 times you can just about bet that they're either selling it or competeing against it. Beware the ulterior motives, there really are very few people motivated by altruism these day.

Good luck to all of you

BIG BEE ~~~

on Jul 13, 2006
Oh I wish my post was a lie, it's been a long week trying to still get caught up on sleep since Monday. I have no issues with the product, it seems great. It's a little pricey but if I had more money than I knew what to do with, I might have gotten it done if it had been sold in a professional manner. If anyone would like to contact me directly about my experience please email me at mlangworthy@gmail.com

I've also filed a complaint with the BBB in Cincinnati, so you can check with them:

"Your complaint has been received and routed to the following BBB:
Cincinnati Better Business Bureau (Cincinnati, OH)
7 West 7th Street, Ste. 1600
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: (513)421-3015
Fax: (513)621-0907
Email: info@cinbbb.org
Web: www.cinbbb.org"

I also called the main office on Tuesday July 11th to complain, my name is Matt and our appointment was on 7/10/06 at 7:30 PM (he showed up at 7 PM). So a call to them would confirm my appointment and they should confirm that I called to complain about the salesman being at my house until nearly 1 AM:

CERTIFIED HOME IMPROVEMENTS (The name of the reseller I had my bad expierence with)
11240 Cornell Park Drive
Suite 102
Cincinnati, OH 45242
513-489-7465


on Jul 22, 2006
Hello to everyone, In 2005 Owens Corning Basement Systems sold over 10,000 systems, they say that will double by 2008. All the competitors on here seem to be jealous and angry? Bottom line is you can't compete, your drywall and "mickey mouse" basements systems have no chance.
on Jul 22, 2006
I just had a TotalBasementSolutions shady salesman to my home, took 3 hours for presentation. And the price per sq. foot was $53.00. Seriously, and his fly by night warranty, poor guy.
on Jul 23, 2006
It is easy to hang things on the walls, you just have to let them know what you want to hang so that they can install metal studs to hang them on. They do not use HIGH PRESSURE sales tactics, they simply give you an option to save a lot of money. No one is going to force you to spend your money, but if you decide to do it with them while they are out there, they will let you keep a lot of it. This is a GREAT system and completely blows away traditional building materials. You may pay twice as much for it, but it has a lifetime warranty and can get wet so floods will not destroy the system. Don't let this guy try to talk you out of getting the savings by making a decision on the first night just because he can't handle a normal business situation.
on Aug 01, 2006
Good for you.
on Aug 09, 2006
If anyone is in the market for the OC Basement System, be carefull of how they price it out to you. The experience I had was as follows: the salesperson told me that he would be adding 1500 square feet of living space in my basement. I was all excited as the price was reasonalbe at a per sqaure footage. As construction started I found out that my living space was only around 1000 square feet. That's over 30 percent less. As I calculated the square footage price it also ended up over 30 percent more. I felt I was being scammed. I called the salesperson and he reiterated that the square footage of living space was 1500. Clearly there was a discrepancy but the salesperson told me that they don't sell it per sq. footage. BUT...when I decided to sign the contract I asked him how much space and the price. The average joe prices out a job Per Sq. Footage. The product is also not exactly what it cracks up to be, as I settled out of court and had it installed anyways. Just be aware of what you are buying. Drywall is not that bad of an option. The Mold issues that they push are issues that you should investigate on your own in regards to your own basement. If you basement never has any major leaks, you may never have mold. BUYER BEWARE.
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