An in-depth guide to buying a pressure washer

pressure washer

Homeowners and business owners alike can benefit from investing in a pressure washer. These powerful tools can be used for a variety of different tasks, ranging from removing minor surface stains to blasting away moss, algae, and debris. Some power washers are even strong enough to remove paint. If you decide to buy one of these tools, it is important to choose the right model. It should be powerful enough to help you achieve your objectives without damaging the surface that you are cleaning. Here are a couple of quick tips that you should remember as you compare models:

  • Low-pressure power washers are a good option for basic cleaning. However, they may not be powerful enough to remove stubborn stains.
  • High-pressure power washers are strong enough to remove the vast majority of stains. However, because the stream of water has so much pressure behind it, it can cause damage to the underlying surface in some situations.

By keeping these two key points in mind, you should be able to find a power washer that provides just the right amount of power to help you clean the surface without doing any damage in the process.

Pressure Washer Styles

Pressure washers come in a variety of different styles. One of the primary differences between models is the way that they are powered. Some rely on electricity whereas others are powered by gasoline. Typically, gas-powered pressure washers are the most powerful option. However, they also require more maintenance than electric models. They can be used for both residential and commercial cleaning projects, making them a versatile option.

Electric pressure washers are also a good choice for a variety of different situations. Not only are they generally smaller than gas-powered pressure washers but they also are usually a lot quieter to operate. In terms of the amount of pressure that they provide, it is usually adequate for doing light cleaning projects. For instance, these pressure washers are good for blasting dirt off of sidewalks or for cleaning up outdoor furniture. They also don’t give off fumes like their gas-powered counterparts. As a result, they can be used in areas that don’t have a lot of ventilation. The only downside to electric models is that they are not nearly as powerful as gas-powered pressure washers.

Think about how easily you can access electrical outlets, how much power is required for the type of cleaning that you plan on doing, and how well-ventilated the space is where the power washer will be used when deciding which type is the best fit for your needs.

Consumer-Grade Versus Professional-Grade

Pressure washers that are designed for professional use are usually far more durable and more powerful than consumer-grade models. For instance, professional gas pressure washers usually have bigger engines and provide a lot more power than similar consumer-grade tools. There are also professional electric power washers available. Like the gas models, they usually offer more power than pressure washers that are designed for everyday consumers. They also may come with additional attachments that make them more versatile.

Consumer-grade pressure washers are generally a lot cheaper than professional models. They can be used for a variety of different cleaning tasks around the home. For instance, these pressure washers can be used to clean siding, to remove stubborn, burnt on remnants from outdoor grills, or to clean sidewalks or patios. Although they are not quite as powerful as professional pressure washers, they still can be a versatile tool to have around your home.

Water Temperature

The vast majority of pressure washers use cold water. In most cases, this is more than adequate. There are, however, some models available that use hot water instead. Although this takes a lot more power, it can provide better cleaning results in certain situations. The hot water tends to do a better job of dissolving away certain types of dirt or debris than cold water.


The power level of even the best pressure washer is determined by the pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure that it provides as well as by the gallons per minute (GPM) that it is capable of delivering. The PSI measures the overall pressure of the water while the GPM measures the amount of water that is released. Of these two figures, the PSI is the most important. You should choose a pressure washer that has an adequate amount of pressure for the type of cleaning that you plan on doing. Avoid buying a machine that is more powerful than you need, however, since excess pressure could cause damage to the surface that you are cleaning.

Standard Power – 2000 PSI Or Lower

For light cleaning projects, a pressure washer that has 2000 PSI or lower is generally an acceptable choice. These low-cost machines are usually powerful enough to perform basic cleaning functions ranging from removing dirt from patio furniture to rinsing debris off of the outside of a vehicle.

Middle-Of-The-Road Power – Between 2,000 And 3,200 PSI

Pressure washers that provide between 2,000 and 3,200 PSI offer a lot of flexibility in terms of the types of projects that you can complete. They can be used for cleaning off dirty vehicles, washing down siding, removing dirt from fences, cleaning up boats, and washing down dirty garage floors. Models that fall at the upper end of this category can be used to blast away difficult stains. Oftentimes, models that fall in this pressure range are used by professionals as well as everyday consumers.

High-Powered Models – Between 3,200 And 4,200 PSI

Power washers that fall into this category provide the ultimate in cleaning power. These high-pressure washers are capable of blasting away difficult stains. They can even be used to remove old paint. Ideally, they should only be used on durable surfaces such as brick or stone. If they are used on softer surfaces, they could wind up causing damage. Typically, these models are reserved for only the most challenging types of cleaning.

Power Washer Accessories

Adding accessories to a basic power washer can make it much more versatile. Some models come with built-in features such as an adjustable spray level that allows you to use them for a variety of different cleaning projects. Typically, the machine will have a switch or knob that you can use to adjust the amount of pressure behind the spray, based on the type of cleaning that you are planning on doing.

You can also invest in different spray nozzles for your machine, allowing you to change the width of the spray. A wider stream of water usually results in less water pressure, whereas a narrow stream provides more water pressure.

Ideally, you should keep the stream of water as wide as possible while still obtaining adequate pressure to remove surface stains or debris. Using a wider stream will help the job go more quickly. It can also help prevent damage to the underlying surface by keeping the pressure from getting too high.

You can also purchase a variety of different angle tips for your pressure washer. Typically, these are color-coded based on the types of applications that they can be used for. Switching out tips is a great way to make your power washer more versatile and to give yourself more control over the way that the water is sprayed.

After deciding whether you want a gas or electric model and figuring out how much pressure you need, you can then start comparing the individual features and accessories that each pressure washer has to offer. Typically, the best option is to buy a pressure washer that is not only powerful enough for your needs but that also has several different accessories that you can use for different cleaning tasks. For instance, some pressure washers have a self-cooling feature that helps reduce heat. This can help them last longer, allowing you to get more use out of your investment.

Features To Look For In A Pressure Washer

Automatic detergent dispensing. Choosing a model that automatically mixes the detergent into the water is a convenient option.

A built-in hose reel. Storing the hose can be a challenge. A hose reel makes the task easy and helps prevent problems with kinking or snagging.

Storage options. Ideally, the model that you choose should have onboard storage available for the hose as well as the nozzle. If necessary, it should also have a place to keep accessories such as extra tips or nozzles.

Big wheels. Moving a pressure washer around can be challenging without large enough wheels. Bigger wheels make it easy to move the tool wherever it needs to go.

Keep these features in mind when you are comparing pressure washers. That way, you can find a model that not only has enough pressure but that also has all of the extra features that you need. When you first start shopping for a pressure washer, think about how you plan to use it. That way, you can decide whether a gas or electric model is the best option. You can also determine exactly how much pressure you need. Lower PSI models are ideal for basic cleaning whereas higher PSI models are best for more intense projects. The model that you choose should have the right amount of power for the types of projects that you plan on doing the most.

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