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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 3)
on Oct 27, 2005
Well it has been a month... Our cost was 2k more than drywall.
The only issues i have seen so far, is that the base molding was put against the floor. therefore, putting in carpeting is okay. But the tile I wanted a no go. decided with pergo. either way getting the base molding off once the carpet was installed is easy. getting it back on is extremely hard.
Also, Installer used hot glue gun to fill in the cracks & once you tack a section of molding off you can see the gaps.
we also had OC have the installer put up wood backing to support cabinets for kitchen/bar area.

The original 'smell' has gone away after a good airing out.
Other than that we like it.
on Oct 29, 2005
Very happy I stumbled onto this site, however I wish I would have seen this a few days ago. My Friday night was spent with the OC rep in my house from 7PM - 11PM. 4 hours of information, video, measuring and negotiation. I must say that my wife and I really liked the product. We have young children and we are concerned about allergies, mold and mildew. Without any research we put a "bet" on who would be closer on the price. My assumption was that OC's system would be less expensive than traditional building materials....boy was I wrong. I actually guessed around $15,000 (had no idea how much room we had in our basement). My wife put in a higer bid at approximately $30,000. After he measued and we had the design including a finished full bathroom, we were at 1,060 square feet of living space. I was pretty pleased there was that much room, considering at least 33% of the basement would be left unfinished for storage. Very first quote was $62,000. Definitely missed my estimate and almost fell out of my chair laughing. Then came the discounts...SAM's Club (7%), Referrals (5%, however we could have up to 7%), Showcase and being "flexible" (7%). Now we were down to approximately $50,000. Such a great deal we were getting right? So we cut out the full bath and figured a half bath was good....really all I wanted was a urinal in the storage area, but that did not fly. That got us down to $46,000. Our salesman at this point really put on the pitch and was in awe we could pass up this offer and really got into the sighs, ooh's, and aah's. He also called his "manager" and amazingly his manager loved our suburb, knew we would be flexible and that we were great offer of $39,000. Then came the absolute disbelief that we could say "no" to such a great offer. Fortunatley, as much as we really liked the product we did decline. Needless to say after 4 hours I was a little tired, but happy we outlasted the sales guy. He was very nice, but definitely put on a little show. We are looking for the RJ11 insulation they use and other ways to help eliminate molds in our basement. I would prefer to finish myself and take my time. We really are in no hurry, but obviously want to do what's best for the family. Pretty pricey and still not sure that it is the best idea. I'm waiting for OC to start selling this in Home Depot for those of us who like to do things on our own.
on Oct 30, 2005
I had the system done a year ago. working in the health field I cannot and will not believe that people do not fear mold growth in the basement. If drywall or green board my favorite which by the way, say's it is 50% water resistant, what is the other 50%. furthermore if drywall is so great why no warranty with owens corning you get a lifetime. i will agree that drywall is agreat product when somebody warranties there work. not to mention all the labor involved. If it takes 4 weeks to install why no warranty, anything that takes that long should come with a warranty.
on Nov 02, 2005
This past Friday, Oct 28, we had the OC salesman out to our house. He followed the script as outlined in many posts above. (Which I didn't know of until Oct 29.) He measured first then got into the long presentation and really focused on the mighty mold scare. Also, he talked to us like we were morons. I was impressed with the physical durablility and looks of the product. However, I figured that the long lead-in was trying to justify the huge quote to come. I wasn't let down. The first quote for my 600sq ft was $33,000 ($55 sq ft.)! Needless to say, since I hadn't read these posts yet I was astonished. (He told me in the showroom prices were usually $8-40 a sq ft) We said there was no way that price was even an option. Then he asks if we are flexible and pulls out the Showcase sheet and all of those requirements. We said that would be fine and he gave us a new, scrawled on a piece of paper price of $23,000 ($ 38 sq ft.) Well, that was a major reduction making me wonder how much fluff was really in the price. We said this was still too high and he whips out his phone and says it's the end of the month and he needs to make this sale and maybe his "manager" will help him out. He makes this call about 8pm and the "manager" says he doesn't need inventory on the shelf so bring the price down to $21,000 ($35 sq ft.) When we told him we needed time to think he really pressured us to sign because this was a deal only for the end of the month and the showcase deal was good for two days. If we waited we'd have to pay the first price. Since I'm not signing anything that equals the price of a car with NO ITEMIZED QUOTE, we told him we had no more questions and would get back to him. The next day I found this site and figure I'm going to try for $20 sq ft. I also tried to get into a Showcase home (oct 30) to see the finished product and have yet to hear back from him. Also, when he quoted us the monthly payment if we used their financing he didn't know the interest rate because it would be determined after we signed a contract. What is that?? Would I buy a car not knowing the interest rate????
on Nov 02, 2005
These posts here remind me of a guy I knew that tried selling a particular brand of bed years ago. He was trained to look over the house and any cars on the property to guess the potential customer's income. From there he was free to work out any price over his employer's minimum he could. He quit that job as the only way to make any money was to find someone willing to pay an inflated price. I'm sorry if I'm making anyone feel bad here but these prices are insane. I understand the advantages of moisture resistant materials but do they really cost that much more than wood and sheetrock these days? If not, is it the cost of labor to put this stuff up that drives the price up? Looking at the online videos it doesn't look anymore difficult to put this stuff up than the convential methods. In fact it looks easier. Besides, any basement with enough moisture to spawn the growth of mold on sheetrock should have a dehumidifier running for comfort regardless of what materials are present. $20 per sq ft. would be reasonable give or take a few bucks depending on where in the country you live. If you pay more it should be for the convenience of getting it done fast if that's a priority. Most builders that I've come across use basements as filler work and come and go when they can. The result is you wait some time to get it done unless you hit them at a slow time. I'm fortunate that I can do a basement the old way and I'm going to do one more for myself in this house I have now. I wish I could buy the OC materials myself but that doesn't seem possible at this time.
on Nov 04, 2005
Draginol, I want to thank you very much for your taking time to post such a meaningful experience. I became interested in this two years ago and contacted Owens and got no reply as there was noone doing it in my area. I gave it up, until a few days ago at my local Sams, I find a model trailer fitted out. I thought it was ok and asked for an estimate. I filled out a small form and was soon contacted by a firm from Atlanta. They were setting appts. I had to take a lot of time to be prequalified and was then told I would be contacted again to confirm appt. I was, and again a long redo of previous appt set. Told lady was busy and just confirming. Still the long rehersed spill. Finally, NO SHOW after I was told to plan for a three hour experience. I got a call about an hour later saying they had overbooked. I had wondered when appt time was affered at either 10:00 Am 0r 6:00 Pm. Like you I am a professional and find this a demeaning tactic. IT seems they fail to understand the needs of their target client. I think I will opt for the normal drywall. As you know most things that are best cost more in time and patience! I would have used this had they presented at my convenience and shown the same ability as a local contractor. Thanks
on Nov 04, 2005
Sorry, None of you can afford the will all have to go for the Kia....Ya know just because you can't afford the Quality product does not mean its not worth it....I put it in my house and all my friends are jealous...

on Nov 07, 2005
Draginol, I would also like to thank you for creating this site and your original entry. I am also looking to finish my basement and saw a commercial on TV for this OC System. It looks good to me, but when I went to the web site and didn't see any prices I was concerned. I figured they can at least give you a price per panel or an MSRP of a panel...Just like any other reputable company would. When you see this, a normal person sees the markup coming already.

I don't doubt the quality and the need to resist mold blah blah blah. What I don't need to do is sit in a 3-4 hour sales pitch. Although, the people in my area are about 2 hours away, so I could technically waste 4 hours of drive time for him too. I had just hoped that this system would be cheaper and I appreciate the site and the honest people who posted. I don't mind paying for a good product, just not sure it's twice as good just yet. I would also like to see one of these "finished" "showcase" basements first.

To the other people posting on here saying how great the product is and how stupid the rest of us are, you really sound like OC employees or at least sales people just trying to defend your nonsense. As Draginol said, this site should be for questions and answers...not for opinions and not to make cautious people feel stupid.

To the idiot from Atlanta, just because you pay for a BMW and think you are cool, doesn't mean we can't afford it. I can afford your BMW, but I choose to drive a truck....which isn't much cheaper then your car by the way. Plus I am secure enough with myself to drive what and like and don't have to impress fools like you. You can work all day to afford your little trophy car while your wife is having fun with a real man in your cellar that you just paid too much for. Have a great day
on Nov 07, 2005
Well, I'm on installation Day #10 (working day that is) and everything is nearly complete. The system thus far looks great, MUCH better than I had even imagined. The finished product is very clean looking, and the trim pieces (crown and base moldings) really tie everything together nicely. Only complaints thus far (if I have to find a complaint) is that the OC salesman may have overstated their ability to complete the project so quickly. My initial quote was for "approximately 5-6 days"...well again, we're on install Day #10 and everything will be completed by tomorrow mid-day. The work shift has been primarily from 8:00am to 4:00pm and no weekends. My crew (if you can call it a crew) has been primarily one installer...a very conscientious and detailed installer at that. I've asked him to make a few subtle changes from the original layout, and that was not a problem at all. The quality of the workmanship is very, very good...and for that I'm extremely happy. We'll have the carpet installers in within a few days, and everything should be ready to use by this time next week. This website/blog is very interesting. I can't understand why people begin to argue back and forth about this product. We are all interested in the information and details for the product...that's it. The product may be the right choice for some people, and probably not for others. We are very happy thus far, and will make our final conclusion once the project is completed. Best piece of your homework. The entries above of people paying between $50 to $90 per square foot is ridiculous. Our initail quote for $30/foot (900 square foot finished basement area) has never changed. The people we're dealing with are professionals, not guys selling product out of the trunk of their cars. As you would with any other major purchase (and this is a major purchase) your homework and be an educated consumer. For those of you in doubt as to the product, you might be surprised how well this looks in your basement. It would be nice if there was a way to post some email photos of the completed work. The OC website photos are not that great. Keep up the conversation.
on Nov 13, 2005
Great article but I would tend to disagree with you on two counts, newer upscale housing and mold. I am currently living in my second of what you call "upscale properties". Water damage definitely does and WILL occur in any type of home. Homes don't stay new forever no matter what they cost. Every home owner, upscale or not, can expect water in the basement at some point during the life of the home. Sump pumps, hot water heaters, HVAC drainage, laundry fittings, plumbing supply lines, or any number of other water disaster sources are all in the basement. Water runs down hill. No matter where in the house you have a serious flood, the water will eventually end up in the basement. My first upscale home had a drywall basement which was destroyed by a sump pump flood. Our current home developed a leak originating from the HVAC unit. I am pleased to say that my Owens Corning basement came through as advertised. I was able to dry and reinstall the wall panels and molding quickly and easily. I purchased a mildew resistant carpet and pad with my system which worked wonderfully. Beware of mold!!!!!!! My wife works for a large insurance company and it was her who made the final decision to install Owens-Corning. Mold DOES happen in the finest of homes. Check with your insurance agent to verify their policy on mold coverage. Most insurance companies are moving towards not covering it on standard home owners policies.
on Nov 16, 2005
Can the Western Suburbs of Chicago installer's name be posted? I live in that area and have a sales pitch scheduled for later this month. The information in this post has been terrific. Thanks to all!
on Nov 16, 2005
I am the one who posted a few times noting which day number it was of my installation. I live in the western suburbs of Chicago, Montgomery, IL.
My installers name is Dan. He is a one man show, extremely personable and trustworthy. Tell the installer you want him as your installer and tell him you want Dan to get the credit for the referral. Our first names are Tim and Carlina. You won't be sorry if you chose OC and have him as your installer. He really looks out for his customers interest and will do anything for you. He took about 3 weeks for just about 800 square feet. There were a few bumps in the road which prolonged the installation, however it was not in his control.
on Nov 17, 2005
I'm here in Central Massachusetts and had the local Owens Corning rep come out to give me a quote on finishing my basement.

The space in-question is 341 square feet with one door. Pretty small space for my kids to play in. After TWO HOURS of presentation, measurement, presentation, forced question and answer and the full cheesy sales song and dance we were quoted $29,000+ for all work! (To quote Jon Stewart, "whaaaaaAAA?")

If we agreed to have an open house in the Spring and then allow them six months to come in and show other people the "system", we'd get a WHOPPING 15% off. And since it is December and "our crews aren't busy now" we could maybe get up to another 10% off.

Unless you want to over-pay and sit through a high-pressure sales presentation (Mold, Mold, MOLD...IT IS EVERYWHERE) I'd avoid the Owens Corning people like the plague.
on Nov 17, 2005
I know the sales pitch is long and painful. I know my husband and I just wanted the salesperson to get to the point the entire time and let us know his "starting" figure. However, we were quoted $39,000 for just under 800 sq ft and we said no right away. Said it was not worth it. Then after me discussing my concerns... basically see how far I can make the salesperson go down we ended up paying around $21,000. Basically, they must have a huge markup with a lot of wiggle room to reduce their selling price. I probably could’ve gotten him down more, but we really wanted it done by the OC system and we really wanted it done fast. In the end, we are happy with the out come. Buyer beware.... know upfront that the cost is high, but negotiate the best you can to get the price you can afford and one you can live with. We also sat through the 2 hour sales pitch, mold scares, the salesperson calling his mgr on the sell phone, the agreement to sign up that day for a reduction and the agreement to "show" our home. I have since found out, they hardly ever "show" any homes, they just use it as another sales pitch idea to make you think you are getting a great deal. I think the OC system is getting more popular and the sales people are not so hard up for a sale anymore, therefore, I think they are willing to walk out if you don't sign up that day at their price. It seems to be a sellers market now, rather than a buyers market in some areas. They are not so heart up anymore. They will be again when things die down a bit for them. I got lucky, OC just opened a new office out near me and they needed to get work lined up right away to keep their head above water. I hear now, they may have a lot of jobs lined up now and are most likely playing more hard ball with their prices.
on Nov 20, 2005
I wanted unbiased info from real people; boy this was is a great site! I'll tell, ya, after reading them all, I am beginning to think that the ones touting the system as the beast thing since air and sunshine are the salespeople trying to undo the sales pitch horror story.
Really the bottom line is the bottom line. I want a price and that's all. I'm not a hoop jumper. I was considering this for a commercial job in a church basement. I think I'll find another product. I will NOT, under any circumstances, open my brothers and sisters in Christ up to snake-oil tactics and chenanigans.
Just saying the truth in love.
Y'all stay blessed. Oh and happy Thanksgiving everybody!!