By Tina Jepson
Do you have dirt-caked concrete, mildew on your vinyl siding, or moss growing on your walkway brick pavers? If you do, then it’s time for a good, thorough pressure wash.
Sure, you could hire someone to do the task for you, but that can run anywhere from $75-$200 or more depending on the size and scope of the project. Why not invest some money into a pressure washer of your own, so you can deep clean your home and outdoor living spaces anytime?
With just one or two DIY pressure washing sessions, you’ll recover the cost of the unit and complete the project to your own satisfaction at the same time.
Which pressure washer is the best for home use? Let’s dive into that question and more!
A pressure washer works at removing old, caked-on dirt and debris from a variety of surfaces by compressing regular hose-fed water through a water pump and then dispensing it through a nozzle with a trigger. The result is a high-powered spray that’s immensely strong and effective.
Pressure washer units are powered by one of two methods:
Electric-Powered Pressure Washer
Smaller, quieter, and less-powerful than their gas counterparts, electric-powered pressure washers plug right into an electrical outlet. They are usually more affordable than gas models, but they also dispense water at lower psi (pounds per square inch) levels.
Gas-Powered Pressure Washer
These washers are more powerful and dispense water at higher psi rates. Gasoline is added to the engine (no electric cords!) to power the compression process. Gas powered pressure washers are louder than electric ones. These models are essential for heavy-duty projects, such as concrete, siding, and bricks.
The psi is an important factor to consider when purchasing a pressure washer. If you intend to power wash everything in sight and hope to reach high areas, look for a washer with a higher psi. This number refers to the amount of pressure that comes out of the spray nozzle and is applied to the surface you’re cleaning. Keep in mind, pressure=power.
Homeowner Tip: What is a good psi for a pressure washer? A medium-duty pressure washer, which is the ideal unit for the average homeowner, has a psi measurement of between 2,000-3,000.
The gpm (gallons per minute) is another measurement used for power washers. This number indicates the amount of water moving through the pressure washer and reaching the spray nozzle. What is a good gpm for a pressure washer? Most units operate effectively with a gpm between 2.0-3.0.
From the psi and gpm, you can calculate pressure washer cleaning units, which is the ultimate determination of the power of your washer unit. A higher-pressure washer cleaning unit means a more thorough, powerful clean. To calculate this, multiply the psi and gpm together. Say you have a 2,200-psi washer with a 3.0-gpm flow rate.
2,200 x 3.0=6,600 cleaning units
On the other hand, a 1,000-psi washer with a 4.0 gpm has 4,000 cleaning units.
There are many reasons to use a pressure washer. Here are a few of them:
- Your home’s wood or vinyl siding
- Walkways and outdoor steps
- Garage or basement floor
- Sheds and other outbuildings
- Outdoor leisure equipment such as kayaks and surfboards
- Cars and other vehicles (see below)
- Wood decks and porches
Pressure washers are safe to use on concrete, wood, brick, tile, asphalt, and more. However, the psi levels required to complete each project vary greatly. For example, you may be wondering, “What size pressure washer do I need to clean concrete?” In fact, concrete requires between 2,500-3,500 psi to be adequately cleaned, so choose your pressure washer accordingly.
As always, remember that “pressure” from a pressure washer is intense. Never use a high psi washer on a car or other vehicle, as you’re likely to damage the paint. If you must use a pressure washer on your car, then always choose a low-psi electric model.
The best pressure washers meet your cleaning needs and fit your budget. Start your journey to pressure washer ownership by determining which type of model you need.
For starters, the best commercial pressure washer may have a psi of 4,000 or more and costs in the ballpark of $600, whereas the best pressure washer for cars has a psi measurement hovering around 700 and cost between $100-$200.
Shop around at any home improvement or hardware store to find a unit that works for you.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Tina Jepson, www.dreamstime.com, and www.shutterstock.com