11 Tips for Building a Better Laundry Room

by Joseph Truini

Most homeowners want a dedicated room for washing, drying, folding, and ironing their clothes. In a recent National Association of Home Builders survey, 92 percent of respondents listed the laundry room as their top priority. Let’s face it: Having a washer and dryer on the main floor of the house or on the second floor near the bedrooms is much more convenient than having them in the basement or garage.  

Laundry can be a messy chore, with piles of dirty clothes, detergent spills, dryer lint, and wet clothes hanging to dry. A dedicated laundry room allows you to just close a door to hide the chaos.

Here are 11 tips to keep in mind when creating a laundry room in your home.

1) Stay Close to Existing Plumbing

A laundry room requires running new water-supply lines, vents, and drainpipes, so it’s best to situate it as close as possible to a room that already has plumbing. Most laundry rooms are placed adjacent to a bathroom or kitchen, where it’s easy for the plumber to tap into existing pipes and drains. The farther away the laundry room is from your home’s existing plumbing system, the harder and costlier it will be to complete.

2) Check Doorway Clearance

If you’re converting an existing room into a laundry room, you’ll probably need to enlarge the doorway opening. Most washers and dryers require about 30 inches of clearance to fit through the door.

3) Your Appliances

Building a new laundry room is the perfect time to replace your old washer and dryer. A new set can help you cut back on the time and energy you spend on laundry. Most new models are Energy Star rated, so they'll use less electricity. You can also opt for a high efficiency (HE) model to wash more clothes with less water. If you're always doing laundry in a rush, try a high-speed model with a washer drawer on the bottom to get small loads done quickly, or go for a large capacity washer and dryer that wash and dry multiple loads at once. If you hate ironing, a dryer with a wrinkle-reducing steam feature is a great feature.

4) Simplify Venting

Clothes dryers must be vented to the outdoors, so position the washer and dryer against an exterior wall if possible. For optimum dryer performance and energy efficiency, keep the vent pipe as short and straight as possible and use rigid metal vent pipes. Metal venting is much more durable, easier to clean, and highly fire-resistant.

5) Boost Electrical Power

You’ll need to hire an electrician to provide power to the washer and dryer, but also consider adding a few extra wall outlets and maybe even a TV (some people spend quite a bit of time in the laundry room).

6) Pick the Right Flooring

The wet, dusty environment of a laundry room requires durable flooring. Porcelain tile is probably the longest-lasting floor you can install, but it doesn’t absorb sound very well, and its grout joints are susceptible to cracking and staining. Solid hardwood is a good option, but it will likely need to be refinished every few years. High-quality resilient sheet vinyl is affordable, tough, and seamless, meaning it can stand up to spills, scratches, and foot traffic. You might also consider a floating floor made of plastic-laminate planks that quickly and easily snap together.

6) Pick the Right Flooring

The wet, dusty environment of a laundry room requires durable flooring. Porcelain tile is probably the longest-lasting floor you can install, but it doesn’t absorb sound very well, and its grout joints are susceptible to cracking and staining. Solid hardwood is a good option, but it will likely need to be refinished every few years. High-quality resilient sheet vinyl is affordable, tough, and seamless, meaning it can stand up to spills, scratches, and foot traffic. You might also consider a floating floor made of plastic-laminate planks that quickly and easily snap together.

7) Install Proper Lighting

Bright, shadow-free lighting is important to create a safe, efficient workspace, especially if the laundry room will be used for sorting, ironing, and folding clothes. The average-size space should have at least one large ceiling fixture or four to six recessed lights. If the room has wall-mounted cabinets, consider installing under-cabinet task lighting, too.

8) Include Leak Protection

If you move your laundry to the main floor or second floor and a water hose bursts or the washing machine overflows, it can cause serious damage to the floors, walls, and ceilings below. Fortunately, there are several products designed to protect against leaks:

  • Shut-off valves automatically stop the flow of water the instant they detect a leak.
  • Drain pans sit underneath the washing machine and prevent water from seeping through the floor. If your budget allows, get the type that connects directly to a drainpipe.
  • Moisture sensors attach to your washer and will sound an audible alarm and send an alert to your smartphone should a leak occur. Some models will even automatically shut off the water.

Check with your plumbing contractor for the best type of leak protection for your laundry room. 

9) Add a Utility Sink

If space and budget allow, ask the plumber to install a small utility sink in the laundry room. It will provide a convenient place to presoak extra-dirty clothes and hand wash delicate garments. Some utility sinks even have a washboard for scrubbing out stubborn stains. If you don’t have room (or proper plumbing) for a sink, consider upgrading your washer to a model with a built-in sink for cleaning and presoaking stained clothing.

10) Lock Up the Cabinets

Most detergents and cleaning supplies are toxic to kids and pets. Install childproof locks on all cabinet doors to keep them safe. If the cabinets have drawers, keep them free of any hazardous products.

11) Finish With Useful Accessories

To get the very most out of your new laundry room, consider customizing it with some or all of these handy accessories:

  • Hideaway ironing board
  • Ventilated wire-rack shelving
  • Open storage area for laundry baskets
  • Rolling laundry sorter
  • Fold-down tabletop for folding clothes
  • Wall-mounted paper towel holder
  • Full-length mirror
  • Closet rod for clothes hangers
  • Drying racks

A designated laundry room with new appliances and amenities will take the chore out of washing your clothes.

About the author: Joseph Truini draws on his experiences as a remodeling contractor and cabinetmaker to write for The Home Depot on home improvement topics such as building a laundry room. To see washer and dryer options for your new laundry room, visit The Home Depot.

This article is editorial content that has been contributed to our site at our request, and is published for the benefit of our readers. We have not been compensated for its placement.


Copyright 2018 G George Ventures Inc.