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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 17)
on Jun 13, 2010

I've been reading all of these comments about the sales tactics, and while I can empathise with you, you're not considering the salesperson him/herself.....I am a design consultant and while I offer the showcase, deals, etc.  I usually give the customer 3 business days to think it over.  Needless to say, I haven't gotten a pay check in over a month.....PLUS I use my own car, gas, etc. so obviously, that doesn't work.  If you think salespeople are untruthful, I would invite you to spend a day or week riding on appointments with me where I hear the same lies over and over and over from customers.  And they really think they are being creative.  You also should consider when slamming OC that you are dealing with LOCAL franchises.  They run their business how they see fit.  The contracts used are created by the local company, not OC.  OC uses the same exact sales training used widely by the home remodeling market.  They do not have an "Owens Corning" sales training......they give you guidelines but other than my certification (which was more technical) the formal sales training that I went to was Rick Grosso.  Many many many home improvement companies use his seminars and others like him.  As much as I hate to have to go to the "slimy" tactics that you are describing, they obviously work, and me being nice, honest and no pressure doesn't.  I work for the most honest, ethical company I've ever worked for and I'm not making a dime because people must think it's fun to have me out to their house.  And I'm not quoting huge amounts.  I'm talking about 12k up to 20k at the most!!  Sorry to vent but I'm just so frustrated right now.  My company is trying sooooo hard to give me quality leads, but the customers are just not doing their research and I end up being their "researcher"  I even have customers try to "trick" me into giving them the design plan that I created.......joke!!  So, they can either use my work to do it themselves or give my design to another contractor.....I dont' think so!!  As far as the other basement systems, NONE of them have all of the benefits of the OC system.  I won't name names but,......the one with "no sight lines" will sag after a few years.  OC tried to go that way, but it obviously didn't work or they wouldn't be using the battens.  The one with more colors....well, if you've ever dealt with fabric, then you understand dye lots.  So if you have to replace a panel some time, it will NOT match the other panels.  OC uses woven "plastic" fibers that have no dyes, will not fade or stain and look the same after years of use.  We actually replaced 2 panels (no charge due to LIFETIME warranty) that were starting to sag due to a pipe leak and the basement had been finished 7 years ago.  You could not tell which panels we replaced had you not known.  I don't know about the other companies that you dealt with, but we give each customer at least a dozen plates to hang pictures and if they need more, they can call us.  If you are in need of more, then you should contact your contractor.......OK, I'm done venting now......I hope I've helped some of you!!

on Aug 28, 2010

I have been reading the comments about the owens-corning basement system. Anyone know what should be a good price for their windows.? Please email me any opinions Thanks. 

I did not know they had windows until I was at a county fair and entered a contest for a sunroom. They called several times so I made an appointment, NEVER once on the phone did they say they expected a decision immediately during the demo.  I do NOT like this tactic and it should be discouraged or banned.

Well I just finished a 3 hour discussion with a sales rep the other day about their windows and sliding door. He did remind me of car salesmen but I walk out of there also if I am not totally sure.. The initial quote was outrageously high, then of course got the discounted prices.. To me is was still way too much so I actually cut down on the windows and door.  The next price was still high and then more discounts. 

When I said I would have to think about this and get back to him, I was told the discount would be gone.  The discount was only good for the initial visit. I got a bit annoyed and said oh well I  would look somewhere else, That under no circumstances would I sign anything that night without further research and quotes from other sources.

He took his samples to car and came back to pick up papers, This started another 1/2 circle where he called his boss (at 10:15pm) . I walked him to door he said he might be able to keep it until Monday but if someone else came along it was gone.  I said would contact him the following week.

My window are 55% Pella and I have an appointment with them but I have read MILES long complaints about the new windows rotting etc.  The one thing so far about Pella is that to them the warranty is over.  With OC it is supposed to be 2 lifetimes -- as long as we own house and it transfers to next owner.

The OCproducts seem great but the sales technique and price is not...  


on Sep 18, 2010

Pink Panther Fiberglass can stink of Dead Fish & Urine for a long time.

We finished our basement and put unfaced Owens Corning (OC) Pink Panther fiberglass insulation in the ceiling for sound proofing.  Immediately we noticed a dead fish/cat urine odor.  We called OC. They said the odor was normal and would dissipate in a short time if we ventilated the area. 

We opened all the windows in the basement and ran a 3 foot square exhaust fan 24/7 for a month.  The odor got worse, because the humidity level increased.  Turns out that the binder that OC uses reacts with water to give off more odor.  It pulls the water right out of the air.  OC's literature provides no warning about the odor or the water reaction that makes it worse. 

We searched the web and found Johns Manville (JM), an OC competitor that uses a different low odor binder in their fiberglass.  They said that OC's dead fish odor normally lasts only a few weeks, but if the ingredients in OC's binder are mixed incorrectly or over cooked, the odor could persist for a long time.

They added that you can sometimes smell the OC fishy odor when you walk down the fiberglass isle in a hardward store, especially when the humidity is high.

Well, the odor lasted more than a year (14 months), during which time we could not use the basement because it stank. The insulation had been pushed behind pipes and struts above a dropped ceiling, so our cost to replace it would have been high.  OC did not offer to replace it, so we were screwed.

My question is this -- has anyone else had this problem?  I'm wondering why people would buy OC's potentially smelly fiberglass, when JM's low odor fiberglass costs the same and does not stink.

on Oct 19, 2010

This thread is still going so I've registered just to post. I am finishing my basement now--myself. And yeah it is taking a long time. A professional working alone could do it in a month or two with complete framing, drywall everywhere, full electrical, insulation overhaul (and I mean foam—doing it right, not slapping fiberglass batts in the wood), and with a bathroom. I have seen a neighbor's Owens Corning basement setup. It looked ok but the best analogy has already been used--mobile home. You can see it in the pictures yourself. You know how a drop-ceiling looks kind of "basementy"? Well, this system has the walls look the same way, like office cubes.

It is quick to put in place. I question how important that is, though. Most people don’t even finish basements, so it’s not like those who do generally need it done quickly. Accessing the foundation is nice, though in truth rarely needed, if ever. How many people do you know with a finished basement who lament access to the foundation? It also doesn't appear that this system can support a nice bathroom or similar.

I understand that to have dividing walls in this you basically need two of the pricey panels slapped back to back.

Mold is a problem in some basements. Bad site drainage, poorly done insulation all can lead to a moldy basement. But again, I ask of those you know with a properly done basement and running dehumidifier, how moldy is it? Although the materials used in this are resistant to mold, they do not seal up the air away from the foundation like a superior insulation approach would do—also this approach has fiberglass-like material right up against foundation and is likely to lose R value as/if it wets. What I have done is used Owens Corning *foam*, sealed up against the foundation, consistent with best current science. It separates the basement from the foundation walls completely. Then inside typical framing and drywall. Mold issues are now a total non-concern because the drywall and framing are no longer part of the insulation equation. And with better air sealing likely lower energy bill. There is also mold-resistant drywall you can use, but that’s unnecessary if the drywall is not in a damp environment to begin with—and in a dehumidified basement with proper foamed insulation it shouldn’t be damp.

 

The Owens Corning Basement system is fast but that’s the only real benefit I see. Comparing it to improperly done basements is not fair. Compare it to well done ones, and for its cost you could hire a contractor to install a beautiful basement with drywall walls and ceiling. Then you’ll feel like you’re in your house when in the basement instead of at a community hall playing bingo. And I don’t hate Owens Corning at all—if you’re short on time you can even use their 1.5” thick foam basement panels with 2X4s drilled right into the wall, then drywall over that. I think it’s better than this basement finishing system. It would be ok if it was much, much cheaper, but it seems like you’re paying for a BMW and getting a Cavalier. I was quoted about $20k by a local guy to have my basement done, 625 square feet with drywall every where, framing, electric, fake hardwood, full bathroom, including all plumbing, everything actually except trim and maybe some lights. I am doing it myself, but that’s only about $30-35 square foot with materials and labor. Some of the rates I’m reading here for a guy slapping up some panels and framing a door or two are just straight up insane.

 

I want to finish with this: IF you get a contractor to do your basement and you’re asking him about insulation and he brushes it aside and says vapor barrier with batts, do not try and educate him; just don’t use him. It’s inferior, it’s old school and it’s wrong. Go with a company that knows current best practices.

on Nov 01, 2010

Like many people I went through the sales tactics that these OC salesmen use.  Step by step this one went through the same questions, answers, and comments.  Called his supervisor, offered a bunch of "discounts".  For about 700SF of space, including the carpet"
discount" with out flooring or finishing the bathroom I was quoted 69,000.  69K to finish my small basement with very basic designs, nothing fancy at all.  And on the interior walls they were going to use dry wall.  Only the exterior walls would have the modular panels.

I am glad I have patence and am very nice because I wanted to put my fist through this kids head.  Do they really think most customers are brainless enough to spend 69k on their basement?  After saying no to this kid a 1000 times, he finally came down to a price of 40k.  I told him at 40k that was the price he should have started at, not 69k.  So when I told him I am not spending 40k on a mobile home basement set up, he acted like i wasn't seriously wanting my basement done....he did the whole "what is the real reason we aren't doing a deal today?" line.  I found the steps to their sales presentation some where on line and was suprised that this kid had it down word for word.

 

In the end I walked him out of my house.  And before he left he shouted out loud so all my neighbors could hear how horrible drywall is and to call him for my basement needs etc.  I mean, i honestly felt like I was buying a Kirby vaccuum cleaner.  They actually expect you to just sign away that much money for their basement "system"?

 

All i can say is if anyone is considering their basement system...please please please keep looking else where.  It ain't worth the money they want.  How good can a product be when this company uses such aggressive and shady selling methods.  If their system was so wonderful, it would sell itself.....why would they need people to try and scare you into thinking that there was no other way but to use their system to have a nice basement...lol

I am still shaking my head from this experience.....

 

I did get a follow up call the day after the salesman was here asking me if I was unhappy with the salesman....(trying the next phase of their sales push) to make it sound like that was a rougue salesman and they  were sorry etc.  But I cut her off and told her it wasn't the salesman, it was the sales practices used by OC that made me decide to run.... Good grief is there any company out there that is not in the busiess of screwing their customers???!?!??!?!?!

on Mar 03, 2011

I have read many reviews about this system, and see both good and bad. I have a brother whom is a former employee with the Canadian version.

First let me tell you often times the Owens Corning basement system in Canada is alot different then American version. although they don't price by sq foot they come in between $70.00 to often $100.00 per sq. foot. They close is confrontational and feel strongly it is a one night close so if you don't buy that night they push and push, phone call to manager after phone call the entire process takes often 4 hours. The system itself makes sense in alot of ways however this product clearly is Mercedes pricing, often every other company you seek is far less expensive.

on May 06, 2014

No matter how you slice it this system does not create a dry basement.  It strictly manages the water.  If your basement is a concrete block wall and its leaking really bad you really don't have any other choice.  If you have a poured concrete wall and it is leaking through a crack you can get a waterproofing company to come and inject the crack to stop the leak.  Real waterproofing is applied to the outside of the house foundations.  This way the dirt and water presses the waterproofing onto the wall.  If you try and go on the backside the water will push the waterproofing off the wall everytime.  Best bet is to seal the outside of the wall before you backfill with something like Laurenco or Grace Bituthene or Grace Preprufe.  These products really do work.  They aren't cheap.  The downside to the Owens Corning water management system is that you really need to isolate the space between your old foundation wall and the backside of the drainage system so that the mold that is likely to grow in this region can't spread into the air you breathe.  This means sealing the top, sides and bottom.  I suspect that the system succeeds in sealing the bottom and sides, but might miss the top.  Make sure you seal the top.  i would never suggest installing drywall on a leaky foundation wall.  You will create a perfect space for mold and it will be quite unhealthy.  If you want to finish the wall I sould suggest using a paint that breathes like TNEMEC.  This paint can release water vapor so it is a lot less likely to delaminate than regular paint.  I also would avoid carpet on a basement slab that wasn't built with a vapor barrier under the concrete.  Water vapor will migrate through concrete and condense in the carpet creating mold.  I would go with ceramic tile and put a throw rug down that you can easily wash when needed.