Planning Guide: Laundry Room
Take some of the drudgery out of doing the wash by creating a cheerful, better organized, and more efficient laundry room.
The space where you wash dirty clothes need not be dirty too. Whether you’re starting from scratch or updating an existing space, these laundry room ideas can help you design a cheerful, comfortable, and efficient area for this often dreaded but necessary household chore.
In the typical home, the laundry room is in the basement, and for good reason: Washers and dryers are notoriously noisy contraptions. With advancements in their technology, however, these machines have grown quieter. As a result, more and more homeowners are choosing to locate the laundry room closer to main living areas, especially those rooms where clothing tends to come off—namely, bedrooms and bathrooms.
Bear in mind that laundry equipment needs two things in order to operate: first, a plumbing hookup, and second, a means of ventilation to the outdoors. Given the plumbing requirement, it’s wise to position a washing machine near existing water supply pipes, otherwise you’ll need to call in a plumber to install new ones. Review local building codes; a plumbing vent, which allows air to escape the system, may be required.
Related: 15 Laundry Rooms We Love
The necessity of ventilation dictates placement of the dryer, because its vent works best when it spans a short distance with few (if any) redirections. For this reason, locating the dryer against an exterior wall is strongly recommended. If you’re given a choice between a metal vent pipe and a corrugated metal tube, choose the former. Its smooth interior enhances airflow and reduces lint accumulation, making drying quicker and safer.
Putting a washer and dryer in a room that’s never before held heavy appliances? Look into reinforcing the floor joists so they can safely carry the load. Doing so also helps contain noise or vibrations. Although many energy-efficient machines are small enough to occupy nontraditional laundry spaces, such as closets and pantries, double-check your measurements to be sure the appliances will fit through the doors and staircases in your home.
Traditionally popular laundry room flooring choices are vinyl or linoleum. Both are more affordable and less maintenance-intensive than either wood or tile. Today, however, as homeowners seek to humanize these formerly utilitarian spaces, there has been a surge of interest in cork flooring, a handsome, hard-wearing, and relatively inexpensive material. Consider also rubber mat flooring, commonly used in fitness gyms, which is quick to install, sound-muffling, and comfortable underfoot.
Although designed for other applications, closet storage organizers and kitchen cabinets adapt well for the purpose of minimizing clutter in the laundry room. Home improvement centers offer a wide selection of cabinets and countertops that can be installed with ease by intermediate-level weekend do-it-yourselfers. Above the washer and dryer, use wall-mounted units to conserve valuable floor space. And, if you have the room for one, set up a permanent rack on which to hang clothes as they come out of the dryer. You can also use it to air-dry delicate items, if desired, but for best results, install a dehumidifier or exhaust fan to take moisture out of the air.
Good light is essential at different stages of the clothes-washing process: You must be able to see stains in order to treat them prior to washing, and you can’t iron out a wrinkle that you failed to notice in the first place. In a laundry room, track lighting excels, because its multiple heads can be adjusted to illuminate different work areas. Meanwhile, windows are advantageous, because they not only usher in fresh air and release humidity, but they also provide ambient light.
Washers and dryers sometimes make a racket like an alien spacecraft revving for takeoff, so insulating against sound can be very important in a laundry room. Two layers of wallboard on the walls and ceilings suppress noise better than one, and the cavities between wall studs and floor joists should be filled with fiberglass, rigid foam, or spray insulation. Any of these prevent sound from reaching adjoining rooms, including those on the level above or below.
A licensed electrician must install dedicated lines for both the washer and dryer. If you have an electric dryer, you need 240-volt service. Gas-fueled dryers, by contrast, operate on standard 120-volt lines. With a gas appliance, however, be aware that building codes often require a plumber to handle the piping between the municipal supply and the on-site gas storage tank.
To prevent the damage that a malfunctioning washing machine can cause, situate the appliance in a drip pan—or better yet, install a floor drain. Water valves should be easily accessible to the homeowner. As an added safeguard, opt for an automatic shutoff that halts the flow of water in the event of a leak. Another prudent measure is to install a raised threshold at the entrance of the laundry room; that way, if the room ever floods, the rest of the house is spared.
– A laundry chute spells the end to those exhausting trips down the stairs, basket in hand, to laundry rooms on lower floors or in the basement.
– For many tasks, and not only those related to washing clothes, a laundry sink may prove to be a valuable asset—for example, they’re great for rinsing gardening tools.
– An ironing board hinged to the wall, incorporated into a pull-out drawer, or stored in a tall cabinet beside the dryer makes ironing more convenient—and may even inspire you to do it more often!
– Consider mounting a small flat-screen TV to the wall of your laundry room, so all that stain-treating, folding, ironing, and hanging will seem to go by more quickly.