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Superior Walls vs Block
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posted
Looking for comments on Superior Walls. We are building next year in Rochester, NY and would be interested to find out from masons if you think the cost in Superior Walls is worth it. Are there any pitfalls we should be looking for? Thanks.

Jim
 
Posts: 3 | Registered: 04 March 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have heard of two continuing problems with Superior Walls that have led me to avoid them, although their speed of installation and some other features about them are very attractive.

The first is that there is a wide reporting of leaks and basement water problems with Superior Walls because they are bolted together at the corners and the only thing really protecting against water intrusion at these joints is caulk.

The second is cracked or cracking walls which Superior Walls appears unwilling or unable to address. The cracked walls also allows for water intrusion issues.

The reports of these failures are wide and continuing.

I have an acquaintance who erected a modular home erected on a Superior Wall foundation and his basement has exhibited no problems at all.
 
Posts: 453 | Registered: 19 July 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks homebild, I've done a google search for complaints about Superior Walls and have only found one complaint on 'my3cents'. Where are you looking to find these extensive problems as I would be interested in following up on them.

Jim
 
Posts: 3 | Registered: 04 March 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Superior Wall is still a relatively new product so there is not an established track record yet. Most foundation problems take years to manifest. I have huge problems with the caulked joints. The caulk probably carries a 10 year warranty - then what? I also don't like that they recommend that poured footings not be used. I also question the strength of some of there details - like the way walls are stacked, the way slabs are tied in and the way adjacent sections are bolted together. I would recommend letting someone else work out the bugs on their foundation. It is VERY difficult & expensive to fix foundation problems down the road. Stick to poured concrete with a very high grade waterproofing. Studing out and insulating for finished areas is very easily done.
You also mention block foundation. If you are going full basement below grade, use poured concrete or reinforce the block. Unreinforced block used to retain soil in a full height basement wall condition probably will not meet lateral load requirements.
 
Posts: 29 | Location: Brookfield, CT | Registered: 12 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Folks - I work at Dow Chemical and trying to understand customer satisfaction with products that use our Styrofoam brand such as the Superior Walls system. WOuld you be willing to talk to me about your experiences or if have not yet made a decison, what your current thoughts are on the SUperior Walls system?

You can reach me at steve.rosenberg@d*ow.com

Just remove the asterisk - trying to avoid junk email. Give me your phone number in the email and I will call you for a short 5-10 minute discussion. Thanks.
 
Posts: 1 | Registered: 28 March 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I too am looking for information on Superior Walls . . . experiences, satisfaction, etc. I read that they have been used since 1981, so that really isn't that short term. I really haven't seen any complaints about them. My husband and I will be building soon and we are very interested in this technology.
 
Posts: 9 | Location: Vienna, Va | Registered: 28 June 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I suppose it has alot to do w/ the installer. There is always a learning curve w/ new materials. I'll go w/ poured sandwich walls w/ foam insulation for my construction.
Dow Tmass i think it is.
 
Posts: 15 | Location: MN | Registered: 27 July 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We had a superior wall basement put in 2 years ago. We just recently hired a contractor to finish off our basement. When he came to start putting the ceiling in, he noticed that our walls were all off. Come to find out, our basement walls were shifting. The bolts were stretching! We built in a hillside and had explained to the excavator that we had a lot of springs in the hill. He said, no problem, we will just put in lots of #2 stone (3 feet out) and drainage tiles. Well since we discovered our problem 4 weeks ago, the excavator still has not called us back. Superior walls had come and agreed that the walls needed to be fixed, but we are still waiting on them. In the meantime we had to hire another excavator to come and dig out the back of the house to releive the pressure on the back wall. Once the excavator started digging, he found there to be NO #2 stone and no drainage tiles. The only thing that was up against our superior walls was CLAY!!! From what I understand, superior walls are suppose to be very good. Just be careful and watch as much of the work being done as possible. $7,000 later and in only two years, we are dealing with a big problem!
 
Posts: 2 | Registered: 30 August 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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i had superior walls put in on june of 2000.here is good/bad. i live in pa.my walls were placed on 6inchs of stone.installed in about 4 hrs. my home is 24x52 ranch.i like the insulation in walls. i like the holes to run your pipes, wiring, cable tv, telephones,scanners,etc.i got 8 ft 2 inch. if i did it again i would get 10ft.after i dropped my ceiling in basement it does not give you much headroom.my basement is dry, no water. now, i noticed when walls arrived from factory that small cracks were in walls. i called company and they said they are only surface cracks from curing of concrete.this really shocked me when i saw cracks in walls after home was on it to. more areas cracked. i called again and they said cracking is normal.i cant see how water would get thru cracks because they are so tight looking.i dont know idf they went all way thru the walls but i dont think so but i dont know.if they went all way thru you would think you would get water,i dont. basement is real warm from the insulation in walls. no need to imsulate walls if below grade. my basement in coldest winter here in pa. was 55 degrees with no heat. it never goes below that. i do run a dehumidifier in summer and winter as i have no heat in basement in winter.so far i am pleased. i have not noticed any sinking of walls. its hard to believe that walls can just sit on stone and not sink.i was worried about no concrete footer but superior walls says not to use it.i also have the walls in my breezway and a 24x24 garage.so far, no problems. you would not believe the number of camps that are using walls.i think most use them because of delay in getting a contractor to build you a wall. people dont want to chase down a block layer only to be told he will get to you in a few months .they like idea of making phone call, walls come in about 2 weeks, over and done.like said, the only thing i did not like so far, is small hairline cracks in walls. i read people on here that said they are great and no cracks, they are feeding you line of crap.superior walls do crack and they say its not problem. time will tell,so far, i am happy.
 
Posts: 1 | Registered: 17 September 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well first of all i install about 12 foundations a week for Superior Walls .and if installed properly you will never have a problem with the system ,I have been inmstalling them for 9 years and the syatem is great ,I also have done block work and poured walls and prefer the superior wall syatem to any of them ,The most common fear of the syatem is the footings but if you think about it when your pour a footing for poured walls or block you are creating a dam in the water removal process ,The Four inch that sticks out from the bottom of wall creates hydro static pressure ,where if you use a drain and a pourus material like stone the water doesnt have a chance to build any pressure .I dont really know all the technical terms but i do know foundations and after 20 years work in the foundation workplace Superior walls is by far the only way to go .Any one interested in the syatenm i got tons of pics walldog1128@yahoo.com


Only reason to not use SWS is not Knowing!!
 
Posts: 3 | Location: North Carolina | Registered: 03 February 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by pacpam6:
We had a superior wall basement put in 2 years ago. We just recently hired a contractor to finish off our basement. When he came to start putting the ceiling in, he noticed that our walls were all off. Come to find out, our basement walls were shifting. The bolts were stretching! We built in a hillside and had explained to the excavator that we had a lot of springs in the hill. He said, no problem, we will just put in lots of #2 stone (3 feet out) and drainage tiles. Well since we discovered our problem 4 weeks ago, the excavator still has not called us back. Superior walls had come and agreed that the walls needed to be fixed, but we are still waiting on them. In the meantime we had to hire another excavator to come and dig out the back of the house to releive the pressure on the back wall. Once the excavator started digging, he found there to be NO #2 stone and no drainage tiles. The only thing that was up against our superior walls was CLAY!!! From what I understand, superior walls are suppose to be very good. Just be careful and watch as much of the work being done as possible. $7,000 later and in only two years, we are dealing with a big problem!


Sounds like your problem has come from not using the stone or the drains


Only reason to not use SWS is not Knowing!!
 
Posts: 3 | Location: North Carolina | Registered: 03 February 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Superior is a good system if it is installed perfectly. A better alternative however would be to use an ICF system with a 10 or 12 ft wall. You will appreciate the extra room afte all utilities are installed and they are just as strong. They also have a much better insulative value.

If you build smart and insulate your slab you could easily have a 72 degree, dry, basement up to 16 feet in depth or like many do.... go all the way up with it and have a $45 heating bill in January.

Something to think about.
Write me if you would like a bid.
Bill

Reddiwal*l@yahoo.com
Remove the asterisk
 
Posts: 7 | Registered: 30 March 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thats odd. I work for a large Superior Wall franchise and the call backs for leaks are rare.
Most are due to poor grading or drainage issues and are easily addressed.
As far as cracking you must be referring to shrinkage cracks as that is the only call I have received for cracks. These are caused from acelerated hydration and happen above the excavation line and usually on the side of the house with the most exposure to the sun. They are under 3/32 in width and somtimes dissappear depending on the temperature. Tehy stop about 8 to 12" below grade and don't penetrate the wall. We have never seen a leak from one.
 
Posts: 1 | Registered: 15 August 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The product hasn't been around long enough to convince me that sealed joints will last forever underground, and I will only use them if a client specifically requests them, and then only after the client has heard my concerns. If they were waterproofed after installation, I'd think again about the product, but until they have about a fifty-year totally trouble-free track record, I will let others experiment.


Architect (NY) and Home Designer (PA)
 
Posts: 2870 | Location: Tobyhanna, PA | Registered: 24 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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what foundation does have a ,"fifty-year totally trouble-free track record?" I am not aware of any.
 
Posts: 2 | Location: Stroudsburg | Registered: 17 April 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well-designed well-constructed block or concrete foundations certainly do, probably because they don't depend on caulked joints below grade to keep water out.


Architect (NY) and Home Designer (PA)
 
Posts: 2870 | Location: Tobyhanna, PA | Registered: 24 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have seen hundreds of foundations. I have seen block walls that collapsed. I have seen poured walls poured so far out of square the sill plates had to be overhung by several inches. I have seen many, many random cracks on poured and block walls. What is a homeowner to do then? At least with the precast walls the joints are predetermined and sealed at the time of install. Much better than a random crack with no provisions for sealing it at all.
 
Posts: 1 | Location: White Haven | Registered: 17 April 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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For every hundred you've seen, there are tens of thousands which perform as expected, with no problems. Do you think the problems you have seen were just bad luck? Without a doubt, there was something wrong which caused them. If basements crack and leak, they are relatively inexpensive to repair, and the crack is very easy to find. It's just that there are so many out there who don't have a clue.


Architect (NY) and Home Designer (PA)
 
Posts: 2870 | Location: Tobyhanna, PA | Registered: 24 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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trouble-free is defined as, "without problems or difficulties" so please dont tell me that poured and block have a fifty year trouble-free track record. You stating well constructed poured and block walls have a fifty year trouble-free track record is a cop-out. Even if thats the case how does a new home owner know what they are going to get? Well constructed... or Jonny block or Paul Poured? A caulk joint can be re caulked inside as an easy solution if somehow all three caulk joints that are applied during installation dissapear. Superior Walls also stay more dry than block and poured do, probably because they dont rely on a footer trapping the water under their slab creating hydrostatic pressure. That and the 5000PSI mix Superior Walls use vs. the 2500-3500psi mix that block and poured use.
 
Posts: 2 | Location: Stroudsburg | Registered: 17 April 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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How does a new home owner know what they are going to get? Easy, it's called "due diligence". And however you want to twist it, the fact remains that there are tens of thousands of basements, either block or poured, that are performing perfectly even after 50 years or more. Those are the ones that are done correctly, meaning thickness, reinforcing, parging and dampproofing.

Question: if water can get trapped behind the footing and cause hydrostatic pressure, may I ask how the water got through the footing which now traps it? When you figure that out, let me know. Until then, it's an empty unproven sales tactic and nothing more.


Architect (NY) and Home Designer (PA)
 
Posts: 2870 | Location: Tobyhanna, PA | Registered: 24 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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