How to Choose the Best Pressure Washer


A high-quality, well-functioning pressure washer can be a homeowner’s best friend. You can use it to remove grime and molds on your siding and exterior walls, driveway oil stains, or even wall graffiti. It can give your roof a good clean, too (but it’s best to leave the job to the professionals ). A good pressure washing can remove all the dust, pollen, and grime that gathers on the windows, bricks, and siding of your house. Use it to clean your patio, deck, driveway, sidewalks, and even your car.

You can always hire a pressure washing service for your property , but if you have a cleaning plan in mind, you probably want to get your hands on a pressure washer and clean yourself. Whether you’re renting or buying a pressure washer for home use, you need to decide the best type of pressure washer for your needs. Here are some tips on how to choose the best pressure washer:

Choose your power level.

The amount of pressure in the water stream is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and the volume of water the pump delivers (flow rate) is expressed in gallons per minute (GPM). Multiply the PSI by the GPM, and you can get the effective cleaning units (ECU), which is a valuable number when comparing models. The water pressure breaks apart the chunks of dirt, while the flow rate determines how quickly the dirt is rinsed away.

The GPM rating you can see on pressure washers is typically between one and four gallons. This will accommodate most home-use applications, and you won’t need a higher GPM rating unless you are using it for heavy-duty, commercial applications.

A higher PSI means more cleaning power, and a higher GPM means faster cleaning. The higher both numbers get, the forceful the pressure washer becomes. But it doesn’t always mean that more power is better. It’s smart to use and pay only for the power you need. You can always listen to expert advice and do your research yourself, so you’ll be knowledgeable about the power levels. Pressure Washer Roundup is a great online resource for pressure washer reviews that will help you choose.

Light pressure washers: Up to 2,000 PSI

The smallest models of pressure washers you can find in the market have a PSI rating from 500 to 4,000. These instruments can offer enough pressure to clean up even the dirtiest outdoor furniture, rinse your windows, clean up your barbeque grill, and wash off your dirty car.

Medium pressure washers: 2,000 to 3,200 PSI

These are the most versatile types of pressure washers you can find. It can effectively clean cars (including off-road vehicles), fences, home siding, and boats. When cleaning an asphalt driveway, grimy garage floors, concrete lot, or street, you need pressure washers that are closer to 3,200 PSI. These types of pressure washers can remove tough stains without running risks of damaging anything.

Heavy-duty pressure washers: 3,200 to 7,000 PSI

Reliable for the toughest jobs, pressure washers in this range pack enough punch to strip away paint and remove the most stubborn stains. It can clean solid surfaces such as stone and brick and make it look brand new. Because of its extreme pressure, heavy-duty models are not recommended for use in wood surfaces or cars.

Choose between gas or electric.

When shopping or looking for a pressure washer, the first significant decision you would make is going with an electric or a gas-powered model.

Electric pressure washers use an electric motor to power the pump, limiting the total output. Meanwhile, gas pressure washers have higher torque, so they can operate a larger pump and offer a higher pressure. But higher and larger doesn’t always mean better.

For instance, to deep clean your car, you don’t need more than 1,500 PSI, and you will be working closely with the vehicle when spraying. In this case, electric pressure washers are your best bet. Electric pressure washers typically have around 1,400 PSI with GPM that’s no higher than 1.5. It works best for cleaning outdoor furniture, small decks and patios, and other small deep-cleaning jobs that don’t need much stain removal.

Electric models are relatively light and quiet and need a little maintenance. They start and stop conveniently and do not need winterizing if brought indoors. But your cleaning area can be limited to the length of your unit’s hose and cord. It is usually not recommended that you use an extension cord with a pressure washer.

On the other hand, larger jobs like washing your driveways and sidewalks and cleaning your entire home exterior can get more efficient with consistent results if you have a farther, wider spray with more power. In this case, a gas-powered model with high GPM will be better. Gas-powered pressure washers can quickly clean large areas without the need for harsh chemicals. It can also dispatch tough gunk such as tree sap and old chewing gum.

However, they are noisier and heavier than electric models, and it needs tune-ups. Their pumps must be winterized with antifreeze in colder climates because they must not be stored inside a house. And more power means an increased risk of injury, as well as splintering, gouging, or etching wooden surfaces, if you are not careful and if you apply pressure more than what’s needed.

Decide if you want to go for hot water or a cold water pressure washer.

Cold water pressure washers are an excellent choice for eliminating dirt, mud, and sand. And it’s much cheaper than their hot-water counterparts. However, they are not the best option for cleaning greasy and oily surfaces.

Hot pressure washers are great for larger and more difficult cleaning jobs, especially those that involve oil and grease, as hot water can cut through it more easily. Hot water also cleans faster and makes you use fewer chemicals, and it can also create steam to disinfect surfaces.

Check the nozzles.

The size of the nozzle opening can dictate the angle of the spray. The smaller the opening, the more concentrated the spray becomes.

The main risk when using pressure washers is related to the angle and focused intensity of the sprayed water. The nozzle controls this at the tip of the pressure washer wand. The nozzles vary from brand to brand, and they are available with either a set of color-coded interchangeable nozzles or an all-in-one adjustable nozzle. Both types of nozzles allow you to change the angle of water, depending on the task.

Adjustable nozzles are more convenient to use than replaceable ones since you only need to twist them to change the spray width or pattern. It often comes with washers with lower PSI and is color-coded by spray angle. However, replaceable nozzles allow you to customize the spray pattern at different angles.

  • Red – It has a 0-degree spray, meaning the water comes out highly concentrated. This nozzle is used for the toughest of cleaning jobs and for tough surfaces such as concrete.
  • Yellow – It has a 15-degree spray that produces a strong but less concentrated spray. It can be used for more surfaces and is used for washing away paint, stains, and mildew.
  • Green – It has a 25-degree spray for general cleaning tasks.
  • White – It comes with a 40-degree spray, so water comes out at a lower pressure. This works well for cleaning anything fragile, like windows.
  • Black- It has a 65-degree spray used for spraying soap and detergent onto a surface before switching for a different nozzle to rinse.    

For removing dirt, grease, and grime, and for preparing surfaces for painting, a pressure washer beats the garden hose every time. Plus, the pressure it creates makes it more efficient in cleaning, saving you water in the long run.

Consider your budget.

Of course, it’s natural to buy based on your budget. In the case of pressure washers, you can still get a good one even if you choose a cheaper version. If you’re looking for a lower-priced model, look for electric units. Gas-powered washers can start at around $400 and can easily cost more than a thousand dollars. Alternatively, electric pressure washers typically cost between $80 to $300.

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