Basement VS Cellar | Explained

Generally speaking, both basements and cellars are areas that exist below a house.

Several people often use these terms interchangeably without knowing the exact meaning. If you plan to build or buy a new home, you must clearly understand the difference between these two.

With different sizes and uses, these spaces meet various purposes for homeowners. Basement vs. cellar; let us make a comparison study between these two areas.

Basement – An overview


Located below the curb level of a home, a basement makes another spare or personal room. It can be partially or completely below the ground floor of a residential building.

Many people use this area to store things like a boiler and washing machine. You can also find many people using it as a guestroom. In residential zoning districts, basements can be used as habitable spaces.

Cellar – An overview

cellar room with shelves

A cellar refers to a traditional storage space that is located under the level of the curb. Since a cellar is not a story, it cannot be considered as a zoning floor area.

That is to say, cellars cannot be occupied as habitable spaces or residences in residential zoning districts.

Vital features of basements

Basements are equipped with egress windows. When used as a guest room, you can come across drywall, lighting, and carpets in basements.

Some of them come with outdoor entrances, particularly in areas where hostile weather conditions are prevalent. There are homes with staircases that lead down to the basements.

Some people use a ladder to climb down to enter the basement. Basements are usually common in areas where the climate is moderate.

During the freeze-thaw cycle, the basement helps a house stay stable and warm.

Vital features of cellars

A cellar is basically a cool, dry place. Several people use wine cellars to store food and other drinks. It is basically a small room where you can even control the temperature based on your unique needs.

You can access a cellar through a staircase, ladder, or trap door. Many homeowners attach cellars to basements. Some people even attach them to an outside building.

Basement vs. cellar – Basic differences

Any type of house can have a basement. On the contrary, every home does not need a cellar.

When the basements are partially underground, they often come with higher windows to have some light exposure. There are house plans that permit a separate doorway for the basement.

A cellar, on the other hand, has a more enclosed space and is completely underground to meet its true function. So, sunlight exposure is a rarity in cellars.

You can have both of these spaces in your home. In fact; a cellar can be attached to a basement. Nevertheless, it is not practical and sensible to use one in the place of another.

Cellars cannot be utilized as storerooms due to their limitation in size. It is a fact that basements stay cooler than other areas of a house. However, you cannot expect them to create an environment for controlled temperatures like cellars.

Basements make good storage spaces and even guest rooms. Since they are being buried underground, you can also use them as clubs and pubs. Excellent soundproofing mechanism can also be associated with basements.

With excellent temperature control features, cellars make perfect traditional storage spaces. You can even convert them into elegant restaurants where wine and other beverages can be served from the storage area directly.

A detailed comparison between basement and cellar

Basement vs. cellar; which one is better? It is a very difficult question to answer because both these spaces have their own uses, advantages, and disadvantages. Based on your unique needs, you can decide whether you need a basement or a cellar.

A basement is located halfway under a house. Generally speaking, you can find it less than halfway below the curb. On the other hand, a cellar is always more than 50% or completely below the curb.

Basements stand taller in terms of storage benefits. You can use them as spare rooms and also store things like heating equipment.

Cellars are smaller in size compared to basements. However, you can use them as a storage space to a certain extent. However, they don’t make good spare rooms due to their limited size.

Equipped with drywall, lighting, carpets, and other decorative things, basements make perfect guest rooms. You can install lights on cellars. However, these rooms are not usually furnished with creature comforts.

If your basement has enough space, you can rent out it to other people. Due to the small size, it is almost impossible to rent out a cellar.

Offering reasonable protection against hostile weather conditions, basements take care of your needs efficiently. Cellars are located further underground compared to basements. So, you can expect much-improved protection against bad weather with cellars.

You can come across many basements with windows. On the other hand, it is hard to find cellars with windows. Some of the cellars may have windows but they sit on top of the room, even very close to the ceiling.

Basements can be converted into bar areas and game rooms. As far as cellars are concerned, you can change them to small restaurants where wine can be served directly from the storage place.

When it comes to size, basements are larger than cellars. So, it requires more time to heat a basement.

If you are utilizing it as a living space, you may need to do ceiling insulation to maintain the heat properly inside the room. On the contrary, the smaller size of cellars lets you heat the space more easily.

If you have concrete walls on your cellar, you can dehumidify the area fast and easily using suitable equipment.

Basement vs. cellar; which one is a better choice? As mentioned above very clearly, both these spaces have their own pros and cons. The final choice depends on the unique needs of the users.

Some people attach a cellar to their basement to accommodate their different types of requirements.

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