Painting your wine cellar is deceptively easy, and can quickly turn into a nightmare. I once knew a wine fanatic who wanted to transform the extra basement space in her house into a wine bar. She started off strong, replacing the carpet with tile, buying a humidifier, and installing wine racks on the walls. At first, she had no desire to paint the walls, believing that the original white paint would give the space a clean look. A couple of weeks after she installed the racks, she decided she hated the white paint and went ahead with coating the walls in a light lavender color instead. She tried her best to carefully paint around the racks, but nearly all of them ended up with a sprinkling of purple by the time she was done. My friend was forced to take the racks down, sand them, re-stain them, and reinstall them to get rid of the paint. The best wine cellar paint ideas add beauty and safety to your cellar, but if you don’t have the right plan going into it, you’ll waste hours remodeling your cellar.
Why You Should Paint Your Cellar
If you want to repaint your cellar simply because you think it will look great with a fresh coat, you’re not necessarily getting into the project for the right reasons. You need to consider the benefits beyond how the room will look. It’s dangerous to move your wines to a new location just to paint your cellar, since they are at risk of bottle shock or other types of damage whenever they move. This is why it’s wise to weigh the risks and benefits before you get started.
The color of your cellar walls can actually make you and your guests thirstier for wine. Some people find that red colors are most appealing for a cellar because it reminds them of the wine itself. One online commenter explains, “My sister just bought a house with a wine cellar and it is painted a deep red, and I have to tell you, my mouth waters when I am in there.” Similarly, you’ll want to pick paint colors that will contrast with your wine labels and racks. It doesn’t matter how organized your cellar is if you can’t read your bottle labels without squinting. Choose a “sandwich” color scheme in which your walls contrast with your racks, and your racks, in turn, contrast with your labels. For instance, if you have a dozen bottles with black labels, you’ll want to choose light-colored racks to hold them on, and dark-colored walls to contrast with the racks.
There are plenty of scientific reasons to paint your cellar that go beyond aesthetics, especially if you recently built or remodeled your house. Paint odors can seep into the porous cork of wine bottles, even if the room was painted months ago. Most household paints will change the chemical makeup of the wine the longer the bottles are exposed, making it necessary to replace this original paint with a new coat of wine-safe paint instead. You’ll also want to consider repainting your cellar if your home has lead paint (although most lead paint in older homes has already been removed or painted over in recent decades). Another reason to paint your cellar has to do with cleanliness: old homes gather dust over time, and while most of this grime isn’t harmful to wine, some dust particles come from dangerous chemicals, including plasticizers, which could seep in through the cork. Repainting forces you to clean out your cellar and remove any lingering dust, giving you a fresh start.
What Kind of Paint You Should Use
After you’ve decided whether to paint your cellar, you’ll need to use a zero-VOC latex paint to keep your wine safe. VOCs are solvents that evaporate into the air while the paint dries, and if these compounds leak into a wine cork, the flavors of your wine will dramatically change. Even if you don’t have dryboard walls that require painting, you’ll want to choose a VOC-free version of any chemical treatment you use to decorate your cellar. For instance, when you stain any wood in your cellar, you’ll want to use a water-based, VOC-free wood stain. You should also replace any cedar or drywall in your cellar with a less aromatic wood or green board. That’s because cedar has a strong smell that can impact the flavor of your wines. Sustainably harvested redwood tongue and groove is a good alternative. Green board is also better than drywall because it is water-resistant, a must-have in a humid cellar. Before you paint, seal your original drywall with green board, and use a latex paint, as this will stick to the green board better than water-based or oil-based paints.
How to Repaint Your Cellar
Now that you have a few wine cellar paint ideas, you’ll need to move your wine to a secure location to get the job done. It’s not enough to move your bottles to a new room in your house while you paint, since it can take days to paint a cellar and weeks for the paint to fully dry and the fumes to disperse. You should temporarily store your wines with a professional warehouse for at least a month while you paint your cellar. This gives you plenty of time to paint properly, and your wines can stay under the safest conditions until the room is ready for them.
After you move the wine to a secure location, you’ll want to hire a cellar contractor to install green board on your drywall, or install it yourself. Make sure you or your contractor seal any cracks in the board with caulking so that you have a firm, water-resistant barrier. Buy low or VOC-free latex paint in the color that complements your bottles and racks, then paint the walls or green board in at least two coats.
Let the paint fully dry for a few days, then wait at least a week more before you bring your bottles back into the space. If you smell any lingering odor at all, keep your bottles out of the room until the odor clears. You should avoid repainting your cellar too often, since you’ll have to move your bottles every time you renovate. This is why it’s important to choose paint colors that you know you’ll enjoy for years, and avoid trendy colors that you might grow tired of seeing every day.
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