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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 8)
on Feb 20, 2006
so your in berks county
on Mar 02, 2006
i recently had my basement done by owens corning in NJ and I must say I was nervous about the price...However after getting it installed I would never go bk to drywall/sheetrock! The system is beautiful, and most important to me was NO MOLD and quick install time. The installers really took theirwork seriously and it shows in the finished results. If you are thinking about this system, dont worry about the nervousness you feel, as I did...have some faith in the system, it really was something I would do over again in a second. The salesman was so nice and thorough...and helped me throughout the whole process. I wouldnt listen to the negative people around here who slam the product because of price...YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. and i feel like I definitly got THE BEST!

in NJ, ALURE WAS THE INSTALLER-HIGHLY RECCOMEND> *****five stars
on Mar 02, 2006
Hi: We live in Central New Jersey (Ocean County) and would like to know more about who installed your basement and what the sqaure footage costs were, etc. You seem very happy with it as opposed to what most are saying on this web site.

Thanks in advance for more information (ron123rob123@netscape.net)
on Mar 03, 2006
I have posted many times since October when we had the system installed. I am very happy with it. I think the ones who have posted negative comments are only the ones who DID NOT have the system installed which all seems to stem from price and poor or hard core sales tactics. It is ashame really, it is a good product and OC doesn't realize their selling practices and first quoted price scare customers away. OC, if you read this... take it down a notch. My salesman was good, but not great.... and the first quoted price was crazy. If the salesman actually can quote a half way decent price in less time, you would get much more business, because the product is really good, it can sell itself! It shouldn't take 3 hours for a presentation and all the silly tactics to REDUCE THE BOTTOM LINE!

on Mar 03, 2006
How much did you pay?
on Mar 03, 2006
Okay, I'm clearly at novice here and I really appreciate this website. Even after reading all the comments I am still considering OC because it's quick and clean, but I have some questions that I hope one of you can answer. First, what does the $/square foot that you all refer to represent? Is that total cost, including electric, ceiling, floor, windows, stairs, doors, etc.? Also, what about heat - how does that work?

Thanks.
on Mar 04, 2006
We had a sales presentation today. The young man that came was very pleasant, professional, not at all "used car salesman" and very knowledgeable. Very soft sell. Never "called his manager". We thought the system was terrific - and would really like to put it into our basement, but the "buy it today" approach really was a turnoff. Why would I ever decide on such a large purchase without some time to think about it? We decided not to buy now because we have other improvement projects planned, and the price wasnt quite right. He started off at $80 per SF and ended at $55 (with all of those "Showcase" discounts). Still too high, judging by the other comments posted here. What I don't understand is why a reputable company like Owens Corning would use these aggressive sales tactics. They have a terrific product and would go alot further with potential customers, in my mind, if they SET a price, (which is the price a customer would get anyway after heavy negotiating) forget the Showcase, and eliminate the suspicion and negativity that results in a customer's mind after this sales pitch. Right now they don't have alot of competition on the product, so why not establish a happy customer base and build a great reputation? Saturn Cars had the right idea - the price is the price. I really am considering contacting OC directly with feedback. And, we will talk to the rep again to see if we can come to common ground. But it is really a shame that OC takes this approach to sales.
on Mar 05, 2006
Went to BJs Wholesale club the other day and they had a small display for Owens Corning basements s ystems. Mentioned a $500.00 off coupon good for a year. So we gave them our name and number. They called a few days later to set up a time for a free quote (they said my wife needed to be home as well, never stated how long appt. would be (I naively figured 1 hour)). OC Guy (or rep) came out for 2:30pm appointment at 4pm (they did call at 3pm and said they were having issues, running late etc.) The rep was very nice, patient, and polite. Measured the basement, and anwered questions throughout. I really wanted about 800-900sf of basement finished, but rep seemed to be alluding that the price would be pretty high. So I agreed to just finishing two sections about 550sf, this was the major portion that wife and I really wanted done. Finally about 8pm we start talking about price (wife made dinner somehow while the rep drew up the official plot of our basement and what they would do.) First price quote was $43000! $78.00 A SQUARE FOOT !!! (I had'nt seen this site so wasnt familiar at all with what their prices). Rep then mentions the Showcase Home discount (He had mentioned this before), New price $38,000.00 or $69.00 a square foot ! Hmmm, let me think, uh no, I'm not biting, not even close. So Rep calls his manager (its about 8:20 pm now) , hangs up, and says manager says to offer the flexibility plan, that if we are not in a hurry they will schedule within the next few months, but will only give us 36 hours notice or something, new price $35,000.00 or almost $64.00 a square foot. Hmmm, no, I dont think that's reasonable. Rep still very polite tries to make sure we know about lifetime tranferrable warranty, Owens Corning quality etc. I agree thats its a nice product (I do like it, seriously) but that $35,000 is about double what I think would be a fair deal. Rep again calls manager and explains that we are not interested at that price. That was the end of our haggling. They didnt budge below $64.00/sf. Saw the Rep off at about 8:45 or so. Almost 5 hours and no deal. I truly like the OC product. I like the look of the linen wall, dont mind the plastic trim, it looks OK. I like the mildew resistant features, and the removability of the panels. But no way am I gonna spend more than double what I think its worth and 3-4 times what drywall would cost... Im still shaking my head and its almost 1am as I write this. $35,000 for 550sf, unbelievable. Hope this helps someone. If anybody gets a better quote in RI or Mass in the near future please drop a comment for me. Thanks.
on Mar 05, 2006
--Okay, I'm clearly at novice here and I really appreciate this website. Even after reading all the comments I am still considering OC because it's quick and clean, but I have some questions that
--I hope one of you can answer. First, what does the $/square foot that you all refer to represent? Is that total cost, including electric, ceiling, floor, windows, stairs, doors, etc.? Also, what about
--heat - how does that work?

The SF that we are quoting (at least I gather from my almost 5 hours) includes electric and ceiling (lights included), doors. No physical windows included (not sure if that is what you are asking) but existing windows will of course be "framed" around with the panels and they will probably provide some type of trim. No Stairs were included in my quote. A 10ft electric floor heater was included in my quote (although I didnt think this would be enough, because there were two rooms included in the 550sf estimate). My wife and I would probably have considered $30.00/sf, still pricey but a much more reasonable amount considering lifetime warranty, speed and ease. Also at the $30/sf price I may have considered doing more than the 550sf.

-Jason
on Mar 07, 2006
Owens Corning Basement Pricing:

Many posts on this site focus only on price per square foot. I would like to see people tell us how much their drywall “quotes” were and compare that to their final “price”. Basements are rarely similar in layout making $ per foot quotes highly inaccurate.

Home improvement pricing tends to vary wildly from state to state. Get detailed quotes from three credentialed firms in your area. A “GC” or Owens Corning quote implies that you want the contractor to complete the majority of the work.

Local code requirements can add significantly to your total project cost. In the state of NY, code requires an egress window in all finished basements. This means excavating your foundation and installing an exit window etc.

Labor rates alone can be a deciding factor. Does your contractor employ "Day Laborers"? Does he merely GC the job and sub out the smaller parts to less scrupulous sub-contractors?

The Cost vs. Value report that comes out yearly tells us that home improvement values only hold up when the job is professionally done.

http://www.rudymayer.com/pages/costVSvalue/basementremodel.html

If your contractor gave you a quote without seeing your home or by merely "footing out" your basement you may be in for a surprise. Comparing some anecdotal information that comes from the "net" or the sub-development rumor mill is not always real or factual. Get DETAILED quotations on paper about what is included in your "price".

Some better questions are;

* WHO is doing the electrical (carpenter or Licensed Electrician)?
* Is it a drop ceiling, or is it sheetrock?
* Does the "estimate" include paint (three coats min. on new sheetrock)?
* Are the permit (s) and permit fees included?
* Does he have insurance/workman's comp.?
* Are there any warranties (labor or material)?
* How long have they been in business (under the same name)?
* How many basements have they done?
* Can you visit a completed job?
* What are the payment terms?
* Is financing available?
* Is the contract “price fixed”?
* Is the contract clear and inclusive?
* Is the homeowner forced to be the project manager?

A sheetrock contractor will use $2,500 to $3,500 worth of materials in your basement. They typically charge $30 per sq. /ft. in the Northeast. The finishing time is 1 week per 100 sq. ft., 6-12 weeks on average.

With mold and basement flooding a real danger to many homeowners one might ask, how is it that sheetrock basements do not cost less, since there is a real chance of water and mold damage? Many people have had to finish their basements two or more times. It had better be cheap! US Inspect reports that 90-95% of basements will have water penetration.

http://www.usinspect.com/Crawlspace/Basements.asp

People will fly in an Italian tile man to install imported tile for their bathroom. Spend thousands on a granite counter top. Yet, when it comes to their basement where their children will spend much of their time, it is all about cost?

Do your due diligence on basement mold and flooding issues and you will see that the OC BFS is always a great value.

Some resources for you;

buildingscience.com
realtor.org
remodelingonline.com

BasementKing
on Mar 10, 2006


Thanks very much, Jason. This was really helpful.

Aunttomichael
>>>>>

Reply By: Jason from Portsmouth, RI(Anonymous User) Posted: Sunday, March 05, 2006
--Okay, I'm clearly at novice here and I really appreciate this website. Even after reading all the comments I am still considering OC because it's quick and clean, but I have some questions that
--I hope one of you can answer. First, what does the $/square foot that you all refer to represent? Is that total cost, including electric, ceiling, floor, windows, stairs, doors, etc.? Also, what about
--heat - how does that work?

The SF that we are quoting (at least I gather from my almost 5 hours) includes electric and ceiling (lights included), doors. No physical windows included (not sure if that is what you are asking) but existing windows will of course be "framed" around with the panels and they will probably provide some type of trim. No Stairs were included in my quote. A 10ft electric floor heater was included in my quote (although I didnt think this would be enough, because there were two rooms included in the 550sf estimate). My wife and I would probably have considered $30.00/sf, still pricey but a much more reasonable amount considering lifetime warranty, speed and ease. Also at the $30/sf price I may have considered doing more than the 550sf.

-Jason
>>>>>
on Mar 17, 2006
Alfonso - what did you decide to do with Alure? Did you cance the contract? I am still considering OC and would use Alure in Westchester. Curious as to how things came out with you, since you had signed the contract.

Thanks,
AunttoNMichael
on Mar 22, 2006
We had the OC rep out to our house last night. SAME experience as listed by so many others on here. I wish I had read this before I had them come out. The selling gimicks were totally out of control and made my husband and I very uncomfortable and feel dupped by the end. My husband works for a luxury automobile company and even THEY don't sell to their customers like these guys.

BOTTOM LINE: A great product sells itself and should not need to rely on tacky sales strategies and high HIGH pressure selling. We honestly don't even care if this is the best material; past experience with hiring people to do work in our home has taught us to trust your gut. Be treated with respect and you'll mostly likely get a job well done. There ARE other materials out there that will keep your basement low mold/mold free and really look a heck of a lot better than the OC stuff.

In Minnesota.
on Mar 23, 2006
On March 11, we had a guy give us an estimate from "Bob Showers" called "Total Basement Solutions". They used to sell Owens Corning Basement, but said they stopped when they found out about some Teflon - cancer risk in the material. The "TBS" system is 4' x 8' sheets of commercial-grade cement board glued to a 4-inch thick piece of foam insulation, which has no food for mold, and can get wet without getting damaged. They drizzle some design with vinyl on the concrete board to make it look like a fabric and look similar to OCBS (although the TBS is paintable). The walls have an R-13 value. The walls are not studded, as they are drilled directly to the walls, and then covered up with a strip. I wasn't too thrilled about it, since I can buy cement board and 2 inch thick foam (R13) insulation for about $10 each 4 foot section. The cost was $28,000 with ceilings for a 1000 sq. ft basement. Owens price was $33,000.

I think I will be doing the work myself.

on Mar 24, 2006
i had owens corning out to our house about 1 1/2 years ago and thought the price was a little high. but after looking around for the last year and a half at the other options we decided to go ahead using them. the advantages were just too many to ignore. i read on this site that the price should be around $30 per square foot. the first time it was $56 per square foot. i ended up paying $61 per square foot due to price increase. i really beat the salesman up and he dropped his price from retail. i wanted to see how far he would drop so i told him i was going to think about it and he was packing up to leave so i feel comfortable that he was being fair. since the basement was completed my family really uses the basement more than any other room in the house. it is great for the kids because i know that they are home but we are not bothered by the noise they make in the basement. honestly i should have done this a year and a half ago and i had a friend also get an estimate and his cost per square foot was similar to mine.