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Published on September 6, 2005 By Draginol In Home Improvement

Back in 2003, I had my basement finished using the Owens Corning Basement System.  It's an alternative to dry-wall that looks similar to dry-wall but is actually soft to the touch (that is, it is almost like a cushion).

The advantages of Owens Corning's system to normal dry-wall (According to Owens Corning) include:

  • Basements can be finished much quicker.  The 1200 square foot or so of our basement that we got finished was done in about 10 days (compared to months with dry-wall).
  • It is very damage resistant -- it doesn't scratch, it looks the same 2 years after the fact.
  • It is allegedly black mold resistant.  Drywall, being made of wood, can serve as a place for mold to grow.  Owens Corning's system is synthetic, nothing grows.
  • It's water damage resistant -- you can get it wet and it looks fine once it dries.
  • It acts as a great sound proofing mechanism.  The basement is quiet.
  • It has good acoustics. Great for home theaters and such.

It also has down sides:

  • It's quite expensive. Significantly more-so than Dry Wall.
  • The sales people who sell it use an obnoxious hard sell technique that is, IMO, borderline unethical.
  • It is hard to modify. That is, you want put shelves or "nail" things to the wall, you really can't, you have to do it with special fasteners since the wall isn't made of wood, it doesn't support other structures being placed on it well.
  • You're tied into Owens Corning for repairs, modifications, etc.
  • Bears repeating - the sales people who sell it use rather unsavory sales tactics in which if you don't actually bargain them down you could pay 2X as much as you really should.

My original review can be found here.  Since it was the first review on a major site, it has over 150 different websites pointing to it. 20,000 people alone have visited because it shows up high in Google's search engine.  But it also means that there's hundreds of comments which can be hard to go through.

So I've established this running article as a way for people to post their experiences with Owens Corning Basement System. 

My overall experience has been positive. But since I run a company and deal with aggressive sales people all the time, I didn't have a problem neutralizing their sales techniques.  But they are unusually aggressive (note that these sales people rarely work for Owens Corning directly, they work for other companies who sell it).  And our experience was mildly soured by attempts to nickel and dime us at the end. 

But overall, 2 years later, I'm pretty happy with it and am glad we went with it. I do sometimes get jealous of my neighbors who did a true "full finish" basement that looks like their upstairs.  But then I remind myself that it took them 6 months to do that whereas mine was done in 10 days without any mess or fuss.  It's not for everyone but for us, it worked out pretty well.

Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments area and I will try to post some of them here from time to time.

Comments (Page 10)
on Apr 29, 2006
Hello all and it is a pleasure to see such an informative blog.My post however isnt buy related at all it is sales related.I am in the the process of accepting a sales position with OC for the BFS.It is always nice to see both sides of the coin before accepting or declining a job.I can literally take all the information here and apply it to my postion (if I take it) and be the perfect OCBFS salesmen.As a retired contractor I can see both sides of the argument.I have been in sales before and also had friends in sales.It is my form belief that if you are selling a good quality product and are honest and up front there is no need for "high pressure" tactics.I dont intend to get rich nor do I intend to take a job that I feel is exploiting hard working people out of there money.I would like to thank Draginol and all the other folks who replied for your insight and I hope I can do the OC company some justice by presenting them with your concerns and thoughts.If they dont seen to care then I dont feel I can conciously sell there product. Thanks again-
on May 03, 2006
I'm paying app 7.20 per square feet for their ceiling 864sq ft/$6,223. Does this sound like an ok figure? Want it for the sound. Thanks
on May 04, 2006
hello it is me the possible creer post from above.I have started with OC and the products are amazing.The Basement system is like nothing I have ever seen and I have been in construction for 15 years.the people I am working with are great and very passionate about the products they sell.If you are just interested in the price I sugeest you just relax and get all the info first wether you buy or not is up to you but all the info and knowledge of the product is actually very interesting.I look forward to posting here and sharing my experiences with all of you.Good and Bad I will gladly tell both sides.It will be a help for all of you on your decision making process.By the way all the franchises are different in there sales approach .the franchise I work for if very relaxed and customer friendly....To be continued
on May 05, 2006
Just to let you know up front, I am an Owens Corning Designer (slug as some would say). I just wanted to address the wildly fluctuating Sq. Ft. costs that keep coming up on these posts. There are a variety of factors that can significantly affect the SF cost.

1. Location of the local franchise (each franchise sets their own pricing based on their own costs and the market).

2. Basement design (the more bump-outs, doors, poles etc. that are in the way, the higher the cost due to the use of more wall panels). The more square, the better!

3. Multiple rooms drive an estimate sky-high as wall panels have to be doubled up on interior walls.

4. The bigger you go, the less it becomes per square foot. Remember, the panels are the expensive component to the system. Take a 2 foot by 2 foot square box. If the walls are $1 a foot, it would take 8 feet of wall ($8) and you would get a 4 sq ft room. 2$ a sq ft. Now if we make the room 4 by 4, we're using 16 feet of wall ($16) and getting 16 sq ft of room. 1$ a sq ft. While this is highly simplistic, this is what happens. A 100 sq ft room is likely to be over $100 a sq ft.

When it comes down to it, there is no way to know exactly where an OC basement estimate will come in at until the sales guy comes out to figure it out. Rest assured, however, that if his bags are packed and he's headed out the door, you were at bottom line.

I am biased because this is what I do for a living, but I truly believe in the Basement Finishing System. I wouldn't put anything else in my basement after 2 years of seeing what can happen if a basement is finished with materials that weren't designed for the application they are being used for.

I apologize that this product is not cheap. However, good things are seldom cheap and cheap things are seldom good. I've had one dissatisfied customer in 2 years as a designer!

I hope this post has been informative. I apologize to all the people who may have had bad experiences from my company. All I can say is that it's not typical.
on May 12, 2006
Well, we met with an OC rep last night, and didn't even negotiate the price (we were quoted about $48 sf and didn't pursue it any further). So even with NO negotiation our sales pitch took 2 and a half hours! I felt like I had just been recruited for a cult or something - I just felt depressed afterwards. It was weird and uncomfortable, even though the guy was very nice. It wasn't that I thought he was pushy, I just had a feeling that we were given a set of figures that probably weren't standard, but based on what he thought our income might be.
on May 12, 2006
Our offer was "locked in" for a year, by the way.
on May 12, 2006
I don't think OC is responsible for this hard sell approach - they make so many other products and sell billions of $$ per year, why would they need a hard sell? It must be franchises that push the approach - maybe they all go to the same sales tactics convention. Our sales guy didn't give us such a hard sell and didn't try to negotiate at all (but he used a lot of the other tactics, information, etc.) Maybe he figured we weren't worth the time? He sure did leave in a hurry though.
on May 22, 2006
Most of the comments about the OCB system sales reps are true. But, are you buying the rep or the product. This persons job is no different than the car lot salesman, the clothing store or furniture store retail salesperson. Their job is to make the sale. I recently did real estate looking at homes with basements. On several viewings the the basements had water damage. Most of the homes did the traditional sheetrock replacement with bad taping jobs or mis matching paint jobs. On a few, I was completely discouraged with the smell of a basement that had received water damaged and not been properly repaired. Some sellers tried to paint over the mold to hide the hideous look of mold on sheetrock ( I could only imagine what it looked like behind the wall). Bottom line minus the sales technique OCB is a keeper unless you are a gambler. I have worked with home remodelers and nearly 50% of the work involves some type of water damage, and this was on non basement homes. Remember water flows downhill eventually. So, all the whining about the sales reps tactics can be understood, but how much would you whine if you had to pay someone to search for the source of the water by tearing out walls and replacing. I am a concrete tradesman, and I know of no contractor that can gurantee that concrete will not crack......What are basement walls made of????????? hhmmmm Cracks eventually will allow water to seep in. So I suggest when deciding on OCB, block out the sales rep, and get to a reasonable, and comfortable price by considering the differences in the long run .
on May 23, 2006
Per the post from newby above, from my experience, it was impossible to block out the sales rep and get to a “reasonable and comfortable” price, even considering the alternatives.
I dealt with the OC folks for a couple weeks and experienced the same high-pressure sales tactics already discussed. I had no luck in getting them to come down in price beyond the reduction they offered in a second meeting, which took place with the "general manager" shortly after I declined the original proposal. He drew up a new layout that increased the square footage, but at a lower overall price. It was an improvement, but still worked out to more than $49 per sq. foot. I brought that up with the GM afterwards on the phone and he readily admitted that the price per sq. foot will vary dramatically - from $30 to more than $100 - depending on layout. In general, the larger the area, the lower the price per sq. foot – as noted a few posts above. The number of angles also has a lot to do with the price, he says. Both points make sense, but I'm not sure they account for such dramatic differences in price. And he declined to give me a labor vs. materials breakdown of the price he quoted. He says it just can't be done - it's all factored into some computerized equation. This after he told me I was getting a discount on the materials because of some promotional money he had available. Seems odd to me that you can offer a discount on materials, yet not know how much those materials cost.
Finally, I asked to see a demo house. He said he'd be happy to set me up but that we needed to sign a deal that day or the next in order to get the special price; he'd show me the demo house afterwards. I told him it made little sense to see the demo house after the deal was signed; I wanted to see it before and I didn't want to hear any more about how the special price was going to go away – just give me a price that you can stand by. He said he was busy with meetings for the rest of the day (it was fairly late by this time on Thurs.) and the next, but that he'd try. He was also traveling the following week and was sure that my special price would no longer be available by then. OK, I said, try to line me up with the demo.
Not surprisingly, that was the last I heard from anyone at OC.
It's too bad - I like the system and it makes sense for my basement, where moisture is an issue. But the sales tactics, and the salesman's refusal to answer some rather simple questions, had me suspicious that the system was significantly overpriced. I’m glad I forced the issue, because the lack of response to every single one of my questions or requests simply confirmed my suspicions.
I especially don't understand the problem with seeing a demo house - if everyone is getting these discounts to serve as demos, what's the problem?
Like I said, I really wish these guys didn’t resort to such strongarm tactics. I do think they have a good product, but I just don’t feel right doing business like that.
I am located in Mass., btw - west of Boston, in Metrowest.
Thanks to Joe for hosting this site - it's been very helpful.
on May 23, 2006
Add us to the list who have seen the hard sell. We signed up for a system that creates 2 rooms and around 400 square feet total. The "discounted price" was $28,000 after 3 hours. We did sign the contract but took the 3 day out clause yesterday. Now we are supposed to hear from the sales guy again. Unless we see major reduction in cost and the cost of the flooring as part of the deal he is not going to make the sale. Before I go through another 3 hour pitch I'm going to make it clear that they will need to make drastic changes in price. From what I read here it will take a deal of $14K to $16K to win us over this time and that includes the flooring which this rep also knew very little about as others have commented. This seems very odd to me as you would think the flooring system makes perfect sense for the whole benefit of the system. The sales guy did comment about an over $3000 price for the flooring which I think is outragious as I have done many flooring jobs myself and you can get the material for 1 to 3 dollars a square foot.
on May 25, 2006
Thanks for hosting this site. It's really great.

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I visited a showcase home. We just did it to see what it was like. We had thought about finishing our basement before, but really never seriously entertained it. We list just north of Columbus, Ohio.

We had the OC rep at our house last night, and we lived through the entire experience that everyone else has already stated. It's the sales playbook and it is a little high pressure for me. Fortunately, I had done some research on the Web before his arrival, and I had made 3 predictions to my wife:

1) Their estimate for a 464 sq/ft basement would be well above $20,000
2) The whole visit will last at least 3 hours
3) They'll pressure us to make a decision that night.

Well, all of my predicitions came true. I couldn't believe how long the whole "watch the video" and "flip through the playbook" presentation took. It was aggravating it went so long. It was hammered into us time and time again these primary benefits: no mold, established reputable company, quick installation time, easy cleanup, resale value, etc. It was so darn repetitive, I think I could become a rep for them now.

And all of the tricks were put into use. The initial estimate came at $27,000 for a 464 sq/ft basement. Then - we had our 11% discount "coupon" from attending the showcase. Then, if we agreed to do a showcase for them in 2007 and agreed to be flexible with our delivery schedule, it brought it down to roughly $20,500. But I needed to make the decision that night. If he walked out the door, only the estimate of roughly $24,500 would be good for the next year.

At that point, I said no - we don't make major decisions like that on the spot. That's just not who we are. We wanted time to discuss it and think about it. He even kindly stepped out in front of our house to give us time to discuss it. So when I brought him back in and told him no - we'd want time to think about it, he got on the phone with his "manager". There was the whole discussion on how this was the type of neighborhood he was looking for to have a showcase (a "dog-walking neighborhood" was the quote), and how this was something his manager really was looking for. So after this discussion with his "manager" at 9:00P at night (it seemed like the whole car-sales gimic), his manager agreed to do it "at cost" and how they weren't really making any money from it. Yeah, right.

So to make a long story short - we went ahead with it. I'm still in my 3 day period after signing the contract, but I don't think we'll back out. We're paying $18,900 for 464 sq/ft of finished basement. And there are a fair number of things they need to work around (bring the ceiing down under a load bearing beam), we wanted more lights than what was required by code, this includes all electrical, ceiling, two doors. It's just under $41 per sq/ft.

This is probably higher than a traditional basement done with drywall. And my wife has had sinus problems from what she suspects was mold at her workplace, so that truly was a big selling point for her. I'll let you know how it goes, but I don't anticipate us backing out of it in our 3-day grace period. I was prepared for the high-pressure sales tactic, and OC delivered what we expected. So it wasn't a complete surprise for us. Our rep was nice, but the presentation was certainly a little robotic, very repetitive, and way too long.

By the way, my wife noticed on one of the reps bags a "Viva Cancun" tag. Having worked in sales myself, these stem from your employer's club or incentive trips. Trust me - OC is making money from this, this rep and his boss are getting a nice commission from this, and there's no way in hell it's being done "at cost". Regardless, I think we'll be happy with it and I don't view this price as astronomical, especially if we can enjoy it and they do nice work. I'll let you know how it goes.
on May 26, 2006
Regarding the flooring, google event deck/dance deck &/or Great Mats/carpet flex
on Jun 06, 2006
I have the Owens Corning basement in my home, in fact I am in it right now. The room is wonderful, but not cheap. I will say that they told me that right from the beginning. I can tell you that the article that says you can buy it for $30/s.f. is not true. I paid over $50/s.f. and that was the best I could get. I even offered them $40 at one point and they politely declined. Overall we would not do it any other way, Boston area company was first class.
on Jun 06, 2006
I have the Owens Corning basement in my home, in fact I am in it right now. The room is wonderful, but not cheap. I will say that they told me that right from the beginning. I can tell you that the article that says you can buy it for $30/s.f. is not true. I paid over $50/s.f. and that was the best I could get. I even offered them $40 at one point and they politely declined. Overall we would not do it any other way, Boston area company was first class.
on Jun 11, 2006
I just found this blog after I purchased the system and it appears that I did well compared to some, but I must agree at 48/sf it is not cheap but I cant put a price on the idea of the kids having a safe and healthy place to play and hubby and I can actually here the TV up here now. The sales rep was very pleasant and hindsight tells me that if she wasnt a lil pushy I would have never bought the system. She helped me make the decision by, in her words "educating" me. Owens Corning is a great company and I hope they hurry up and get it done.

This is a great tool, its too bad they dont blog other things we are concerned with.Thanks to all of you and I am sorry you had a bad experience. BTW we are in Columbus, Oh.