There is a lot to consider when designing and managing a laundry room. Below you will find lots of options to choose from so when you start your laundry room project you will know where to start!
For lots of us, the basement is just fine. But many homeowners who can spare the space and expense prefer to have the laundry closer to bedrooms or the kitchen. Here's what to factor in before making a move.
On an upper floor Pros:
Proximity to where dirty clothes are shed lessens schlepping distance with hampers.
Can tap into existing plumbing lines if in or near a bathroom.
Don't forget a laundry shoot.
Noise and vibration require extra insulation and a motion-arresting pad.
Leaks can damage first-floor rooms.
Closet installation requires a vented door and additional space around stacked machines to dissipate dryer heat.
On the first floor Pros:
Near where most other house-keeping chores take place.
May be able to share kitchen or powder-room plumbing lines.
Laundry can pile up in cooking, eating, and foot-traffic areas.
Need to carry hampers upstairs. Machines hidden in cabinets require vented doors and clearance space for proper ventilation.
Low-Impact Layout You don't need a huge space.
In fact, some of the most efficient laundry rooms are quite small, with the following four elements arranged in close proximity, not more than a step or two away from one another:
1. Appliances: Stack them or put them side by side to transfer wet clothes easily from washer to dryer. Machines should be placed directly in front of utility hookups.
2. Supplies: Store detergent, stain sticks, and other clothing-care items, such as a sewing kit, in closed cabinets, cubbies, or open shelving that's above or next to machines.
3. Baskets: Leave enough room in front of machines to empty or fill them easily, and create a nearby niche to tuck baskets or hampers out of the way but within easy grabbing distance.
4. Work surface: Add a counter or a freestanding table adjacent to stacked or top-loading machines for sorting, treating, and folding. With front loaders placed side by side, consider installing a counter on top of the machines to save space.
Consider the above measurements before hooking up machines or adding built-in storage to keep your laundry room looking—and working—its best.
Measure the dimensions of not only the area where the machines will be installed but also doorways and stairwells that they will have to pass through to get to the laundry room. Most machines need about a 30-inch-wide opening.
They cost about $150 to $300 more, but front-loading washers tend to clean better and more efficiently than most top loaders—a faster spin cycle, up to 1,200 rpm, wrings out more water to cut drying time and energy consumption.
A front loader also offers design flexibility and comfort; you can stack it with a dryer to save floor space, top it with a counter for folding, or raise it on a pedestal to a back-friendly height.
To do the latter with a top-loading washer, you'd have to be part giraffe to reach inside the machine.
Average retail cost is $100-$300. One can be made for less.
Good storage for tight quarters because they sit beneath machines and don't eat up floor space.
They elevate the washer and dryer, saving you from having to bend over as much to reach into the machines.
Drawers can be ordered from the manufacturer that makes your machines a perfect match. Just be sure to check specs; drawers should be deep enough (typically 12 to 15 inches) to hold detergent bottles upright.
Average retail cost is $200-$800.
A counter-top can fit across the top of the washer and dryer for a large work surface for sorting, treating stains, and folding. It also Prevents items from falling in between or behind your machines.
Counter-tops can be a custom, or a prefab rubber tray (made by several manufacturers to complement their machines) that resists staining, has a built-in backsplash, and often comes with rear pockets for laundry supplies and other small items.
Washer mishaps are among the leading causes of home floods, and dryers account for thousands of fires annually. But with some key supplies, you can avert disaster and save thousands. Here's what you'll need:
1.) Braided steel washer hoses, that can't split open like rubber ones. Metal dryer-vent pipe sealed with foil tape, rather than a plastic flex hose, which is a fire hazard.
2.) A washer box that's recessed in the wall so that water valves are easily accessible and hoses don't loosen or get damaged by getting squished behind the machine.
3.) An automatic shutoff valve that cuts water to the washer if it detects a leak or a burst hose.
4.) A washer drain pan to catch drips, especially for machines on main living levels.
Gas or Electric?
The connections in your laundry room will likely dictate your choice. But if you have both a gas hookup and a 240-volt outlet, go for gas.
It costs about $50 to $100 more than an electric model, but it's cheaper to operate over the long haul—15 to 20 cents per load, compared with 30 to 40 cents for electric.
Considering that the average American family does 300 loads of laundry a year, that's an annual energy savings of $45 to $60 with gas.
Most HE (high-efficiency) washers are also rated by MEF and WF. Here's what the new acronyms mean:
MEF: Modified Energy Factor is a measure of the energy used to run the washer and heat the water. The higher the MEF, the more energy-efficient the washer.
WF: Water Factor is based on the number of gallons of water consumed per cubic foot of capacity. The lower the WF, the more miserly the washer.
Make metal vent-pipe runs to the outdoors as short as possible, with limited bends for the best airflow (45 feet max, assuming two 90-degree bends).
Install a self-closing exhaust vent, rather than a louvered one, to keep outdoor air from coming into your home when the dryer is off.
Consider putting in a bathroom-type vent fan in the ceiling to prevent moisture buildup in a laundry with a stall shower or pet-care station.
The Right Ironing Board for You
If you're the type to tote your wrinkled shirts to the den so you can watch TV while you press, go for the classic folding board. But if you prefer to iron in the laundry room, consider one of these built-in space-savers instead.
Drop-down board It stows in a recessed or wall-mount cabinet. Pricier models are configured with storage shelves and electrical outlets.
Foldout board This compact board unfolds from behind a false drawer front for a seamless look.
If You... Take sorting seriously: Individual stacking baskets that nest ($10 each), or a metal frame that holds multiple removable fabric bags ($35).
Like to roll: A wheeled garment rack with bins ($20 to $40).
Navigate stairs: Lightweight, soft-sided vertically shaped bins, similar to the loop-handled canvas one. Traditional rectangular baskets are unwieldy and lead to scraped knuckles.
The New and Improved Utility Sink Standard-issue plastic laundry tubs stain easily, lack under-sink storage, and are too deep to be practical.
A better option is a 10- to 12-inch-deep square or rectangular stainless-steel sink with curved, easy-to-clean corners. Paired with a gooseneck faucet or one with a pull-out spray, the setup is perfect for doing delicates, washing hands, and filling buckets and watering cans.
Smart and Cheery Finish Materials:
Chemicals, water, and soiled items tend to get splashed, sprayed, and dumped in a laundry room, so when it comes to finishes, prioritize durability and affordability over luxury. But that doesn't mean your room needs to be dull.
Consider these hardworking, thrifty surface options that can also inject color and texture to liven up your laundry space.
Glue-down linoleum, cork, and vinyl floors shrug off moisture with less upkeep than wood and without the worry of ceramic tiles' cracking or dingy grout lines.
Storage Rather than closed cabinetry, consider open shelves and cubbies. To stylishly conceal clutter under a counter-top, hang a curtain printed with a colorful pattern.
Walls Easy-to-wipe-clean semigloss paint, bead-board paneling, and glossy ceramic tiles can take a beating while injecting your laundry room with bright hues and personality.
Countertops Instead of natural stone, try nonporous solid surfacing, such as Corian, engineered stone, or laminate, which cost the same or less and come in muted and vibrant shades.
Which Lights Where
General ambient illumination in addition to any natural light in the room, choose a low-profile ceiling-mount fixture. A pendant is a more stylish alternative, but steer clear of the folding area and upper cabinetry unless you want to play whack-a-lamp.
For treating stains or spotting wrinkles while you iron, go with task lighting, such as LED undercabinet strips, which are energy efficient and stay cool to the touch, or focused overhead spots.
There are dozens of ways to upgrade your laundry room, but which of the bells and whistles are really worth the extra money?
Replacing an old washer. Switching out one that's more than 10 years old for an Energy Star model can save you $35 a year in energy bills because they are 30 percent more efficient and use 50 percent less water. Plus, you may qualify for rebates and tax credits.
Stainless-steel washer tubs and dryer drums. They last longer than plastic or porcelain-coated steel and won't chip, crack, scratch, or leave rust stains on clothes.
If you've got a clear path between floors—no wiring, plumbing, or ductwork to contend with—eliminating those tiring trips down the stairs with arms full of dirties can be easier than you may think. Old-house owners may even be able to convert a decommissioned dumbwaiter.
Use it to bathe the dog, rinse off muddy outdoor gear, and hang clothes as they drip-dry.
Not just for kitchens, these workhorses can serve as a folding table or a homework station with stool seating, and provide extra storage for cleaning products, the toolbox, even craft and gift-wrapping supplies.
It'll keep you entertained during long periods of folding and ironing.
Natural stone finishes, such as marble, for counters and floors. They require sealing to prevent staining and don't absorb sound. With exceptions for high-visibility laundries, such as one that adjoins a kitchen where you want materials to match, they're rarely worth the expense and upkeep.
Drying cabinet. This armoire-like machine air-dries your clothes with gentle heat and uses 90 percent less energy than conventional dryers, but at $4,000, you'll never recoup the cost.
Jetted sinks with timers for hand washables. Most washing machines these days have extra-gentle cycles for delicates.
Steam settings, which add some cleaning power to a washer but not enough to justify a couple hundred dollars more on the price tag.
Interactive LCD displays on washers to track the progress of a load and get stain-removal tips.
Built-in clothes bins. They hide dirties but tend to trap moisture and get smelly. Better to tuck bins into open cubbies where air can circulate around them.
Clothes dryers cost about $85 a year to run and are second only to refrigerators in terms of energy expenditure, so consider these electricity-free options when planning your new laundry room. Bonus: Air-drying causes less wear and tear on your clothes, so they'll last longer and you won't have to shop as often.
Make it metal, and securely mount it to bear the weight of wet garments. ($2–$3 per foot)
Wall-mounted pull-out clotheslines, available as a single line or multiple lines. Set one up in a well-ventilated spot where you can lay down a towel to catch drips. ($10–$50)
Choose from wood accordion-style and two-tier metal and mesh folding racks that expand to provide ample space to hang or to lay garments flat. ($10–$35)
The laundry room increasingly plays host to a variety of household chores and activities, from pet-grooming and potting to sewing and organizing sports gear, backpacks, and coats. Below, four double-duty rooms that do it well.
A laundry near the back entry allows family members to toss dirty sports clothes or soiled garden togs right into the washer so as not to track muck into the main living area. A boot bench with hooks above corrals coats and bags, and closed cabinetry keeps laundry supplies hidden from view.
A shower pan on a raised platform beside the washer is designed for dog grooming, but also works great for spot-cleaning large items, like throw rugs.
Pull warm towels straight from the dryer in this combo room. A louvered door discreetly separates the laundry from the bathing area and provides extra ventilation for the machines.
Clean clothes go straight from the dryer to the drawer in this walk-in closet, no hamper required. For efficiency, the homeowner opted for stacked machines and a built-in dresser that also serves as a folding table
What ever you decide make sure your new laundry room works for your lifestyle and allows you more time to do the things you want to do.
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