Basement Wall Systems

Most basement wall systems are designed specifically for basements where moisture can be problematic. Basement wall systems can also help you finish your basement quicker than using traditional building materials, but which wall system is best for your situation? I’ve spent the last decade searching for ways to waterproof and finish my basement. This post is the result of my research. If you know of any other basement wall systems not mentioned below, tell us about it in the comments below.

There are systems out there such as Insofast that I would consider to be only insulation systems and not complete basement wall systems so I’m not going to talk about them in detail.

Owens Corning

Owens Corning has two types of basement systems available they are:

  • Basement Finishing System™ Unlimited
  • Basement Finishing System™ Core
Owens Corning Basement Wall Systems

The previous owners installed the Owens Corning basement wall system in a portion of the basement . Notice the nice scribble marks.

The upside of the two Owens Corning systems is they allow you to have access to your walls after installation. The downside that I see is there isn’t a DIY option. Both system must be installed by a certified an authorized installer.

When I purchased my house, a small section of my basement was partially finished with the Core system. I can say from experience that I don’t like the Core system because the fabric gets dirty easily. In my house walls become a canvas for art. 🙂 Even semi-dirty hands make the wall panels look dirty. The Unlimited system, however, is interesting because it can be painted. Here’s a video explaining that system:

DRIcore SMARTWALL ®

DRIcore SMARTWALL® is an interesting system. I haven’t personally used this system, but from my research these are the things that I like about this system:

  • The panels are in 2 x 8 sheets instead of 4 x 8 sheets. This is great if the entrance to your basement is a tight squeeze. I’m not sure I can fit 4 x 8 sheets through my side door, around the corner, and down my basement stairs.
  • DIYers can use this system.
  • It seems to be very easy to install.

The things that I’m not 100% impressed by are:

  • This system uses wood frames which is susceptible to mold.
  • Drywall is being used with this system.

However, the point that DRIcore points out is the wood frame encapsulated by the foam insulation and the drywall is mold and moisture resistant. I wouldn’t completely rule out using this system.

Check out this video about DRIcore products:

Wahoo Walls

I really like the Wahoo Wall concept. Their panels are made of magnesium oxide and polystyrene insulation.The entire board is made of material that doesn’t mold or absorb moisture and are strong enough to hold flat screen TVs. The only negative that I can see is the wall panels come in 4 x 8 sheets. I wish they offered 2 x 8 sheets.

Here’s the install video for Wahoo

Basement Wall Systems Vs Traditional Wood & Drywall

What I like about Wahoo Walls and the DRIcore SMARTWALL® is they appear to be the best options to prevent mold. Your basement is the most likely place to get water damage in your house. If your basement ever floods, a traditional wood framed basement with drywall will be ruined. However, if you compared basement wall systems to traditional wood and drywall framed basements, traditional would probably be the most cost effective. Due to that fact, I’m not completely convinced that I should go with a basement wall system.

Here’s a quick estimate of the cost to semi-finish 16 x 11 (This doesn’t include electrical, paint, or ceiling.) I’m not a builder so my numbers could be way off. If you are a builder or more experienced DIYer, feel free to post a better estimate below.

Traditional wood frame

  • Plastic vapor barrier $55
  • Lumber $165
  • Insulation $83.84
  • Drywall $140
  • Drywall mud $12.49
  • Drywall tape $2.00
  • $473.40 DRIcore 2x2 subfloor panels (probably could save money on these)

Total $931.77

DRIcore Walls

  • panels $1,784.57
  • panels with outlets $345
  • DRIcore 2x2 subfloor panels 473.40

Total $2,602.97

Wahoo Walls

  • panels $1,890.00
  • DRIcore 2x2 subfloor panels $473.40

Total $2,363.40

Conclusion

These are the three basement wall systems that I’m aware of. If you know of other systems or have had experience with any of the above systems, please comment below.