How to Build a Wine Cellar Tips

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How humid should my wine cellar be?

Oh, the Humidity...

Humidity plays an important role in a good wine cellar. Corks are most affected by the humidity. A dry cork allows oxygen to seem into the bottle and age the wine or change its flavor. Keep your wine cellar's humidity level at 70-75% to prevent corks drying out. In drier climates, such as the American Southwest, keep bowls of water in the cellar to help humidify the air. In other parts of the country where humidity is prevalent, remove excess humidity in your cellar by running fans. In either case, invest in a humidity gauge to keep in your cellar...and check it regularly.

   
Where should I put my wine cellar?

Bad Vibrations

Did you know that movement plays an important part in wine storage? If you're considering building a home wine cellar, you'll need to determine if the location you've chosen (closet, basement, etc.) has any ongoing or recurrent vibrations within it. For example, generators, heaters, and motors of any kind can cause vibrations that will affect your wine's aging process by keeping the normal sediment in the wine from settling. Keep your wine cellar away from such vibrations or movements and your collection will benefit.

   
What special specifications relate to wine cellar construction?

Wine Cellar Construction Specifications

There are certain things you need to incorporate in your home design when you decide to undertake wine cellar construction.

For example, your framing walls must be 2" x 6" @ 16" on center, and your framing ceiling must be 2" x 8" @ 16" on center.

You should install a vapor barrier on the warm side of walls and ceilings, and your insulation should be a minimum of R-19 in the walls and R-30 in the ceilings. A vapor barrier is designed to keep moist air inside the wine cellar while preventing condensation from developing on the exterior of the wine cellar. 6 mil polyethylene must be applied on between the outside of the wall and the insulation. Check your local building codes.

You should use special sheathing on the walls, too. Your finished wall materials should consist of: ½" moisture resistant green board. Green board is a moisture resistant form of gypsum board and is specifically designed for high moisture environments. If this seems overwhelming, don't worry - the right contractor or architect will know what to do.

   
How do I build an above ground wine cellar?

Above Ground Cellars

Above-ground wine cellars are probably your most difficult wine cellars to build because of the amount of insulation that goes into them. Ideally, an above ground wine storage unit should be built in a shady spot to assist in cooling. Insulation for the walls should have a rating of at least R-13, while the floors and ceiling should be insulated around R-19 or higher. Make sure your walls have a vapor barrier to help in keeping the moisture out and ensure that your access is well sealed and insulated. A wooden door is very poor insulation, but some quick thinkers have tacked R-30 insulation to the back of wooden door accesses as a quick fix before they could afford something with a better seal and higher degree of insulation. Interior racking systems are at the builder's discretion, though remember that it's best to keep the wine with the cork facing downward in order to keep the interior part of the cork damp and sealed. Select a temperature control unit that can easily keep your storage area between 55 and 58 degrees and at an average humidity of 75%. A good book to read before building would be Dr. Richard Gold's How and Why to Build a Wine Cellar . It contains information from the effect of soil composition on building to details of light, heat and effect temperature control, as well as easy to follow building plans for the novice builder.

   
What kind of lighting should I use in my wine cellar construction?

Wine Cellar Construction -- Lighting

Did you know that improper lighting can damage the fine wines in your collection?

Too much light can actually cause heat and can damage the environment you've worked so hard to create in your cellar. So, when planning your wine cellar construction, pay close attention to the lighting. You want enough light to be able to read labels. You don't want so much light that it can damage your wines.

If you want enough light to use the room for entertaining, be careful that you don't use so much that it creates heat, especially near the racks. Track lighting, recessed lighting, and sconces all work well in the right situations.

Check with a design professional before you begin your wine cellar construction to choose the lighting that's right for you and your cellar.

   
How do I build an underground wine cellar?

Underground Cellars

Underground cellars can be as complicated or as simple as you want them to be. The simplest way of installing an underground wine cellar is to buy one pre-built with stairs, lighting, temperature control and shelving already in place. With a hefty amount of concrete and a knowledgeable contractor, you can build your own wine cellar under your house.
For the novice builder, it's simply a matter of diligence and hard work to build an insulated wine storage room into your concrete basement. In all cases, you want to make sure you have your room very well insulated with vapor barriers and a well-sealed entryway so that you can easily control the temperature and humidity of your cellar space. A good reference source for a do-it-yourself wine cellar is the book How and Why to Build a Wine Cellar, 3rd Ed. by Richard M. Gold, Ph.d. Dr. Gold goes into the details of how temperature and type of soil effect your underground cellar and gives hundreds of great tips on wine preservation.

   
What should I watch for when storing wine?

Temperature

Temperature and light are your two biggest concerns when building a wine cellar. Be sure to check the temperature of any area where you might consider building your wine cellar, making certain that the temperature of the to-be wine storage area does not vary outside of 55 - 58 degrees. If you want to store your wine in a temperature controlled unit, you could easily turn a conventional refrigerator into a wine storage unit by modifying the thermostat or using temperature control units made for home beer brewers. Temperature control units can be found online or through your local hardware store or beer brewing supply shop. No matter what, as little light as possible should reach the wine bottles; wine is happiest in the dark.

   
Do I need to be a designer or architect to design my own custom wine cellar?

Design Your Own Custom Wine Center With Ease

You shouldn't have to be an architect to design your own custom wine cellar! Ideally, all you need to do is provide the dimensions you have to work with, how many bottles you'd like to store, and what you'd like your custom wine cellar to accomplish. Do you want to simply store wine? Or would you like your custom wine cellar to provide another entertainment area, or a focal point for your home? You should be able to count on your design team to come up with a creative and workable plan that fits your needs once you provide these details. A competent and experienced design team, like the team at Vigilant, can make your custom wine cellar turn from dream into reality quickly and easily.

   
Why are wine cellar doors important to the overall home design?

Wine Cellar Doors are Important in the Design

Wine cellar doors are the first thing your guests will see when they visit your cellar. Since so many cellars are located in the living space now, they are also an important part of the overall room design. Now, you can create a custom wine cellar door that fits your personality and still protects your extensive wine cellar investment. Whether you choose solid wood, mirrored, etched, or French doors with a side-light, your wine cellar doors make a personal statement about your taste and your commitment to your collection. Choose the right door and set the mood for your entire room design.

   
Can I find wine cellar doors that are beautiful and functional?

Wine Cellar Doors go High-Tech!

Just as wine cellar design has gotten bolder and much more creative, wine cellar doors are now an important part of the design and building process. These fully-insulated doors can be wood, glass, etched, or a combination of designs and elements. They show off your wine collection to guests, rather than hiding it behind a plain, boring entry. They are also double-insulated and weather-stripped just like entry doors to make sure your wine cellar stays insulated and secure. Created from beautiful mahogany they enhance the design and look of any wine cellar, and with their high-tech engineering, they'll last as long as the rest of your high-quality cellar.

   
What else should I consider when I build a wine cellar?

What to Consider When You Build a Wine Cellar

Lighting, flooring, and construction are all things you need to consider when you build a wine cellar. So are vibrations and odors.

If you place your cellar near a laundry room or air conditioner unit, the vibrations from those appliances could be enough to shake your wine racks and stir up sediments.

Since most wine bottles are still sealed with cork, and cork breathes, if there are odors around your wine cellar, the wine can absorb them through the cork. So, before you decide on the final placement for your cellar, do some homework and your wine cellar construction will be stress free!

   
Why are wine cellar doors so important to the overall design?

Wine Cellar Doors are Important!

Wine cellar doors are important because they are the first glimpse a visitor has of your cellar, but also because they can be the source of the biggest cooling loss in your design if you aren't careful. If you use glass doors and/or sidelights, the glass needs to be insulated. The glass should also be tempered, which will prevent shattering. The style of the wine cellar doors should match the interior of the cellar, but the materials for the doors are just as important as what's inside. The right wine cellar doors will add beauty and function your wine cellar.

   
What else do modern wine cellar designs incorporate?

Wine Cellar Designs Incorporate Creativity

In today's homes, wine cellars are a necessity for many people. Because of that, wine cellar designs incorporate function and creativity. Some cellars are small enough to hold five hundred or so bottles, while others can hold thousands. The scope is really up to you.

Wine cellars are also part of the family home, rather than hidden away in the cellar or the basement. They incorporate beautiful shelving, lighting, serving areas, and even wine accessories like stemware racks, arches, architectural trims and moldings, and storage bins. Wine cellar designs have come out of the closet, and they are getting more creative and functional all the time!

   
What are the optimum conditions when I build a wine cellar?

Build a Wine Cellar the Right Way

When you build a wine cellar, aesthetics are certainly an important part of the design. However, the ideal conditions to store wine are also of primary concern. Your cellar should keep wine at approximately 55 to 65 degrees, with humidity of about 55 to 65 percent. When you build a wine cellar, your primary concern is to keep your wine at these optimum conditions for long life, the right aging, and stellar storage of your wine investment. So, you should always consult with professionals who know wine and wine cellars. Your architect, builder, and designers should understand the nuances of fine wine. If they don't consult design professionals to help you build your wine cellar the right way.

   
What about those prefabricated home wine cellars?

Prefabricated Home Wine Cellars

You may think one way to add value to your home is to build in a prefabricated home wine cellar. However, these cellars can create headaches for the homeowner. These prefabricated kits come with walls and shelving, but often, the materials are made up of inferior woods like pine, which are flimsy and can eventually rot.

In addition, the homeowner has to install them on their own, or hire someone to do it. The kits are usually not customizable either, so they may not fit your needs and your collection exactly. To make sure you create the perfect home wine cellar, avoid those prefabricated cellars. Custom home wine cellars are the way to go for the discerning collector and connoisseur.

   
What is a modular custom wine rack?

The Modular Custom Wine Rack

When you order a custom wine rack system, make sure the components are modular. That is, they work together or separately, so you can add on other pieces as your cellar grows. If your components are all separate, you may find that when you need to add another, you can't find just the right size, wood, or stain match. If that happens your wine cellar won't look as pulled together as it could. Many companies will build a custom wine rack, but watch for quality in the construction, the right woods that will stand up to wear, and fine details, such as moldings, over-sized bottle storage, and extra stabilization to hold heavy weights. Your custom wine rack should stand up to years of use if you choose wisely.

   
What type of flooring should I use in my wine cellar construction?

Wine Cellar Construction -- Flooring

The walls, ceiling, and insulation aren't the only things to think about when you begin to think about wine cellar construction. What's underfoot is pretty important, too!

The wood and shelving you use in your wine cellar construction should be moisture resistant, and so should your flooring.

Brick, tile, and stone all make excellent choices. In addition, they offer many design choices to blend with your shelving and racks to create a beautiful and lasting environment for your stellar wine collection.

   
Help! I'm not a great home designer, so how can I design my own wine cellar?

Wine Cellar Designs for the Design Challenged

If interior design isn't your strong point, don't worry. You can be design challenged and still end up with a beautiful and functional wine cellar. Just talk with the professional design team! They can take your ideas and make them real. They can also give you ideas on what your cellar will cost and how to incorporate it into your present home or new home construction.

They know the right materials, the right size, and everything else you ever wanted to know about wine cellar designs. So, don't panic! Call the professionals and discover the design process that's so easy, you'll never feel design challenged again!

   
Should I Build A Walk-In Wine Cellar?

Take Stock Of Inventory Before You Build A Walk-In Wine Cellar

Before you build a wine cellar, take stock of how many bottles of wine you plan to store. If you currently have more than 500 bottles of wine, you should consider a walk-in home wine cellar. This is especially important if you plan to continue to increase the size of your collection. Choose a room that is large enough and can withstand necessary renovations, including converting it into a cool, dark, calm and airtight space. Install wine racks and make sure your wine cellar is functional and spacious. Do not be discouraged if your wine cellar seems too big at first because not all of your wine racks are full. They will continue to fill up as you continue to collect your favorite labels.

   
Can I create a custom wine cellar door to go along with my design?

Create a Beautiful Custom Wine Cellar Door

Don't stop at the creative design process with your wine cellar! There's no reason why your wine cellar doors can't be a beautiful custom design, too.

The best wine cellar retailers offer numerous styles of solid mahogany doors, from french door style with multiple panes of clear glass, to doors using etched glass and solid wood door models.

Customize your door to your specifications to give your wine cellar a stamp that is uniquely yours. These beautiful wine cellar doors add the finishing touch to a beautiful and functional wine cellar.

   
Why should I use a wine cellar design created by a wine professional?

Custom Wine Cellar Designs

Custom wine cellar designs can be the most important part of the construction process. Many wine cellars ignore the need for a vapor barrier -- with disastrous results. When considering a designer, make sure you use one who knows wine as well as construction. That will ensure your wine cellar design is are functional as well as well-built and pleasing to the eye. Wine cellar designs are a building block to crafting one of the most important investments in your home and your wine collection.

   
Are There Kits Available To Build A Wine Cellar?

Wine Cellar Kits Easy To Use

Custom wine cellar kits are available for those who do not find it easy to pull together home improvement projects.
Look for wine cellar kits that have a cap and/or bolt design that eliminates the need for hammers and nails. Wooden wine racks that have screws or nails pre-installed in the wood posts are easy to use because in most cases, all you have to do is tighten them.
These kits are for those who want to have a small wine cellar in their home. Wine collectors can put together a wine cellar in minutes without having to construct a time-intensive, expensive wine cellar project.

   
Can a residential wine cellar add value to my home?

Residential Wine Cellars Add Value to the Home

Adding a wine cellar to your home's design can add value to your residence. More and more people are discovering the joys of investing in and enjoying fine wines, and they need adequate storage facilities.

It makes sense to add a wine cellar to your home if you enjoy wine. It also makes sense if you want your custom home to continue to develop value and equity. Fine residential wine cellars are just like the wines they contain -- they just get better with age!

   
How do I turn a closet into a wine cellar?

Closet Cellars

Wine cellars don't have to be free standing cabinets or cumbersome refrigerators blocking up your kitchen space. A fun, crafty way of handling your wine storage is to build wine rack cabinets right into an existing closet. First thing's first, it's a good idea to consult experts on what you're planning to do. Wine cellar installation experts are available, such as those at VigilantInc.com, but you can also call on a local contractor.

After ascertaining the dimensions of the to-be-renovated closet, decide on what sort of racking you would like to use: diamond bins, rectangular bins, square bins or simply shelves for case storage. Wine rack cabinets come in mahogany and can be built to fit perfectly in your closet space. You will also need to purchase a climate control/humidity control unit that will keep your closet dimensions between 55 and 58 degrees with 60 percent to 65 percent humidity (maximum). Also, make sure your closet is insulated and free of permeable surfaces, such as raw wood or un-insulated drywall. Your floor, walls and ceiling all need to be well insulated so the climate control system can properly handle the space without costing you an arm and a leg. After your closet space is properly insulated, be sure to follow your building plans exactly. It's much easier to install your wine storage closet correctly the first time than it is to repair a costly mistake later on.

   
How do I prevent damage to my wine by humidity?

Humidity

Humidity is important, since it keeps your cork from rotting and destroying the wine, but too much can be a bad thing for labels. An average wine storage cabinet should have a humidity level between 60% and 75%. If you have a very dry climate or your house is heated and cooled by central air, it might be a good idea to place a saucer of water in your wine storage area. The water with put a little humidity in the air and should be a great help in preserving the wine. The other problem with humidity, though, is that too much can ruin wine labels. If the humidity runs in excess of 80%, mold could start growing on wine labels and your identification of the wine, as well as the value, is lost. One good suggestion for preventing mold growth is to wrap your long-term bottles in saran wrap. This effectively keeps out most mold and doesn't have any unpleasant odors, such as shellacking or applying hair spray as a sealant would cause.

   
What are some basics to wine cellar construction?

Protecting Your Cellar

Wine cellar construction must follow certain guidelines to ensure the protection of your wine collection. Regardless of where your cellar is located, much of the wine cellar construction will take insulation, framing, sheathing, and other types of barriers into account. For example, a thin layer of polyethelene will most likely be used on the warm sides of walls and ceilings as a vapor barrier. Even the types of paints or stains you select for your wine cellar should be both moisture and mildew resistant.

   
How important is the layout of my wine cellar?

Collections That Look as Good as They Taste

While proper storage of your wines is the main purpose of your wine cellar, it doesn't have to be the only focus. The plan to build a wine cellar, whether it's custom designed or built from a wine cellar kit, should take into account a pleasing view of your collection in its layout. Depending on your personal taste, you may decide to have the focal point of your cellar (i.e., the center of visual attention) be your stemware collection, a vintage bottle (or bottles) of wine, or even the full wine racks themselves.

   
What Are Things To Keep In Mind During The Wine Cellar Construction Process?

Wine Cellar Construction Tips

If your residential wine cellar is located on a slab of concrete, the floor must be as level as possible. Other tips to keep in mind during the wine cellar construction process are:
Treat floors with a waterproof sealant.
Construct walls with studs 2x4 or 2x6 in size.
Walls should also have 2x6 nailers installed between the studs.
Keep these basics in mind during the construction process of your wine cellar.

   
What Kind of Builder Should I Contract To Build A Wine Cellar?

Choose Builder Knowledgeable In Wine Cellar Construction

Choose a building professional that is knowledgeable in wine cellar construction. Some of the materials used in constructing residential wine cellars are the same ones used in building a home. However, the difference is that the materials are all going into one space, located in an interior room of the home.
A good example is the type of door used in residential wine cellars. Use exterior grade doors to maintain the temperature and humidity control of the wine cellar. Most builders are accustomed to installing these types of doors on homes. However, installing them inside of the home presents a different kind of challenge.

   
What is the best way to build a wine cellar?

Wine Cellar Options

What conditions are best for your wines to mature properly? Mainly, factors such as temperature, lighting, and humidity are key. Once your collection of wines is large enough, you'll need to build your own wine cellar to maintain these conditions in a consistent manner. There are two basic directions for how to build a wine cellar: have one custom made, or make one yourself. If you have the budget, a custom wine cellar that is tailor-made to your needs is the best option, as professionals are able to anticipate your collections' specific needs. Creating your own cellar can save some money, but will require more hands-on attention. You'll work with professionals to put together modular racks and storage systems that will suit your available space and monetary restraints.

   
Where should I store my wine glasses?

Glass Act

No wine collection display is complete with out a wine glass rack. Whether you've opted for a wine storage unit in the corner of your living room or have built an entire wine cellar beneath your home, consider adding the inviting touch of a wine glass rack. A good rack should be made of solid wood or metal and allow for a variety of glasses to be stored (i.e., Burgundies, white wines, and even champagne). Ideally, your glasses should hang bowl-down from their stems and feet. This will prevent dust from collecting in the bowls of the glasses.

   
Why should I avoid light and vibration when storing wine?

Light and Vibration

When building a place to store your wine, keep in mind that you want as little light as possible to reach your bottles. Although vibration is mentioned occasionally as being harmful to wine, it really isn't that big of a problem. Sure, you don't want to have the bottles sitting on top of the refrigerator, but that's more of an issue of radiant heat than bottle shaking. The only reason to avoid excess vibration is if the bottles are in danger of breaking. Too much light, however, is a different problem. Light heats wine and the ultra violet rays in light could potentially degrade normally stable organic compounds within the wine. Since these compounds are essential to the structure, aroma and taste of the wine, too much light can potentially destroy a perfectly good bottle.

   
Where should I build a wine cellar?

Location

When looking for a place to store your wine, keep in mind the temperatures, not only in your house but outside as well. Wine does not do well stored in the attic unless the attic is finished (insulation, heating and air conditioning, etc.). The same goes for storing wine outside in an unfinished storage building; temperatures can fluctuate wildly and this will only harm your wine. Good locations for building a wine cellar include under your stairs, if you have them, or within an insulated cabinet in the house. Root cellars and underground cisterns work as well as long as you have monitored the temperature in the room and found that it does not fluctuate too wildly and that it stays around a comfortable 55 - 58 degrees year round.

   
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