I'm building a winer cellar in my basement and am getting conflicting information from different sources on the question of "Should the vapor barrier be placed on the warm-outside or the inside of the walls and ceiling?"

The following sources say the INSIDE (from outside in: insulation, vapor barrier, greenboard)
- http://www.winecellarsecrets.com ebook
- My General Contractor

But these sources say the "warm side" OUTSIDE (from outside in: vapor barrier, insulation, greenboard)
- http://www.vinotheque.com/whisper/cellar.html
- http://www.vintagecellars.com/howto.asp
- http://education.vigilantinc.com/wine-cellar-details.asp

** I don't yet have Richard Gold's book "How and Why To Build a Wine Cellar". Does anyone have it? Good? What does it recommend?

Here is the format of my basement located in Atlanta. Underground. 10X10X10. Going to use Whisperkool 4200 unit. Three walls are concrete with dirt behind the concrete. One wall faces into the rest of the basement and only has framing on it today. The floor is concrete (is water sealant a must have?).

I plan on using DensArmor Plus® Interior Drywall instead of greenboard/drywall. Does the type of vapor barrier plastic matter? Imagine my contractor will use what they typically put on the outside of a house.

Thanks - Peter
Original Post
Peter_Atlanta

Welcome to the WS Forums.

Vapor barriers have been discussed on these forums several times. You might want to perform a search for the topic. However, if you use a spray polyurethane for insulation, completely filling the area between the studs,
I don't think it matters. I built my cellar with a vapor barrier on both sides encasing the polyurethane. Some have mentioned that may cause sweating and mold, but I have never had a problem. Good Luck!
The vapor barrier should always go on the warm side in a warm, humid climate such as Atlanta, GA. Moisture collects on the VB and you need it to weep outward. It can’t breathe very well flat against a sheet of GWB. But if you’re installing studs against the concrete wall, the contractor will have a hard time installing the studs and then placing the VB on the outside, since obviously, he can’t get to it very easily once the studs are up. Have him build the framing lying on the floor first, install the VB on the outside face of studs and then tilt the wall into place. Keep about a 1 inch gap between the studs and the concrete wall to allow moisture to weep to the floor instead of building up internally on the walls. Assuming the house is already built, you don’t have much choice for VB location on the floor structure above.

DensArmor Plus is not really needed unless you already have a moisture problem in the basement (do you smell any mildew?), but I wouldn’t call it overkill to use it either. It’s a little more difficult to get a smooth drywall finish with DensArmor. The VB should just be your basic 5mil roll of polyethylene. Most exterior VB’s are actually designed to breathe which is not what you want in your refrigerator (cellar). Also, have it installed with adhesive in lieu of nails.

For the slab, you can install a VB mastic as a setting bed for tile or just as a substrate for other products. You will probably have to get this from a commercial tile place in lieu of a home improvement store. The better independent tile stores in town can get this for you.

Where does the whisperkool intake & vent to??
I installed the VP in my cellar on the warm side of all of the walls; 2x4s were already installed against three of the concrete walls but there was enough gap to thread the VP behind. On the 4th wall, I weaved it around the studs, creating pockets in which the batt insulation resides. I also firred the wall studs out to 2x6 depth for R19 insulation.

The ceiling was harder, as the rooms' ceiling was already finished. After making the cutout for the barrel vault, I stapled VP to the 1st floor joists, and stuffed it into the cavities along the four walls. Not hermetically sealed to be sure, but after nearly two years I've noticed no mold or dampness anywhere in the cellar, or outside in the other rooms.

As GD inquires, make sure you've got enough clear space for the cooling unit to vent exhaust into, as it will overheat and potentially fail prematurely. These coolers don't create humidity, they regulate what's already there. I used an 8,000 BTU casement style A/C unit which vents into a large workshop/boat garage in the basement w/no problems. Keeps the room @ 60-62 deg.; haven't tested the humidity yet but I'm not worried about dry corks.
quote:
Originally posted by GreenDrazi:
The vapor barrier should always go on the warm side in a warm, humid climate such as Atlanta, GA. Moisture collects on the VB and you need it to weep outward. It can’t breathe very well flat against a sheet of GWB. But if you’re installing studs against the concrete wall, the contractor will have a hard time installing the studs and then placing the VB on the outside, since obviously, he can’t get to it very easily once the studs are up. Have him build the framing lying on the floor first, install the VB on the outside face of studs and then tilt the wall into place. Keep about a 1 inch gap between the studs and the concrete wall to allow moisture to weep to the floor instead of building up internally on the walls. Assuming the house is already built, you don’t have much choice for VB location on the floor structure above.

DensArmor Plus is not really needed unless you already have a moisture problem in the basement (do you smell any mildew?), but I wouldn’t call it overkill to use it either. It’s a little more difficult to get a smooth drywall finish with DensArmor. The VB should just be your basic 5mil roll of polyethylene. Most exterior VB’s are actually designed to breathe which is not what you want in your refrigerator (cellar). Also, have it installed with adhesive in lieu of nails.

For the slab, you can install a VB mastic as a setting bed for tile or just as a substrate for other products. You will probably have to get this from a commercial tile place in lieu of a home improvement store. The better independent tile stores in town can get this for you.

Where does the whisperkool intake & vent to??


Greeny's advice is wise.

As for DensArmor Plus, USG now makes an equal product that allows for a level 5 finish.
My house is 10 years old. As there are three, solid concrete walls in the cellar, there should be a vapor barrier between the concrete and the outside soil? See this picture.

I think I'll go ahead and do a VB against the concrete walls (warm side), but it may be not be really needed.

Also, the contractor currently has 2x4 against concrete wall...is there much to be gained by asking him to remove and do 2x6 so that I can use R-19 fiberglass? Shouldn't the concrete walls and the soil outside keep the temperature lower than outside ambient air?
The VB goes between the concrete and framing. The purpose of the VB is to keep moisture from wood. Standard VB to use is 6mm Poly (stuff is strong and actually very cheap). The warm side is referring to the side of the studs, not the actual wall per se. Higher R-values will reduce the time your cooling unit will be on. Over time, you'll save much more. Plus, the soil is not as good an insulator as you think. The top few feet below grade retains much heat over the course of the summer.
If you don't want the contractor to redo the framing, you can always sacrafice your interior dimension of your cellar and doubling up your walls. If R-values are additive, you'll be sitting at around R-24.

In summary, your concrete walls may be cool to the touch, but I suspect not as cool as 55-60F. So either way, there will be heat transfer from the outside into the cellar. The higher R, the slower the rate at which this occurs is (i.e., cooling unit runs less).
Warm side, warm side, warm side.... That goers for ANY building.... not just a cellar. Anyone from Canada with the VP on the COLD side should be able to tell you horror stories about mold and (sometimes) running water down your walls.

Another hint. If by chance you are putting a cellar in a part of a garage (walling off a section or whatever) I think it was Latour who mentioned the foam filling method... If you are anywhere near exhaust fumes then doing that "sealing" is a must as well to keep the exhaust from leaking thru to your cellar (but still the VP goes on the warn side) and don't forget to tie it off properly at joints.
Thanks for everyone's feedback!

I've decided on closed-cell foam insulation on all four cellar walls and ceiling. $1400 by APEX (checked with insulation provider directly and they quoted $2500). I'm definitely going to take pictures and chronicle the rest of the cellar.

For racking, I was going to go with Wine Enthusiast "Designer" series modular racking (premium redwood with mahogany stain), but the APEX guys surprised me this morning with a modular set that they manufacture (Wine Enthusiast resells), is cheaper, and appears to have better quality.

APEX says they don't believe in staining...I'm shooting for a nice, medium red color to be contrasted by a light wall. Thoughts?

Also...any thoughts on halogen, mini eyeball lights...bad idea with heat or inconsequential?
quote:
Originally posted by GreenDrazi:
The vapor barrier should always go on the warm side in a warm, humid climate such as Atlanta, GA. Moisture collects on the VB and you need it to weep outward. It can’t breathe very well flat against a sheet of GWB. But if you’re installing studs against the concrete wall, the contractor will have a hard time installing the studs and then placing the VB on the outside, since obviously, he can’t get to it very easily once the studs are up. Have him build the framing lying on the floor first, install the VB on the outside face of studs and then tilt the wall into place. Keep about a 1 inch gap between the studs and the concrete wall to allow moisture to weep to the floor instead of building up internally on the walls. Assuming the house is already built, you don’t have much choice for VB location on the floor structure above.

DensArmor Plus is not really needed unless you already have a moisture problem in the basement (do you smell any mildew?), but I wouldn’t call it overkill to use it either. It’s a little more difficult to get a smooth drywall finish with DensArmor. The VB should just be your basic 5mil roll of polyethylene. Most exterior VB’s are actually designed to breathe which is not what you want in your refrigerator (cellar). Also, have it installed with adhesive in lieu of nails.

For the slab, you can install a VB mastic as a setting bed for tile or just as a substrate for other products. You will probably have to get this from a commercial tile place in lieu of a home improvement store. The better independent tile stores in town can get this for you.

Where does the whisperkool intake & vent to??


Whisperhool vents into HVAC utility room, which is smaller than wine cellar. Yes, I know...ideally the room that is being vented to needs to be twice the cubic space as wine cellar. To compensate, I am installing a heat exhaust fan that takes air from the HVAC room to the outside of the house. And to get real fancy, I'm wiring it so that it turns on whenever the Whisperkool does.
Peter,
That sounds just about the perfect way to handle the airflow. Well thought of! Re the racks. yes Wine E DO offer a lot, but as far as i am aware they only resell (at what I would consider some pretty obscene markups). There are a ton of wine rack direct manufacturers who will give you better pricing. The one thing you want to confirm with whoever is making your racks is that they use GLUE as well as bradding the horizontal bottle pieces to the main frame. I have seen way too many wine racks built where they just brad the bottle holding pieces to the upright, and they fall off within a year. So get your guy to glue them as well as bradding them. The cost of the glue is basically nothing, and the time spent doing it is less than 30 seconds per piece so the cost extra should be small.
Foow;
I stick built all of my racks, which the majority are individual bottle racks, in varying columns wide, and hold 18 bottles vertically; used glue and brads and haven't had a problem one.

FWIW, my racks are modeled off of those offered by Wine Racks America. Clear, #1 pine, and they look great. The only difference is I filled in the screw holes w/wood plugs, and I've installed nicer crown moulding at the tops. You can be sure the inside and outside radii corner crown moulding was a b!tCh to fit.
Kybo,
I agree. The extra time spent on the glue makes it all worth while. I have spent about 20 years on and off in the wine trade and have run across the 'cpmmercial' racks so often with the falling off cross-pieces that you start to wonder if there is a conspiricy going on. It is the same old attention-to-detail thing. Can't count the number of bottles that people fed into the rack not realizing that the cross piece was missing or loose and the bottle fell and broke!

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