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  • Writer's pictureEric

Doesn't Everyone Want a Basement Wine Cellar?

Transforming a small area in my basement into a wine cellar used all the skills you might need for finishing a basement. Waterproofing, framing, insulation, lights, outlets, flooring, ceiling, wood trim, painting, doors, etc. Just no plumbing or heating this time.

The first thing we did was to paint on Drylock to the walls and floor. The basement has been dry for 20+ years, but you never get a second chance to waterproof once you put up walls and flooring.

Then we framed the walls, using 2x4 pressure treated wood along the floor with cement nails and 2x4 studs along the walls. We spaced them 16" on center which will help later with drywall, paneling, or any other wall material. You could go 24" on center too....these aren't structural walls.

We got lucky and were able to screw the tops of the studs into the framing above so we didn't need a top rail. That doesn't always happen.

Once we were done framing, we laid out some outlets and some wall sconces and brought rough wire into those locations.

Insulation was next. The idea of the wine cellar is to try and keep the temperature between 50 to 65 with low humidity. This may require a small heater in the winter and a dehumidifier in the summer. By doing a nice insulation job, we will be able to control the environment.

We used faced insulation, made for 2x4 16" walls, R13 I think, with the face pointing into the finished room as that will be warmer than the cement walls.

Wear gloves and a mask. That pink stuff gets everywhere!

Easiest way to cut it is with a straight edge and utility knife. Just compress it and draw the knife over it twice.

Next up is sheetrock. Take your time here or you can end up with a mess. Get the pieces lined up well when you hang them. You might find a wall stud bowed or proud of the others that would make your sheetrock wavy. Fix that stud now. That's why I like to use screws when framing so I can make adjustments later.

I like to add a 1/4" spacer board at the floor, hang the first piece on the lower part of the walls, then hang the piece above it to the ceiling area. Just score the face with a utility knife and snap it, fold it over and cut through the backing.

For corners, where two pieces of sheetrock meet, you will want to attach corner bead. I prefer to use paper tape for my seams and metal corner bead. I suggest watching some Youtube videos on taping, mudding, etc.

Lots of thin coats may take longer than a pro, but will eliminate a lot of extra sanding. And go wide!! very wide!! over the joints. This will help feather out that area and you will never see the place where two boards butted up to each other.

When you think you are done, you are not. Get a strong light and uplight the walls. This is your last chance to add some more mud, sand a bump, fix a screw head, etc. before painting.

One of our walls will be a wood plank wall. The wood planks are just nailed into the studs in a random pattern.

These planks tend to shrink! We painted the studs black just in case they do.

Open a few of the cases and pull out the different colors to keep the pattern random.

Now is when you paint! Before the ceiling and floor and moldings and fixtures! You can be sloppy with your roller and paint this very quickly. It will be the best painting experience you can have. Two or three coats for sure. The fresh sheetrock will suck up the paint a lot.

For the flooring, we found some dark brown vinyl waterproof click together planks. Quite thin, pretty much indestructible.

Just make sure to keep the floor clean and clear or any debris. Scrape away and shop vac up and sheetrock splotches.

Start the flooring 1/4" away from all walls for expansion. That gap will be hidden by the baseboards.

Start at one end of the room with a full piece and go to the other end of the room. When you cut the last piece to length, use the cut off to start the next row. We end up with almost 0 scrap using this technique.

Once the flooring is done, we cut and nailed in the baseboards. Baseboards are typically 5/8" thick and will hide any flooring gaps against the walls. If you can learn to cope inside corners, you will get great results. Try finding the studs when you nail and your moldings might snug up nicely against the wall. If they don't, there's always some thin caulk to add for a professional gapless look.

I always cut my molding a bit long and then fit snugly. You can't add wood if you cut them too short.

For the ceiling, we went with a drop ceiling. There are some copper water pipes and heating vents in the ceiling that we may need access to someday. I never like sheet rocking a ceiling in the basement....

This web site is awesome:

It will make the ceiling job so simple for you.

The only hard part is determining the height. You want as much headroom as you can get, but you also don't want to be so close to the floor studs that you can't insert your panels. I go around all the edges looking for the lowest points, pipes, vents, etc. that are low. Then I try to leave about 2 inches below that. In this case, we had nothing in the way and the window trim served as our low point as you can see. That's how we did the "L" shaped wall track around the entire room keeping it level as we go. Then the cross T's, then the 4' and 2' inserts, then the panels.

Word to the wise....I never use the 2' x 4' panels. They tend to sag over time.... 2' x 2' panels means more panels, more inserts, more $$, but sagging ceiling tiles is horrible.

We are almost done! The ceiling is done, the moldings are done, we wired up the lights. We decided not to put baseboard in front of the wood wall.

We already had electricity going into a few ceiling outlets in this room that we just tapped into and extended. We don't plan on using much power in here at all. I guess if you were to add wine refrigerators here, you might need a dedicated circuit.

The last thing to do was to add a door. We bought a wood door and painted in black and added a floor sweep to it. Remember, we are trying to control the temperature and humidity in the room.

We could have just left the basement concrete walls on each side of the door...but we decided to buy a few boxes of thin bricks that we broke with our hammer and glued around the opening. Some gray sanded caulk finished it nicely.

Time to Enjoy!

What about the furnishings?

  • We purchased some wine storage boxes online and assembled them.

  • We built some extra bottle storage using some scraps 1x1 boards.

  • We bought some wall mounted bottle holders and screwed them into the studs.

  • We added a small table and a few chairs.

  • We bought a wall mount cork holder with our name printed on it. It's made out of a wine barrel.

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