What Is A Walk-In Humidor?
A walk-in humidor is essentially a room that has been adapted for storing cigars in the open. Indeed, a walk-in humidor is effectively the cigar equivalent of a wine cellar.
If you’ve visited a cigar shop or tobacconist, you’ve likely visited walk-in humidors yourself. While shops will often have expansive rooms that are adopted for commercial use, it is entirely possible to have one built at home.
The obvious advantage of a walk-in humidor is that it provides you will vast storage and ageing space for cigars that’s easily accessible. Meanwhile, the downsides are that they take a lot of space (sometimes even an entire room in your house) and require careful maintenance.
Typically, a private walk-in humidor is smaller than that of a shop. Similarly, they are often built by contractors. As the artisans in question are usually specialists, it can be quite a pricey job.
That being said, it is entirely possible to build your own walk-in humidor. Although it will still be an investment, it may cost significantly less than hiring someone else to do it.
Different Types Of Walk-In Humidor
By definition, a walk-in humidor is a space for storing cigars in which you can stand. Nevertheless, there are several different ways to produce one. Each type has its advantages and drawbacks as well as certain factors worth bearing in mind.
Freestanding Walk-In Humidors
Often seen in smaller cigar shops, a freestanding walk-in humidor is a self-contained unit within a room. In some cases, they are modular humidors that can be customised but usually, manufacturers offer them as a one-size-fits-all solution.
The clear advantage of a freestanding walk-in humidor is that it’s relatively small and only partially occupies a room. For people who just want a walk-in humidor in a basement, man-cave, or study, it’s an excellent option.
As it’s a pre-built unit, it’s also easier to assemble and set up compared to building one from scratch. Similarly, the craftsmanship is often very good and it’s often made with attractive trimmings. Therefore, if you’re uncomfortable with DIY, it’s one of the better solutions to set up yourself.
However, freestanding walk-in humidors can be quite expensive as all the work has been done for you. While still very large, a freestanding walk-in humidor will be far smaller than if you convert a room. If you are willing to put in more work, you’ll benefit from a greater surface area at less cost.
Finally, a freestanding walk-in humidor offers less insulation than a converted room as it has thinner walls. Unless it’s placed in a permanently air-conditioned room, you may face temperature issues if you live in a hot climate.
Partial Room Conversion Walk-In Humidor
James L Fox Walk-In Humidor
A compromise between the options above and below, a partial walk-in humidor is ideal if you have a spacious room where a section of it can be used for cigar storage.
A partial room walk-in humidor can occupy a corner like a freestanding humidor. Alternatively, you can simply divide a room in two with a single wall and door.
This type of walk-in humidor is simpler in the sense that it uses the room’s shape and doesn’t require you to make a ceiling. However, it presents a challenge in that you’ll need to make a solid wall and a door.
The job itself isn’t unlike dividing a room into two. Anyone who’s made a walk-in wardrobe, an en-suite bathroom or even a recording studio will be familiar with the general requirements.
Depending on the length of the wall that needs building, it could be relatively easy or very difficult. If you’re capable with DIY, it could be an entertaining project.
Full Room Conversion Walk-In Humidor
Building a freestanding or partial room walk-in humidor isn’t unlike making a wardrobe. In short, you’re basically building a room within a room. However, a full room walk-in humidor is arguably quite different.
If you have a spare room that you’d like to convert into a giant humidor, it’s relatively simple to do in principle. While you won’t be building any walls, the job will consist of mostly sealing and lining existing ones.
A full room conversion can range from transforming a small closet space to even an unused bedroom. Some cigar collectors may choose to overhaul an entire room in the basement so that it can store cigars.
The biggest advantage of a full room conversion is that it’s somewhat easier and cheaper to do. Furthermore, temperature control will be easier if you choose a room that’s usually quite cool throughout the year.
The drawbacks are that you need to live somewhere large enough to have an entire room available. You could wait until the kids go to college but your wife might not appreciate gutting out their bedrooms for your cigars!
Finally, since you’ll need to maintain the temperature and humidity levels in an entire room, the maintenance costs may be greater.
What Do You Need To Build A Walk-In Humidor
Below, we will explore the various factors that you’ll need to bear in mind when considering a walk-in humidor project.
Ideal Walk-In Humidor Location
Needless to say, you know your house more than anyone. Therefore, you’re often the best judge of where it will be the most convenient to install one. Nevertheless, it’s worth bearing a few factors in mind beforehand.
Firstly, opt for a room that doesn’t have too much sun exposure. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, south-facing rooms are best avoided.
Remember also that light exposure can cause trouble for cigar storage. Consequently, walk-in humidors shouldn’t have windows. Not only do windows leak air but direct sunlight can damage cigars and increase the room’s temperature.
As a result, rooms near the centre of the house are generally better as they will offer the best insulation. Like a wine cellar, the best location tends to be underground. Indeed, basements offer the most consistent temperature throughout the year and will be easier to maintain.
Once you have your chosen room, you will then need to choose the most appropriate type of walk-in humidor as described above. Consider factors such as space, budget, and maintenance to help your decision.
Finally, make sure the room has enough power outlets for the necessary lighting, humidifiers, and temperature control.
Sealing The Walk-In Humidor
Sufficiently sealing the humidor will prevent undesired leakage of both heat and humidity. You will need to look for any gaps in the room where air can escape and fill them accordingly.
For instance, glass panels may require silicone grouting while the door may need rubber gaskets. If you’re building a wall, make sure that there are no draughts afterwards as these cause too much air exchange.
An old-fashioned way of detecting draughts is to light a candle in the room and holding it near any suspected gaps. If it flickers, you’ll know that air is circulating and needs sealing.
Be mindful that floorboards may also have gaps. Below, we will discuss the types of flooring that you should consider in a walk-in humidor.
Ventilating The Walk-In Humidor
Contrary to popular belief, though, a walk-in humidor doesn’t necessarily need to be hermetically sealed into an airtight box. In fact, walk-in humidors require some ventilation in order to ensure fresh air exchange.
Fresh air will help prevent mould and damp. However, that does not mean a walk-in humidor shouldn’t be sealed as described above. Indeed, any and all ventilation in a walk-in humidor should be strictly controlled.
The amount of ventilation depends on both the size of the humidor and how often the door is opened.
A small walk-in humidor in a cigar shop requires little to no ventilation as the door is opened regularly. Meanwhile, a whole room in your house may require an air conditioning unit on low power or a timer if you don’t visit it very frequently.
Sometimes, a small gap under the door may be sufficient without hindering the humidifier’s performance. However, we would recommend at least installing vents in the door or wall that can be manually opened. This way, you can control the level of ventilation at any given time.
Finally, installing a ceiling fan or similar will help circulate the air inside the humidor. Alternatively, a small air purifier can circulate the air while also capturing mould-producing pathogens.
Below, we grant that Spanish cedar isn’t always necessary for the wall linings. However, we do highly recommend it for the shelving. Although other materials are possible, Spanish cedar offers the most pleasant and authentic experience.
Not only does Spanish cedar produce a pleasant aroma that imparts some flavour on cigars, but it’s also a natural repellent for insects. With such a large collection stored in one place, it’s worth making use of it.
You can make the shelving yourself or buy them ready-made. Although standard sizes exist and will be cheaper, there are retailers that specialise in custom-made and modular shelving that you can easily install.
Our preferred retailer for cedar shelving is Your Elegant Bar that can provide shelving for making walk-in humidors.
Walk-In Humidor Wall Linings
Typically, it’s expected that cedar is obligatory to line all the walls in a walk-in humidor. However, it’s not necessarily the case and you can opt for other surfaces instead.
For instance, okoumé is a growingly popular wood that is often used in wardrobes as well as some cigar humidors. Unlike Spanish cedar that acts as a membrane by absorbing moisture, it repels it and produces a natural seal. For this very reason, okoumé doesn’t need seasoning!
You could also opt for other materials like metal, hardwood, and even plastic. However, avoid any other cheaper types of cedar as these can actually damage cigars.
Bear in mind that if you do treat any surfaces for decorative or sealing purposes, make sure that they are well-ventilated when drying. Otherwise, they may leave odours in the humidor.
Similarly, Spanish cedar shouldn’t be treated in any way in humidor’s interior if you want to enjoy its natural benefits. However, you may varnish the exterior to improve the seal or visual appearance.
While Your Elegant Bar offers excellent prices, Spanish cedar can also be quite pricey. With enough Spanish cedar shelving, you can still enjoy all the wood’s natural benefits without having to use it on the walls. Alternatively, you can use it on just one or two walls rather than all of them.
Finally, if you choose to use Spanish cedar lining on the walls, it’s important to take precautions to ensure that they are properly damp-proofed beforehand.
Polyethene sheets are usually sufficient vapour barriers. Whatever you choose, make sure that it isn’t too permeable so the house won’t be damaged by excess humidity.
Walk-In Humidor Flooring
When deciding on the flooring of your walk-in humidor, there are lots of different options that you can choose. The only type of flooring that you should really avoid is carpet, which absorbs moisture, dirt, and can easily grow mould.
Meanwhile, one of the best options is ceramic tiles, which is easy to clean and will be effective in preserving the humidor’s moisture. However, ceramic tiles can be quite expensive.
Floorboards are also possible, but you should seal any gaps and properly treat them so that they won’t warp under excess humidity.
Generally, it’s safer to add something else on top of the floorboards and properly install a vapour barrier lining between them. An affordable option is linoleum, which is perfectly fine.
If lino looks too cheap for you, there are now some excellent imitation wood vinyl planks on the market. These are more affordable than wood, very durable, easy to install, and can certainly look the part.
Walk-In Humidor Humidifiers
Unfortunately, a walk-in humidor is one of the rare occasions where using Boveda packs isn’t the most convenient solution.
While you could theoretically use the large 320g packs as they can provide enough humidity for 1 cubic foot of storage space, it won’t be cost-effective. For instance, even if you were to convert just a small walk-in closet of 3 x 4 feet into a humidor, you’d be looking at around 100 320g packs!
Instead, you will need an electronic humidifier. Make sure that it is adapted to the size of your walk-in humidor as one that’s too small may result in dry cigars. Meanwhile, one that’s too large may over humidify your cigars.
Therefore, we suggest that you check out our guide of the best walk-in humidor cigar humidifiers to buy online in order to find the right one for your needs.
Walk-In Humidor Lighting
In most cases, you’ll likely be able to use existing light fixtures if there are any already in the room. However, consider at least using bulbs with low Ultra-Violet and Infra-Red levels, especially if they’ll be switched on for long periods of times.
Generally, LED lighting is the best option as they also produce very low levels of heat.
If you have lots of shelving, these might cast shadows across your cigars and make it hard to properly see your collection. Therefore, you may want to install additional lighting.
These can quickly become expensive if you install a lot. However, a few LED spots from IKEA will often add enough extra light to properly illuminate your collection.
Walk-In Humidor Temperature Control
Firstly, the most important factor is that the temperature of a walk-in humidor must be consistent. While gradual seasonal changes are fine, excessive day and night changes can damage cigars.
Similarly, low temperatures are rarely an issue unless they come close to 41°F (5°C). Meanwhile, cellar temperatures of around 50°F (10°C) or normal 70°F (21°C) room temperatures are perfectly fine.
However, temperatures must not exceed 72°F (22°C) as this can lead to tobacco beetle outbreaks. If temperatures ever exceed this level, you’ll need to take steps to prevent it from happening.
Installing heat insulation before building the room might be enough but it’s a complicated job.
Alternatively, you could invest in a portable air conditioning unit, but you’ll then need to install a vent to evacuate the hot air. However, be mindful that many AC units are equipped with in-built dehumidifiers!
How To Build A Walk-In Humidor
Now that you have learned about the different types of walk-in humidor and what you’ll likely need, we’ll cover the steps that you’ll need to take to build one.
Bear in mind that the following is a general overview of the process rather than a step-by-step guide. You will, however, be able to learn about how to build each type listed above with upcoming individual guides.
1. Select The Room
Using the guidelines above, choose the room where you want to build the walk-in humidor. Once you have determined the room, decide on the most suitable type of walk-in humidor to build according to your skill level and budget.
Consider also checking the temperatures during the most extreme seasons in the year as well as during the night and the day.
If it gets too hot or too cold, think about whether you need to install any insulation of air conditioning. You may be better off choosing a different room if these additional steps are too costly.
Finally, check whether you have enough power outlets for your devices as well as sufficient suitable lighting. If not, any electrical work is best arranged first. Similarly, take the proper steps for preparing air conditioning or ventilation like ceiling fans as well.
2. Build Any Interior Walls & Add The Flooring
When converting an existing room, add the flooring before the wall lining for a neater finish. You may want to seal any gaps with silicone grout as you would use in a bathroom. Opt for aquarium-safe silicone, which is durable, transparent, and produces no odours.
Remember to take the necessary precautions in damp-proofing the floor beforehand.
Of course, if you’re splitting the room with a partition interior wall, you’ll want to build this first. There are many ways to approach this with glass or wooden panels. In most cases, you may want to frame the wall properly.
As we’re not experts on the matter, we suggest that you research the topic accordingly and call a contractor for this job if necessary.
3. Install The Wooden Panels
Whether you have chosen Spanish cedar, okoumé or something else, remember to line the walls with a vapour barrier first. Afterwards, the panels can go up. Make sure that any adhesive you use is kitchen friendly and doesn’t produce strong odours. If it does, air the room until they leave.
4. Seal The Room
Before adding any shelves and other devices, consider checking the room one last time for air leaks and draughts. Consider using silicone grout around any corners and edges, especially if you have glass panels in the door or a partition wall. As mentioned above, transparent aquarium-safe silicone is recommended.
5. Install The Shelving
As mentioned earlier, standard shelving will be more affordable but may not fit. Your Elegant Bar can provide you with custom-made and modular shelving made from 100% Spanish cedar.
6. Install Your Humidifier & Lighting
Of course, remember to install any other devices like air conditioning units, too.
7. Season The Humidor
Like any wooden humidor, a walk-in humidor needs seasoning. Most cedar wood is kiln-dried and won’t have enough moisture to function properly. In fact, adding cigars to a dry humidor can greatly damage them as the wood will absorb their moisture.
Most active humidifiers have a seasoning function, which will do it for you. You can also help it along by wiping down the lining and shelves with a sponge dampened with distilled water.
Depending on your humidifier and the size of the humidor, you may have to wait several days or weeks before it’s ready to use.
Feel that we missed something out about building a walk-in humidor? Let us know in the comments below. Otherwise, why don’t you also check out our related guides below?