Tuesday, February 28, 2012

DIY Laundry Riser Tutorial

Let me introduce you to my new favorite room.
Our washer (that we bought used from my in-laws along with the dryer in the picture above) decided to break on us last October. We found a cheap one on craigslist but secretly, I longed for a front loader. I tried hard to be grateful for a working washer even if it left our clothes pretty wet and moved 3-6 inches during most loads (yes, we leveled it several times). Not to mention it's at one end of the house behind a closed door and we could hear it at the other end of the house. At least we could wash clothes at home. One day I kept hearing an ad for Lowes so I decided to go check out the sale. The two washers I had already looked at were marked down some but then I found one marked down almost 50% plus free delivery and installation (good thing - we're 50 miles from Lowes). It was the exact same as the bigger model I wanted but it had one more feature (NightWash). I showed my husband the washer and he agreed to let me get it. (Who'd ever thought I'd be excited over a washer?!) That was two weeks before Thanksgiving. It arrived the day after Valentine's Day. I didn't care. It came and it was an incredible deal (we also used a 10% off coupon from the moving packets at the post office). It was a week before I was planning on it coming so I didn't get the riser built before they delivered it. I'm not complaining. :)
I first saw this riser at Sweet Pickins Furniture and decided I wanted to do that. My husband began looking online when he found the directions on Ana White. Then he found one on Stories of a House with good instructions too and a few things we liked better. So we went with that one for the most part but did our own dimensions and changed a couple of things. I took pictures along the way and will give you some of the dimensions that we cut everything but I will advise you to do your own measuring to make sure it's what you want.

Here is a list of what we used:
1 - 4x4x8 post,
4 - 2x2x8
3 - 1x4x8
5 (or so) - 2x3x8
most of a 20 pack of 1 1/2 inch angle brackets
1", 2", 3" screws
3/4" mdf panel
3/8" particle board
primer and paint
2 pack of 18" full extension ball bearing drawer slides (plus 3/4" screws according to directions)

We first measured how big we wanted the riser to be. I liked the idea of the 3 laundry baskets underneath but ours were bigger than the ones in the tutorials. I also wanted a shelf/rack in the middle to put detergent on but wanted to be able to pull it out. In comes the shelf on drawer slides from Stories of a House (SH). I'll show you that later but for now, just know it caused our riser to be wider than the others. We decided to have our riser 68" wide (plus the 1x4 trim piece).
We cut the 4x4 post into four 18 3/8" pieces (1.5"  2x2 + 3/8" particle board + 13" basket space + 3.5" for the 1x4 trim). We wanted them to go all the way to the floor like in SH. We cut our 2x2s down so the entire size, including posts, was 68" wide and 28" deep. (We cut them 61" and 21".) *Measure your posts (and all other wood) because they are not actually 4" by 4" or whatever their stated dimension is. You don't want to end up short! We attached the 2x2s with angle brackets and did countersink screws (you can see one on the left one) to help make it stronger. I would recommend squaring everything off before you do the countersinks. We found out ours was a little off but it worked out ok (the top part helped straighten it a little).
Next we added some support 2x2s across the frame. We did one in the middle then put one halfway between the middle piece and the edge on each side for 3 total. *Measure for each piece individually. Ours were different by 1/16" to 1/8".
 You can also see the angles we did above, with a closeup below. Screw through the angle piece into the side pieces. We didn't do an exact size on those. We just cut one end at a 45 degree angle then put it on the frame and traced a line where the other cut should be and cut another 45 degree angle (without worrying about being exactly on the line. We used that one and traced the other angles so they'd be approximately the same length and kept the saw at a 45 degree cut.
I don't have a picture of our next step but we traced the outside of the frame and the inside of the 4x4s onto the particle board and then cut. We only used a circular saw so it wasn't perfect. We had to put it on a few times and trim around the cutouts for the posts so it would fit on good. We used staples in it rather than screws.

Next we built the frame for the top with the 2x3s. I cut them the same length as the 2x2s on the bottom (61" and 21"). We attached them with the angle brackets, one for each post since we didn't have enough for 2 and didn't want to run clear across town for a few more brackets. To strengthen them, we, meaning my husband, did 3 countersink screws on each end - one on top, one on bottom, one on the side (you can see two of them on each of the 2x3s in the picture).We made the top of the 2x3s flush with the corner posts so the mdf will rest on the posts which sit in the floor (idea from SH we liked that would be stronger and more stable).
 We then did the beams going across just like on the bottom (no angle ones this time). We did one in the middle. Originally we divided the right side (for the dryer) into three equal parts but later added another beam (I'll explain later). For the washer side on the left I figured out exactly where the washer feet were going to be  on the final product. The far side would be on the 4x4 posts so we didn't need anything there but then we put a beam where the other feet would be, near the middle beam. Then we put one more right in the middle of that one and the left edge. Again, we measured where each beam would go then measured that distance to know how long to cut each beam. I think they were all around 25" but please, measure first.
Next we added the mdf to the top. We got some free 3/4" mdf  and plywood so that's why there's three pieces on top. Otherwise we would have had a solid mdf top (free vs $35). I was kneeling on the top to help with something and noticed the plywood was not super supportive (I am not a 100 lb woman but I am not as heavy as a washer or dryer). So we figured out where the feet for the dryer would go and added another beam for that. Lesson learned - put one beam in the middle of the entire thing, one beam to go under the feet of the washer and the feet of the dryer, then one in the middle of where the washer will go and one in the middle where the dryer will go. Hopefully that makes sense.
 You can see under here where the extra beam was added. Luckily all we had to do was remove the plywood to put the beam in, not work from underneath. If we had solid mdf we probably would have been ok without the beam under the dryer feet since the dryer isn't as heavy or doing as much work as the washer. We also did one 2x3 in the middle of the back that you can see below. Since ours is pretty wide we felt it needed a little more support in the middle.
My husband attached the 1x4s around the top at work with a brad gun since they are only for cosmetic reasons, not structural, and we didn't want huge screws showing. Rather than worrying about mitering the corners he went straight across the front and back and then fit the side pieces in between them.
 You can see in this picture a little better how the corners are. You can also see the gaps all around - between the mdf and plywood and between the mdf/plywood and the 1x4s. That's what happens when your idea of a table saw is the truck's tailgate and a circular saw.
 To fix this problem we used wood putty and filled in all the gaps. I should have done a better job putting it on considering we had to hand sand it (not recommended). Luckily my husband is awesome and got them all smooth. Because the mdf wasn't always at the same height as the 1x4s we had to do a little angle smoothing to make it look nice. I also put some putty on the particle board on the bottom around the posts to close up those holes so nothing can get in the bottom.
Final product (before painting).
We primed first and then applied semi-gloss paint. Put primer everywhere - including underneath. This will help seal the wood from moisture. We only painted what you can see. Look under the bottom or under the top and you'll see white. :) We were going for a dark gray but unfortunately it was more of a grayish blue. Oh well. It was called Steel Wool from Kwal Paint. The thing next to the riser is the shelf for our shelf.
 My husband and brother got the shelf on. We put it exactly center on the cabinet and put the slides as close to the edge of the shelf as possible without them showing. We used these drawer slides from Home Depot. I would not recommend the ones that you can see the wheel on (the other option instead of ball bearing) because they may not work on their sides like these. The full extension is nice but I would not pull it out without hanging onto it - it's probably more of a load than it's supposed to have and they're not on the sides like on drawers.
 The new fully extended shelf. The directions said to use #6 screws (included with the slides) but for heavier applications to use #8 machine screws with inserts. They just used #10 wood screws. The drawer slide scraped the paint off the 1x4 where you pull it out so if your 1x4 is higher than your mdf, even a little bit, you may want to try to lift the slides up a little (maybe a little wood underneath them?) so they'll clear the edge better.
We got this weatherstripping to put around them bottom for two reasons. 1. to keep the cabinet from moving on the tile even a little bit and 2. to keep dirt and bugs from going underneath.
 Make sure the weatherstripping completely closes off the bottom so stuff can't get in there (notice the primer?). 
 Yeah! It's done! It fits our bigger laundry baskets perfectly along with the shelf. The shelf ended up being smaller than we thought (we should have measured first) but it actually fits our detergents perfectly. We go between Gain, Tide, and Kirkland Signature brands (whichever Costco has a coupon for when we need some) but they all fit good on the ends to dispense (like the white one on the middle shelf). The dryer sheets fit perfectly on the bottom and we keep the Downy and Clorox behind the detergents.
 To help pull the shelf out we'll be adding a drawer handle to the front of the shelf. Since it's little compared to the one on SH and loaded a little more, this will be helpful when pulling it out.
If you have any questions please let me know. I tried to explain everything so anyone can do it (that's why it's so long). It's only been a day but it's so nice having it. If you're looking at the washer and dryer there's a half bath to the left, the garage to the right, and the kitchen behind you. When you add 2-3 or more laundry baskets it can be quite a mess and difficult to get through.
Next for the laundry room - some cabinets and a bench to put shoes under and for sitting to put shoes on.