Building a Wine Room

Custom Glass Wine Cellar by Vinotemp

Today we are discussing some cellar construction basics to consider before you begin your custom wine cellar project.

Each project is unique, and many of these factors will be determined by you and your contractor. Here's what to consider when constructing a wine room of your own, with updated tips and feedback from our valued customers.

Room Construction and Location

Locate your wine cellar in a room with no direct exposure to sunlight/heat, at least one external wall, and ventilation. Wine cellars should be built using standard 2x4 or 2x6 construction methods and ceiling joists following local and state codes' guidelines. As a general rule, thicker cellar walls provide a higher insulation factor and will help to ensure that your collection stays at a consistent temperature.

Tip: For any nooks or niches you may need to design in the wine room (for example, a designated tasting area), the sightline must be a minimum of 60 to 66 inches above the finished floor. If you or your client are taller, you should accommodate their height so they are not having to bend while entering the nook.

Insulation, Vapor Barrier, and Seal

To create the vapor barrier, plastic sheeting (6 mil.) is applied to the HOT side of the cellar walls. Ideally, the vapor barrier should be applied to the outside walls and ceiling; however, if it is impossible to get to the outside, the plastic must be applied from within the cellar.

The most common method is to wrap the entire interior, leaving the plastic loose in the stud cavity so that insulation can be placed in between each stud. All walls, ceiling and floors must be wrapped in plastic for the vapor barrier to be complete and efficient.

If you plan to use a climate control cooling unit in your cellar, insulating the walls is a requirement.

We recommend that a minimum of R13 insulation be applied to the walls, and insulation rated 19-30 should be used on the ceiling of a cellar. Standard fiberglass or rigid foam insulation is typically used in cellar construction. Again, all walls and ceilings must be adequately insulated to keep cellar temperature as consistent as possible throughout the year.

NOTE: Vapor barrier is REQUIRED when a climate control cooling unit is installed.

Walls and Ceilings

The interior wall and ceiling covering are determined by the décor theme of the cellar. Drywall is often applied and painted (using latex paint) to match a specific cellar theme.

Cedar and redwood tongue and groove paneling are also a popular choice for wall covering materials (consult with a Vinotemp representative). Typically, this paneling would be made out of the same type of wood as the cellar racking material to create a more uniform look. Stone and/or granite are also viable options for cellar wall coverings.

Tip: Include any architectural details into the height of the room.

Cellar Doors

If a cooling system is installed, an exterior grade door (1-¾ inches thick) must be installed as the cellar door. The door must have a perfect seal to keep the cool air from escaping out of the cellar. Weatherstripping must be attached to all four sides of the door jamb, and a bottom "sweep" or threshold is also recommended.

Solid core doors or doors with a full glass insert are most often used as wine cellar doors. If you plan on using a glass door, make sure that it includes at least double pane tempered glass to ensure no loss of cool air. Vinotemp offers solid wood doors in standard and "old world" antique styles as well as etched glass insert doors for those who want to give their cellar entrance a unique look.


There is a wide variety of flooring that can be used in cellars. Slate, tile, marble and vinyl are all more commonly used, while popular Vinotemp options include our cork and reclaimed wine barrel surfacing. Carpet should NEVER be used as it will retain moisture and cause mold and mildew in the cool and damp conditions. As with the case of wall coverings, flooring is typically chosen to match the cellar's overall décor. The flooring should be applied to a level surface, free of base trim or moldings that can potentially interfere with the racking.

Tip: Consider the material you will be using to finish the flooring. Some materials are thicker than others and will provide more.


The lighting of a wine cellar is an integral part of the overall décor. "Air Lock" recessed can lights are the most popular and are often used as the primary source of light within a cellar. Modern LED lighting has become more commonly used as it emits minimum heat and is also energy efficient. Display lights are also commonly used to accent different cellar parts such as picture opening, table areas, or large format display bottles. Vinotemp offers display "rope" lighting specially designed and built to fit into the display angle of individual bottle racking.

Lights cause heat, and when left on for an extensive period, will cause the cooling equipment to overwork itself. No matter the type used, cellar lighting should be set to a dimmer to control brightness. It is also recommended that all lighting be installed on a time system to prevent them from being left on for long periods.

Wine Cellar Climate Control

If you would prefer to keep your collection cool without cooling equipment, passive cellars are a viable option. These cellars are built below ground level, where the natural ground temperature is consistent at about 55 degrees. This will protect your wine for long-term storage with no cooling equipment required.

If a climate-controlled cellar is required, Vinotemp can provide cooling equipment to keep the cellar at a temperature of about 55-60 degrees and humidity of 50-70%. For cellars less than 2000 cubic feet in size, either a "split" system or "through-the-wall" system can be used.

For larger cellar, Vinotemp provides commercial refrigeration equipment that a certified refrigeration expert must install. Consult with a Vinotemp sale representative to choose the correct size cooling unit and get installation and power supply instructions.

Wine Cellar Racking

Standard materials for traditional wood wine racking include all heart redwood or clear, grade A western red cedar, both of which are very resistant to rot in the cool environment of a cellar. Other woods are available on a special-order basis. Additional racking materials include acrylic, glass, or metal. Tip: Discuss any possible gaps in wine racking. You may need to use filler to provide a seamless appearance. When planning your wine racking, consider any non-standard-sized wine bottles such as Magnums, Champagne, or splits. Non-standard-sized wine bottles will require wine racks with cubicles that can accommodate their unique shapes. Lastly, consider any finishing trim that you may need to bring the room together.

The Vinotemp design department offers 2D and 3D CAD layouts to customize the racking system to match your exact storage needs. Consult with Vinotemp sales representative for design ideas and features for your custom cellar.