GLENDALE, Ariz. — When you renovate your laundry, getting the biggest bang for your buck doesn’t necessarily mean the cheapest initial costs, but how much value your mat gains over time for your money initially spent. Sometimes things that cost more in the beginning will save you lots of money over time.

FOLDING TABLES

Let’s compare granite/quartz folding tables vs. laminate. A major home improvement store is selling custom quartz countertops for $50 per square feet, custom laminates (think Formica) for around $27.

So if you upgrade to quartz or granite, customers will rave about your folding tables to their friends for many years. At someone around double the cost, they will last far longer than any laminate. Amortize that extra cost over the years and it becomes a small number for a longtime silent partner selling “luxury value.”

On the other hand, if you are really looking to shave initial costs, the same home improvement store sells pre-made 8-foot laminate countertops with integrated backsplashes that don’t look too bad.

REBUILT MACHINES

A cost savings can be had by choosing rebuilt machines. Take care to find reputable vendors and ensure that equipment marketed as rebuilts aren’t simply used machines that have been spruced up cosmetically.

Also, keep in mind what year and model the rebuilts are. There’s little cost savings to be had if the rebuilts are too old to allow you to change water levels or number of baths. Some rebuilt models are for sale because they caused trouble for previous owners. I also never found any warranty for a rebuilt machine that could match a new machine’s.

Then, there are the tax benefits of buying new equipment over used provided through Section 179 expensing and Section 168 depreciation.

RENEWED AESTHETICS

Washers can get new decals, buttons, knobs, etc. You know what also spruces up a front loader? Install new door glass gaskets. It can make a nice difference. So does changing the soap box lids, if they are rubber (but beware of cheap generics). If you want to go really cheap, remove the gaskets and soap lids and soak them in a chlorine bleach/water solution overnight.

Even if your equipment has stainless steel front panels, consider that you may be able to buy new panels with color.

Years ago, some creative mat owners used to send their front panels out to an auto body shop to be cleaned and painted. I also did that but changed the panel color from tan to white. Guess what happened? Many of my customers thought I put in new equipment!

Wait a few years and you can put the stainless steel panels back on. Don’t forget to add new decals, buttons and knobs again to give the impression you upgraded to new equipment.

An old dryer rehab trick is to close your store for a day and have an appliance painter mask off the entire bank of dryer fronts and spray paint them. Keep in mind that the paint will not last as long as the machine’s original powder coatings.

I also called my dryer company and found out I could buy a kit of all-new powder-coated front panels and hardware. It was pricey but still much cheaper than new dryers, yet the panels and hardware made them look brand-new!

DON’T FORGET THE WALLS

Walls can take a beating in Laundromats, especially the lower 4 feet where carts get slammed into them. A popular solution is to install aluminum diamond plate panels. They look great, will last for years, and aren’t too expensive.

Another alternative is peel-and-stick vinyl tiles. They’re easy to install, are durable and somewhat flexible, and should last years if applied correctly (I would still apply good-quality, full-spread adhesive to the wall, depending on its material).

Think creatively. Perhaps install them diagonally.

Or you may want to put the new vinyl “stacked rock” panels on a non-contact wall.

I’ve seen a lot of New York City stores with fiber-reinforced panels. They’re cheap, are easy to cut, and can be installed over different types of walls. The panels are durable, waterproof, easy to wipe down, and come in various colors (white seems to be the best).

Try adding inexpensive unique designs such as murals or racing stripes around the store. Can’t afford ceramic tile walls? How about just doing ceramic tile accent areas such as vertical support beams, or tiling just one wall?

Hanging mirrors is another great bang for the buck, especially if you have a small mat. A couple of large mirrors can make your mat appear bigger and classier.

Check back Tuesday for the conclusion!