New energy- and water-efficient washing machines may make doing laundry easier, but they can’t prevent the continual climb up and down stairs from your basement laundry room to your bedroom closets. As a result, many homeowners are now choosing to move their washers and dryers up to the same level as their bedroom. What you can you expect if you take on this remodeling project?
A laundry on the same floor as your bedrooms
In most houses, you’ll likely find washing machines on the ground floor or in the basement to limit the damage caused by leaks and minimize the impact of vibration if the machine isn’t properly leveled. Unfortunately, if you live in a multi-story home and your laundry set-up is in the basement, you’ll need to trek up and down two or three flights of stairs to put clothes in the washer, move them to the dryer and carry them through a dirty basement back to the bedrooms.
By moving your laundry room upstairs, you can limit the amount of time you spend carrying clothing, and if you design an entire laundry space complete with shelving, tables and cabinets, you’ll also have a place to store detergent and fabric softeners, along with a built-in area for folding. While there are no hard-and-fast rules governing where you build the new room, most homeowners place it next to an existing bathroom for ease of plumbing access. Almost any type of customization is available, however, so long as you’re willing to pay for it.
Important considerations for a move
The most important consideration for any bedroom-level laundry room is water management. If your washer springs a leak and begins to spill into the hallway, flooding can cause serious water damage to your carpet and floorboards and the ceiling of the floor below.
To mitigate potential leak problems, your new room needs several important features. First, you’ll want to consider a tile floor, preferably with a floor drain so that you can clean up any water easily, and it won’t soak through to the floor below. Next, you’ll want a recessed washer box, which is a small plastic insert to hold your supply hoses, discharge hose and shutoff valve.
Also, make sure to put a tray under your washing machine, which should sit tight against the wall. Connect this tray to a line that empties into a laundry tub, a floor drain or through the wall to the outside of the house. This way, you’ll catch any small leaks will be caught before they become huge issues.
In addition, make sure to put a lip in the doorway so that any water runs back into the room, and into the floor drain, rather than out onto your carpet. Leveling is critical as well. If your washer isn’t sitting on a stable, flat surface, it can shake the entire floor, causing potential structural damage and significant noise.
Tackling an installation
You have two choices for your new laundry space: Do the build and move yourself, or hire a professional contractor to manage the work. Most washers and dryers weigh in at around 200 pounds apiece, aren’t easy to haul up stairs and can easily punch holes in drywall if you don’t handle them carefully.
The amount of prep work needed also factors in to the contractor/DIY debate. If you’re carving out an entirely new space for your washer and dryer, you’ll need to run electrical, alter plumbing, put up drywall and tackle a host of other handyman tasks. Most of these are straightforward but run the gamut of DIY abilities, so expect this kind of project to take months if you tackle it alone.
Contractors, meanwhile, can offer experienced input into what works and what won’t for your new laundry room. It’s a good idea, for example, to locate the new space above an existing bathroom or tiled entryway so that if a leak does occur, it will cause a minimum of damage. Noise is also a factor, and professional contractors can recommend ways to keep your bedrooms insulated from washer or dryer sound. Shop around if you’re looking for a general contractor to complete this project, and make sure to get a detailed estimate and time line in writing. The benefits to same-floor laundry are significant but only if the work is completed with care, on time and on budget.