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 50)
on Oct 05, 2006
It is funny how this guy makes a fair business offer sound so dirty. You see folks that if you want something like an O.C basement you are going to have to pay for it just like anything else. What am I doing work for free?? Do I travel just so you can say we will see??? I think that when you realise that you ARE going to do a basement and want to do the O.C. product, it is only way to get people to realize that there are fly by night guys that throw a ladder on the truck and call themselves a contractor. Do you want him to finish off the area? Do you want to spend so little that you will be fixing it later? DO you really think that THAT guy will be back when you have paid him. WOuldn't you rather have someone that is putting in the best product for the basement and a certified installer to do so, AND have the product warrenty for LIFE!!! You must be a moron or live in a trash heap to not make a smart investment on your HOME. I would bet he spends more money on his car than his home. NOW ISN"T A CAR A SMART INVESTMENT?? NOT!!! Buy the Rep saying he will give you a savings that night is simply for the reason that repeat trips are not necessary and the other leads he or she would normally be running wouldn't get missed. Do you have any idea how much money it costs for one person to be an appointment??? Business is Business and you don't run a business by giving your product away. You offer a fair price and let the customer decide what they can or cannot do it. FOLKS there is never pressure only the option to get a savings cause YOU save all of us money by making a good decision to purchase the once and done basement. When you get your taxes and it says pay on or before X date you get a savings, now is that pressure or unfair tactics to get your money? Hey it is just for the fact that less work is created by having someone really make a decision that day. If you don't then you cost the company more money and possible lead or leads by anyone having to come back out and do what could have been done.
on Oct 06, 2006
Ok. Question. Instead of closing the deal that day you may want to get actual references so that YOU can call, talk and go see (the work) some of the people who has had this done. Right? Check on licenses and insurance and things. Also part of the business is going out there and getting the leads. If the sales tactis are not extremely high pressure and the 1st lead did not close the deal......... they may pass the deal or business card and their experience with the nice sales rep to a relative or a freind who can close and probably will close the deal. You get more bees with honey! Alot of small businesses run off of refferals and doing great. Also if the business is losing money why offer FREE-ESTIMATES then??? Come in with a fair price and stick to it. Do not try to make someone pay a higher price when you know you will still make a good profit on a lower price. Don't pull out the discounts later pull them out in the begining and we won't waste each others time right?
on Oct 07, 2006
If you knew what it costs for 1 lead it makes sense to offer someone a larger savings for not wasting time. In rep territories they run all over creation only to just give an estimate. That is fine as well if there are refferrals and such but if you know anything about sales that incentive to buy saves the company money. Also when the cost of materials goes up the price they are given for 1 year covers the fact that they WILL go up. Nothing is for Free and the cost of something as exclusive as this product is something that folks need to understand and take into consideration. Sure you can do a drywall basement installed by your local contractor that will bid the job low only to get the job and finish it with who knows what mistakes. When you buy anything that is high end you are ging to have to realize that fact. If you want quality then pay for it. If you are cheap then god bless you cause you will most likely replace the drywall or the "NEW" drywall product because it wasn't meant to be in the basement in the first place. I find it funny that people get offended when someone such as a sales rep asks a customer for their business. It only makes sense since they are making a living as well. It is fine to run the free estimate but if there is a fair business offer on the table take advantage of it because again it comes down to running a business. At least the product comes with a transferrable lifetime warrenty. WHO IS going to give you that with dirt and paper walls. Also think of this who decides to read and is considering doing a basement. When you make a fire out side what would you use to start it and keep it going. I wonder. HMMMMM paper and some wood I suppose? Do you want that in your basement? O.C> BFS has a class A fire rating. Now what do you think it costs to manufacture the product? Guess what it costs to smash some dirt between two pieces of paper????
on Oct 16, 2006
“WOuldn't you rather have someone that is putting in the best product for the basement and a certified installer to do so, AND have the product warrenty for LIFE!!! You must be a moron or live in a trash heap to not make a smart investment on your HOME.” -- company rep

Best product? Not by a longshot. It is what it is-- the insides of a trailer house put in your basement. It has thin, flimsy interior walls that feel cheap and looks awful. Not to mention that the walls are Teflon-coated, which is looking like it causes all sorts of health problems, including fertility problems and cancer. As far as the OC system being an ‘investment,’ I'd expect it to depreciate, much like a car.


“Nothing is for Free and the cost of something as exclusive as this product is something that folks need to understand and take into consideration. ... When you buy anything that is high end you are ging to have to realize that fact.” -- company rep

Exclusive? High end? Those are words used in ‘aspirational marketing.’ That is, making a low-to-middle income demographic think that a product is better/higher quality or is somehow appealing to the affluent-- think Bose speakers, Rocher chocolates, Arbor Mist wines, Grey Poupon mustard, etc. One thing that all of these products have in common is that they are neither high-end nor exclusive.


“When you make a fire out side what would you use to start it and keep it going. I wonder. HMMMMM paper and some wood I suppose? Do you want that in your basement?” -- company rep

What about the rest of the house? Isn't that just “paper and some wood?” You make it sound as if the entire house is going to go up in flames if you build to the same standards as the rest of the house.


“At least the product comes with a transferrable lifetime warrenty.” -- company rep

And it's only good until the next bankrupcy. But hey-- if someone wants to overpay to have their basement turned into the inside of a trailer quickly, I'm certainly not going to stand in their way. And if a neighbor has it done, I'll smile and them them that it looks good, despite the asthetic affront.
on Oct 25, 2006
I had the Owens Corning Basement Finishing System installed in my house. Not happy at all. I wouldn't recommend it to my worst enemy. The salesperson was full of lies to put it nicely. He said the walls are incredibly sturdy....so not true. They dent easily and the worst part is unlike drywall you can't fix it yourself. You have to depend on them forever! But make sure they tell you how long their "forever" is. They only guarantee the walls a few years in full. After that you have to pay for installation to have them come back to replace it. I believe the replacement wall is free but not the service and who knows what that will cost. I regret doing it. They also fail to tell you to not to expect anything to be nice and even and lined up. And if you're a perfectionist, like me and you paid what I paid, you'd expect perfection. So much more to say but I got to go. I'll add more later. Thanks for the opportunity to voice my opinion. I hope it saves someone a ton of money and remorse.
on Oct 25, 2006
I had the Owens Corning Basement Finishing System installed in my house. Not happy at all. I wouldn't recommend it to my worst enemy. The salesperson was full of lies to put it nicely. He said the walls are incredibly sturdy....so not true. They dent easily and the worst part is unlike drywall you can't fix it yourself. You have to depend on them forever! But make sure they tell you how long their "forever" is. They only guarantee the walls a few years in full. After that you have to pay for installation to have them come back to replace it. I believe the replacement wall is free but not the service and who knows what that will cost. I regret doing it. They also fail to tell you to not to expect anything to be nice and even and lined up. And if you're a perfectionist, like me and you paid what I paid, you'd expect perfection. So much more to say but I got to go. I'll add more later. Thanks for the opportunity to voice my opinion. I hope it saves someone a ton of money and remorse.
on Oct 31, 2006
If you haven't decided already, don't purchase the system. See my entry of October 25, 2006. By the way, I've heard if your basement gets flooded the water leaves water stains on the wall fabric. I only pray my basement stays dry. I don't recommend the product. It was the most expensive mistake I ever made. It is a rip off. Work on waterproofing your basement and have proper drainage installed so water never gets in, not having these "wonderful" walls in case water does get in. If I can convince one person not to get the system, I'll be happy that I did someone a favor. I live on Long Island, New York. There's only one installer on Long Island. Don't let the sales person in your house. If I were permitted I'd print the salesperson name who I dealt with. The guy was a real low life after I had problems with the system.
on Nov 01, 2006
I had one those high pressure sales men give a pitch about the 2-week installation and mold avoidance quality of the Ownes Corning Basement System. But the price of the system was way out of line. I have a small basement ( around 410 sq/ft) they wanted $25k.

When I refused, the he lowered his price to $20k. I could never get an estimate that seemed to fit within the reality of the size of my basement.

My message--If you have a quality product, it will sell itsfelf. Don't apply used car sales tactics to move a product that could otherwise have good sales without trying to dupe prospects into buying it.
on Nov 01, 2006
High pressure sales sometimes will make honest people make decisions that aren't in their best interest. OC is good at these tactics!

By the way you ended your comment, you must be one of these OC sales idiots!!!
on Nov 01, 2006
Boy, talk about a thread that won't die!
on Nov 03, 2006
My folks, who are seniors, fell into the sales pitch with a remote company based in Ohio and signed the contract. No work has been done, yet, but can they get out of it? They did this without my knowledge. I looked at the contract and was taken back with the financing issue. They tried to call within the so called "3 day window" to back out and were threatened with a lawsuit.
Any advice will be appreaciated!
on Nov 05, 2006
I am currently getting my basement redone. This Tuesday will be three weeks and the carpet will be put in Monday. They also have to come and re-do three or four walls, all of the molding and baseboards. They have to come put in cabinets over a water shut off value and my electrical panel. The installer decided to nail them shut with a wood cabinet. 15 bags of trash were left out by my house for a week. Insulation pieces and trash were left inside for a week. I did not here from the installer for two to three days at a time. Once I told the Manager and my 1980's salesman about the problem. I made them come out and look. I guess they didn't know I was going into week three and the carpet hadn't even been ordered. They came out and took pictures at the hack job. Neither one was angry and just walked around all calm and smug. The salesman kept trying to tell me how great it was going to look and the manager let me know he would fix everything. Oh but he didn't know when, because he didn't want to pull anyone off another job! Unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rembrant Remodeling Marietta Georgia. They Don't care. Nothing was said about going into week three after the salesman promised two weeks. Nothing other than it would be fixed when they could get to it. A true manager would want to know what they could do to make the customer happy. This company is a joke. I DO NOT RECOMMEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
on Nov 08, 2006
I understand that owens corning has recently won there court case against a cheap knock off product ..

when i called my knock off dealer i was told that thw warrenty was "" null and void "" .. please be advised that anyobe can say anything they want on this web sight and make up complete lies just to hurt a company >>


on Nov 08, 2006
I understand that owens corning has recently won there court case against a cheap knock off product ..

when i called my knock off dealer i was told that thw warrenty was "" null and void "" .. please be advised that anyobe can say anything they want on this web sight and make up complete lies just to hurt a company >>


on Nov 08, 2006
Just curious, why do all of you refer to the pricing as a 'Square Foot' pricing when it is not going on the floor? If you were to base it on sq ft, shouldn't that be based on the sq ft area of the wall itself that is being covered? Because layout & floor plan can be different for different basements...

For example, if you have a 900 sq ft basement. You can have one 900 sq ft room. Or you could have 3-300 sq ft rooms.. The latter would obviously require a lot more material, to cover the interior walls, and therefore cost more. Yet the footprint is still 900 sq ft... Its not like ceiling or floor coverings where the sq ft really matters...

So if you have one wall that has a 7' ceiling, and is 20' long, that would be 140 sq ft of material to cover it. The floor footprint & that square footage is pretty irrelevant.

I recently had my basement done with the Owens Corning stuff & I must admit I would not have changed a thing. I was a little nervous about the price at first, but once I saw the completed project & realized how beautiful & durable it was i didn't look back. Not to mention all the things they did BESIDES the walls!! Like all the electric, the hi-hats, I got 3 windows replaced, they created a boiler room to proper code, they covered the columns & poles with beautiful covers, etc... I mean, none of that has to do with the square footage of my basement at all.

I mean, there are reasons why cheap products exist & expensive products exist. Sure, the Owens Corning system is not for everyone. But only based on its price. But I think the whole reason for all of these people whining & complaining on here is because they could not afford a product this nice. They are the same people who say "BMW and Mercedes suck" because they can only afford a used Ford. And thats ok!! Thats why used Fords exist, and thats why cheap materials for construction exist. And just like a used Ford will get you to point A to point B, drywall can and will cover your walls. But on the same token, there are better vehicles out there with more style, features and benefits. And there are also better materials for your walls.

I choose not to live a life of mediocrity, and I enjoy the nice things hard work rewards you with. But I dont understand why so many try to talk people out of a nicer product just because they can not afford it... And I would never again think twice about doing my basement exactly the same all over again...