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Getting Started

Wine cellars should be built using standard 2x4 or 2x6 construction methods and ceiling joists following the guidelines of local and state codes. 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.

Insulation & Vapor Barrier

In order 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, then 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 are planning to use a climate control cooling unit in your cellar, insulating the walls is a requirement.

We recommend that a minimum of R13 insulation should 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 normally used in cellar construction. Again, it is very important that all walls and ceilings be properly insulated in order to keep cellar temperature as consistent as possible throughout the year.
NOTE: Vapor barrier is REQUIRED when a climate control cooling unit is installed.

Wine Cellar Wall & Ceiling Covering

The interior wall and ceiling covering is determines by the décor theme of the cellar. Often times dry wall is applied and painted (using latex paint) to match a specific cellar theme.

Cedar and Redwood tongue and groove paneling is also a popular choice for wall covering materials (consult with an Apex 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.

Wine Cellar Doors

If a cooling system is installed, an exterior grade door (1 ¾ inches thick) must be installed as the cellar door. It is important that the door have a very good seal to keep the cool air from escaping out of the cellar. Weather stripping 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 are planning on using a glass door, make sure that it includes at least double pane tempered glass to ensure no loss of cool air. Apex 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 special look.

Wine Cellar Flooring

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 Apex options include our cork and reclaimed wine barrel surfacing. Carpet should NEVER be used as it will mold and mildew in the cool and damp conditions of a cellar. As with the case of wall coverings, flooring is typically chosen to match the overall décor of the cellar. The flooring should be applied to a level surface, free of base trim or moldings that can potentially interfere with the racking.

Wine Cellar Lighting

The lighting of a wine cellar is an important part of the overall décor. “Air Lock” recessed can lights are the most popular and are often used as the main source of light within a cellar. Display lights are also commonly used to accent different parts of the cellar such as picture opening, table areas, or large format display bottles. Apex offers display “rope” lighting that is 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 of time will cause the cooling equipment to over work itself. No matter the type used, cellar lighting should be set to a dimmer in order 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 of time.

Wine Cellar Climate Control

If you would prefer to keep your collection cool without the use of 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, Apex 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 “though-the-wall” system can be used. Please see our classic and signature CellarTec system pages for more information.

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

Wine Cellar Racking

All wine racking is designed and custom made by Apex Wine Cellars. Standard materials 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. 

*Please note: swatches shown are of raw, unfinished wood samples.


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

Design Gallery

Wine Cellar Design Gallery 

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Design Wizard

Wine Cellar Design Wizard 

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Custom Orders

Design the cellar or sauna that best suits your needs with our help.

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