Carrying loads of dirty laundry from the bedroom down to the basement or utility room is a cumbersome task at best. So if your washer and dryer are still parked in one of those far-away spaces, it’s time to bring them out of the shadows and into your main living area.

In addition to making life more convenient, the move could pay for itself when you sell your home. In a 2017 survey of homebuyers by the National Association of Home Builders, a dedicated laundry room was No. 1 on the list of most desired home features, considered essential or desirable by 90 percent of respondents. It’s also high on the must-haves for millennials, who now represent the largest home-buying cohort, according to the National Association of Realtors.    

Home remodelers are hot on the laundry room trend as well. “When the house can support it, what’s not to like about a separate laundry room?” says Dale Contant, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and owner of Atlanta Design & Build, a residential remodeling firm based in Marietta, Ga.

Contant’s favorite place to tuck a laundry room is just off the kitchen, where it can double as a drop zone (or mud room, as it's also called) for shoes, jackets, knapsacks, and the like. A 6x12-foot area is ideal for that sort of application, though he’s made it work with as little as a 5x8 footprint.                   

In other homes, a second set of washers and dryers is being added to or near large master-bedroom suites and other bedrooms. Having the appliances in a more visible area is a big reason that more and more people are buying matching washers and dryers. (See the latest top-rated pairs from Consumer Reports' tests.)

Of course, moving the laundry room to another location takes some thought and planning. And condo, co-op, and apartment dwellers should consult the association’s board or review their lease before embarking on a laundry room remodeling project. Here are some things to consider before you get started.

Make Sure the New Location Is Structurally Sound

An engineer can help determine whether your home, or house plan, can accommodate a laundry room on the first or second floor. Space-planning concerns, particularly in an existing home, are best addressed by an architect, who can also incorporate necessary mechanical changes into the design.

Framing. A clear path must be established through which plumbing, venting, and electrical and, possibly, gas lines can be run. And floor joists must be sturdy enough to support the extra weight and vibrations of a washer and dryer.

To measure vibration in our tests, we place the washers on a wood platform and use an accelerometer to determine the deflection of the floor near the machine during the spin cycle. "Vibration has generally gotten better over the years, but any models that score less than a very good in this test could be a problem on a wood-framed floor," says Emilio Gonzalez, our engineer in charge of laundry appliance testing.

Gonzalez notes that vibration is still a concern with some newer 24-inch-wide compact washers, which might seem like a good fit for a small laundry room, say, in a commandeered linen closet. If you can find a few extra inches for a full-sized washer with low vibration, you'll probably be better off.                 

Noise. Walls and ceilings made from two layers of 1/2-inch or 5/8-inch gypsum wallboard are better than a single layer at dampening vibrations generated by a washer or dryer. Wall and joist spaces should be filled with fiberglass batts, rigid foam, or spray-in insulation to prevent sound from traveling to adjoining rooms, including those above and below.

Waterproofing. The best way to prevent a leak from flooding the rest of the house is to build a curb across the laundry room’s threshold, waterproof the floor area, and install a floor drain. Because the drain will normally be dry, it will require a trap primer, which diverts a dribble of water from the supply line to the drain to keep the trap full and prevent sewer gas from wafting into the living space. Additional safeguards include washing-machine drip pans and electronic shutoff valves that automatically stop the flow of water when they sense a leak.

Running new service lines with minimal demolition and disruption is usually the most challenging and time-consuming part of having a laundry room on an upper floor. It’s also often the costliest step because building codes require that licensed professionals do much of the work.

Water, electricity, and gas. In addition to running new water supply lines, a licensed plumber will need to add an adequately sized drain line to whisk washing-machine waste water away; otherwise, the force created by the washer’s discharge pump might overwhelm existing drain lines and overflow toilets, tubs, and showers downstream with water or soap suds. Also important, and often required by code, is a plumbing vent, which allows air to escape from the system.

A licensed electrician will need to pull dedicated lines for both the washer and dryer, including a 240-volt line and a dedicated 30-amp, three- or four-wire circuit if your dryer is electric. Gas-fueled dryers require only standard 120-volt electrical service. Many building codes require a plumber to install the gas piping between the municipal natural-gas supply or an on-site propane storage tank and your dryer. Running dryer venting is often relatively simple because ducts can be run straight up through the attic and roof.

All of those moving parts quickly add up. Contant estimates that a simple laundry room installation, say, adding a stackable washer/dryer to a converted linen closet, could cost as much as $5,000, and the coveted laundry room/mudroom combo with all the bells and whistles (sink, storage cabinets, hanging rod, hideaway ironing board, etc.) might run as high as $20,000.

One way to cut costs significantly: Position the laundry room near the kitchen or bathroom so that you can share plumbing lines. You'll still need to hire some pros for the mechanical work, but if you're willing to hang drywall and wield a paintbrush, you could be in and out for less than $1,000.


Find Top-Rated Washers and Dryers

Using our washer/dryer ratings to find models that combine value and performance will also help control costs. To minimize vibration, make sure that your appliances are level. And purchase products from a dealer who will allow you to return or exchange them if they shake and shimmy too much once they're in place. Also keep the following points in mind.

Stackability. Some front-loaders can accommodate a dryer perched on top, which is useful when retrofitting a small space such as a closet. Also consider laundry centers, which combine a washer and dryer into a single tall unit.

Cycle noise. In general, front-loaders operate more quietly than top-loaders, though some produce a high-frequency whir akin to an airplane engine revving up as they accelerate into the final spin.

Cycle time. Though front-loaders can take 2 hours to wash a load, the fastest top-loaders finish the job in 35 minutes, which means less disturbance overall.

End-of-cycle signal. A loud chime or buzzer is great for appliances that are down in the basement, but when they’re next door to your bedroom, a signal that can be turned off (or down) is preferable.

Use our washing machine and dryer buying guides to help find the best models for your home.