If you want a "successful" wine room, the importance of this step cannot be underemphasized.
You must plan nearly every detail of your room before lifting a finger in
the parts ordering or construction phases. Here are some of items you need
- Desired capacity (number of bottles). The overall dimensions
of your room will put a cap on this number. You don't have to install
all the potential racking at once, but decide how big you might like to get
- Expandability. If you are unsure of item 1, will you be able
to expand the room later? If that's a desire and an option (i.e.,
space is available), choose your room layout and the size of the cooler carefully
to allow for this possibility.
- Electricity. As a rock-bottom minimum you will need a light
with a pullchain (ugly!), and if you have a cooler, you will need an outlet
for it. The cooler is best allocated a separate circuit (the larger the
room the more important, but always preferable). Are you prepared to do
the wiring, or will you need to hire an electrician?
- Backup power. If you have a cooler and the power goes out in
the middle of summer, you could have a big problem. Having a separate
circuit for your cooler is a helpful start in preparing for this problem.
As a backup solution, you might want to install a separate outlet in the wine
room terminating somewhere and somehow such that you could attach it to a portable
- Wall thickness. If your wine room is completely interior to
the house (no outside walls), you may be able to get away with standard 2x4s,
which normally contain R11 insulation (but for which you can also buy R13-R15
insulation, which is better). But if your wine room has any outside walls,
a wall that gets sun, a wall in a warmer than average room, etc., you should
seriously considering making the wall thicker. Suggestions are contained
in the section on building walls.
- Ceiling and floor. They need to be insulated, too. If
the ceiling is also the house roof, you need 9" minimum for insulation.
If the floor is concrete, you may wish to build a false floor.
- Vapor barrier. A vapor barrier is a must, all the way around
-- on the warm side. Usually 6mm poly film is used.
- Door. You don't want to use an ordinary inside door for your
wine room. Ideally you will use a heavily insulated steel door, like the
ones used between a garage and a house. Although less efficient, you may
be installing a windowed door, too. But if you do, make sure that your
door will fit before you commit! (For example, in the Bracksco wine room,
the ceiling slopes, and the location of the wine room is such that the door
had to open inward. If we had installed a wider door, it would have hit
the ceiling before it was fully open.)
dimensions. After you have figured out your wall, floor, and ceiling
situation, you should take a look at inside dimensions of your wine room,
after the walls and wall coverings are added. The reason this is
important is to gain maximum advantage for your wine racking without wasted
space. For example, if you are using the
VintageView wine racks
(pictured right) formerly sold by Bracksco, each column takes up exactly 13
inches; so a rear wall which is an exact multiple of 13 inches is a perfect
fit. An inch or so over is no big deal, but a couple of inches short will
leave you with not enough room for a final column and a lot of wasted space.
(Keep in mind that VintageView racks can go the full length of the wall and
still have the side walls butt the bottles up against the rack in single-depths,
whereas traditional cork-forward racking causes you to lose the space of each
corner, or potentially waste a lot of space in a curve.) So ... experiment
with layouts before finalizing dimensions.
- Cooler positioning. Sounds simple; but coolers generally mount
between studs, so you'll only be able to position your cooler wherever the studs
happen to fall (without some fancy carpentry). In your particular room,
there simply may be no choice where it goes; but if you have options, consider
them now, so the cooler doesn't end up smack dab in the middle of your showcase
wall of wine. Ideally, the cooler will not be on the wall opposite the
door (if that's your longer wall and full of racks). Also, you need to
be able to get to the back of the cooler at least annually to clean the cooling
- Your skills. Are you up for this project? How much can
you do on your own? What kind of help will you need? Do you need
someone with a truck to haul some 4x8 wood panels? Do you have the tools
and skills to cut sections of wood to fit? Perhaps you can do all but
the electrical. Etc. Figure out in advance what you can and can't
do and where you can go (and how much it will cost) for help.
OK! Now that you have thought through the entire room and have laid it
out on paper thoroughly, you are ready to begin work.
And now, let's continue with Step 2: Deconstruct.
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