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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 13)
on Sep 05, 2006
Here in Denver, Colorado .... we bought into the Owens Corning basement system hype, and the work started last November, 2005. It is now September, 2006, and it's still not completed! The walls are crooked, there are missing doors, the ceiling has huge gaps and tears, and I have the photos to prove it. We made the huge mistake of paying for the basement before the punch list was satisfied, and even though the company has promised to come out to fix everything, it still isn't done, and our repeated phone calls go unanswered.

The name of the company who installed our OC system is Complete Basement Systems in Commerce City. They sent out an installer named Wes H., who took several MONTHS to "complete" the job, not the 2 weeks the salesman promised us. Wes never cleaned the basement on a daily basis, either, as promised by the salesman. Wes agreed to put in a bathroom for us, too, but insisted on getting half the money up front, then Wes disappeared after doing about 1/4 of the work. Wes kept assuring us that he would never leave his customers hanging or dissatisfied with a job he did, but looks like his word is as good as his work -- useless.

My next letter will be to Owens Corning themselves. I'm going to invite them to see my basement personally, and then I'll ask them if they're proud of their product and the representatives they use in the Denver area. I'm also going to invite the media to my "open house" so they can review the Owens Corning basement system for themselves. Owens Corning and Complete Basement Systems both should be extremely ashamed of the mess they left us with.

I'll post a follow-up to my comments here when my situation is resolved, regardless of what the final outcome is.
on Sep 10, 2006
It seems to me that much of the cost for the product is based upon the fact that it can only be installed by the certified installers. I know OC wants the system installed by qualified teams so their reputation stays intact. Is there a standard price for the raw materials (the panels, the connectors, the trim, ceiling tiles, etc), which could allow a potential buyer to assess whether the price is even a starter before adding in the things like the installer, the corners, and all the things that make the cost per square foot go up. Seems to me that would be a great "equalizer" in all this discussion.

on Sep 11, 2006
I have done my basement with the OC system about a year and a half ago.
I found out about OC from a home show. I have made detailed drawings and diagrams of what I need done in my basement, did some research on internet and invited the sales rep.
Told him straight that I am familiar with the system, don’t need demo and BS scare tactics about mold. We walked thru the basement with him and my building plans discussing and refining them.
I gave him an estimate how much it will cost me to do it with sheetrock and told him I am willing to pay a bit more since it is a better system but my budget is limited and I am not paying twice the sheetrock price.
It took him about 20 min to estimate the price (discounts, etc) - at the end - 850 sq/ft finished area (out of 1200 sq. ft basement), 3 unfinished areas left - storage, walk-in closet (I did it myself later with cedar) and utility closet, 3 light zones /w total of 16 can lights, 5 extra lights in the unfinished areas, 1 staircase light, 1 double door to the storage area, 1 exterior door /w glass, 2 regular doors, 3 support column covers (very nice octagonal), 2 phone jacks, 2 cable jacks, all electrical outlets by code (an upgrade of the electric panel with extra breakers), 2 electric baseboard heaters on a separate circuit, 3 vents with covers to the unfinished areas, 1 wired smoke detector, nice oak rail for the staircase, boxed-in pipes for the heating and AC, built-in cabinet/access panel to the plumbing system, access panel for the phone system board, drop ceiling and the wall system - total $32 000. I was OK with the price and signed the papers. Then I specified the date when to start the project. It took them 12 workdays to complete the basement. The builders were very flexible and accommodated all minor requests and adjustments I made during the building process. They even left me 2 boxes of ceiling tiles and whole bunch of spare parts for the wall system and the ceiling. I told the guys that I will be installing dricore as flooring system and they adjusted their wall system, trim and the doors to accommodate the dricore tiles. Overall, the experience was excellent! Very good communication with the project manager and the builders. They built the whole thing following very closely my building plans - down to the location of the light switches and lights, heaters and phone/cable jacks etc. The basement turned out exactly the way I wanted it! Their project manager even handled the building permit and the inspections. Year and half later I could not be happier!
A word of warning - your experience will vary based on your local franchise! The guys i had to deal with (CKH Industries) were very professional and I would strongly recommend them!
on Sep 15, 2006
Thank you for your insight into the product. I am a state of Pennsylvania certified building inspector I too found their sales tactics over the top. Fortunately, being a building inspector....(sort of like the IRS or the one is thrilled to have you around) I was not fazed by the tactics. I did find the misrepresention of building cost and mold to be humorous.......Although I like the product because of its resistance to mold....However, I really got a kick out of their scare tactics with they are all bad, devious, untrustworthy.....yet I am suppose to assume that their contractors are all church going choir boys that donate 75% of their annual salary to the needy!.....
All joking aside, I only asked for them to install the wall boards. I was going to install the framing, electrical, carpets, lights, switches etc. All they had to do was install the 4x8 wall panels on a poured foundation wall that is only 2 years old........ my basement needed 48 panels.....they quoted me $39,900...... That is rougly $802 per 4 x 8 panel. Considering that I was doing all the framing and a sheet of drywall at a high price of $10.00 per sheet thats an 8,000 % increase over drywall. As a building inspector, promoting home renovations their is no way I can endorse this product at that cost. What would my price be if I got the whole system.

on Sep 15, 2006
To any Chicago-are users who are happy with your Owens Corning INSTALLATION, what franchise did you use? I like the product but won't buy unless we have good service and ethical business people to deal with. Thanks! Donna
on Sep 15, 2006
After another 3-4 hour negotiation, I recieved my second estimate to get basement finished at about $36/ from a very "excited" salesman two days ago. I canceled my first estimate/contract. I live in Illinios in the St. Louis Metro area. At first, I thought that it was a pretty good deal for the product, but now Im skeptical. I like the product, but Im thinking of canceling again. Is there anyone out there who believes that Im getting "suckered" out of thousands of dollars or is $36/ a good deal?
on Sep 20, 2006
By calling a competive company, like I did-I used TOTAL BASEMENT SOLUTIONS , Rep was not pushy-really knew his business
in my opnion, has a superior product---- well worth getting another estimate. My reps name was GARY (866)271-4231 what do you have to loose by calling!!
on Sep 20, 2006
I live in south jersey, couldn't find them, but I found tbs covered my area- dont rember reps name 1-866-271-4231
on Sep 21, 2006
yes there is compitation,and a very one-TBS, TOTAL BASEMENT SOLUTIONS CALL me1-800-816-9766
on Sep 21, 2006
Does OC have a patent infringement lawsuit against Champion?
on Sep 22, 2006
Try calling total basement solutions, my reps name was gary, (609-351-5008) he came and saw me by my self, because of my
husbands working scedule-I also make all the decisions, my basement couldn't be more beautiful.
on Sep 25, 2006
Here's the window/job is finished update: The project manager responded back to me immediately and agreed the wood should be replaced. My overall opinion is very pleased. The only remaining issues were these: 1) It does look like office space. However, with the proper decorating I'm hopefull this can be overcome. 2nd the was a hard push to "write a letter of appreciation" and "please include the Owens Corning Name!!!" I haven't written such a letter simply because I was told to do so. 3) the Lolly column covers are some masonite like material which seems very cheap. Lastly I have a concern as to how repairable the system is. Since you can't buy this stuff ANYWHERE you must call OC to come do the fix.
on Oct 10, 2006
can you expand on who/what the product is that is being sold in PA
on Oct 13, 2006
Are you still looking for a wall system for your basement?
on Oct 14, 2006
My basement was finished with OC product - beautiful! Unfortunately we had flooding in the basement and I cannot get rid of the water marks/stains. I complained stating that the walls were suppose to be stain-free but still OC will not cover any warranty. Any ideas? They dried up alright but the water marks are terrible.