I have an opening in the bathroom which is slightly more than 27 inches. Height is not an issue, nor is the depth. I've looked at 25 inch and under stackables, and their capacities are just too small for our family. Is it safe to install a 27 inch stackable washer and dryer in this space? I've seen some places recommend 1 inch clearance on both sides, and a post here that seemed to indicate you could have zero inches of clearance. Going to a 27 inch size opens up a lot more options for me, including combos, and greater capacity. But before I make the purchase, I'm looking for some "expert" advice.

The side walls do have drywall on them, I believe 1/2 inch, and are on-load bearing 2x4 framing. I'm thinking also that if I needed to make the opening wider, I could remove the drywall and trim back the 2x4s a bit to compensate. Thoughts?

  • Is this in a single-family house, or some sort of multifamily building? Jan 9, 2021 at 3:23
  • Single family. Although it is an older house, this section is a new addition. Jan 9, 2021 at 3:56

4 Answers 4


The problem you should be aware of is most walls aren't precisely square (Nor plumb). So if your tape measure reads 27 inches at the niche opening it may read 26 1/2 inches at the back of the opening (or 28 inches!). You should take measurements from different points of where the appliance will go. (3) minimum: front, middle and back.

If you find the appliance is slightly big for the space planned on modifications can be made to allow some extra space. As you suggested dry wall can be removed if you need 1/2 inch or less in width. Just realize you'll have an open wall with studs exposed. Unless, of course you only need less than 1/4 inch. Than you can remove the 1/2 inch drywall and replace it with 1/4 inch drywall or paneling.

Getting more than 5/8 inches would mean chiseling down the studs.

Remeasure to verify the width at several points. If they all read 27 inches you'll have a snug fit and possibly some vibration coming through the walls when the spin cycle goes on.

  • Thanks, I hadn't considered I should measure at several points. I will do that. Jan 9, 2021 at 3:59

The "by the book" answer is that electric code requires appliances to be installed according to manufacturer's instructions, so you'll have to refer to the clearances stipulated by the manufacturer for any particular model.

You've called the space an "opening." I'm envisioning it as an alcove - a recessed space in a wall. It would be a little unusual for the walls on the sides of an alcove to both be load bearing..

Removing the drywall from the inside of the alcove is an interesting idea. If an appliance required more side clearance than you have available, I think removing the drywall would allow you to claim 4 more inches of clearance on each side of the machines! No need to shave the wall studs down in my opinion. They're so narrow in relation to the depth of the machine that I wouldn't consider them to be encroaching in the clearance space.

  • It is indeed an alcove, and its in the newer part of the home, an addition. The back of the alcove is the kitchen, and I think the nearest load bearing set of studs would be the bathroom door, less than a foot from the alcove. Thanks for the feedback, I'm brand new on this site, and amazed at the quick responses! Jan 9, 2021 at 4:04

If you are worried about heat build up over time damaging the product, keep in mind the dryer is on top. It is supposed to get hot and vents out a duct.

In that regard, you are good to go.


There are washer dryer combos out there at have zero side clearance. Only front, back and top. It will not make for an easy install, but even if you had 5" side clearance in an alcove install, will not make it any easier to hook up. Therefore, it is all about the layout, and removable access panels in the right place on the upper unit.

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