Tips & Tricks for Wine Cellars: Finishes, Stains, and Species, Oh My!


It goes without saying that you will have a lot of decisions to make when designing a wine cellar, whether it is for a personal or professional space. Certainly one of the most important choices you can make is figuring out what type of finish, if any, you’d like to use on your racking.

Some would argue that this is far more than a design choice but, in fact, one of wine preservation, that if passed over will come back to haunt you.

1. First and foremost, decide if you truly want a finish on your wine rack. Our racks are solid hardwoods such as mahogany, Lyptus and oak that do not require a finish to last a lifetime in a wine cellar. These woods will age beautifully, revealing their true colors over time. Even the softer woods we manufacture, like Cedar, are specifically chosen for their durability and the species characteristics that allow it to hold up in a dark, moist environment without developing mold or pest infestations.

Many of our competitors do not offer actual hardwood, but instead offer a softer wood (like ash or poplar) with a finish named for the wood it is colored to look like. It is important to be aware of these differences.

2. It is not recommended to keep any sort of stained racks in an airtight, enclosed environment like a climate-controlled wine cellar where you have to be concerned with odors. This can affect the flavor of your wine as the odors might seep in through the cork. If you have a small, enclosed space housing your wine racks than it is recommended to skip the finish all together.

3. Water based finishes are manufactured with a combination of synthetic resins, film forming ingredients and plasticizers. This ultimately results in an extremely durable moisture resistant surface. In comparison to oil-based finishes, the drying time of a water-based stain is significantly faster with little or no irritating fumes. However, the rapid drying feature can make it difficult to apply. Furthermore, water based stains raise the grain of the wood.

4. Oil based stains are easier to apply and less temperamental than water-based, with two or three applications usually being enough to protect your rack. The biggest issue with an oil based stain on a wine rack though is that they never fully dry. Though this makes oil based stains more durable than water based ones, this also allows the chemicals from the stain to possibly penetrate your corks and taint your wine.

5. We can apply a finish to your wine rack if you truly desire one but do not want to want to apply it yourself. Though our wine racks constructed of cedar and mahogany do not require a finish to last a lifetime, we do have the ability to stain or finish your wine racking to match existing trim or change the color to suit your tastes.

6. Once you’ve factored in all of your options, do consider not only the cost of the wine rack but of the wine you plan to place inside it. When planning on such a sizable investment, you need to determine what works best for you. In reality, the money you spend on a wine cellar is only a fraction of the bigger picture.