Wine cellar floor padding for earthquake protection

I have cement floors in my wine cellar, and have both individual bottle racking and 11 (Burg) bottle bins. I had placed some of those interlocking 24” square 1/2” thick pads down, but I am less satisfied with them. My whole desire is for some protection in case some bottles fall during an earthquake, realizing that some loss may occur…just trying to minimize it. The individual bottle racks are less vulnerable, and the bins are tipped back a bit, but a more severe quake might result in some breakage. I have plenty of wine coverage on my policy, including earthquake, but still.

My aisles are roughly 30” wide, and unfortunately many products are in 2 or 3 foot widths. I am currently looking at U Line’s “Cadillac” mats that are 5/8” thick and, although they are in the 2, 3, 4 foot widths etc., they can be trimmed down to a desired size with a box cutter. They will run about $300-400 by the time I lay down about 20 feet of length along the aisles. The trimming will take a bit of effort, but I haven’t found anything in 30” widths.

With my current custom racks permanently installed, I am not interested in tearing them out and laying down a different “springier” flooring as an alternative.

Just wondering if anyone has had a similar concern and found a good solution for padding to lay down in their aisles to minimize the risk of breakage from an earthquake (or even just dropping a bottle).

Having recently mulled over a similar decision, I suggest you explore this thread: Post your CELLAR PIC time…..

It’s a huge thread, but it has lots of great advice and discussion on every aspect of cellar design. (You can use the board’s search feature to search for keywords just within that single thread.)

The three specific suggestions I recall to help with breakage are play mats (as you described), luxury vinyl plank (LVP), and cork flooring. Both the LVP and cork have a little spring or give that can save a dropped bottle, and they can be installed as “floating” floors that can be laid right over your cement floor.

For earthquake protection rubber banding adjacent bottles is a good option, if that’s possible.

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Have you considered adding a bar vertically on each row that closes like a door so you can open it to access wine and close it to prevent bottles from coming out?

Agree that if you’re really worried about earthquake protection, the key is keeping the bottles from coming out of the bins, not cushioning the floor. Regardless of what you lay on the floor, there is going to be tons of glass-on-glass in the event of an earthquake and that is going to cause a lot of breakage if the bottles fall from any significant height.


100% this. I have my racks tilted back about 5 degrees. The bottles are not bouncing out.

Regarding the OP, I have purchased tons of Cadillac mats from ULine. Use them in front of the CNC machines and packaging stations. They’re excellent but I wouldn’t drop a bottle from more than a couple feet.

Yep. I do have interlocking cork flooring, which has some padding. I haven’t tested bottle drop, but somewhat confident a single bottle would be fine. But not a bunch on top of each other (I don’t live in an earthquake prone area.)

In my old in-home cellar I used Puzzlemats, which are interlocking rubber floor mats. It sounds like you have something similar, but maybe they are thinner…I think the Puzzlemats were more like an inch thick. I could drop a bottle from shoulder height and it wouldn’t break, although as others have mentioned your issue during a quake will be one bottle hitting others, not the floor. If you’re in a serious quake zone, the rubber band idea suggested above is a good one.

I saw the rubber banding suggestion for the standard individual bottle racking where there is a vertical post between each adjacent bottle, so that two adjacent bottle necks can be banded together behind each vertical. A nice idea, but my racks were custom built and each horizontal “shelf” holds roughly 17 adjacent bottles securely in slots and there are no vertical components between them. However, they are held from sliding forward by a roughly one inch lip at the front, so I am not very fearful of them sliding out unless the big one hits, in which case our house may just end up collapsed anyway!

My main issue is with the 40 or so 12 bottle bins (11 Burgundy bottles) that are in the cellar, mostly populated by my domestic pinots and some other wines. They increased the storage capacity of the cellar by being built in the center surrounded by all the double deep individual bottle racks, as this “wall of back to back bins” allowed sufficient aisle width on either side and held much more than the one set of double deep racking that would otherwise fit there.

The bins are indeed tipped back, as mentioned in another post above, but a 5 or even 10 degree back tilt isn’t going to protect them much from sliding out if a real earthquake hits. And those damn larger diameter “luxury” bottles that seemed originally to be confined to some domestic producers but are now appearing in some Burgundies as well, they are less stable in those standard bins as well, and will be more prone to sliding out of those bins in a quake.

Perhaps rubber banding all the bottles in each bin together, making them an “11 bottle unit” and placing a rubber sheet in each bin under them for greater friction might discourage them from sliding out in a quake. It seems like it would take greater force to make an 11 bottle missile spring forth from its tipped bin…perhaps. It would also take greater effort to unbend and remove a bottle for drinking, so the perfect rubber banding pattern for maximum stability and maximum usability would be a geometric puzzle to work out!

If your racking isn’t anchored I’d recommend overhead anti-tips and the banding idea to prevent bottles from falling off as extras in addition to flooring.

What magnitude of earthquake would you expect bottles to come out of a rack, 5?

Thanks for the heads up on the Cadillac mats from ULine. My interlocking puzzle mats are only 1/2” thick, and they are 24” where I need 30” widths for my aisles. I was going to go for the thicker Cadillacs, but it sounds like they will not be worth the expense…thank you, you saved me time, effort, and moolah.

I see there are thicker puzzle mats available, as in 1” thick, and I can cut them down to add pieces to their 24 inch width to fill out my 30” aisle. They are less expensive for a bit of added quake protection by floor padding, so maybe that’s the way to go.

Netting for the bins, as mentioned some time ago on the thread, is another option, but that would be a hassle to install I think.

All the racking is securely anchored to the walls in multiple areas, and the floor to ceiling bins in the center are anchored to one wall and to the ceiling.

1 Like is a vendor I used to buy rubber flooring from.

Not sure. I know if the big one hits here in Seattle, all bets are off. We are not very earthquake prone (other than tiny ones we don’t feel) in general, other than that Big One that will destroy everything. The last earthquake I remember that did some damage was in 2001. Things were rolling here, but other than some things falling off of shelves in the house, I do not recall losing any wine. Though I can’t recall if that was just before I built out the current racking.

I looked it our earthquake history:
“The Seattle Metro area experiences a magnitude 6 to 7 earthquake about every 25 years , the last time we had one in this range was in 2001. Large earthquakes due to the subduction process in the range of magnitude 8 to 9 occur every 500 years, the last time we had a large earthquake was in the year 1700.”

I would guess that a 5 and certainly a 6 might make some upper bottles slide out of the bins. I guess I could just ignore the whole thing and rewatch Rick and Morty instead.

Approx 90% of my cellar is stored offsite at Vino Vault on pallets, which are stored on seismic pallet racks.

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So many variables . . . location relative to your cellar (both distance and direction), depth and type of quake, ground your house is built on, construction of your house, length of shaking, etc.

I’m just wondering what amount of earthquake proofing (if any) is needed in non-earthquake prone areas.

Well, your point is well taken.
Practically speaking, I believe we have frequent non-felt (either too small or too deep or both….you can tell I’m no expert!) quakes, but very very infrequent large enough ones to cause any damage. Though if I have many bottles slip off their perches, it will be a mess even if the wines are not my most treasured ones. Like an horrible mess to clean up.

And if the Big One hits, I may have other issues to deal with, like survival. Maybe we’ll just be down on the Oregon coast and get washed away in the tsunami before I would get a chance to see what my cellar in Seattle looks like.

I just know that those bins with their tipped back incline ain’t going to keep the top bottles from sliding off if we get a real good shake. How much effort to spend on this? That’s another issue to consider.

I may be spending too much time and effort in this rabbit hole, but I’m retired and currently laid up just one week out from a surgically repaired Achilles tendon rupture , so what the hell else do I have to do?

Do what they do in Vancouver and suspend an entire building :joy: