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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 5)
on Dec 23, 2005
I hade convential drywall done 2 years ago. the cost was about 45 a square foot 7 months ago my subpump shut off and i ended up with 2 feet of water in my basement. it cost me about 4500 for the tear out because of the the mold and and the musty smell in the basement. originaly it took 7 weeks to install the basement.

After the tear out i contracted owens corning to install a new basement . they had a lifetime warrenty and they guranteed the product.. the install took about 12 days .. for a chicagoland install it was about 50 a square foot for a 700 square foot basement. i am very satisfied and so happy i went with owens corning
on Dec 23, 2005
did you call pro source
on Dec 23, 2005
was it resolved
on Dec 23, 2005
i live in oak park il and recently had the owens corning system put in my home. do the people on this site actually no anything about it or is this negative stuff just made up.. i hade a great experiance, ted the installer and scott the sales rep were awsome . i dont understand why everyone is anonymous. we love our basement
on Dec 28, 2005
Saw the advertisement on TV. Checked out the website. Had the sales guy out today! As he started his drill I informed him I was an experienced real estate agent. I know basements and negotiations. He was knowledgeable and a bit pushy. We have almost 1100 square feet of space. We settled on $28 a square foot. I like the product, warranty, speed and flexibility of OC. I am in my first 3 days of right to recind. The contract is vague so I am going to tie that down a bit. My brother in San Antonio is a general contractor and is reviewing all the info. Thank you so much for all the comments, good bad and ugly it is all informative. I'll let you know how we make out.

on Dec 28, 2005
Anybody in South Jersey have any names for contractors of Owens Corning?
on Jan 04, 2006
We are getting ready to sign a contract for an OC basement. I think the product it good and we seem to be getting a reasonable price 26.50 sq/ft. Just curious if anyone out there has had any experience with the local contractor here in the Cincinnati market. Thanks in advance for any help. Ed
on Jan 07, 2006
January 8, 2006.
My wife and I just finished pushing the 2nd Owens Corning franchised rep in a month out the door after one of their high-pressure "used car salesman" type sales pitches. We want to finish a large area of our basement - 917 square feet of it. In short the salesman started at $39,500 as a price. When we said we did not make decisions overnight on such matters, he called his sales manager and supposedly got permission for a 15% discount bringin theprice down to somewhat over $33,000. When we said "thanks, but we still don't make such decisions overnight, he called his "area manager" and up came an offer for their "fliexible plan" where if we let them show off the room after it is done, and accept 48 to 72 hours notice of when they will start, the price dropped to about $29,500. When we still said we don't make such decisions overnight. He supposedly called his area manager for his next appointment but segued that into a grilling about how his area manager couldn't understand hw we needed any time to save $10,000. We didn't tell him that the estimated rice using normal construction methods was about $20,000 and that amount incuded carpeting and ceiling insulationthat he was not willing to include or quote.

There were also other slippery parts to his pitch, such as
1. claiming that their 1-inch interior walls ha as good acoustic insulation as their 2 1/2 inch exterior walls. That is false.
2. Claiming that their Armstron ceiling tile had the same R-11 thermal insulation rating as their exterior walls
3. Throwing out "monthly payment amounts without being able to say what interest rate applied and trying to gloss over the term of the loan
4. As others have said giving us NO actual aquotation sheet but rather just a handwritten note on a 3x5 card
5. Not even being willing or able to give us a business card. "We don't use them".

on Jan 07, 2006

I was wondering if anybody in the New York (Westchester area) have any experience with Alure. I find that the company has a great reputation and I believe their product is very good (OC) but....

We just signed a contract for them installing one in my house. Final price for about 400 sq. ft. is $28,000. This from an initial quote of $38,000. I found the sales person to be nice but I was very surprised when right from the start she told us that there was going to be a 10% but only while she was in our house. She talked about mold enough to scare me to death. At one point she even asked me if I was not concern about molding having children. What do you say to that? After going back and forth I kept asking for discounts and she went outside to talk to her boss only to come back to say that he had agreed under two conditions: an agreement to hold an open house and referrals. Well, I was padding myself when she left only to finally come down to earth and realized that for $28,000 excluding permits and so on I was basically going to have half of a basement done. Actually, more than half. Needless to say, I didn't do my homework but they were the first on a list of contractors that we were going to see and the only ones offering OC.

Luckily, we have 72 hours to stop the contract. We are probably going to do that because...well, because I owed to my family to make the best possible decision and spending close to $30,000 for a 1/3 of a basement is not my idea of a good decision. Live and learn I guess.
on Jan 07, 2006
Has a salesman out today - got the hard sell routine and declined to sign for a 33.5k estimate on the same day. Product looks good; the price quoted was close to $35 per sqft; which is evidently on the low side from looking at other posts here. We might decide to go for it later - but the hard sell was frankly insulting. Took a quick look at OC stock and saw that the company is in receivership; looks like lots of trouble with asbestos lawsuits a few years ago. Doesn't affect the product, but that lifetime warranty doesn't look quite as good.
on Jan 09, 2006
We had a rep out on Jan 7th. I looked up some of these comments on this web-site while the REP was doing his diagram. We have 792 square feet which is half of the basement...Our original quote was $36k and it was a total surprise to me on the price. It was an even more bigger surprise to the REP that we declined that price. We had already had ideas about what our complete finished basement would cost, ($19-$21 per sqare ft). At this price of $36k it was about 60+ per square feet. To me that was a big FAT NO!!..The rep did the call boss and referral stuff and it went from 36 to 23k. which is okay but still over the budget for what we wanted. he kept throwing out montly payments based on 7%. I wouldnt use their financing anyway. After 4 hours (which i admit went quickly) he left after we said Goodbye and Thanks many times...The price wont be as good as it is now line was used 1000 times. But if we decided to use CO then we know that price would be still in effect. CO needs the business. I am not sure if we will get any follow-up calls or not...BUT I DID FIND SOMETHING INTERESTING...Rep used our phone to call the manager bit. Once he left I hit redial on the same phone. I got a news update i dont know if he called the boss or not...Huh! Also, I couldnt get him to tell me where a local demonstration house would be so we can go look at it. We really would like to see a finished basement but no information from the rep...he ignored that request in detail..very vauge on details as well on how the installation would be done and so on and so on. But I do say i liked the product...i liked the reduction in mold percent very much...even though I told the rep i wasnt interested in hearing the whole mold spiel, he went through it all. If i decide to do this after all the price will need to be lower and i would update this site with some feedback. The feedback on here already stopped me from signing a overpiced contract. So this has been the best free advice i have gotten in a while..Thanks to all..
on Jan 10, 2006
I know a guy that sells this stuff for Owens-Corning and I think what has been said here is pretty much right on.
The product is good, but unfortunately the sales process is a rip-off. They charge 3-4 times what the product should cost and they purposely try to scare you to death with exaggerated stories about mold. Their goal is to force you into an emotional decision on the spot.
Expect to get a price of about $40,000 initially followed by a special "showroom home" discount of 13%, firmly say "no" and later they will "remember" you can get a "flexible schedule" discount of 10%, firmly say "no" and get another "let me call my manager" discount of between 5 and 10%. Naturally, all of these discounts are good for that day only! Watch the movie Tin Men and you will know exactly what to expect. They are trained to design your basement so that the initial price comes in somewhere around $40k no matter what you really want them to design.
Good, but waaaaay over-priced product. Sleazy 3-hour hard-sell sales process. BTW - the sales person gets 10-14% of the that can explain the high pressure. Assuming the company/sales manager/lead setter/installer also get a healthy chunk of your money -- I think that explains the inflated pricing.
on Jan 11, 2006
Another "thank you" to Draginol making this information available on the internet, and thanks to all who have contributed. I was considering the OC system and expected it to be a bit more expensive than more traditional construction, but these sales tactics were not anticipated. With the high pressure tactics being so ingrained in the sales force, it almost sounds like OC endorses and promotes this approach. Is that the case?

Overall, this seems like a self-destructive and unsustainable business model as word gets around.
on Jan 15, 2006
A couple of follow ups...

I had contacted OC about their free video before my previous post. Someone called and spoke with my wife, informing her that there would be no free video without an appointment... presumably for the high pressure tactics to begin. No surprise there.

Also, I found this link on research into the effectiveness of basement systems off of the Department of Energy web site... a very interesting read. Briefly, it looks like there really is something to the mold issue and there seems to be linkage to installation of vapor barriers in basement finishing systems.

Lastly, here's a link to the Energy Savers section of the DOE web site. It's also good reading.
on Jan 18, 2006
To all the poor soles in the the market for a Basement Finishing Solution other than OC. There are a few new cellulose free high proformance systems comming online in major OC markets that are substantly lower in price than OC. Detroit, and east coast PA area are just a few of the areas. Springfield IL and Kansas City areas will soon have a more attractive systems without the unsightly vertical plastic pieces that OC has. Further, new systems will offer turnkey finished basements at near 1/2 the cost of OC. Erie, Champion, Bob Showers, Impressive and others offer more civilized professional sales/design staff to help on your project.

Beware of OC's price of over $200.00 for twelve inches of wall!!!!!!!!!!!! Measure your walls and do the math! Dont forget $7.00 foot for ceiling and 170.00 each eletrical outlet and a $2000.00 salesman padding of the price to protect thier commission. There's your OC qoute.