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 to consider:
- 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
- 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 generator outside.
- 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.)
Inside 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
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 fins.
- 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:
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