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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 15)
on Dec 03, 2006
After living with our OC basement system for the past year, I can tell you that I completely hate it. It looks SO cheap! There is nothing beautiful about it, and it looks like an industrial office setting rather than a cozy home environment. Want to hang a picture? They give you a box of 25 pins that you stick into the wall, and if your picture is heavy, then they recommend you use 2 pins. Cheap and tacky! The ceiling hangs funny, the plastic molding is not connected tightly and you can see gaps everywhere, and they actually GLUED the molding around the windows, which is now falling apart. This stuff is an absolute joke, and I'm disgusted and embarrassed that I actually bought into it. We've been calling the company that installed it for months and months requesting that they come back to repair and finish up the work that still needs to be done, and whaddya know, they're simply just too busy. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT INSTALL AN OWENS CORNING BASEMENT SYSTEM IN YOUR HOME unless you're trying to achieve a cheap, tacky look and suffer the indignity of no support when it starts to fall apart.
on Dec 05, 2006
tomorrow is the end of my cancellation period.
we're paying 34,500 for 800 sf, which works out to about 43bucks per sf.

alure is doing the work, and they have a great reputation.

still, the price seems steep... is there an OC/Alure customer out there who can offer some reassurance?


on Dec 09, 2006
Just curious ... did the salesman push the Owens Corning company itself in his sales pitch? Did he mention how huge and financially secure OC is, and how long it's been in business? Did that add some comfort level to your decision in going with this basement system? I wonder about this, because the OC company itself doesn't seem to have any relationship with the support or guarantee for this product. If you're not happy with the job or if something goes wrong or if it's installed sloppily or incorrectly, I'm pretty sure the OC company itself is not involved and has no clout or involvement with the resolution of complaints. You should check out the company who is installing the system rather than depend on the reputation of the Owens Corning company.
on Dec 18, 2006
We also had our basement finished with the OC system. All the benefits are true except... One of our panels is coming apart at the corner. Kids and Pets are a problem no matter what they say. And when the product falls apart.. well lets just say you are stuck. The installer won't return calls, OC runs you around filling out forms and submitting paper work just to get you back to the contractor who doesn't return calls. My contractor is out of NY and did our install in NJ. I am in the process of contacting the BBB.
Don't buy Don't buy Don't buy
on Dec 29, 2006
If you live in the Columbus area, try giving Champion a call. My wife and I went through the OC torture chamber and after doing some research, found out that Champion offers a simular product (actually better in several areas) and our basement was several thousand dollars less with them as compared to the rediculous quote we got from OC. We have since referred two of our friends to Champion and they love everything about it.
on Dec 30, 2006
Kimmie obviously works for Alure or Owens Corning
on Jan 02, 2007
I have a better product then OC, with all of the same advantages for substantially less money. Our product is much stronger, and you can hang a flat panel tv from it. I install in Maryland and Northern Virginia. Please let me know if you are interested.
on Jan 28, 2007
In repsonse to "Happy with installer". I would like more information about your installer, Dan. Do you have his number? I do not want to contact OC regarding it. I'm currently unhappy with my drop ceiling, seems my OC installer cut corners (no pun inteded). If he's in the western suburbs I'd like to give him a call. Thanks!

on Feb 09, 2007
Problem with Cancellation!

Count me among those that signed and instantly regretted it! I cancelled the next day by signing the Cancellation Clause and overnighting it to their office. They called me on the phone and told me that a "Zone Manager" had to come out to my house and have me sign some papers to "release me from liabililty." Did anyone else have any problems trying to execute the cancellation clause? Any experiences or advice would be greatly appreciated. I really thought I was dealing with Owens rather than some franchise operation, but I do hold Owens responsible for operating this way - what a rotten company.

on Feb 11, 2007
I just saw a post elsewhere that a woman had a problem with her HVAC system after they came out (she claimed it was triggering her fire/heat alarm with her security company).

When our salesman was at our house I asked him about this because I knew the furnace needed adequate ventilation and they were going to box it in. He promised another "ceiling vent" above the furnace, but could not tell me where it vents. I just watched the Bob Vila video, and in the background on the film the men from OC were doing just that - putting the furnace and water tanks in a small, enclosed area - I couldn't believe it! A few years ago we had someone come out to service our furnace and he warned us to be sure the area remained well ventilated - that air needs to circulate.

On the "release of liability issue," I'm guessing it was OC's way of making an excuse to come out and talk to me and see if they could re-negotiate the terms of the contract. I am in no mood to re-negotiate and told the woman on the phone that no one from that company had better come out here, and to just cancel my contract. If I have any problems with the cancellation I will re-post, but I properly cancelled under the contract, so I don't expect any (I hope!!).
on Mar 05, 2007
Does anyone have any experiences with the OC basement system that includes a pellet stove or some sort of wood burning stove? Can they work around that? Cost extra? ...
I want to keep/upgrade to pellet(?).
on Mar 08, 2007
Thanks for the info, unfortunately for me it is too late. I just have my basement done and have mixed opinion about it. I do like the low mess, and wall accessibility. Aside from that i wished i did it myself. I have a 4 and 3 year old kids so you can imagine how much i can do without them being in the way and playing with my tools. I completely agree with regard to the predatorial sales tactic employed. I ended up paying about $40/sq ft. The salesman gave me an estimate for the basement without the specifics regarding material cost, labor cost, or any kind of breakdown at all. I wanted to think about it, he flat out refused to leave. After about 5 minutes, not kidding, 5 minutes of insisting to think it over, i gave in and signed the contract. In retrospect, i should have called the police. He backed off the original estimate of $48,000 to $36,000 (no flooring) but at 900 sq ft, i now find out that is still very expensive. I originally estimated to be able to do it myself for about $12,000 but figured 2 weeks for a basement is a good deal. Well, it actually took 7 weeks to complete the basement. Had i known that, i would have done it myself. They also neglected to apply for a permit, get electrical inspection. When i asked them, they say they will get an electrical inspector out if i "like". SO i said yes and decided to call the township, turns out i needed a permit also. When i asked them they said they called the wrong township and the third party inspector came out and looked at my 40/40 electrical panel and said the 3 added circuits made it over yet put a pass sticker on it anyway. When i called Owens, the manager said when he was out drawing up the blueprint, he made a mistake and counted the AC and dryer breakers as 1 each instead of 2 each, that he didn't know that the double breakers are counted as 2 even though they have 1 toggle. Likely story. now they refuse to add a subpanel unless i pay for it at $1500 after the fact. He gave me the option to have their people come out and pull the circuit and have my choice of people to come out and install a subpanel to power up the basement. I was hoping that they are willing to correct their "mistakes" to make it compliant but they already got the money and i doubt i will ever see them again. The 2 smoke detectors they were supposed to install they left in my electrical closet with a roll of wires and said they did not want to tap into my security system which is fine but they were not even hardwired and put up. This whole debacle is unfortunate as a good product is tainted by unscrupulous and unethical people. I guess you live and learn
on Mar 08, 2007
Just curious, why do all of you refer to the pricing as a 'Square Foot' pricing when it is not going on the floor? If you were to base it on sq ft, shouldn't that be based on the sq ft area of the wall itself that is being covered? Because layout & floor plan can be different for different basements...
. But I think the whole reason for all of these people whining & complaining on here is because they could not afford a product this nice. They are the same people who say "BMW and Mercedes suck" because they can only afford a used Ford. And thats ok!! Thats why used Fords exist, and thats why cheap materials for construction exist. And just like a used Ford will get you to point A to point B, drywall can and will cover your walls. But on the same token, there are better vehicles out there with more style, features and benefits. And there are also better materials for your walls.

I choose not to live a life of mediocrity, and I enjoy the nice things hard work rewards you with. But I dont understand why so many try to talk people out of a nicer product just because they can not afford it... And I would never again think twice about doing my basement exactly the same all over again...

Your reasoning with the pricing is valid, but i doubt that many people are going to separate the basement into many rooms,since the open space is the appeal of it. As far as the product is concerned, i admit it is a good product as long as you don't have kids. Drywall can be painted as often as you feel like changing the colors, ripped out and replaced by yourself in less than a day. With the OC, you can't buy a new panel even if your life depends on it. There is the issue of cost to value ratio, ND. Just b/c it's expensive does not mean it's the best. Take a minute and go to consumer report website and see which column of reliability your MB and BMW are listed in.
I have the OC system and i do like it, it just irkes me that i can not buy the material to do it myself. The trims don't line up, the salesman pushed me to sign right away without time to compare prices or think it over, they put 3 more circuits into a panel that is already full and now tell me that if i would like to make it code compliant, i need to pay extra for a subpanel at 1500. They did not apply for a permit or have the electrical inspected until i mentioned it. By the way, took them 7 weeks to do it, not the 2 weeks that makes the system so appealing to me in the first place. For people who worry about drywall dust, The Home Depot sells the vaccumn attachment for the sander. I actually use it often with my HEPA filtered vaccumn and then chuck the filter. Don't get me wrong, the OC is a fine product, but you can't install it yourself because it's not available retail so beware of the people you will be dealing with. No product however great can compensate for the unethical sales tactic and people involved.
on Apr 07, 2007
My wife and I are looking to finish our basement and have heard about the Owens Corning basement finishing system. Alure is the only company listed on the Owens Corning website to install the system in our area so we called and had them come out for an estimate. The "design specialist" that showed up refused to discuss the job or give me a quote since my wife wasn't there. He said that since ~80% of people who "take time out of their busy lives to both be there" for the consultation/sales pitch end up signing with them and ~20% don't, they (Alure) don't care to waste their time with the other 20%. When I asked him if he personally was a licensed contractor, he said he was not but then gave me a litany of reasons why his company and product were better than all of the others. He went as far as to show me a letter from Nassau County that talked about another contractor (I won't name them here) that used "unconscionable" business practices, I suspect this was a scare tactic. Then he assured me that his company was better and more ethical, was this a confidence game? .. still not sure.

Requiring my wife to be present smacked too much of one of those hard sell techniques timeshare people try to use to play you and your wife off of each other. I haven't decided whether or not to call these people back yet but I will be getting quotes from 2 other contractors. I'm sure Alure is a good company but their sales approach leaves allot to be desired.
on Jul 10, 2007
i used to work for owens corning,and i lasted 3 weeks,which is what it took for me to find another job..
owens corning franchises will hire anybody,even sex offenders,to come to your house and pitch their product,because their turnover is so high.
the sales rep makes nothing unless there is a sale,they dont last long at all.
their call centers are full of convicted felons who know your personal information.
their financing is done by some of the worst predatory lenders in this country.

stay away from this outfit,the owners of the franchises are all scumbags.