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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 4)
on Nov 21, 2005
We are getting estimates to have our basement finished and are/were weighing an OC basement and traditional basement. We had remodeled a lot of our old house but just don't have the time to do that now (we had a house built last year) especially since we have a 27 month old and 9 month old. None of our projects (we did them all on our our - including a complete gutting of our main bathroom - took more than 3 weeks). We had a salesperson from OC out and we were treated like complete morons by him. He refused to ask me any questions other than decorating ones. We had been told that it would only take 1/2 hour - we scheduled it for early evening seeing as we have 2 small kids. After over an hour, the salesperson said that he still had at least another 45 minutes. We told him that he we would give him another 15 minutes and instead of using that time to talk about quotes, he repeated things we had already talked about. He also tried the scare tactics with mold but got things wrong. He tried using a recent story from GMA about mold and was wrong about everything (I had seen the story and then looked it up after he left). He was very pushy and did not listen. After his last 15 minutes was up, he refused to leave. My husband finally said that that we were asking him to leave very stearnly. A minute after he left, his boss called - my husband told him what happened and then hung up. We haven't heard from them since - that was almost 2 weeks ago.
We have since had several contractors out to talk about a traditional basement and each has said that it would take 4-6 weeks from start to finish and that would include drywall, a full bathroom, carpet, Pergo, paint, trim, and wet bar. Only the walls, electric, lights, and ductwork are included with OC. A friend had OC do thier basement and they are somewhat happy - all of the same minor issues as the others.
on Nov 22, 2005
Kristin, that is awful they basically lied to you. I know when we set up the appt, the young women over the phone did alert my husband and I of the fact that we need to allow for 3 hours when the salesmen came out. I will tell you, it took just about that long from him to measure and then go through his whole sales routine and us ironing out the deal.
All in all, I consider ourselves lucky. The sales guy was not too bad, he knew what he was talking about. However, he did follow the "script" it appears that other OC salespeople are doing all over the country. I guess some are just better at what they do and some are not. I hate the slick and slimy type of salespeople. Anyway... in the end, we are happy with the look and finished product. We didn't have as much problems with the sales process as others, just minor ones as I noted in earlier postings. I think no matter what kind of project you have done in your home, there will always be bumps in the road with contractors etc. Nothing seems to ever go smoothly, most of the time. TO ALL OF YOU OUT THERE WHO ARE CONSIDERING THE OC SYSTEM... JUST DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE THE SALESMAN COMES OVER. EXPECT A 2-3 HOUR VISIT. & DISCUSS WITH YOUR SPOUSE AHEAD OF TIME WHAT IS THE MOST YOU ARE WILLING TO SPEND AND STICK WITH IT. DON'T LET THE MOLD SCARES AND INCREASING THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME TACTICS MAKE YOU PAY MORE THAN YOU SHOULD. IF YOU THINK THE BOTTOM LINE IS TOO MUCH... THEN LET THE MAN WALK AWAY. YOU NEED TO BE HAPPY WITH THE PRICE AND LOOK OF THE PRODUCT BEFORE YOU SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE.
on Nov 22, 2005
I actually had an "Owens Corning Authorized Dealer" come to my house last summer to give me an estimate on this finishing system.

First of all, characterizing the guy that came to my house as a little oily would be like calling Eva Longoria mildly attractive. Maybe other "Owens Corning Authorized Dealers" are not as slick as this fellow, but any misgivings I had about the product itself paled in comparison to the high pressure sales tactics this guy tried to use on me. He started off by giving me an estimate of over $50,000 to finish an area of roughly 1,200 square feet, and then tried to get me to sign a contract right then and there. When I told him I was still in the middle of getting estimates and was not going to sign anything that day, he kept lowering the price until he was down to $32,000, all the time telling me that these prices were only good if I signed a contract on the spot. So much for their website’s promise of a no-hassle, sales-pitch-free home estimate.

The next thing that that turned me off was the price--$27 a square foot?! Are they nuts?! The estimates I’ve been getting from contractors for traditional stud wall and drywall construction has been running $18-$20 per square foot—and that’s post-Katrina inflated materials prices. Again, maybe it was the snake oil salesman that visited my house, but Owens Corning needs to cut their pricing by at least a third if they want to be competitive with traditional construction methods.

Which brings me to the biggest problem I had with this system—the product itself. Sure, in theory it sounds great—a system designed for basements which allows easy access to the foundation walls when needed (not a minor consideration—in fact, my foundation sprung a small leak just this morning). But then you start getting into the details and it’s not so attractive of an idea, especially for home theater applications:

* You can’t paint the plastic trim pieces that join the wall sections—you have to live with the colors the stuff comes in, which is either an awful-looking faux wood (think cheap American automobile plastiwood) or gloss beige.
* You can’t paint the fabric wall covering—and it only comes in one color, a sort of grayish off-white beige.
* You can’t nail into or hang anything heavy on the walls, and you have to use special wall fasteners for hanging lightweight (< 50 pounds) items like small pieces of artwork.
* There’s no drywall in this system, which means no finished ceiling—you get a drop-ceiling system installed instead.

And for all of those major disadvantages they want you to pay 35-50% more than conventional construction?! Yeah, right.
on Nov 23, 2005
Last entry for me. The basement project is complete as of today, with the carpet installers just leaving the house. The OC installer was finished 2 weeks ago (total of 10 days). All total, the project took 11 work days (OC installation and carpet/pad installation). The finished product looks good...we are very pleased. Our project was under $30K for about 1000 square feet of finished basement and new living space. Sorry to hear that so many have had bad experiences with the salepeople from OC, as ours was pretty good and very informative. They estimated about 90 minutes for our initial visit, and we were done under 2 hours. Bottom line here people...do your homework and research before calling OC. Go look at a "showcase" home where the system is already installed. Until you see what you're getting it's hard to judge. As far as the last guy's comments on all the disadvantages (can't paint the walls, can't paint the trim...), that was an ADVANTAGE to us. The trim (crown and base mouldings) are white/off white in color and look very clean when installed. One less thing to be painted in our house is good indeed. The OC system comes with a wall hanging package (12 specialty clips designed for the wall panels). There's no way we'll use all 12 clips, and each of them are designed for about 35 pounds I believe. As far as the home theater topic, this system works very well since the panels can be removed/replaced and the wire can be run effortlessly without snaking lines through drywall and around studs. The acoustic ceiling panels (Armstrong brand) look nice and make dropping speakers in place a breeze. I can't even imagine having to remove drywall and begin searching for the water leaks in your basement foundation walls. This system works exactly the way it was intended...designed especially for basements. Don't make the product out to be more than what it was intended. Finally, instead of waiting for about 8 weeks to have our project completed with normal studs and drywall (roughly February 1st, 2006) we'll be enjoying the new space all winter long. Do yourself a favor and take a look before you criticize...you may be surprised. Remember that the "slightly" higher price is a godo investment in the long run considering the lifetime warranty and never having to have it installed again in the future. Compare that to drywaller with little or no warranty and the possibility of water repairs. Installing one OC system is MUCH cheaper than multiple drywall systems...easy math. Good luck with the decision regardless. Happy Holidays....
on Nov 23, 2005
I had this system put into my basement. Cost was about $25/sq ft, although I did the electrical myself. I can't say I had the heavy sales pressure. This may well be related to particular sales teams. There was a bit of custom door fitting and soffits to hide beams and such (included in the price.) The work was done in about 3 weeks (I had agreed that speed of installation was not critical and if they wanted to schedule me around on a time
available basis, it was OK - got me around $1.50/sq ft off the price.) I can't say I have any complaints with the work or materials.
on Nov 24, 2005
It pay's to read a posting before commenting doesn't it
on Nov 26, 2005
You sound like a company rep????
on Nov 26, 2005
You sound like a company rep????
on Nov 26, 2005
Please excuse my idiocy but when you refer to square feet, are you referring to the overall size of the basement or to the amount of paneling (wall & ceiling) needed to cover the "innards" of the basement?
on Nov 26, 2005
I just had a sales guy in and he was not to pushy however his price was $73.00 per sq ft. How do you get it for $30.00? I am in PA.
on Nov 28, 2005
I just finished with my "Car Salesman" as I called him,OC rep , he was professional but a bit pushy, all in all I like the system but am still in aw at $38 per sq roughly $14,800 for 375 sq ft with elc,light,2 doors,a beam wrap and two collumns. Im not a very good negotiator but am not stupid either, I was in construction(primarily drywall) for 5 yrs. My question is how can I negotiate this down to a reaasonable &30 per sq. I have not signed anything yet but have a "locked in price" for 30 days. Any advice would be appreciated. e-mail me at RossVTwin@hotmail.com
on Dec 01, 2005
This is the first time on this web site and I was suprised to here my name mentioned. It would be a great plesure to your basement. Yes I do fight for the custumer. I am a sef-employed carpenter for over 15 years contracted by Owens Corning Basement Systems, I would like to see things done to you as I would to me, its called Cusomer Service. My e-mail address is djakusz1@aol.com. Please just mention my name, Thank You.
on Dec 02, 2005
About 8 weeks ago my wife and I decided to finish the basement in our 6 month old house. We went through all the usual steps (created a budget, contacted contractors, gathered pricing, considered how much we could do ourselves) when we ran across the Owens Corning system. We, of course, decided to have them over...that's where the good news ends. First the two hour meeting turned to four hours, (funny part is that when the sales slug was measuring our 1200 sqft basement I conducted some research and found this blog) then (as scripted) the initial price came in at amost $60\sqft and the slug followed the tactics listed above (discounting, calling manager, bartering for installation schedules, asking us to become a 'show home'). We actually got the price down to $35\sqft and it was about midnight, the wife and I decided that we wanted to see the product, and further negotiate the price. The 'slug' left with promises to contact us and schedule appointments.

8 weeks later, Owens Corning contacted my wife and asked why we didn't proceed with the purchase. She explained that we liked the product, but wanted to see it installed in a show home and that nobody had followed up w/ us. They apologized, claimed the sales person had been let go and went on and on about the excellent customer service of the organization (in such a way to suggest that our 'slug' was worse than all the other slugs) but at the end of the call my wife politely refused another visit.

That evening we spoke and reviewed the product. (It really is a good concept) We decided to have them back, she called them this morning and spoke to another sales manager. This sales manager asked if we would like our 'original sales manager' to come on-site. (so we learned that the guy she spoke with earlier had lied and misrepresented the organization again) To make a long story short, after discussing with me, we decided not to move forward with the company because of the sales tactic's, their misrepresentation, their lack of ethics and a lack of follow-up.

Though price was an important factor, at the end of the day, it was a lack of integrity by the Owens Corning representation that made our decision!
on Dec 15, 2005
Try using Subflor Suprem by Supra Floor
on Dec 23, 2005