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How To Support A Laundry Room Countertop Over A Washer And Dryer

by - Monday, August 06, 2012

How do you build a counter over a washer and dryer? That is one of the challenging questions we faced when renovating the laundry room. A countertop in the laundry room is a necessity. A countertop across the washer and dryer provides space for folding clothes, a place for placing detergent and other cleaning products, and - as is the case in our house - room to stack the folded clothes for weeks until you put them away ;)

We debated a few different options for the countertop material - laminate, Corian, natural stone - and before I show you what we went with, I thought I'd share the steps we took to support the countertop.

How To Build A Counter Over A Washer And Dryer

Determining how to install a laundry countertop is not a complicated project. If you are installing your own counter over a front load washer and dryer, no matter what material you use for the countertop, the supporting structure beneath will pretty much be the same. In fact, this same tutorial can be used to install any kind of floating countertop.

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What's the best way to support a countertop across a washer and dryer?

Typically, laundry rooms have a counter over a front load washer and dryer. In order to support the countertop, you need something that will keep it affixed to the wall, and something to hold it above the laundry machines. This easy method uses a combination of cleats and a gable to achieve that. The cleat provides a brace to hold the countertop up on the wall, and the gable provides support underneath the countertop so it won't sag.

In our situation, we had a sink beside the washer and dryer so we used an end gable (an Ikea panel from the As Is section) to support one side of the countertop. However, if our washer and dryer was in a niche and had walls on three sides, we could still use this method just using cleats. In addition to using this method for a counter over a washer and dryer, you can also use cleats and gables for:
  • installing a floating countertop in a nook
  • making a floating vanity countertop
  • installing a desktop between cabinets
  • installing a floating bench
  • installing floating shelves in a closet

How To Install A Countertop Over A Washer And Dryer:

1. Draw a Level Line

First step to installing a counter over a washer and dryer is to draw a level line to indicate the underside of the countertop. If you want to be able to move your washing machines in and out, you'll want to have some wiggle room so don't have the countertop touching the tops of the machines. We had about a 3" gap above our machines.

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2. Install a cleat on the wall

Under this line, install a cleat. A cleat is a strip of material to which the countertop will be attached and which provides horizontal support. Sean used a scrap 3/4" piece of plywood cut into 2" strips to create the cleats. He affixed the cleats with construction adhesive and screwed the cleats into the studs. Since we were using an end panel on the left side of the washer, we only needed to install cleats along the back and right wall. Cleats provide support whenever you want something to appear "floating". Here's an example where we used cleats to mount an IKEA bookcase to the wall

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You'll notice that the right side cleat is mitred at the end and is set back from the face of the countertop. By doing this, the cleat won't be visible once the countertop is installed. You could even paint the cleat your wall colour to make it less visible.

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3. Support the countertop with a gable

If your countertop spans a wide area, you'll also need to install a gable to support the countertop in the middle and prevent it from sagging. The photo below shows the gable we created out of plywood. This gable is placed vertically between the washer and dryer and is positioned with the horizontal piece running from the front of the machines to the back wall, with the vertical pieces against the back cleat.

Ensure that the height of the gable is level with the top of the cleat and that the depth of the gable is narrower than the depth of your countertop. The top short vertical piece will screw into the cleat. For the bottom vertical piece, you will first need to screw a spacer piece (the same thickness as the cleat) at the base of your wall, and screw into that. The long horizontal piece will be screwed into the underside of the countertop. Again, you'll want to make your gable less deep than your counter so it isn't visible.

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How to build a countertop base or substrate

If you are building your own countertop, say out of plywood, here is an example of how you can structure it. What you are looking at is the underside of the countertop. This countertop is built out of a sheet of 3/4" plywood with additional 3/4"strips around the perimeter and middle. 

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4. Affix the countertop to the cleats and gable 

You can use a combination of L-brackets and screws to affix the countertop. Attach the L-brackets around the perimeter of the countertop with one side screwed into the countertop and the other into the cleat. Then attach the gable to the countertop. Use L-brackets along the top of the gable with one side screwed into the underside of the countertop (along the middle horizontal piece) and the other into the gable.

Once the countertop has been attached to the cleat and gable, slide the washer and dryer back in place. Here's our plywood countertops installed!

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Not exactly the look you thought we'd go with, right? Well, you're right because the plywood is actually the substrate for our countertop and we clad it with...

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stainless steel countertop in laundry room, floating countertop in laundry room

... stainless steel! The more we thought about it, the more stainless steel countertops in the laundry room made sense. They are resistant to water and heat damage, hygienic, and would create a nice integrated look with the stainless steel sink. Plus, they are reflective and nicely bounce the light around this windowless laundry room.

Stainless steel can be expensive but we called around and found a local fabricator with an amazing price and very quick turnaround. We've already done tons of loads of laundry and I have to say it feels great to fold clothes and have this counter over the washer and dryer. This is quickly becoming one of our favourite rooms in the house :)

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There's more to come in this room, hence the missing paint in the corners. But we'll leave those surprises for another post.

****

Looking for other Laundry Room projects? Check out:


How to make cabinets look built in

Laundry Room Renovation Tips

Backsplash Tile Installation Tips

After the Laundry Room Renovation

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20 comments

  1. Carol Ann Sandell12:48 PM

    Great choice on the countertop.  I love everything about this room and am so jealous!

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  2. Ben@Lea Furniture1:01 PM

    Looks fantastic!
    Love the post! Good
    job.

    ReplyDelete
  3. lipstikevents1:03 PM

    Oh my, your laundry room is looking amazing! I love the counter top.

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  4. OurWiredLives1:04 PM

    lovely choice!

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  5. Cassie {Hi Sugarplum}1:04 PM

    Oh wow -- I love that! This room is going to be fabulous!! thanks for the great tutorial!

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  6. Katrina Sullivan1:04 PM

    nice! The counter tops look so sleek :)

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  7. Wow, the basement is looking really good. I think you chose a great stainless steel countertop. It makes the basement look even bright when we really like. Can't wait to see more !

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  8. Love the stainless steel. They look great with your appliances and the sink. It's exciting to see everything coming together!

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  9. Oh my! This looks AMAZING Jennifer. Seriously, I had to do a double take because it looked like a Sarah Richardson and Tommy Smythe room...gorgeous. xo

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  10. barbara@hodge:podge1:05 PM

    I love the stainless steel, you are right, perfect for a windowless space!

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  11. Michelle1:05 PM

    Looks fantastic!
    Michelle.

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  12. Grace @ sense and simplicity1:05 PM

    I love the stainless steel counters.  It's funny, but I was just thinking the other day how much I like them and that I would consider them for my next kitchen if I could find them for the right price.  They look great in your laundry room.

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  13. jbhat1:05 PM

    Much ooh-ing and ah-ing has ensued here.  Brilliant choice--both stunning and practical.  You guys made the installation process look so easy too. 

    jbhat

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  14. Simonereis1:05 PM

    It looks just W.O.N.D.E.R.F.U.L! Way to go!

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  15. Love the countertop!! 

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  16. Keira @ The Bennett House1:05 PM

    The stainless counters are amazing! Great choice and a really interesting how-to. -- thanks!

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  17. Heather1:05 PM

    Maybe I would like to do laundry if I had a room like that! Can't wait to see more!

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  18. What a great lesson!! I will have to do the same when I'm ready to tackle a similar project.  Jen your laundry room is looking fantastic! I can't wait to see it all completed!

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  19. I love stainless steel countertops so much - it looks fantastic!

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  20. I love love LOVE the counter! Thanks for the great inspiration!

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