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 52)
on Dec 12, 2006
does OC have any competition? Who else offers insulated panels? Are there only two choices for basements? Drywall or OC? Last night I had my "sales pitch". Discusting! Told them up front give me a real price; I wont haggle. They didn't listen. Came in with $43k, down to 32K, down to 24K. Your site is very informative. Thank You.
on Dec 12, 2006
I just had an appt on Sat 12/9/2006. Guy was late, but I am open minded.Same sales pitch as all cmts above, "my mgr looking for a show case in this part of Cols, can give you 15% OFF." 50 DOLLARS/sq foot. To do the entire basement, $60,000 (about 1200 sq feet)-he did not rec bec of value of my house. He did not give me a brochure, nor written quote( I asked for also); quote was only for today, as they are not too busy at this time, but could offer another 15% discount if I was flexible on start dates. When I asked him about Champion, he immediately stated they were in court on patent infringement and that Champion would be out of business soon. He also quoted usual mold scares,--claimed a million dollar + house in Pickerington,Oh had mold in basement ( new house he claimed) and he refused to install system until mold was not a problem. When I stated I was not making any decision today, he ended the appt immediately.
on Dec 12, 2006
I just had an appt on Sat 12/9/2006. Guy was late, but I am open minded.Same sales pitch as all cmts above, "my mgr looking for a show case in this part of Cols, can give you 15% OFF." 50 DOLLARS/sq foot. To do the entire basement, $60,000 (about 1200 sq feet)-he did not rec bec of value of my house. He did not give me a brochure, nor written quote( I asked for also); quote was only for today, as they are not too busy at this time, but could offer another 15% discount if I was flexible on start dates. When I asked him about Champion, he immediately stated they were in court on patent infringement and that Champion would be out of business soon. He also quoted usual mold scares,--claimed a million dollar + house in Pickerington,Oh had mold in basement ( new house he claimed) and he refused to install system until mold was not a problem. When I stated I was not making any decision today, he ended the appt immediately.
on Dec 22, 2006
I've been reading some of these comments and I think you're all bitching about nothing. Who likes Salespeople? NO ONE. When has anyone ever ran to the door excited that a Salesperson was knocking? They have a tough job and I respect what they have to do. I am a business owner and without them where would any business be? where.

If you've had a bad experience with a salesperson than simply ask them to leave. I've read comments about 3-4 hour presentations... haha... that's your own fault for inviting them into your home and not having the balls to ask them to pack up their stuff and leave. You have that right. But to sit and listen for 3 hours nodding your head like you agree with what they're saying sends them signals that YOU ARE interested.

When you invite these salespeople out to your home, keep in mind... you asked them to come out. They are a guest in your home and should be treated with a little respect. At some point in your life, someone close to you... a son, daughter, brother, father, or whomever probably got treated like shit too. So keep that in mind when you're telling these guys to, "get the fuck out of my house"... remember, someone told your loved one the same thing.

This system is nice, but very expensive. I don't know about some of these comments claiming $60,000, but mine came up to be around $32,000+. That seems like a lot of money, but this is the third time i've had to redo my basement. The first time I did it, my brother and I drywalled it.. it turned out like shit. My fucking wife wouldn't stop bitching, so I finally hired a 'pro' to redo it. That cost me around $14,000 like 10 years ago (yes things get more expensive with time; like gas, houses, etc)... so now it's probably around $20,000+

So here's the break down-


1. My Brother and I- materials= $3,500+ ; time=6 months; wife wouldn't STFU
2. Pro... messy for 2 months= $20,000+

Total = $23,500+ wife bitching (not worth it)


$32,000; 1 week to do the work; wife likes it...... well worth the money.

I like my new basement, but there was a weird smell to it... like fish. It's hard to explain, but its not bad. My drywall basement smelled like a dirty, wet shower... so i dont miss it.

Oh well... my 2-cents.

Here's your take-away:
- Don't invite these people out if you're not ready to buy (do your research online)
- Don't treat the salespeople like shit; someone will return the favor to someone you love.
- If you can't afford it... simply tell them and ask them to leave.
- If you don't want to listen to their speech, ask them to leave.
- If you buy it, get some air fresheners because the installation stinks.

on Dec 28, 2006
I posted once before but think it may help someone in the Columbus area for me to post again. My wife and I had OC out to our house but ended up asking them to leave (more than once). We really liked the product but after doing a little research we called Champion to come out. The differance was night and day. And I am convinced that we got a better looking basement for a lot less money. They actually have several color choices, they install more lighting and the walls are a higher insulating value. Our sales guy asked us for our business that night - We said we wanted to think about it - He said OK! He invited us to the Champion Showroom and he left. We went to the showroom and it really helped us to envision what our basement would look like and we decided to go ahead with it. We have now sent 2 of our freinds to Champion to get their basements done. The installation was perfect (for all of us) and the product is great. All three basements were completed in less than 2 weeks from start to finish. And all the installation workers were Champion employees, not sub contractors. Hope this helps someone looking to have their basement remodeled.

on Feb 23, 2007
OC man just left. What a joke!! Typical High Pressure, Mold scare Bla Bla Bla. Then comes the good stuff, the PRICE. $104.00 per square foot. Can you believe it. He wanted $43K for my 415 square foot basement. Oh! or I could pay $891 per month for 5 years. I told him he was well over 50% above what I could afford and that I can get it done the traditional way with drywall and such for around $15K, his response... OK thanks have a good night and he packed up and left. No counter offer, nothing. Not even the typical let me call my boss, nothing. Oh well I guess he didn't want my money.
on Mar 08, 2007
Thanks for the info, unfortunately for me it is too late. I just have my basement done and have mixed opinion about it. I do like the low mess, and wall accessibility. Aside from that i wished i did it myself. I have a 4 and 3 year old kids so you can imagine how much i can do without them being in the way and playing with my tools. I completely agree with regard to the predatorial sales tactic employed. I ended up paying about $40/sq ft. The salesman gave me an estimate for the basement without the specifics regarding material cost, labor cost, or any kind of breakdown at all. I wanted to think about it, he flat out refused to leave. After about 5 minutes, not kidding, 5 minutes of insisting to think it over, i gave in and signed the contract. In retrospect, i should have called the police. He backed off the original estimate of $48,000 to $36,000 (no flooring) but at 900 sq ft, i now find out that is still very expensive. I originally estimated to be able to do it myself for about $12,000 but figured 2 weeks for a basement is a good deal. Well, it actually took 7 weeks to complete the basement. Had i known that, i would have done it myself. They also neglected to apply for a permit, get electrical inspection. When i asked them, they say they will get an electrical inspector out if i "like". SO i said yes and decided to call the township, turns out i needed a permit also. When i asked them they said they called the wrong township and the third party inspector came out and looked at my 40/40 electrical panel and said the 3 added circuits made it over yet put a pass sticker on it anyway. When i called Owens, the manager said when he was out drawing up the blueprint, he made a mistake and counted the AC and dryer breakers as 1 each instead of 2 each, that he didn't know that the double breakers are counted as 2 even though they have 1 toggle. Likely story. now they refuse to add a subpanel unless i pay for it at $1500 after the fact. He gave me the option to have their people come out and pull the circuit and have my choice of people to come out and install a subpanel to power up the basement. I was hoping that they are willing to correct their "mistakes" to make it compliant but they already got the money and i doubt i will ever see them again. The 2 smoke detectors they were supposed to install they left in my electrical closet with a roll of wires and said they did not want to tap into my security system which is fine but they were not even hardwired and put up. This whole debacle is unfortunate as a good product is tainted by unscrupulous and unethical people. I guess you live and learn
on Mar 19, 2007
"And without coming into specific training materials or a memo from someone directing trainers to train to lie-- that is, a smoking gun, there'd be no way to prove that they're trained to lie. And I also have little doubt that no such materials or memo exists."

I must say this is a little coincidental but I have your memo and can answer any questions you may have about the unethical sales presentation and OC's process. I graduated there sales training at the OC science and technology center in Granville, Ohio after a week long boot camp on exploitation of human reaction and sales methods, thought to work by using scare tactics and sociology techniques designed for use at Gitmo.

Very excited and genuinely happy to help.



on Apr 07, 2007
My wife and I are looking to finish our basement and have heard about the Owens Corning basement finishing system. Alure is the only company listed on the Owens Corning website to install the system in our area so we called and had them come out for an estimate. The "design specialist" that showed up refused to discuss the job or give me a quote since my wife wasn't there. He said that since ~80% of people who "take time out of their busy lives to both be there" for the consultation/sales pitch end up signing with them and ~20% don't, they (Alure) don't care to waste their time with the other 20%. When I asked him if he personally was a licensed contractor, he said he was not but then gave me a litany of reasons why his company and product were better than all of the others. He went as far as to show me a letter from Nassau County that talked about another contractor (I won't name them here) that used "unconscionable" business practices, I suspect this was a scare tactic. Then he assured me that his company was better and more ethical, was this a confidence game? .. still not sure.

Requiring my wife to be present smacked too much of one of those hard sell techniques timeshare people try to use to play you and your wife off of each other. I haven't decided whether or not to call these people back yet but I will be getting quotes from 2 other contractors. I'm sure Alure is a good company but their sales approach leaves allot to be desired.
on Jul 26, 2007
Kid comes knocking on the door in St Louis yesterday wanting to set up appt for OC salesman. Wife and I been thinking about it so I agreed. 1pm appt set. Kid says wife needs to be there and I tell him she's working and won't make it. Sales guy shows up on time next day, inside the door and after "how are you" asks where the wife is. Tell him she's at work and he says OC has strict policy that both have to be there!


He says: I just drove over 75 miles to this appointment.

No response from me.

He says: Doesn't that make you feel a little guilty?

No, I say as I open the door for him to leave.

The kicker is that I quickly found the franchise he works for--in OH--called the owner and his assistant calls me back and wasn't the least bit concerned about what just happened.

Found this blog immediately thereafter and am glad I only wasted a few minutes rather than a few hours.
on Aug 24, 2007
Thanks for this review, I had the scheduled Corning Basement System quote today, but I was googling for average price of Corning basement. With help of this blog site, I asked if the OC sales guy could give a me quote in an hour, he said "1 hour won't do justice for the product so it won't be fair to you or me". He left before I had a chance to ask him to leave. I guess this web site might be making a dent into their business and better informing the home owners looking to expand living space at a reasonable price. Thanks again.
If it wasn't for this web site I would have wasted my whole day or even worse sign OC contract.
on Aug 27, 2007

I spent almost two years improving upon others' system. At Beyond-Basements we have the absolute best drywall-free fabric wall system out there. And we have a $10,000 guarantee to prove it. See the Q&A in our website.

And yes, that claim that we are the best goes for all the other systems mentioned here and advertised here besides Owens Corning. Some differences and some similarities.

1. We stud out all exterior walls. Why would anyone want a wall attached to your crooked foundation wall.
A. Provides air space
B. Enables a straight, square, plumb wall
C. Enables us to put R-13 insulation in the wall (for a total R value of over 17 with our insulation core material)
D. Keeps the insulation away from any wetness from the foundation wall

2. Our insulation core material is a true 6 pound board

3. Our patented track systems enable us to stretch the fabric over the core material
A. We can put our fabric over drywall, paneling, cement board, Dragon board, an iron board...anything you want
B. The insulation board just happens to be the best as it also absorbs about 95% of sound, is soft, and holds up better than drywall
C. Because we stretch the fabric you don't have to worry about any harmful glues holding the fabric to the panel, or worry about the panel coming loose
D. Because we stretch the fabric you can change your color or style later at a very affordable cost
E. We have hundred of colors and styles to choose from and can stretch virtually any covering over your walls (get that custom team logo, etc.)

4. Since we stretch the fabric there are no seams anywhere. We also have a special outside corner for rigidity but again it is unseen as the fabric goes over it.

5. We have a removable trim system with about 25 styles and 15 standard finishes
A. With our unique Universal Retaining Track system we can also attach virtually any trim (a custom one you want made) without fasteners or adhesives. And it is removable also.
B. Again, some of these other systems still nail their trim on.

6. We can put any drop ceiling in. We also do all the work if you want a bathroom, custom bar, entertainment system, fireplace, etc.

7. And yes, our system is recyclable (green), mold/mildew resistant, removable, fire rated, quiet, clean, installed in about two to three weeks, soft, and resistant to most dents.
A. With a glued panel a dent will show much more easily than with our system as the fabric isn't attached to the panel except at the top/bottom and corners of the other words it has give.

Unfortunately, we only started installing these last October so not many people know about us. We recently franchised in the Philadelphia area but again we are not well known.

If you want to really know about us and other systems in general go to our website and spend an hour of time. You will learn much.

One more thing. I am the owner and have spent 16 years doing high, high end remodeling. I will put my knowledge and workmanship up against anyone in the entire country. I have $20,000 that no one on this site can find any one of these basement remodelers who knows half as much about construction as us. We also have that $10,000 guarantee that you wouldn't hire any other drywall-free company besides us if you saw what we offered and what our finished product looks like.

Although we don't have dealers/franchisees available in most areas yet feel free to email me with any questions. Just go to the website.

With that said I will offer some statements which seem obvious to me.

1. Know your square footage. I won't give names but I know of several instances where the square footage was embellished by as much as 50%. What it does is make you believe you are paying $25 a s.f. when you are really paying $50 s.f.

2. Use steel studs even if you go drywall. There is no load bearing support and no reason to use something which is prone to fire, can rot, and if not crooked now will be in time. PUT UP STRAIGHT WALLS.

3. Put a drop ceiling in regardless. If you ever wanted to add wires or update your kitchen, you'll need access to that ceiling. Plus, in most basements it would be against code to cover up plumbing clean-outs or electrical junction boxes. Do you really want all those access panels.

4. Ask yourself this. If a company can drop its price 50% in ten minutes doesn't that tell you they either were trying to rape you on price or are doing it at such a low cost that the quality will suffer.

5. Ask yourself this also. Why is the salesman so eager to sign you up now. Because he knows if you had time to think about it you wouldn't go with them. Don't get me wrong, with my knowledge about construction I would never put drywall in a basement again. But at Beyond-Basements we aren't afraid to let the customer think after our visit. In fact, we don't even give a quote on the first visit. Typically our jobs come from three visits and some have even had more. WE ARE NOT HIGH PRESSURE. When you have the most experience, the best product, and the most knowledge and skill an educated and smart shopper will come to you.

6. I always look at things a little differently than most. When I see one company advertising about how they have a transferable warranty and most others don't (we do too by the way) and that's all they state until one goes to their website and reads the fine print and sees "transferable upon $200 fee" it makes we wonder about the credibility of the company. I mean am I the only one who thinks that is deceptive...not in the legal sense but it's just B.S. Or another company which states that you can hang pictures on their wall without some picture hanging kit. You know what, our panels are as dense as anyone's. We can hang a picture without a special kit too. BUT the problem is the nail will show up in the majority of fabrics. See, we tell you the whole story. More on this in my Q&A at

7. Who is doing the work. I always loved when the consumer hires a huge, multi-million dollar company and the people actually doing the work are college dropouts earning $15 an hour. Folks, if you were really good and knowledgeable about construction you wouldn't be making $15 an hour. Think about it. I'm the President of Beyond-Basements and I still install jobs. I would doubt if some of these owners ever picked up a hammer in their life.

Remember, don't assume but use common sense. I still can't believe people fall for the "let me make a call and see what I can do" or the "if you sign up today or are flexible with scheduling I can do this."

Take care.


on Aug 28, 2007
My husband and I just had a sales rep to our house last night - kill me now it was so exhausting - but I will say that despite the cost and annoying sales pitch part of me is still curious about the product. Anyway, my main question/concerns to those on this blog - my husband and I will most likely sell our house in approx 5-7 years and I'm wondering what the better investment/return will be. I don't really love the "cubical wall look" of the OC system, but I also do appreciate its benefits. I'm scared that a potential buyer might rather a more aesthetically pleasing/traditional drywall finished basement looked as opposed to the OC basement....they might not be aware of the additional benefits, etc. Lets be frank, while we all know its not – it looks rather cheapy.
Does anyone have information as to would yield the better return on your investment - and if there are any real estate agents/experts out there....which would a new potential buyer prefer to see in a prospective home - and what would they pay more money for....your standard drywall or the OC system?
on Nov 09, 2007
After looking into OC, Impressive and a couple of others, we're going with Impressive. The biggest issue I had with each going in were the seams, Impressive had the best results. The West Michigan/Impressive rep was in and out in no time with no pressure to sign today and on top of that they beat the others buy 10k and 12k. It was nice after the beating I took from the others. The other big thing is the lifetime manufacturers warranty and the better business bureau reports. Some were shocking.
West Michigan Basements is now the dealer for Impressive Basements on the west side of the state.
Definitely do your homework and dig in for a battle when you have some of these companies come for an estimate.
Here's the website for West Michigan for those interested
Happy hunting
on Feb 28, 2008

the oc basement system is a joke. the materials are cheaply made and look like a trailer wall when finished. wait ten years and see what it looks like  this is a system made to appeal to people who are paranoid and inpatiant all the money goes into the profits its a marketing scam that uses fear and inpatiance to bilk loads of money out of the guilable . this product should be for sale at home centers for diys since an idiot can install it. but then they would have to settle for an honest profit.

if you buy this junk, maybe i can polish some poo and sell it to you as caviar.