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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 12)
on Jul 26, 2006
We had a sales rep out to our house. The presentation was long and boring but he was a pleasant man. Well we were having 1,000 sq ft finished. Nothing fancy...no rooms...just walls, ceiling and partitioned area for storage. The price came in at $52,000. Looking at the majority of the feedback on this site that was not a bad starting price. We then got the phone call to the main office to see about making our home and show home. He was really giving "the boss" a pleading story to get him to agree....BUT of course he relented and the price was reduced to $43,000. Well when the Engineer came out to make the final drawing we found out a lot of stuff the Salesman neglected to tell us. We have a sprinkle system in our house (which I pointed out to the salesman...of course he said it was no problem). We are a very tall couple with very tall relatives and friends. My husband is 6' 8" and I am 6' 1". We wanted to assured that the ceiling height would remain high. He assured us that was not a problem. Well when the Engineer came out both of those issues were problems and they were our problems. The walls come in a standard heigth which means we were going to lose a lot of our ceiling height. The sprinklers had to be lowered below the ceiling tiles and that was our problem to deal with. We had to purchase carpet and provide a sample prior to the project starting because once they adjust the molding for the carpet we were stuck with that height....what if I wanted to change the carpet in a few years...too bad...must but new carpet that is the same thickness as the old...what if I did not want to put carpet down until later......of well that again would be our problem. These issue were not biggies but I feel the salesman hid facts from us just to get us to sign. We called the credit card company and had the transaction stopped. We paid them $12,000 on our credit card so they received no payment because we stopped it in time. We also had made many phone calls after the Engineer came out and we never received a call back until we faxed them a letter advising them we stopped payment. Oh boy then the calls started with deeeeeeeeep apologies. Well we were determined that if we were paying top dollar for a project we wanted top shelf service and we were not getting that. They are coming back out next week to see how they can make us happy and move forward with the deal. Well after reading all the feedback from this website there is onle 1 way they are going make me happy and get me to agree to a deal......that is $30 sq ft with all the other issues resolved by them or no deal. We are now getting prices for dry wall. In 7 years we have never had a drop of water in our basement and only plan to be in the house a couple of years. We have a house in Florida and plan to retire to that home. Will keep you posted on the visit next week.
on Jul 26, 2006
Thanks Bill D for disclosing this info. We had the 3 hour sales pitch today and declined for all the reasons everyone else stated. We have a son with Autism and Lyme Disease and Chron's. He is a pretty sick and disabled little guy. He was recently found to have arsenic in his system due to the playground chips we used in our yard. So ... anyway, the reason we wanted the basement finished for him was to be a therapy room. After reading the website you posted I am shocked and sick to my stomach and wondering how his immune system would have possibly handled another environmental insult. To boot ... when our salesman called his "supervisor" to lower the price he said he was calling an 800 number. When I hit redial it was a long distance number to a blue cross blue shield person whose name and number I have and who will be reported. This is BS ... Im just disgusted. Thanks so very much for posting that link to the website.
on Aug 01, 2006
Thanks for posting. I really wanted to learn about this system because of constant mailers about it. A few mentioned that it is less expensive than drywall. That doesn't sound like the case. Additionally, I want to install a bar with a few wine glass holders, etc. hanging from the wall - doesn't look like this is an option. Thank you!
on Aug 08, 2006
Hello, I saw the Owens Corning finishing system at a showcase event. It was loud, with music playing, with thousands of people, as soon as my wife and I entered the replica system it was so quiet I could hear a pin drop. Long story short we had went with the system 743 sq. foot at $38 per. We made a theatre room, all the family loves it, and I know when we sell our house we will get it all back and then some. Plus the transferable lifetime warranty will make the new homeowners so happy.
on Aug 08, 2006
I just saw the Owens Corning commercial which stated to "Call 1-800-BASEMENTS" for your free video so I called and requested one. The guy who answered tried his best to have a sales rep deliver the video and also give a free estimate but I didn't want all that. I stated 3x that all I wanted was the video and since I couldn't get only that video then I told him to have a nice day and declined his offer. Damn was he pushy! Such a turnoff.
on Aug 23, 2006
I had the Owens Corning basement system installed this summer and overall the experience was mixed at best. There have been a lot of comments on this web-site both pro and against, but few seem to have the particulars that someone who is about to purchase this product need to make an informed decision. Hopefully my experience will help those people.

When you contact Owens Corning about this product you do not deal with an Owens Corning person, instead you are dealing with some who has purchased a franchise and is now selling the product using the Owens Corning name. Living in south New Jersey the company that has the franchise for this area is “Owens Corning Basement Finishing System”, which is located at 12 Mt. Pleasant Drive Aston, PA. This is a very important fact because the employees (including the salesman) wear the Owens Corning labels on their shirt, but in reality will never install a thing in your home. They in turn hire another subcontractor who does the work, or as they like to say “my crew”. This fact became very apparent when the “Owens Corning site manager” was complaining everyone wanted to work in the winter, but no one wants to work in the summer. What I found out from my “crew” was the company that holds franchise did not have any work during the winter, so everyone was working on their own projects. In fact my “crew” left one person at my home to do the work and the rest of them were building decks elsewhere. Again this is another important point, Owens Corning will tell you all of the installers are factory trained, when in fact the sole worker who completed my basement had never been to the factory training course, and only learned how to install the system from his co-workers. Another fact to keep in mind with the franchiser using subcontractors is your electrical work (lights, outlets) may pass inspection but they may not be installed by a licensed electrician (this was true in my case), which is in direct conflict with the sales pitch. So at this point the only person that was watching out for the safety of my home and family was the township building and electrical inspectors. Realize that even though the person who is working in your home wants to do the best job possible is the lowest paid person in this process. You are paying for a Cadillac but the person who is doing the work is working for Wal-Mart wages.

Some have mentioned the price of the system, so to be fair here I will share some real numbers. The basement I had finished was 525 square feet in total, the price was $29,963.37 after the “we want to use your basement as a show case discount”. When the franchised company completed the forms for the building and electrical permits their estimated cost that was submitted to the township was $13,081. I will let you do the math. You will never know this amount until you make the second and largest payment on the Owens Corning contract, which by this time has locked you in and forces you pay at 80% of the total $29,963.67 bill. If you have any questions or doubts about this system, your only way out is refuse to sign the contract, or you must cancel it within 72 hours of signing the contract.

As far as the construction goes, it is quick. Within 10 days I had a finished basement, well sort of. Finished in this case means I was still responsible for painting of the wood they used in the soffits, closet doors, and trim around the windows. During the construction process you will be told over and over “this is a system”. What you are getting is fiber glass panels and plastic molding, which means you, can not run to the Home Depot or Lowes and find something to fix a problem. In my case I have molding falling off the walls above the closet doors, baseboard molding falling apart where they glued it together an it has failed, trim that was wedged into place and it is now falling out, and the covering now coming loose from the panels where it was not attached properly to the panels, and ceiling tiles with dented corners. Many of these items I missed or were not apparent when the basement was completed and the franchiser was standing in the basement waiting for the final check, but have come to light as I have spent more time in the basement. Granted the finished basement is not falling down around my ears but there are enough little things that are diminishing the enjoyment of the product. I have contacted the franchiser about these issues, and was told that they would contact the subcontractor, and as you can tell I still have not heard back from anybody to date. So after writing this I will sending a letter to the Owens Corning parent company with the hope they will get the franchiser to respond. I will admit that the “Basement System” did meet my need to complete the project quickly, and it is quiet. On the other hand, I doubt the life time warranty claim will ever be honored, and even if I can force that issue I will probably be spending a lot of my time trying to track down the right subcontractor who is suppose to honor the contract.

Would I ever use this system again in another home? I guess the answer is probably not, because I thought I was going to deal with Owens Corning or at the very least an Owens Corning representative that had to answer to the parent company. Instead I caught in a web of subcontractors who all trying to finish the job with the least amount of work and cost to them, leaving any problems for someone else to fix. Had I gone with a traditional basement, I may have had some the same problems but I would have been able to see more of the contractors work and gotten more referrals, which is one thing I found the Owens Corning sales people refuse to give out. The excuse is always “you are the first one in this area to purchase this product”. If anyone who reads this knows how to repair the Owens Corning basement system components or even what glue to use I would greatly appreciate the help.
on Aug 23, 2006
Yes, OC does have a very nice product. But if you want a return on your investment, be prepared to take a huge loss!!! Unless of course you plan to live in your home until your death.
on Aug 27, 2006
Didn't end up buying the system, but for good reason. See the story "What?! A Salesman with Integrity?! In this Economy?!" at beltsvilleshopper.blogspot.com.
on Aug 28, 2006
Thank you Larry for your comments Posted on Wednesday, August 23, 2006.
My wife and I just signed the agreement yesterday when the sales guy came to our place in Mt Laurel, S. NJ and spent a lenthy 5 hours for his presentation. He (a pleasant fellow to deal with, not that pushy as others described) is from the same place you mentioned "Owens Corning Basement Finishing System”, which is located at 12 Mt. Pleasant Drive, Aston, PA. #610-459-5808. Our final price is $40,000 for 1,000 sqft ($40/sqft) basement, down from the initial $55/sqft, after the Showcase" discount and flex schedule...
We only blame ourselves that we are not savvy enough to do some research beforehand.

Since I saw some folks out here had deals like from $28-30/sqft done, how can we back out within that 72hrs windows unless Owens Corning is willing to come down with the price close to $30/sqft. Can we just give them a call to say we want out? I double they will ever sign anything to release us from paying them the initial 10% which we already paid thru our credit card.

SOS, please help. I don't feel like to talk to a lawyer regarding this, because as we all know, lawyer may charge us $200 for gving that piece of advice.

Thanks very much for your earliest reply/help as time is running out very soon.
on Aug 28, 2006
I am having the Owens Corning installed as we speak. (updates to follow) So far, much of what you (Draginol) had to say is true. vague details during "the sell" which are becoming issues during the install. By the way these picture hanging plates what website did you find them at?

I'll share one quick detail that is becoming an issue; "Windows!" I told the rep "I want all the windows replaced." "OK, no problem" he says. Now comes the day when the installer slips in describing to me how he has to accomadate the old window frame with the new window. "That won't be a problem I say all the windows are being replaced!" "I know the windows are being replaced he says but the frames are staying" "you are going to put a brand new window in an 80yr old frame!!! his response to me was I'll put some pine over it to cover it up!! I am still waiting the project manager to call me back I'll keep you posted
on Aug 30, 2006
I am sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Getting out of the Owens Corning contract can only be accomplished if you do it in within the 72 hour limit. A New Jersey resident who is the buyer can back out of most contracts, including buying a home, withing the 72 hour period as long as you do not take possession of the product. That is why car dealers want you drive the car off the lot after you sign the contract. If you signed the contract on August 28 you can still cancel today, but time is running short. Most companies have to deal in business days, so if the the contract was signed say 8:00PM on Monday like mine was you have until the close of business on Thursday August 31. You might be able to push it until Friday Septemeber 1, but that may require a letter from your lawyer. I suggest if you want to cancel the contract you need call first, and also send either a letter or e-mail also. Just make sure you can back up your decision in writing, and a print out of a e-mail with a receipt will work in this case.

Again is done within the 72 hour limit you will get everything back, after 72 hours you must pay 80% of the contract and you will be held to that amount.

on Aug 30, 2006
Your article about Owens Corning Basement System was indeed interesting to read but undoubtedly not pleasant for you to experience. I do take exception to the length of time you think a contractor (or even a homeowner with reasonable skills using power saws, drills, levels, etc.) to install the usual 2x4's and drywall to do a basement including a drop ceiling. The advantages to a drywall basement because of it's ease to repair, picture hanging, sconces, etc. Any contractor experienced in basement remodeling should resonably be able to do a 1200 sq. ft. basement (walls only) in 4-5 days and that includes taping and sanding with a minimum of dust created. What did those Corning guys do the other 8 days they were at your house?
on Sep 01, 2006
We just had a guy from Alure.com over at our house. His estimate was $68/square foot and I thought that it's too much.
on Sep 01, 2006
We just had a guy from Alure.com over at our house. His estimate was $68/square foot and I thought that it's too much.
on Sep 02, 2006
Prior to finishing our basement with the OCBS, we remedied a wet basement problem with another company.

We had the complete OC system installed in 845 sq ft. (approx. $45/sf) during 10 days in July by one individual OC contractor and two days with a certified electrician. I cannot speak more highly of the quality of their work and professionalism and we are very pleased with the final OC product.

One of the more recent posts above indicates that there is incidental work to be completed by the home owner once the contractor leaves. And he is correct.
Door assemblies and all of the soffits are trimmed with pre-primed timber and any metal support poles are wrapped with an unprimed fibreboard product requiring a primer coat as well as the paint.

Then we needed to address the flooring. At first we chose to directly order the Mateflex (not OC product) interlocking carpet panels (as shown at a local OCBS Home Show display) because this product also contains no cellulose and sits on a sturdy vinyl grid which permits air to circulate and moisture to evaporate from the subgrade concrete floor.

Unfortunately, Mateflex mfg. co. is experiencing considerable difficulty filling orders and we suggest caution when dealing with them. Mateflex did cancel our order after several unexpected delays, but the integrity of various employees leaves a lot to be desired.

In place of the Mateflex product, we opted for Home Depot's Legato system. Each puzzle shaped unit is complete with carpet/padding/vapor barrier. It was very easy to install and looks and feels great.

We even had a potential OC customer take advantage of viewing our basement as part of our showcase discount agreement the day we finished the carpet. Timing was great . . .

Within three days of completing the entire basement, wouldn't you know it. . .our water heater bursts and we end up with a couple inches of water and steam all over our newly finished basement. The OC wall system survived without a hitch. The pole wraps and carpet however needed our immediate attention.

The finished fibreboard pole wrap immediately absorbed the moisture and swelled at its base (saturated carpet didn't help). We cut off several inches off the bottom of the pole wrap material and used scrap material (left behind by contractor at our request) to repair. We did not allow the wrap to reach the floor this time. Rather, we used the wood trim (supplied by OC) to conceal the 3" of exposed support pole on the floor. Any further water infiltration will not likely reach the pole wrap now. BTW, the OC walls do not reach the ground because of the flooring allowance and did not sit in any water.

The carpet could not be vaccuumed completely dry with the wet vac because of the attached vapor barrier. Arghhh. We had to pick up each and every piece and take them outside to dry. Fortunately, it was a sunny 90 degree day and the slats on my porch rail provided a convenient rack to drip dry the sections. The basement dried out quickly once the carpet was out, and as the carpet sections dried, it all went back into place easily enough.

I don't think things would have gone nearly as smoothly with traditional wood/drywall and wall to wall carpet.

Overall, we are very relieved and happy to have gone with the OC and the legato option. If moisture in the basement is a problem, I wouldn't use anything but Owens Corning.
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