Upstairs vs. Basement Laundry Room: Pros and Cons

Laundry Room

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Are you interested in building or relocating your laundry room? If you have a basement, you might wonder if this is a better location for the laundry room than on the upstairs level. Both the basement and the upstairs offer unique advantages and disadvantages, so your decision-making process will largely be attuned to your situation, as well as your personal preferences.

Basement vs. Upstairs Laundry Rooms

When you have a house that presents equal opportunities for either a basement laundry room or an upstairs laundry room, you need to examine your lifestyle, preferences, and dislikes, plus take into account other occupants of your home.

When to Locate the Laundry Room Upstairs

If your house already has an upstairs area set aside for a laundry room, it makes perfect sense to locate the washer and dryer there. Laundry rooms rarely are multi-purpose; you will be hard-pressed to find another use for a laundry room space since they are often small, have no windows, and outlets are inconvenient.

When the laundry room is located upstairs and close to general living areas, bathrooms, kitchen, and bedrooms, laundry operations better integrate into your daily life. It is easy to hear when washer and dryer cycles have finished, and you can quickly shift clothes.

If you are disabled, elderly, approaching old age, or otherwise want to keep your house fully accessible, an upstairs laundry room is the right choice. Moving clothing around is a horizontal activity, with no steps involved. Even those in wheelchairs may find that they can do their own laundry, as long as the floors are smooth, free of steps, and the door to the laundry room is wide enough.

Pros
  • Easy to tap into plumbing, electrical

  • Less damage to the home in the event of flooding

  • More freedom for layout

  • Solid floor for carrying heavy appliances

  • Dampens noise from the machines since they are out of living areas

Cons
  • Difficult to access when doing laundry

  • Harder to bring appliances in and out (unless it is a daylight basement)

  • Dryer ventilation needs to be routed both up and out

  • More difficult to check on whether the laundry cycle has finished

When to Locate the Laundry Room in the Basement

One of the best things about locating the laundry room in the basement is that it offers you more freedom with the layout. Upstairs laundry rooms’ layouts are dictated by the layout of other upstairs rooms and usually are assigned a lower priority by designers and architects when it comes to spacing. Even in larger homes, the laundry room is sometimes relegated to a slice of space next to the garage, kitchen, or mudroom. With the basement, though, you have far more room to work with, as long as the basement has not already been built out and finished.

Basements tend to be rich environments for tapping into plumbing and electrical points. Ceilings and walls are often not left uncovered by drywall. In unfinished basements, water supply pipes might be found running overhead, between or through joists. Natural gas for gas dryers can be found in basements for furnaces and water heaters.

If you have older machines or machines that have given you trouble in the past with overflows—or if you are just risk-averse—locating the laundry room in the basement will separate potential floods from the more sensitive upstairs living areas. Basement areas’ tough, durable flooring—concrete, ceramic tile, and inexpensive flooring—make them easy to clean up, should they flood.

Basement concrete floors provide a stable surface for heavy machines, particularly if you intend to stack the dryer on top of the washer. Stacked washers and dryers’ footprint place greater stress on a smaller area than machines that rest side by side.

Pros
  • Easy to tap into plumbing, electrical

  • Less damage to the home in the event of flooding

  • More freedom for layout

  • Solid floor for carrying heavy appliances

  • Dampens noise from the machines since they are out of living areas

Cons
  • Difficult to access when doing laundry

  • Harder to bring appliances in and out (unless it is a daylight basement)

  • Dryer ventilation needs to be routed both up and out

  • More difficult to check on whether the laundry cycle has finished