Q: I think it's cool that you can help regular homeowners solve plumbing problems, but can you also help us with over-the-top luxury issues? I feel a little guilty asking this, but my wife and I have saved up for years to build a dedicated laundry room, and I want to make it very fancy. What do you suggest for a plumbing showstopper that would make this room special and functional? -- Fred, Texas
A: Don't ever feel guilty when it comes to "over-the-top" plumbing projects. Half the fun working with water is finding creative and beautiful vessels that can carry clean water into a home and then safely drain the used water back out. I don't want to overanalyze this, but basically we're moving small rivers through our homes with our plumbing systems. To me that sounds romantic, so why not build a dream laundry room for your wife!
Today's laundry areas have finally moved out of the basement and now have their own dedicated room that's easily accessible to the entire family. These rooms can incorporate the washer/dryer, storage cabinets, laundry sinks, ironing boards and, of course, hampers. I built a laundry-room addition in my own home by taking up some garage space, and I can tell you firsthand that it has made our lives a lot easier.
That said, I can tell you about one thing that can create a real wow factor in a laundry room: a large, colorful, cast-iron laundry sink with a quality faucet. Some cast-iron laundry sinks can be as big as 4 feet long, and that's great for things like washing the dog. Cast-iron laundry sinks do come in different mounting styles, and I compiled a list to help you pick the type of sink that works best for you:
-- Top-mount self-rimming: This type of sink will fit just about any countertop, and simply drops into a hole that is cut to fit the sink. This type of sink works well with laminate countertops, and can be easily changed out for future remodeling jobs.
-- Tile in/flat edge: This sink is for use with tile counters, since the flat edge of the sink and the perfectly square corners are the same thickness as standard countertop tiles. If you choose tile for your counter, this is the best type of sink to install.
-- Under-mount: Just like the name says, it mounts under the countertop to make a nice, deep basin with a custom look. This type of mount is best suited for solid stone or manmade stone countertops. Make sure you like the style and color, because once the sink is installed, it's locked into place by the countertop.
-- Wall-hung: These are usually the big, bad boys of laundry sinks. Because they hang on the wall, they can be longer than standard countertop sinks. Many of them can incorporate drain boards and wall-hung faucets as well. While in the past they may have looked like janitor sinks, today's wall-hung laundry sinks are available in many beautiful styles and colors.
Don't forget to spend the extra money on a quality faucet that will match the type of sink you decide to install. Some laundry sinks even accommodate two faucets with separate sink bowls; this way you can soak delicate clothes and still have a free sink to use. Keep in mind, though, that a new laundry room will come with a high-end price tag.
(Master Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande is known internationally as the author of the book "Ed Del Grande's House Call" and for hosting TV shows on Scripps Networks and HGTVPro.com. For information, visit eddelgrande.com or write eddelgrande(at)hgtvpro.com. Always consult local contractors and codes.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)