Not all Basement Finishing Systems are Created Equal

April 27th, 2012
Many homeowners are looking to finish their basements and researching the matter over the Internet. These people are bound to find their share of horrors stories concerning basement finishing projects, basement finishing systems, and the contractors who install them.Just any other industry where there’s a lot of money to be made and not much consumer awareness, the home improvement industry is also particularly attractive to some dishonest businesses. This by no means indicates that the home improvement industry in itself is crooked, and that all the business involved are dishonest.Simply put: when it comes to sales, service, and products there are both good apples and bad.

Not all basement finishing systems are created, installed, or marketed equally.

Unfortunately, in this specific area, the bad impression caused by some of these products and businesses are extended to everyone else in the industry. This happens regardless of how each product performs or how the contractors are with the customers.

In addition, the basement finishing industry faces huge competition from traditional contractors. These installers are either too used to the traditional way of doing things or are unwilling to consider different alternatives:  they are simply not qualified or not knowledgeable enough to use them. Should new technologies become the norm, they would have to either invest in different products and training to use them properly or go gradually out of business.

Now consider this: why is there such a thing as a basement finishing industry to begin with? Well, after many years of failures and disasters, and millions of dollars spent replacing moldy drywall, carpet, insulation and studs from traditionally finished basements, some companies concluded the obvious: finishing materials used in above-grade structures don’t work in the typically moist and dark conditions of a basement.

Homeowners should beware of self proclaimed “consumer advocates” as many of them are contractors who are either misinformed or just fearing competition.

Let’s address and debunk some of the myths raised by those who criticize basement finishing systems.

1. Wooden studs, drywall, fiberglass have been used in basements for years with success.


Every year millions of dollars are spent, and thousands of insurance claims are filed, to clean up and replace rotten, mold-infested basement finishes. A basement is basically a concrete or stone box buried in wet dirt.
Even the driest basement will have some level of moisture seeping through the walls and floor, usually aggravated by rains and snow meslt.  Traditional finishes like drywall, fiberglass, wood, and carpet,  will soak that moisture creating suitable conditions for mold growth.
New products were created to withstand the cavelike conditions of a typical basement and to work more efficiently around other common basement features, like the presence of pipes, cables, ducts, HVAC systems, and appliances that need to be serviced.

2. Basement Finishing Systems are too expensive. 

Homeowners have to consider, determine and decide between what is inexpensive and what is cost-effective. Indeed, using regular drywall, fiberglass, and wood studs might save you a buck on the project, but the moisture is likely to ruin it soon enough. Then you face the cost of replacing the finishing materials along with possible expensive mold remediation treatments.

3. Basement Finishing Systems are shabby looking and not suitable for classy, stylish basement finishing projects

There are, indeed, low-end products out there, and because some companies compensate product deficiencies with advertising, people are sometimes more familiar with these products and tend to think that all basement finishing systems behave, function, and look the same.

High-end basement finishing systems not only provide all the moisture and thermal protection needed to transform a basement into a living area, they are also designed to be a beautiful asset to your home. These systems include not only impeccably built wall panels, ceiling and flooring tiles, but trims, accents and fixtures that will give your basement the stylish look you expect.

4. Basement Finishing Systems aren’t really waterproof.

Some wall panels marketed as waterproof have a bit of a design flaw, indeed!
They’re made out of lightweight fiberglass board and are often lined with fabric. Although the material itself is inorganic and waterproof, the fiberglass core absorbs water like a sponge. They might withstand typical basement conditions, but if the basement ever floods, those panels tend to literally disintegrate just like fiberglass batches do when you soak them in water.
The same goes for some basement subflooring tiles that are lined with wooden boards and also soak up water, grow mold, and rot. High-end basement finishing systems are 100% inorganic, waterproof, and, most importantly, non-absorbent.

5. Basement wall panels are frail and the walls are unusable.

Once again, the frequently advertised products cause people to think all basement finishing systems are the same. There are indeed very soft and very frail wall panels out there that can’t bear any weight. Should you want to hang anything, even as small as a picture, you will need special hardware and tools. High-end basement wall panels are more than a lined foam board. The best panels have a sturdy cement core, which can support up to 300lbs of weight per panel making them far sturdier than conventional drywall. You can hang pictures, shelves, clocks and big screen TVs without the need to look for studs. Should you move fixtures around, small holes can be easily patched, even with a dab of toothpaste!

6. Basement finishing companies use shoddy and pushy sales tactics.

A good basement finishing company will not push you into buying anything. They will show you all your options and tailor a project that suits your taste, needs and budget. They will help you design your dream basement room, and give you all the tools and knowledge you need to make an informed decision. They will give a honest, detailed, written estimate and the best value for your money. They will back their products and services with a good written warranty and be available to answer all your questions.

Basement finishing, even in this complicated housing market and economy, is still one of the few improvements that pay off in terms of increased property value, energy efficiency and comfort. Don’t keep yourself from protecting your investment and finishing your basement with the best products and technologies available. Shop around, do your homework, don’t settle for anything that has the potential to soon become ruined.. You want your new basement room to be used and enjoyed for many years to come.

The High-end products featured in this article are made by Total Basement Finishing and only available through their dealership network. Click here to locate a dealer in your area.

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