Should I Put a Laundry Room Upstairs?

When building a new home, the laundry room is a common topic of debate. Should we put our laundry room upstairs in our addition or should leave it in the basement? The decision may seem simple, but there are a lot of important factors to consider. If you're thinking about putting your laundry room upstairs, here are some things to consider when starting the design of your new home remodeling project.

Located Based on Space

When considering where to put your laundry room, the first thing to determine is the amount of space you’re working with. If you have a lot of space to work with, you have more freedom to choose where to locate the laundry room as there won’t be issues with fitting all the necessary appliances. More space also gives the freedom to not be restricted to a particular floor. If you’re doing an add-a-level project that is less cluttered than your first floor, you very well can move your laundry room to the new level to add more space to the first. Like with most things in life, the more you have of something, the better off you are. In this case, more space gives more room for personal preference.

However, if space is limited, such as with planning the floor plan for a Cape Cod add-a-level, unfortunately so are your options. Due to what is needed in a laundry room, limited space may mean you have to stack your washer and dryer. It may also mean that all your laundry room functions as is purely washing and drying clothes. Some homeowners prefer a sink or shelves in their laundry room, but a small amount of space may prevent these from being included.

Furthermore, adding a laundry room to a second floor can prove to be a challenge. A typical add-a-level project focuses on the layout of the space — not adding a laundry room to an existing home. Laundry rooms are important, but they are not the only reason to get an addition. Focus on the key priorities first: the layout and design of new spaces, furniture selection, and budgeting. Then take on the task of locating where the laundry room will be.

Location Based on Needs

As with all home improvement projects, the principal goal should be to solve a specific need. Sometimes, a homeowner will, for example, add a level explicitly to have a new laundry room by the bedrooms because the stairs in the basement aren’t easy to navigate. On other occasions, creating a new laundry room is an afterthought as part of a re-organization of the home, which gives them an opportunity to give the space a more customized look.

If your specific needs aren’t a new laundry room, it’s best to satisfy the more pressing needs first. A laundry room can function the same regardless of the floor it’s on, it just may not be possible to add all the bells and whistles of a laundry room depending on space.

Let’s imagine for a minute that a homeowner has their laundry room in their basement, which is where it’s been for years. But slowly overtime the homeowner’s knees get worse, which makes it harder to walk up and down the stairs while lugging around laundry. Coincidentally, this homeowner decides they want an addition to add on to their master suite. In the design process, the homeowner mentions the struggle of walking up and down the stairs, and after the contractor meets the fundamental needs of the homeowner, the design/build contractor creates a space to relocate the laundry room.

In this example, the new addition is designed with one main concern in mind — to create a master suite that will accommodate the homeowners’ needs. But because the client mentioned that they’d also like to have a laundry room not in the basement, the new addition will work around that request with a laundry room upstairs. This wasn’t the main focus of the project, but it worked out so that the addition could fit the request. If you’re planning a new home addition, focus on your immediate needs first. Then, after those are met, see if your wants can be accommodated as well.

Location Based on Cost

How much does it really cost to relocate the laundry room to the second floor?

This is a difficult question to answer, as each situation is different. It's important to take into account the money you've invested in your current set-up and whether you'll salvage anything by moving the laundry upstairs, because this can greatly affect the cost of construction.

Will you need to purchase a new washer and dryer anyway, or will you be reusing the old set you have in the basement? Do you just want a washer and dryer behind a few doors, or do you want a full laundry room big enough to include a folding table, utility sink, and storage?

The range of cost here can be great; from a few grand to almost ten thousand if you spring for all the nice features. If you simply just want to move the washer and dryer upstairs, and keep the features to a minimum, this should only cost a few thousand dollars to do. In the grand scheme of the project, this is pennies to the dollar and if cost is the only consideration, then deciding to bring the washer and dry to the 2nd floor is an easy decision. Cost should not be a deciding factor, considering that the benefit directly impacts your life positively, which should be the reason you’re doing the addition to begin with. There are many other ways to save cost on a project without sacrificing this obvious benefit.

Location Based on Risk

Is it safe to install a washer and dryer on the second floor?

We’ve heard horror stories of water leaks that flooded the entire house when people are away on vacation. The fear of this happening is a big concern for some people.

In the past, part of the maintenance of a home was to check the rubber washer hoses for bulges because when they got old, they’d burst. Today, plumbers use steel braided lines. You can ask your plumber to put a gauge on the waterline to see if your pressure runs high. A pressure reducing valve will help protect your washer from a sudden spike in water pressure. When water pressure suddenly increases, it can cause your machine to get damaged, so adding a pressure reducing valve is the safest option when you need a new washer. You can also install a pressure-activated pump to avoid having the same problem.

In the past, some front load washers had trouble with door gasket leaks, which have since been resolved thanks to improved boot seals which prevent water from leaking into the machine during the wash cycle. As a result, you'll see most washers today come with safety features so as to not scare users off from purchasing one for their second-floor laundry rooms. Codes require the installation of a drain in the area to direct and accumulation of water to the exterior of the home. If you are concerned about the risks of putting the laundry on the second floor, ask your contractor about the preventative measures that are taken today to make the most informed decision.

Cleaning Up

When considering where to put the laundry room, know this: nobody regrets putting the washer and dryer on the second floor after they do it. In fact, rarely do people regret where they put their washer and dryer. As we said earlier, make sure the finished project meets your particular needs first, then determine if it’s needed to move to a laundry room. Just make sure that if the laundry room is going on the second floor, that it is up to code and has a floor drain that directs water from a leak to outside with a tiled floor.

Some homeowners have an excellent laundry setup in their basement or first floor, and don’t feel the need to move it. Other homeowners enjoy the brief exercise they get from going up and down the stairs to do laundry, so they are content with not working a new laundry area into their addition project.

Conversely, some homeowners are hesitant to add a washer and dryer on the second floor due to noise levels and the liability of flooding. To combat noise, there are soundproof washers and dryers available, but nonetheless it is a valid concern. Additionally, there are homeowners that may believe a laundry area on the second floor is a costly upgrade. Depending on the type of home improvement project, this may not be the case, so it’s important to ask the contractor doing the project what the price would be if a laundry room were to be added to the second floor.

Ultimately, this comes down to preference. At the end of the day, every laundry room serves the same purpose. But where the laundry room is located is up to what the homeowner believes suits them best.

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