Cheapest way to level a section of floor for a washing machine
May 24, 2023 6:47 AM   Subscribe

Our front-loading washing machine lives in our kitchen, which has an old, uneven tiled floor. We don't want to retile the whole floor-- but the unevenness of the floor makes it hard to keep the washer level. What's the cheapest, simplest way to level the area under the washing machine?

We're looking for a solution that:
• Will last at least a few years;
• Not be a nightmare to undo if we do end up retiling our floor at some future point;
• Can be implemented in a small flat with neighbors above and below;
• Costs as little as possible, given the above requirements

PS: The obvious answer is to use the little adjustable legs on the washing machine to level it. This works, but only as long as the machine stays in that exact place. As soon as the machine slips a little, the unevenness of the floor means it's no longer level, which makes it vibrate more, which makes it slide even further, and soon it's totally out of whack.

We're happy to pay a handyman to do it for us-- but we want to know what we asking for.
posted by yankeefog to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I dealt with a similar issue by making up little wooden shoes to go under the machine's feet. Each shoe was just a small wooden block with a hole bored partway into the top, just a little wider than the feet on the machine's own adjustable legs and deep enough that machine's out-of-balance cutout would shut it off before it jumped out of the shoes.

I glued the shoes to the floor with hot snot around their edges so that they couldn't wander. This worked well, and when I moved out I found that just as I'd hoped, I was indeed able to get them off the floor without damaging it by attacking the glue with a heated paint scraper.
posted by flabdablet at 7:02 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]

If the adjustable legs work to level it before it vibrates away from level, consider a solution that holds the legs in place rather than do the whole level the floor thing. If I understand what flabdablet is suggesting, I think that works too. Very similar.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:05 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]

I use the adjustable feet and a triangular wedge on the down hill side to keep it from moving too much.
posted by terrapin at 7:10 AM on May 24

I would use a 3/4" piece of plywood cut to just larger than the area of the feet (really my primary concern would be that it not stick out front where my toes are gonna find it), and nanotape the feet to the board, and then a shim under the lowest corner of the plywood to bring it all level.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:17 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

I'm in Europe and I have a roll of this black rubbery material -- though it is a composite of many little bits -- which is made especially for reducing vibration and it also keeps things in place. Unfortunately I don't know what this mystery item is called. But it is easy -- you just cut out a small piece, and I think that putting a small piece of cardboard or wood underneath would be ok (you could glue it even) for dealing with unevenness. You could add some hot snot too.
Oh, I just googled, look up washer anti vibration mat.
posted by melamakarona at 7:24 AM on May 24 [6 favorites]

There are "anti-vibration feet" as well, instead of a whole mat. You can probably even use cut up pieces of an old bicycle tire if you want to save a little money.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:35 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

You know that non-slip rug pad stuff, bumpy white plastic-y mesh? You can buy it at a dollar store. I have a cardboard box of cleaning supplies on top of my washer with a sheet underneath and that sucker does not move despite the intense vibration during the spin cycle. I’d try that underneath any shims you use.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:48 AM on May 24

The anti-vibration mat and levelling legs is likely your simplest option, but you could also construct just a short platform box to put the washer on (I’ve had to raise washers slightly higher than what you describe, and the boxes in each case involved 2x4s with the thickest possible hardwood plywood on top. If there is a carpenter or handyperson in your area, they would have suitable tools to plane the 2x4s to ensure that the top is level, and to finish it up nicely. The second and current such riser I have was installed so that I could add a drain tray under the washer, which is on the second floor above my nicely renovated kitchen, without having to cut into floor joists for the drain pipe, so there is also the plastic dray tray on top of the riser box.)
posted by eviemath at 4:39 AM on May 25

My googling found this "self-leveling underlayment" which I understand is a type of cement which will dry in 16 hours and automatically level the section that you have. Maybe someone who understands construction can explain how this is used.
posted by kschang at 9:49 PM on May 25

An underlayment goes under the flooring, so would require tearing up the existing flooring, doing the underlayment, then putting the flooring back down.

Not in the building trades but I did have a renovation done where this was used. I’m not sure if the self-levelling concrete can be used on all floors or is just for eg. ground floors over concrete pads (which is where it was used in my home)? As cement, it would certainly add weight to any other floor, which could be an issue in some cases. It’s also not something you could easily put on just a section of floor - kind of needs to be the whole room or contiguous area, since the whole point is that it starts as kind of a liquid or gel that flows to the low areas.
posted by eviemath at 3:43 AM on May 26

It’s also not something you could easily put on just a section of floor

You can, but you need to build formwork to contain the self levelling slurry until it sets. All of which is going to amount to way more effort than just building four little wooden shoes and gluing them down, especially if you want the end result to look tidy.
posted by flabdablet at 4:20 AM on May 26

Well, and then you’d have a lip rather than a smooth transition.
posted by eviemath at 9:40 AM on May 26

How about placing thin puzzle mats under the washer?
posted by tman99 at 4:32 PM on May 29

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