Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Insulated modular storage without environmental controls

Insulated modular storage without environmental controls

From: David Wexler <david>
Date: Thursday, February 17, 2000
Paula Sagerman <redfish [at] together__net> writes

>The Brattleboro Historical Society (VT, USA) would like to use part
>of an old barn for storage of archival materials if there is a way
>to protect the materials from deterioration.  We have paper,
>textiles, furniture, etc.  In order to protect the building
>envelope, we are considering building a "box within a box" using
>insulated, sheet-rocked walls and ceiling.  However, there will not
>be any climate control. Are any materials safe in this situation?

I think your plan is doable. I agree with some of the earlier
replies about inspecting the condition of the outer box or shell of
the barn for water tightness, roof leaks, bugs etc. I would like to
add my comments directed to the inner box. I would recommend NOT
building it out of studs and sheet rock, but instead using a pre
fabricated cooler box. The same construction technique used in the
building of walk-in coolers, refrigerators and freezers in
commercial kitchens. Every restaurant, hotel and fast food joint has

We recently expanded our film, tape and data storage facility. We
built a concrete shell and lined the walls and ceiling with walk-in
cooler panels. The room is 60 ft. x 25 ft. 10 ft. high. The panels
lock together to provide an excellent vapor barrier as we are
dehumidifying to 25% RH. They also provide good thermal insulation
due to their urethane foam core, as we are refrigerating down to 45
degrees F. They are metal skinned for good fire protection and they
look great. You can find some pictures on our web site at

I was involved as a consultant on another vault project for the
Eastman Kodak Company some years ago, and there we also used a
similar construction. You can find many other examples in a fine

    Henry Wilhelm.
    The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs
    1993 Preservation Publishing Co.
    ISBN 0-911515-00-3
    hwilhelm [at] aol__com

Another nice thing about using walk in coolers and freezers for
storage is that they are made for the food service industry with
operates on much larger economies of scale than the archival
community so the prices are much better. You will be able to find
several manufactures of these modular rooms in your area. They tend
to be regional, as you don't want to have to ship them very far and
there is a high demand for them all over the country and the world.

Because the panels are made in a factory, you can specify the paint
to make sure the finishes are safe from off-gasing for an archival
storage situation.  If the barn roof leaks, the cooler box will
provide a waterproof box within the box. The panels are available in
many thicknesses from two inch through eight inch. You can even
build the floor and ceiling out of them. A room like this can be
constructed in very short order. I think you will be presently
surprised to find out just how little temperature and humidity
control systems you will need inside this box to maintain
satisfactory storage conditions, even in your part of the world. Or
maybe even none, as you are planning.

Please feel free to call if you have any further questions. Best of

David Wexler, President
Hollywood Vaults Inc
Preservation-Quality Storage for Film, Tape & Digital Media
742 Seward Street, Hollywood, California  90038   USA
Fax: 323-461-6479

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:45
                 Distributed: Friday, February 25, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-13-45-016
Received on Thursday, 17 February, 2000

[Search all CoOL documents]