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Radiant barrier is the greatest invention and solution to a well-protected wine room.  Since condensation is the number one problem of a wine room, radiant barrier stops the heat exchange reducing the condensation factor by 95%.  Once you eliminate the huge fluctuations in temperature from the warm walls to the cool room, condensation will not form. With the various options of radiant barrier available, you can do the whole concept of a wine room with one product. Radiant barrier = vapor barrier = insulation.

Remember, radiant barrier blocks 95% of radiant heat, heat wanting to migrate from the warm side of the house to the cool wine room. When applied to the outside of the framework for the room, stapled directly on the studs, the reflective side facing the interior of the house and the vapor barrier side facing inside the wine room, you have solved two problems with one product. Applied to the outside of the studs, you break the thermal bridge created by the wood framing, by incorporating the wood into the radiant barrier protection. Add spacers or furring strips on top of the barrier to create an air space between the reflective side and the sheet rock. Now you are ready to pop in the insulation.

Wine rooms must be encapsulated with vapor barriers; it is the number one requirement for a successful room. Once it is wrapped, or lined like a balloon to the walls, insulation is next, then, addressing the cooling need to maintain a constant temperature and, in some areas, dehumidifying will be necessary; then you are all set. The vapor barrier must be on the outside of the room. If you cannot access the back side of the framework, then it must be installed from the inside by wrapping the studs and stud cavities. Tape over seams and tears and cover ceiling and floor with the same product.

We will show you how radiant barrier “kicks it up a notch” (Emeril Lagasse) or three or four notches, when creating your wine room.

A wine room or cellar must remain at a constant temperature for wine storage. To control and regulate the temperature, we must control and eliminate moisture, heat and unwanted humidity. The use of a vapor barrier is the first step and cannot and should not ever be avoided. The barrier will separate the interior from the outside environment. This will block all humidity from the outside coming in and prevent increasing the controlled humidity level inside the room.

Three major factors are responsible for moisture: warmer interior air temperature versus exterior, greater interior humidity levels than exterior and cooler ceiling and wall surface temperatures.

Whenever water forms on ceilings, walls or floors, the moisture originated from inside the structure and the source is water vapor from the air inside, not outside. The more water vapor, the greater the humidity. When the temperature difference is high enough between the opposing sides, the moisture forms and this is always at the ceiling and interior walls.  How do we mitigate this risk? By reducing the interior heat gain by blocking radiant heat transfer into conductive heat. The first step is to use a radiant barrier.

Radiant barrier dramatically reduces the radiant heat gain inside the structure which, will decrease the temperature difference between the interior air at the ceiling, walls and floors. When the sun goes down, the walls begin to cool and the adjacent interior air will also be cooler reducing condensation risk factors.

Bright home wine cellar with wooden storage units and arch with bottles. Northwest, USA

Removing added heat from the warm walls of the room, or interior warmth leaking to cold concrete walls with relative humidity levels between 55 and 75% in a wine room, is essential for water vapor prevention. Since wine rooms must be cooler than the rest of the rooms in the home, the moisture from the warmer area tends to condense on contact with the cool wine room. Therefore, it is mandatory to prevent that heat from entering the room, and radiant barrier should be used to do this, encapsulating from the outside if possible. Remember encapsulating will break the thermal bridge. Thermal bridging accounts for 30% heat gained in residential structures. Thermal bridges lead to an overheating of the air closest to the ceiling and walls and this interior air is always warmer at the ceiling so when the exterior air temperature falls, the exterior surfaces cool which, causes the interior surfaces to cool as well but at a much slower rate. This slower rate of cooling is what causes the warmer interior air at the ceiling or walls now in contact with a colder surface to condense especially if the temperature drops below the Dew point.

Using AgBarrier Radiant Barrier will cover multiple wine room applications, the vapor barrier and radiant barrier; one product, two problems solved.  A minimum of 6mm of Visqueen is needed for a vapor barrier. Our AgBarrier is 7mm, is easy to shape around studs and stud cavities.

In most cases, the vapor barrier installs flat against the concrete wall between the foundation and framing which, is the preferred method and easiest because the seals rarely break. In a framed room with no outside access to the framework, the barrier must line or wrap the stud cavity, as if lining a box. The floor and ceiling will be done in the same manner, lining whatever is being used for framework for those areas.

If you do not have access to the exterior framework to install the radiant barrier (AgBarrier) on the outside of the studs, not to worry. The thermal bridge will still be broken due to wrapping/lining the inside of the room with the AgBarrier, the reflective portion will be facing out to the walls with the white barrier portion facing inside the room. Any heat conducting through the wood will be stopped by the radiant barrier. If you do not use radiant barrier, the vapor barrier is installed in the same manner.

The next step is the insulation. There are many options for this, fiberglass batts, Tempshield single bubble foil/foil in two layers, stapled inside between the studs with one layer outside the studs or, Premium Stiff Bubble with speed tabs or just Premium Stiff Bubble or, Smart-Barrier system can be used in some cases. Layering is the key with radiant barrier, done in multiple layers, no thermal insulation is needed.

Wine room R-value of the walls must reach a minimum of 20, the floor and ceiling should be 30 otherwise, cold air will leak into the home.  The relative humidity must be 60% and some range from 55-75%.  Note, vapor barriers will not prevent warm air from the home migrating into the cooler wine room.  It is clear radiant barrier use in this application will do what it is famous for, reflecting 95% of radiant heat out which, allows the fiberglass insulation to perform close to its declared R-value.

Remember cool temperatures of a wine room can create condensation on the back of the wine room walls IF humid air with a dew point above 55-58°F meets up with the wall surfaces. The idea is to isolate the cool room from humid air that could migrate to that surface on the back walls. Therefore, the vapor barrier is the crucial element and, that warm side of the room, will not be so warm if radiant barrier is used as the vapor barrier.

Conversely it is needed for very cold floors or ceilings because the temperature of a crawl space might be cooler than the wine room which, would cause condensation. The use of radiant barrier will bring the temperature of the walls, insulation and wooden framework all close to the same temperature. This eliminates large temperature fluctuations, the culprit to the moisture problem.

Following the physics behind radiant barrier in metal buildings and heat conduction, reflective barrier will block the radiant heat that would turn into conductive heat via the wooden framework.  This conductive heat creates the temperature differences which, allows condensation to occur. Radiant barrier will help maintain a more stable temperature.  Lastly, you will need to consider the proper cooling equipment for the room.

Buffet of choices in radiant barrier for a wine room:

Super R non perforated radiant barrier + insulation

Premium Stiff Bubble with Speed Tabs or Premium Stiff Bubble in 3 layers (nothing else needed) R-value between 40 and 55.

Tempshieldin 3 layers (nothing else needed) R-value between 40 and 55.

AgBarrier non perforated + insulation

All four of the options can be used for the floor, walls and ceiling.

If you are stocking great, important wines, and plan on aging for years versus months, then you must make radiant barrier a part of your structure. Your wallet will thank you because you will not be throwing out ruined wine and, the energy savings will pay off in the long run; a more stable temperature means less air conditioning use and less dehumidifying in those areas where it would be necessary.

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