Is It Better to Stack a Washer and Dryer or Leave Them Side by Side?

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More and more washing machines and dryers can be stacked, but there are some factors to consider before putting one on top of the other.

For those who call a small apartment or house home, a stacked washer and dryer is a space-saving miracle. It’s really not much of a choice when you’ve got a small carve-out in the hallway or a tiny closet serving as your laundry room.

But you don’t have to be crunched for space to stack a washer and dryer. It’s an option even in the largest of laundry rooms. Besides all-in-one stacked machines called laundry centers, there are various stackable washing machine and dryer combinations, though you’ll likely need a kit to put one machine on top of the other.

Why Stack a Washer and Dryer?

The most common answer here is space. For small homes and apartments, it’s saves floor space while maintaining the convenience of your own laundry service.

Even in larger homes, you may find the laundry area tucked away in a hidden corner of the basement, or compressed in a tight space. Stacking the machines will provide more room for a folding and sorting area, or for a storage cart.

Single unit laundry centers can sometimes be a way to save money. A basic combo unit may be a few hundred dollars cheaper than a separate washer and dryer, depending on the models. However, the combined units are often smaller than individual machines, and they may also lack some of the features found in higher end models.

Finally, it’s a design choice. Stacking two large appliances can give you more options for the space it frees up. Even if you have room for side-by-side units, a little extra space might help you finally get that pool table into the basement.

Considerations for Stacking Washers and Dryers

A fair number of washing machines and dryers are compatible for stacking. However, before you start shopping for a stackable washer and dryer, consider these factors:

Front-loading washing machine: At the risk of being obvious, you can’t stack a top-loading washing machine.

Stacking kit: No, you can’t just put one on top of the other and call it good. It’s not safe. Dryers tend to wobble. If not secured, it may tumble off the top of the washer and crash to the floor. That’s not only an expensive mistake to fix, it’s dangerous. A stacking kit gives you brackets and clips sized for your specific machines that will keep them in place. Make sure to get a kit compatible with the size and brand of your washer and dryer.

Compatible appliances: You can’t just choose machines at random. Make sure the washer and dryer can be stacked and fit together with the same stacking kit.

Downsides to Stacking a Washer and Dryer

Depending on the machines, you may give up some capacity in both the washer and dryer. That isn’t an issue for typical loads, but it could force you to break up larger loads, like blankets and bedding.

If you need to replace one of the machines, you will be limited to choosing a new one that’s compatible to stack with the other machine. Replacement and repairs can be more difficult for laundry centers, too.

Unless your laundry area is severely limited by a small space, there’s really no advantage in stacking a washer and dryer versus installing them side by side. Both ways can work as long as you follow the proper installation steps.

Ryan Van Bibber
Ryan Van Bibber is a deputy editor at Family Handyman. He's been DIY'ing since he was a kid. A resident of Santa Fe, New Mexico, he is especially proud of his aptitude with a swamp cooler, repairing stucco and engineering makeshift shade. As a career journalist, Ryan covered the NFL for more than a decade, worked as a senior editor at Outside as well as writing and editing buying guides and product reviews for several national publications. When he’s not working, you can find him on the trails with his family and two very good dogs.