Everything you need to know about building your own wine cellar

A Wine cellar is a great way to add value to your home and create a space to enjoy wine and entertain and impress guests.

Traditionally, if you wanted to make a wine storage room, you’d have to contact a local contractor to make a custom and expensive solution for your space. WineCellars.com® created a modern solution for wine cellars by creating modular systems which let you do it yourself affordably without sacrificing the luxury look.

What is the goal of your Wine Cellar?

Form or Function?

People shopping for a wine cellars usually have one of two goals: “Show Off” or “Bulk Storage”.

Showcase Wine Cellar

Show Off: The wine cellar’s focus is on flair and style and less on total bottle capacity and cost per bottle.

Bulk Storage Wine Cellar

Bulk Storage: The wine cellar’s focus is on the maximum number of bottles in a given space at the best cost per bottle.

Will you require a cooling system?

Passively Cooled Wine Cellars

Showcase Wine Cellar

Passively cooled wine cellars are built in rooms that are naturally humid and chilly. Usually they are surrounded by 2 or 3 walls of earth and located in climates known for temperate weather year-round. These wine cellars have little maintenance cost and won’t fail even if the power goes out. Unfortunately, if there is variance in temperature/humidity where you live (or you don’t have a convenient subterranean space available), you likely will need an active wine cellar.

Actively Cooled Wine Cellars

Bulk Storage Wine Cellar

Actively cooled wine cellars, typical for most people, use cooling units and insulation to keep the room refrigerated at an ideal wine storage humidity and temperature. As part of construction, these rooms need proper insulation, a vapor barrier and properly sized cooling unit. As you might expect, there is ongoing maintenance costs associated with operating an active cellar such as electricity and cooling unit replacements.

How to build and prepare your wine cellar

As you build your wine cellar you should keep insulation and climate control a priority throughout the process. An improperly insulated and installed wine cellar can be a costly nightmare to maintain and can even risk your wine stock. It’s expensive to replace overworked cooling units and even more costly (not to mention the health risk) to tear out mold-infested walls.

Framing your wine cellar:

Framing your wine cellar

  • 2″ x 6″ for thewalls
  • 2″ x 8″ for the ceiling

The frame of your wine cellar should allow for insulation and installation of a vapor barrier (assuming you’re not using a closed-cell foam).

When possible, every part of your cellar should be built The goal should be to create a sealed room that can survive a humid environment over the course of time.

The ideal frame for your walls should be at least 2″ x 6″

Vapor Barrier

Vapor Barrier (6mm)

  • Recommended at 6mm

A vapor barrier is a MUST in a wine cellar for the purpose of preventing mold and rot. Install the vapor barrier on the outside (warm side) of the frame and use best practices to create a proper seal.

Standard Insulation

Wine Cellar Insulation

  • Minimum 3½” of insulation for walls
  • 6″ of insulation for the ceiling

Insulation will help keep your room at the right temperature without constantly running your cooling unit. The walls, ceiling and floor (if possible) should have insulation added. Properly insulating your cellar could save you thousands over the life of your cellar.

Closed Cell Foam Insulation

Closed Cell Foam (Recommended)

Instead of a vapor barrier and standard insulation you can opt to use closed cell foam insulation instead. Closed cell foam is the best for temperature/humidity control and is ideal for humid environments like Florida and Hawaii.

Green Board

Green Board for Wine Cellars

We recommend using green board (what you use in bathrooms) instead of sheetrock for your wine cellar. Green board is moisture and mold resistant, both deadly to your wine cellar. As part of installation, double check that the room is airtight and make sure all fixtures, outlets, light switches, etc., are properly sealed.

Walls & Floors

Wine Cellar Walls and Floors

The walls and flooring in your final cellar is a personal decision based on taste and style. Faux (or real) stone walls and flooring give the impression of an old-world cellar while solid color paints create a more modern look. Make sure whatever you choose can hold up well in a high humidity environment.

Glass Panel Walls & Doors

Glass Panel Walls and Doors

Glass panels look cool BUT they are lousy at keeping your wine cellar cool! The glass you use in your wine cellar should be exterior, insulating grade and limited to one wall. The less glass you use the easier and cheaper your wine cellar will be to cool.