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The actual construction of the room's walls, etc., will not be covered here.  It is assumed that you know how to build a wall (using 2x4s 16 inches apart, etc.).  So if you are starting from an empty space, have at it and build your room, and good luck!  However, we recommend that you read the suggestions below for dealing with existing walls, as you may wish to use some of these techniques in your new construction.

If you are working with an existing space which you have just deconstructed (previous step), now is the time to consider expanding the depth of the walls (and ceiling) to allow for additional insulation.  There are three options.

  1. Increase the depth by ripping a 2x4 (not pleasant but possible) and nailing it into the existing 2x4s.  We used this approach for two walls in the Bracksco wine room.  R19 insulation isn't a perfect fit, but it can be used; R21 (see below) would be better.
  2. Double the depth by adding a second set of 2x4s right on top of the first.  Use two unfaced batts of R11-R13 to reach R22-R26.
  3. More than double the depth by adding a second wall a few inches behind (or in front of) the existing wall.  Again, we used this approach in the Bracksco wine room for two walls in attic space.

In all of these cases, you should give some consideration to the thickness of standard insulation batts that are available to you.  There is no point in creating a cavity for which there is no insulation batt or combination of unfaced batts that can be combined to make up that amount of space!  So here is a table of the common sizes of insulation batts available today and their thicknesses:


R11 3-1/2"
R13 3-1/2"
R15 3-1/2"
R19* 6-1/4"
R21* 5-1/2"
R30 9-1/2"
R38 12"

* Read about comparing R19 vs R21

Yes, it seems strange that R11 - R15 all fit in 3-1/2", but the composition of the insulation may be different, and that's what the manufacturers claim.  R19 is sometimes listed as 6-1/2" thick; and yes, R21 takes less space than R19!  Both can be used with 2x6 walls.  (If you want to know the R-value of other materials, see this R-Value Table from

While we have talked about walls, the same is true for a ceiling.  You need to consider what's up above:  the floor of the level above, or the attic roof.  If it is a roof, be sure to install foam vents (as shown below) along the inside of the roof to carry the heat away to an adjacent area.  The vents get installed against the wood, with the vapor barrier then covering the vent; then comes the insulation.  (Below you are viewing the vapor barrier on the side wall, all the way up to the roof.  Another vapor barrier will be installed on the roof, below the vent shown, then insulation will fill the area.)

Roof with vent Roof with vent

And now the floor.  There are two situations to address:  concrete and wood.  Let's talk about concrete first, the situation you would typically find in a basement or building on a slab.

Unfortunately, this area is not without controversy.  Concrete has a near zero R-value, but in conjunction with the earth underneath (often around 60 degrees year-round), it offers a lot of thermal mass -- good for resisting the loss of "cool" from the room or the entry of heat.  Properly constructed, it shouldn't allow much moisture in, either, though that is a possibility, especially in older construction or notoriously wet areas.  In these latter cases, you should definitely put down a vapor barrier and studs and build a "false" floor, filled with insulation.

In newer construction in reasonably dry areas, it's a toss-up.  Some people (Breezaire Products Corp, for example) say always build a false floor; others (notably builders, who argue that living areas are built on concrete without false floors) say it's a waste of money.  Most websites which address building wine cellars on concrete floors say a floor isn't necessary.  There should be no harm -- only some cost, and probably some value -- in installing an insulated floor, but in newer construction it doesn't appear necessary.  A waterproof sealer, however, is important!  Also, you should use a vapor barrier and insulation on concrete walls.  However, since the walls are apt to wick water, it is ideal if you can leave a 1" or greater barrier between the concrete wall and the outside of your wine room, to allow the moisture from the concrete to evaporate.

In late 2010, I read the following on Snooth, so credit goes to author Gregory Dal Piaz.  (The italics are mine.)

"Two points to remember when building walls directly on the concrete walls of your basement:  Lay down a layer of vapor barrier over the floor and under the sill of the wall to prevent water wicking into your sill, and leave about a ½ inch gap between the floor and the bottom of your sheetrock, to prevent water wicking into the rock."

You can read Mr Piaz's article on how to build a wine room, from which this quote is drawn.  It is less detailed than this article, but you may find something of value there.

For wood floors, it is mandatory to insulate, especially since cold air falls!  You may find it easier to get at an existing floor from underneath.  Be sure to fill the entire depth with insulation, even if it seems like overkill.  If the insulation falls away from the floor, you seriously impede its effectiveness.

Alas, there is one more important consideration for floors and ceilings:  boxing in the joists.  You want to limit the infiltration of heated, humid air from the uninsulated area (where the insulation ends over or under your room); so you "box in" the area by creating a mini wall at the limits of your wine room.  The picture below shows how a wine room floor was prepared for insulation by removing the ceiling below the room, then boxing in (and sealing) the joists at the limit of the wine room above, prior to filling the area with insulation, installing a vapor barrier, and reinstalling the ceiling.

Boxing in the joists Boxing in the joists

And now, let's continue with Step 4:  Install or reinstall door frame and door.

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