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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 6)
on Jan 21, 2006
Thanks to all for your comments. I found this blog 12 hours AFTER our OC sales person left. My husband and I were very interested in the product as an alternative to drywall, but we were not prepared for the "used car" sales technique. It was a huge turn-off, not to mention that the price quoted was $48/SF ($42,000 for 880 SF). We flattly turned down the offer and all the "incentive" discounts. After reviewing this blog, I know we could negotiate the price down to under $30/SF but we are still not convinced that this product is worth the premium price.

We want to use the finished basement space for an excercise/gym for the family including a martial arts corner for our two high energy sons (ages 6 & 7) So we really want padded walls over the drywall for both protecting our sons and avoiding frequent wall repairs. Our sales person didn't have any insight on how to address our needs. For example, we want the lally columns covered with padding (not boxed in with wood/plastic) to prevent injuries. The salesperson said OC didn't have a solution for us and she didn't even have a suggestion for how we might address. Does anyone have any experience using the OC system as a gym in this way? I was really expecting OC to have some suggestions, afterall, they promote themselves as "nobody knows basements better." I also asked about air circulation in the finished room and was flattly told that I was on my own. I'd like to hear from folks who are using their OC BFS as a gym. Thanks!
on Jan 24, 2006
We got a price today pretty much sold us. We're looking for quick and easy without risk of having to redo sheet rock. We have the occaisional water problem. Also anyone have experience with salesmen in Massachusettes?
on Jan 25, 2006
Just had the OC guy out to our house. To his credit, he was a very nice man with minimal hard sell (better than some after reading the above posts). But, I will put out the challenge to all of you right now...can anyone top the following estimate?

We have a tiny old home with only 180 square feet of space to be finished in the basement. Just 1 square room. Inital quote? Over $20,000. $116/square foot and a song and dance about how they have "up front" costs, and how the price is cheaper the more square feet you have to finish. I tell him about this message board, and he tells me that he's done lots of basements from $32-$70/square foot, but that our project is just too small to get that kind of price! I couldn't even dignify that remark with a response. Then we go through the classic discount routine as outlined numerous times on this message board, and he manages to get the price down to $80/square foot. Ummmmmmmmm, no thanks.

Can't wait for the call back.
on Jan 26, 2006
I had an OC sales woman here two days ago. We got a price of $45 per SF for a 300 SF room. I felt okay with that because we cannot do this ourself and the time factor ans ease was a big consideration for us. She called a bit ago to say...OPPS, I forgot to add inyour ceiling your payments would be another $26 a month...NOW we talked for quie awhile about sales techniques and how THAT mathod doesn't work with us and she starts with it! WELL I have a signed contract for the $13564 and now she wants to add $2500 to it? We have a call into a sales manager.
on Jan 27, 2006
I went online to learn about this product and submitted a request for a video only. I anticipated getting it in the mail. Less than an hour later I had a call about setting up an appointment. After several phone calls I eventually agreed to an appointment with an estimate. Did the 2-3 hour appointment thing just this evening and found this blog thereafter. Salesperson was not 'slimy' but did many of the tactics I have l grudgingly become accustomed to in this day and age that were shared above. I was concerned with many of the items I saw above. Initial quote was for $72/sq-ft. The 'automatic 13%' off was not shared as a 'showroom' discount got me to $63/sq-ft. When I asked about seeing a real home I was told that the program was discontinued as it was too difficult to have in place given that you 'invading' people's houses. The additional 8% off was given for same day agreement - $58/sq-ft. All of these reductions were provided quickly without need for any negotiating on my part. I did not try to drive the price down from there because I had not researched it all and knew that I was not going to part with money on the spot. I'd have to do some research on my own. I was surprised that the salesperson snatched up the quote paper so that I would not keep it. They also did not leave any details on the quote. I asked for a business card and was told they he had ran out. The comments above about the business card thing made me think twice. What salesperson doesn't have a business card? The comments above about having few details is pretty significant. Had I agreed to get it done, I'm not sure what they would have left me with and I would have been asking a lot of questions to myself afterwards. It seems that many of the above stories where people have negotiated have resulted in price per square foot of less than $30/sq-ft. Perhaps this compares well to the $20/sq-ft or less number I see for convential remodels. When you consider the fact that the job can be done in less than two weeks compared to an 8-week conventional job, isn't it odd that they quote jobs initially at about 3X higher? The product does sound great; Perhaps it is very worth it at a reasonable price. Don't underestimate mold. I had to remediate mold in a house I owned at the time I sold it. Thank you Draginol for providing this educational page.
on Jan 29, 2006
Thanks for setting this site up - it has been tremendously informative.
After all I have read, I think I will probably go with traditional drywall - I simply can't the prices I am reading about here, and I need to hang a lot of stuff on my walls (sports memorablilia).
Thank you all for taking the time to share your experiences.
on Jan 30, 2006
Just had the "general manager" out to our house yesterday. He went down to $20 sq. ft. (for just the walls & outlets, no ceiling) $24,800 total for about 1250 sq. ft.
The original price was $50,000 with the celing. If they were to do the celing it would be $34,000. He recommended that we do the ceiling ourselves (which I was going to suggest if he didn't).
We're gonna do it at that price.
on Jan 30, 2006
Does anyone have any experience with using this system for the walls only and doing the rest yourself. I have a 20 x 15 room that I would like to use as an execise room, 2 walls are the concrete basement walls and I am framing the other 2 starting today. Instead of drywall, I would love to use these panels to cover the concrete (and framing), and could do the drop ceiling or drywall the ceiling myself. Got carpeting to fit too. Electrical is already there. Will they even consider doing this (and at what cost?) since this is not available to the consumer?
on Jan 30, 2006
Thanks Bill. Must have posted mine at the same time you did yours! Anyone else?
on Jan 30, 2006
Bill, how many linear feet did you have? About 140? So they want close to $100 / linear foot for walls and outlets only? Did this include framing or are they all outside walls? Joe
on Jan 30, 2006
it's 159.5 lineal feet of wall for $24,808. Above I said 1250 sq. ft. of basement, but I think it's more like 1100.

118.5 outside, 41 inside.

Also included is 22' of hand railing, 13 outlets, 1 additional light switch, and 1 bifold door.

on Feb 01, 2006
very similiar experience to many of those above, liked the idea/product, had the in-home theatrics (though must say our guy was not as bad as most described), endured the laminated flipcharts with pre-programmed regurgitated pitch, hand scratched estimate which came in at 43K for +/- 630 sq feet, that's $71/sq foot (ceilings, outlets, and floor inc), interestingly enough we were not treated to any of the discount schemes, though he offered to pick up the cost of plumbing a new heat zone and knocked the price down to 41K. end of talk about discounts, broke out the pen and said "sign right here". needless to say, we put the pen away and ended the evening 3+ hours after it began (amazing how the screaming, grumpy, tired children were not enough to distract the man from the hour-long "mold" portion of the program). clearly we were right to be concerned about the quote we were hearing (regular drywall contractor quoted us 15K two years ago, soup to nuts), only now after reading all of the above are we fully aware of just how much of a "mark" we really were. I'm gonna let them stew a bit and will still consider the system (many plus sides to it, you have to admit), but we'll be sure to mention the sq foot rates many other OC customers seem to be getting, wouldn't it be great if life didn't include so much BS. thanks very much for all the info listed here and for providing such a useful forum, cheers.
on Feb 03, 2006
May I ask what part of the country you live in?
on Feb 03, 2006
I used alure and the OC system last year and had a great experience. The cost was high (1,000 SF for appx $50,000), but the job was completed in 4.5 days including demo of an existing basement! I had 5 windows and 7 doors replaced, closets created, drop ceiling. I also had alot of electrical work including 18 hi hats. Very professional, and they came when the said they would. Very happy with final product and more importantly the after sales service. (Great service department ).
on Feb 05, 2006
All you people that come on this site and say that you have a system installed for $30 or $45 a sg. ft. should think twice before you put bogus info on the net. That type of BS will not help future homeowners make a wise home remodeling decision. And besides that it is absolutley not fare to price out a job like this by the sg. ft. Each and every single basement is different and each basement requires a little different work. Some basements might have more wall space because of bump-outs and interior walls but still not have more sg. footage, one may have more soffiting, more postcovers, more stud work that needs to be done and still not get more room space. So comparing different basements to one another is like comparing apples to oranges, it doesn't work. I am sure there might of been a few basements out there that have been done for $45 sg. ft. and I am sure there are some done for $100 sg. ft. but those are the exception not the rule. A good average is more like 60-80 a sg. ft. But all that has no value at all. Each basement costs what it costs, BOTTOM LINE. And its not an easy decision to make but if you have seen some tradiotional finished basements in person after a flood you will never ever want to go that route. Bottom line this is the best solution for a basement on the market, now exceptions anything else is substandard with substandard results and it cost what it cost. Don't compare on basement to another not only is that stupid folks, this isn't like laying hardwood floors or siding a house, but it isn't realistic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If yours is less then somebody else then good for you but don't come on the net with a bunch of BS that will only hurt comsumers. If the system is affordable to you then putting it off isn't going to make it any easier or cheaper!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!