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

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 49)
on Aug 15, 2006
Well one last update to my saga in Cincinnati...I was at a festival in a "nice" part of town and low and behold the Owen's Corning trailer was set up trying to sell this stuff. Well as I get closer I saw our salesman that was actually at our house named J.B., this got the anger stirred back up for being at my house for 6 hours on a week night and I had to say something. Well I walked up to JB and he surprisingly didn't know who I was but I quickly reminded him. I asked how he lived with himself using the sales tactics that he does. I also told him that I spoke to his boss, the BBB, Angie's List (, this website (which he seemed to be aware of), and that I've told my story to anyone that will listen.

If I can keep even one person from buying from them or even save them the trouble of having thier house invaded by a salesman then this has not been a waste of my time. Saturday was the closure that I needed, I needed to actually tell that #@$* how angry he made me, so with this post, I'm done with it. I have said it in my previous posts, I have no beef with the product, seems to be a great idea, just very pricey and the sales tatics are the worst I've ever experienced.

Good luck to anyone that invites a sales person to thier home.
on Aug 20, 2006
I came across your website/BLOG after a visit from an Atlanta, GA OC Rep today. I have to admit that the comments interesting and want to take a few minutes to add my comments.

1st, to OCMan. Your an idiot if you think educated people buy into your explanations. When a rep organization uses the same sales tactics across the US, it is clearly idicates that is being cooridinated and sanctioned by OC.

To the mis-guided sales reps out there, your pricing is off. When the construction cost(excluding land) in some areas is less per square foot than the amount being quoted to finish a basement, then you are on crack to think you can sell this to anyone with two brain cells. Wake up and apply for that Wallmart greeter job!!!

To OC, there is value in your system, but lets be real. My basement, which I am looking to finish approximately 1400 sq ft, is simple. I'm not looking for anything special, pretty plain layout. I got a quote of $53/ft before all of the crap discounts started, which got it down to $45/ft. Please understand that I didn't negiotiate, I just listened and let the guy go. Who knows, another half-a-dozen, three hour listening/sleeping sessions and your price may be reasonable. The value in your system is only for exterior walls that are cement. In my case, this is less than 35% usefullness for your basement system. If you run a de-humidifier, which is the first thing the rep tells you that you will have to do with the OC system, there is no danger with wallboard, expecially if you purchase the basement wallboard with poly instead of paper. Your ceiling is nothing, You won't do flooring. You won't do a bathroom. In general, you don't do alot.

Wake up OC. Your channel manager needs to be fired!!! Sell your panels for a reasonable prices, which would still leave an awsome profit margin, and don't force potential customers to deal with poor reps. I would guess that the reps are getting little to nothing for the sale of OC materials and your forcing them to make money on services, which they are grossly over inflating. All you are going to do is choke your market potential. Despite what that idiot I saw this afternoon thinks, there are other choices that are finically responsible and environmently responsible.

Also, price per square foot is a valid way to evaluate an investment. I agree that options and size within a job will move the price, but typically by not more than 25%. However, you expect people to understand that a 400% movement in price is some how releated to geography. Get real, we are not talking about having a home built, we are talking about a simple basement system. After all, it does install in two weeks or less as limited labor is required! So what is the story this time???

on Aug 21, 2006
Does anyone know anything about the Impressive Basement System or any other system other that OC?
on Aug 21, 2006
on Aug 23, 2006
Hey Guys! I'm closing on my first house in October and I am currently looking to refinish my basement for a family room and extended living space. This forum has been amazing in helping me to make a decision on what to use OC BFS or Drywall. My parents currently have their basement refinished in drywall and wood paneling and in 15 years they have have 3 floods. The amount of work that they had to undure to get rid of the ruined wood paneling and dry wall is enough to make me quiver with fear. I think that If I can negotiate the price down to $20-25 p s/f is reasonable and I would be willing to pay the extra cost for the peace of mind. If the basement floods, take the panels off set them outside and let them dry and no MOLD which is a big plus.
on Aug 24, 2006
I saw a store display in Great Northern Mall and signed up for a free estimate. I had already read the postings here, and wanted to contribute my experiance with OC Basement Finishing Systems. The Salesman was not pushy, and he gave my wife and I the usual speal about how wonderful their walls were. I had a coupon for $1000 off & a choice of a pool table, home theater seating, foosball, air hockey table or bar & stool combo. The salesman quoted me $10,453 for a combination of their wall & "Britewall"(for my laundryroom). The sheet says BFS panels 76, and 39L Britewall. When I showed the salesman the $1000 off coupon and the list of "freebies" he seemed surprised. The salesman couldn't honor the coupon because he said he already applied all available discounts. He kept explaining the "time/value" of living there compared to when I decided to sell my house. Mind you, I only wanted the walls - nothing else. I even tried to negotiate to cost of one of the freebies and simply apply it towards the final price. Again, he couldn't do it. My gut feeling was if this guy couldn't honor a coupon from his own company, I wasn't going to do buisness with him - and we didn't. For the record, the local Owen's Corning for me is in Macedonia, OH.
on Aug 27, 2006
my experience with the owenscorning salesperson was just as draginol described. I ve not commited to the product yet since she was reticent to tell me exactly what i would get for the price quoted..55 dollars per suare foot. Also somehow the stuff reminds me of a padded cell.(not that i've ever seen one] Still pondering however but will not pay that price should i choose to do it.
on Aug 30, 2006
I live in New Haven MI and got the Owens Corning system done. I would recommend doing the carpet yourself after installation of the walls. It is a cinch, as the bottom molding pops right out and right back in. We also did the drop ceiling ourselves, with the help of a friend who works at home depot. If you know people who could assist with carpeting, electrical, and flooring, just get a quote for the walls and you should be all set. The installers are outside contractors and you can work with them on assisting you with different parts of the project. The Detroit office is out of wixom, and i am sure they work all over the state. The Basement Experts is the name of the organization.

As always, be prepared for a ridiculous price to start, but just figure out how much sq ft you want, and multiply that by $20 or $30 and tell them that is what you will do it for.
on Sep 10, 2006
Has anyone in this area had the OC basement system installed?? What did you pay per square foot?? Also, is the TBS any good, cheaper, compaired to OC?

on Sep 13, 2006
I have done my basement with the OC system about a year and a half ago.
I found out about OC from a home show. I have made detailed drawings and diagrams of what I need done in my basement, did some research on internet and invited the sales rep.
Told him straight that I am familiar with the system, don’t need demo and BS scare tactics about mold. We walked thru the basement with him and my building plans discussing and refining them.
I gave him an estimate how much it will cost me to do it with sheetrock and told him I am willing to pay a bit more since it is a better system but my budget is limited and I am not paying twice the sheetrock price.
It took him about 20 min to estimate the price (discounts, etc) - at the end - 850 sq/ft finished area (out of 1200 sq. ft basement), 3 unfinished areas left - storage, walk-in closet (I did it myself later with cedar) and utility closet, 3 light zones /w total of 16 can lights, 5 extra lights in the unfinished areas, 1 staircase light, 1 double door to the storage area, 1 exterior door /w glass, 2 regular doors, 3 support column covers (very nice octagonal), 2 phone jacks, 2 cable jacks, all electrical outlets by code (an upgrade of the electric panel with extra breakers), 2 electric baseboard heaters on a separate circuit, 3 vents with covers to the unfinished areas, 1 wired smoke detector, nice oak rail for the staircase, boxed-in pipes for the heating and AC, built-in cabinet/access panel to the plumbing system, access panel for the phone system board, drop ceiling and the wall system - total $32 000. I was OK with the price and signed the papers. Then I specified the date when to start the project. It took them 12 workdays to complete the basement. The builders were very flexible and accommodated all minor requests and adjustments I made during the building process. They even left me 2 boxes of ceiling tiles and whole bunch of spare parts for the wall system and the ceiling. I told the guys that I will be installing dricore as flooring system and they adjusted their wall system, trim and the doors to accommodate the dricore tiles. Overall, the experience was excellent! Very good communication with the project manager and the builders. They built the whole thing following very closely my building plans - down to the location of the light switches and lights, heaters and phone/cable jacks etc. The basement turned out exactly the way I wanted it! Their project manager even handled the building permit and the inspections. Year and half later I could not be happier!
A word of warning - your experience will vary based on your local franchise! The guys i had to deal with (CKH Industries) were very professional and I would strongly recommend them!
on Sep 16, 2006
Hi Robert,
Yes, the TBS system is available in your area. Contact them @ 877-754-7666. As far as price compared w/ o/c, yes, in most cases it is less. For as long as the O/C basement has been on the market, it was the state of the art system, now TBS is the next step in basement evolution. It brings all the benefits to the table that the o/c system does; 1) Handles moisture well and no food source for mold growth.2) Always have access to your foundation walls should any repairs to pipes, etc... be necessary. What do you do when a pipe bursts and you have drywall? Right, you have to rip it out.
Here's what to expect from your sales rep should you decide to make an appointment. Your rep will want to sit down for 5 minutes to ask a few questions regarding how you intend to use the new space. Next, you will go down to the basement do some design and measuring. Once back upstairs, you will learn about the system itself and the product including who will be installing it for you. Yes, it takes a little time but your considering the purchase of a high ticket item, not a pair of shoes. If you like everything about the system, your rep will then price it out for you. And yes, you will be given a lower price should you decide to move forward while he's there. For some reason it's OK for Macy's to have a one day sale but not OK for the home improvement company. The reason this is done in the industry is because many of these companies are very busy and there reps are visiting 2-3 families a day. If the rep has to return to your house it means he has to try and reschedule another appointment that has already been set. Most people will reset however, there are those few people that will not reset the appointment which means lost opportunities. Lost opportunities translates into lost $$$. Therefore a greater discount is available for those we are sitting with. No pressure, just a price that's good for 30 days and a price that's good while the rep is there. If the answer is no, that's OK. Good Luck in your search.
on Sep 17, 2006
on Sep 18, 2006
I must admit, as a new customer of the TBS system, I am torn about the sales tactics used. 1 call close, whatever. I knew prior to the salesman coming approximately how much it would cost based on the research I've done including the info provided here. I made the decision before he even arrived that if I liked the product, was comfortable w/ the company and was in my budget, why wouldn't I buy? While I know that if push came to shove, the company would still honor my "Today Only" price if I happened to decide a week later, how many times do I want these guys coming over? I have found w/ other recent projects I've done in my house, these sales reps are skilled enough to get through the BS objections we throw at them, ie "I'm getting other estimates and your the first one here", I'm not really thinking of doing this for at least several months", etc... Sometimes I think we as consumers get so wrapped up in the decision making process that we make it more difficult for ourselves. In the end, the toughest decision is the decision itself. The decision itself comes with evaluating the the consequences, ie risk or fear of loss. So. we end up making the safest decision, not to decide at all or pay as little as possible.
on Sep 18, 2006
Being paranoid about mold growth, I looked into the OC product when I finished my basement. I was turned off about not being able to do it myself, but was still intrigued by it as I really didn't like the thought about dealing with drywall dust. Then I saw the pictures of it. Talk about fugly-- the stuff looks like the inside of an Alabama trailer house.

And then I read all of the BS on this site about how it's the Cadillac of basements and how the only people who don't put it in can't afford it, blah, blah, blah. And especially the BS about how it's used in high-end home theaters. Pure garbage (BTW, I came to this site from a link on a high-end home theater site). No high-end home theater is going to have white (or any light-color) walls-- it destroys the contrast on the screen. And, no high-end home theater is going to use metal studs-- they rattle. And, no high-end home theater is going to use a tile ceiling. If you want to see what a high-end home theater really looks like, go to and check out the dedicated theater construction forum.

You can do better than this system for much less money by gluing extruded polystyrene panels to the outer basement walls and then using OC's own rigid fiberglass insulation inside of regular stud walls, covering the inside of the walls with GOM fabric (g00gle it), which is fire retardant, acoustically transparent and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. This'll look better, too.

I find it interesting that it appears that OC's warranty on this system requires the use of a dehumidifier. In ANY dry basement, that'll prevent over 90% of mold issues, regardless of how much wood and drywall you have. Build so that your concrete can breathe, and you'll prevent another 9.44%.

The Building Science Corp website has a lot of good information on finishing basements, and contrary to misinformation here, does not say that you can never put wood and drywall in a basement. And if you are as paranoid about mold as I am, there is mold-resistant drywall, which uses a fiberglass backing instead of paper and has a treated core. However, it is about $2/sheet more expensive, twice as heavy and is dustier when cut with a spiral saw (I know-- it's what I used). Drywalling a basement also only takes a couple of days-- maybe a week at the most.

As for the OC reps claims that you'll increase the value of your house by $100k and other ridiculous figures, think of it this way-- the purchaser of your house can pay the same thing you just paid to do the same thing, and he and his agent know this-- is he going to pay double your cost? Nope-- it's not going to happen-- you won't even get your cost back. In fact, if I were to see this in a house, I'd want to pull it out-- value to me-- $0. So if you do the OC system, don't do it with an eye toward resale.

Bottom line-- go ahead and use this system if you want something quick and don't mind your basement looking like a cheaply-done basement. You're really getting a Chevy at a Cadillac price (anyone remember the Cimarron?).
on Sep 19, 2006
As a former insider very well trained in turning shoppers into buyers, I want to share with you some of the secrets of the industry, not just the Owens Corning or TBS basement but the entire home improvement industry. First, we have to recognize that there are two different types of companies that we may end up dealing with; 1) The contractor-typically works for himself, may or may not carry the appropriate insurance, not much sales experience. May or may not do good work. 2) The Sales Organization-approaches business from a sales driven perspective. Has well trained sales professionals. Typically carries the appropriate insurance. May or may not do a good job. Most of the following info deals primarily w/ the sales organizations since if you are looking at either the O/C basement or the TBS basement, that's what you will be dealing with.

1) Setting up the appointment for an estimate-No sales organization will ever set up the appointment in the first place if there is any doubt that both the husband & wife will not be present. If the appointment is set based on the knowledge that both will be there and the opposite is true when the sales rep gets to your house, 99% of the time, you will not get a price.

2) The Survey-Assuming you passed the first test, you will be asked to sit down at the kitchen table for a minute prior to heading down to the basement. The purpose of this is to find out what your hot buttons are or how thay can sell you. I.E. How do you intend to use the new finished space, how long have you been thinking about doing it, etc...

3)Measure & Design-Next you will go down to the basement to discuss what you had in mind in terms of design and your rep will measure your basement. (No real selling has occurred to this point)

4)Company & Product presentation-Here's where the selling starts. Not that you don't need to know about these things, they are vital to your decision making process. What your sales rep wants to accomplish here is getting you comfortable with the company and the product. A good sales rep will ask you, "Based on what I've told you, would you be comfortable doing business w/ a company like mine? (tie down) Same sequence w/ the product. These are refferred to as "Tie-Downs" or "Committments"

5)Price-A good sales rep should never give the price until he gets some kind of
committment. i.e, he may ask something like, "Other than price and affordability, could you see any reason why you wouldn't want the "XYZ" basement?" or "Assuming it's affordable and fits your budget, is this the basement you want for your home?" The idea behind this process is to get the objections out on the table now. He cannot proceed to giving the price until the only objection left is price. The sales rep knows that although your intent may be to get a few more estimates, he's basically eliminated that desire(supposedly) when he asked the above questions. Once the rep is comfortable that the obstacle now is price, he will then then put the price on the table. Typically, he will give you 2 or 3 maybe more prices. He'll start w/ the first price, usually good for a year. He's looking for some type of reaction from you. He actually wants to hear that this price is much higher than what you intended to spend. Assuming that has happened, he may now ask something like this, "If I was able to save you a significant amount of money, could I earn your business this evening?" His next price will be about a 5-15% drop. A good closer will never start discounting until he gets an affirmative answer to the question of being able to move foward today.

If the objections didn't come out before, they will certainly come out here so, let's talk about how the sales rep will handle these objections. First, understand that the rep has been taught that the only real objection 99% of the time is price. He is conditioned to think that all other objections are the BS objections. There are basically 4 different objections; Price, Postponement, Preference and Poverty. You can pretty much lump all objections into one of those four categories. Now comes your objection; " We never make a decision on the first night" for example. The sales rep will now go through a process. Agree, Identify, Isolate, Re-close. Remember, the real objection is price but now he has to get there. Agree-"I can certainly appreciate that Mr & Mrs Customer, because if your'e not really sure then you shouldn't move forward. Identify-"Other than that, is there anything else keeping you from moving forward?" Isolate-"So, what your saying is, that the only thing keeping you from moving foward today is...Re-Close-"Typically my customers think about 3 things. 1) Do they feel good about the company they will be dealing with. 2) Does the product meet there needs and do they like it and finally, 3) Is the price affordable? You mentioned earlier that you wre comfortable with both the comapany and the product. So, Mr. customer, Is it the price? (Got Ya!)

And there you have it. These are the basics of selling big ticket home improvements. Each company does things a little differently but most will follow some form of this model. Stay tuned, in the coming weeks I will share other secrets of the business.