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I'm considering adding a shelf in our laundry closet to hold our 150 pound clothes dryer, as an alternative to the massive hassle (e.g. here and here) of moving a 300+ pound vertical washer+dryer stack whenever I need to service the washer.

Here's the layout today, not exactly to scale. The red lines are the edges of the "dryer shelf" that I'm considering.

enter image description here

Is a "dryer shelf" a good idea? If yes, I've got questions:

  • What's a good material for a shelf that needs to span 43.5 inches and support a heavy, vibrating load? Let's be safe and assume 250lbs in case I upgrade later.
  • How should I support the shelf on either side? At first I thought of a big triangular buttress like many shelves use, but that would impinge on the washer below. So I'm wondering if some other structural support would be better, e.g. two 2x4s screwed into the studs on either side, and a thick shelf board mounted on top of those 2x4s?
  • How much clearance should I leave between the top of the washer underneath and the bottom of the shelf on top? I don't want too much clearance because it'll make the dryer hard to get to for my (shorter) family members, but I don't want too little that it'll make it impossible to upgrade the washer later to a slightly-taller model.
  • Should I build a lip on the front and/or back of the shelf to prevent the dryer from vibrating itself off the shelf? Or is this a non-issue because dryers' vibrations are minimal relative to their massive weight?
  • What are gotchas (other than remembering to disconnect and reconnect everything!) that I should watch out for?
  • Are there code requirements (in California) for supporting a dryer that I should be aware of?

For actually doing the work, I have a crazy idea described below. Is this a good way to do it? If not, what's better?

  1. Temporarily screw a few heavy-duty hooks (at joists, of course!) to the 11-foot ceiling.
  2. Thread some rope or straps under the dryer
  3. Hoist the dryer up an inch or two
  4. Move the washer out of the way so I can have access underneath and in back
  5. Disconnect the lint hose, gas hose, power, etc.
  6. Hoist the dryer up 3-4 feet (high ceilings FTW!) to give me room to work
  7. Mount the shelf
  8. Reverse steps 6-2

BTW, what's prompting this now is that our washer (a 7.4 ft3 Whirlpool Duet Steam) has a busted sensor or some other problem that's causing it to think it needs to drain for many minutes after the tub is fully drained, and which often causes various delays and errors on the console. If I need to go through the trouble of repairing it anyways, then I figured that it's a good time to consider a longer-term investment in easier future repairs.

BTW, here's what the closet looks like today.

enter image description here

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  • 1
    Your dynamic forces are going to be more than 250lbs on front-loader with 150lbs static. I wouldn't want to transfer waves, noise, and oscillations into my walls either, unless I rented. Consider a box-like structure with 4 or 5 sides that will communicate the vibes to the floor.
    – dandavis
    Jan 19, 2023 at 2:20
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    Why do you not want to install a dryer hanger bracket?
    – Jasen
    Jan 19, 2023 at 2:30
  • @Jasen - I had no idea that there was such a thing as a "dryer hanger bracket". I'll take a look. Thanks for the pointer! Jan 19, 2023 at 2:50
  • Frame challenge: Just because your washer is giving you problems now, what's the last time you had to service your washer? Are you sure you're not creating issues (damage to the walls from the weight and vibration, possible collapse dropping the dryer on the washer) to avoid a 1x per decade maintenance/service "problem"? I've lived in my house for 30 years and have to replace a washer, but never service one. They dryer, I've had to service 2 or 3 times, and I'd think your idea would make the drier service more difficult.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 19, 2023 at 13:13
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    @FreeMan - I've had to repair this washer at least annually for the last 5 years, while the dryer has never needed any repairs at all. But your question gave me an idea: I don't really need a shelf all the time, only when I need to pull out the washer to repair it. So if I can set up a way to hoist the dryer up in the air temporarily (which is what I need to do to install a shelf anyways), that should be good enough. No need to build a shelf at all. Should have thought of that sooner! Thanks for prompting me to think more deeply about what's really needed here. Jan 23, 2023 at 5:44

1 Answer 1

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Your width is quite tight.

Build two ledgers, by mounting a 1x6 against the suds to the left and right of the dryer.

On top of the ledger place 2x6 on flat, one in front and one in the back, bearing on the ledger. Measure the length of the 2x6 for a tight fit and fasten to ledger with construction glue and construction screws.

If there is not enough room for a ledger use angle iron instead, - it can also be used inverted.

Use structural framing screws to fasten the ledger or angle iron to the studs, as they have higher tensile strength. The drywall is effectively a 1/2in spacer and will increase the bending force applied to the screw.

For screw length budget 3/4in for the ledger, 1/2in for the drywall, and 1in penetration in studs. For each ledger apply 2 screws per stud.

For an upgrade use a 1x8 ledger and 3 screws per stud.

Ideally confirm the location of the stud by pre-drilling a 1.5-in wide hole to remove just that much drywall over the stud. This ensures you properly centre the screw in the stud. It is not uncommon to have a stud finder mis-identify or mis-locate a stud edge.

Should the ledger in your opinion not suffice due to poor stud positioning, support the ledger with vertical 1x6 reaching to the floor, attached to the studs to hold it in place.

Due to load and vibrations do not rely whatsoever on the drywall. Assume it will brittle away over time.

Your question was about carpentry. Alternatively it could be about appliances, in which case this could also work in your case:

enter image description here

Ref homedepot.ca

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  • If there is not enough room for a lledger use angle iron instead, - it can also be used inverted
    – Jasen
    Jan 19, 2023 at 2:36
  • good point @Jasen, edited
    – P2000
    Jan 19, 2023 at 2:38
  • Good fix. I would cut a neoprene mousepad into thin strips to line the interface between the bracket and floor. Or at least a bead of silicone or low-temp hotglue, anything slightly squishy that would isolate vibrations.
    – dandavis
    Jan 19, 2023 at 2:57
  • I wouldn't trust 1x material (3/4" actual thickness and usually the worst of worst woods at my local stores) to support the dryer. Even with 2 or 3 structural screws per stud, that's simply not much bearing surface for the 2x shelf material to sit on. I would use a 2x8, minimum, ledger with at least 3 screws into each stud it passes. Angle iron at a minimum of 2x2x1/4" thick, probably thicker would likely be better.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 19, 2023 at 13:10

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