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What PSI power washer do I need? 8 Examples from a pro

Once you decide to buy a pressure washer for your house or any other purpose, knowing how strong your power washer needs to be is an essential first question to ask. Grimy and dirty external surfaces of a house often require higher pressure, so a pressure washer with more psi. These include walkways, driveways, and stained garages different from other surfaces in cleaning and washing. A pressure washer saves a lot of time and effort, and it ensures that the external surfaces of your house look as good as new.

What PSI power washer do I need:

In general, different surfaces require different pressures to clean. For example, cleaning concrete requires a psi of around 3000 psi. Where cleaning a deck requires a pressure washer only 500 to 600 PSI. Using a higher pressure may damage the surface or paint. Before cleaning any surface, check what pressure you need. If you are unsure, start with low pressure and slowly increase.

It is necessary to adjust the psi of the pressure washer to an appropriate setting before using it to clean a certain surface. However, cleaning with a pressure washer is not as simple as it looks. A pressure washer generally forces the water stream out of the nozzle at pressure 60 times that of a regular garden hose. If this equipment is not used carefully, it may damage the surface you are cleaning. You can easily damage your paved driveway or the paint of your car. Cleaning concrete requires a power washer with a higher psi rating, like 3000 psi. Cleaning a deck requires a lower, 500 to 600 psi rating. Therefore, it is vital to choose the right pressure washer with the correct psi.

This article will give you vital information about psi ratings that experts recommend to clean different surfaces and areas of your home or car. If you are looking to buy a pressure washer, read through this article.

How much psi do I need to clean my driveway?

In general, the pressure you need to clean your driveway is around 3000 psi. Ensure that the pressure washer also has a good flow rate, if possible, around 3 GPM. This should be sufficient to clean your driveway. Use a degreaser if the driveway has oil stains.

To clean your driveway effectively, you need a good amount of pressure and a decent water flow rate. This section will provide you with some insight into the ideal pressure and flow rate for cleaning your driveway while keeping a few precautionary measures in mind.

Along with 3000 psi, a flow rate of 3 GPM (gallons per minute) is recommended to flush out any filth. The more water running through your nozzle in a minute, the less time it will take to clean the driveway. 

However, let’s say you’re cleaning the driveway of an office building where there is a risk of paint damage due to a high amount of PSI and GPM – instead of using a pressure washer with high ratings, you should clean the driveway with a more gentle pressure of 1500 psi and 1.8 GPM.

The table below shows the relation of GPM and psi with time to provide a general idea of the amount of time it takes to clean a driveway using different types of pressure washers.

3 GPM/3000 psi
5 minutes
2.5 GPM/2500 psi
7 minutes
2 GPM/2000 psi
9 minutes

How much psi would I need to clean a deck?

In general, for cleaning a deck with a pressure washer, you should use the lowest pressure setting. These should be effective and prevent high-pressure water damage. Softwoods such as pine and cedar require 500 to 600 psi, while harder woods range between 1200 to 1500 psi. Higher pressures can also damage the paint of your deck.

It might seem like an easy task, cleaning a deck by simply pointing and shooting water. However, washing a deck with a power washer without the right equipment or setting can cause irreparable damage to the wood, which can prove costly. For effective deck cleaning, using the appropriate power washer at the correct psi settings is essential. Power washers are powerful enough to carve into brick and gentle enough to remove a few stains and cobwebs.

Always start with the lowest pressure setting if you clean your deck for the first time or use a new machine. For softwood, like pine and cedar, a pressure over 500 to 600 psi may already cause damage. Hardwood, like cambara or cumaru can be cleaned with a higher pressure of 1200 to 1500 psi.

Choosing the right tip to use is also important for effectively cleaning a deck. Generally, a fan or rotating tip works best for cleaning wood. Always start in a safe area and do not point towards people or glass windows if any are nearby. Start around 18 inches from the deck. And ensure you do not get closer than 12 inches from the deck if you are not using a low enough pressure.

If you are unsure if the pressure is low enough, begin cleaning the deck from an easy to repair or replace area. For example, a stair tread is easier to replace than an entire deck board. Start with the correct pressure wash settings from there and gradually clean the other areas. Check that the paint on the deck is not damaged. It is important that you keep a consistent distance between the tip and the deck while cleaning.

How much psi do I need to clean vinyl sidings?

In general, use pressure from 1300 to 1600 psi to clean vinyl sidings. Higher pressure can damage the sidings. If you are unsure about the pressure, start cleaning a small part that is easy to repair or fix in case something does not go as planned.

Exterior textured vinyl sidings are incredibly prone to dust, causing them to grow dull over time. In addition, sidings with lighter colors tend to hold more dirt than those with darker colors. Homes located in areas with dusty roads, subtropical climates, and new developments can also be exposed to a lot of dirt. When sidings begin to turn into shades of brown or green,  it is time to give your sidings a good wash at the appropriate psi setting of 1300 to 1600 psi.

How much psi do I need to clean patios and walkways?

In general, a pressure washer with 3GPM and 3000 psi is ideal for cleaning patios and walkways. Use the tip with the widest angle to prevent the surface of these hardscapes from degrading. Using a pressure washer on these surfaces can make brick and concrete look brand new.

First, start cleaning walkways and patios from one end and keep the tip about 12 inches from the hardscape surface to minimize streaking and prevent damage to the surface. Clean the surface using a consistent sweeping motion and use a push broom or a wide spray tip to wash the debris from the surface.

How much psi do I need to wash my car?

In general, I recommend a pressure washer with 1.4 to 1.6 GPM and pressure from 1200 to 1900 psi. Start with a lower pressure, and only increase it when needed. Use a green or white nozzle.

Using a pressure washer is an effective and efficient method to clean your car. Power washers come in two types: electric pressure washers and gas power washers. For washing your car, I recommended using an electric pressure washer. Gas power washers operate at higher psi. If you use one, ensure that you have set the pressure to a lower setting.

How much psi do I need to clean pavers?

In general, a pressure washer with 1600 to 2000 psi is recommended to clean the pavers efficiently. Higher pressure can damage the pavers and paving stones. Always start from a distance and get closer slowly, so you can ensure that all goes well.

A pressure washer on a lower setting is safe for cleaning pavers, mortared flagstones, slate patios, and walls. Higher pressure can damage the mortar between joints. They can crack and get washed away.

Moss and weeds can grow in the joints of paved stone driveways or walkways. Moreover, car traffic can leave stains on pavers and dark areas on its surface. Due to the easiness of cleaning pavers, a pressure washer with 1600 to 2000 psi is enough to clean efficiently.

How much psi do I need to clean concrete?

In general, for cleaning concrete, a pressure washer with a pressure of at least 3000 psi and a flow rate of 4 GPM is recommended. If available, higher pressure can be used to remove contaminants such as paint and tire marks. Use a degreaser to clean some hard stains.

Typically, gas pressure washers can give these high psi ratings. Apply a degreaser or concrete cleaner before power washing to remove any stubborn stains and start at the highest point while working your way down.

The flow rate of the pressure washer is also vital for the cleaning speed. Once the appropriate pressure is adjusted, the flow rate determines how fast the contaminants are washed away from the surface. Contractors recommend 5 to 6 GPM for concrete. Cleaning speed can also be increased by using a rotary nozzle.

How much psi do I need to clean the windows of my house?

In general, for cleaning windows, I would recommend using a pressure of 1500 psi. This lower pressure avoids any glass cracking. Also, it is important to note that the angle at which the water comes out of the nozzle plays an essential role in preventing damage, so choosing a green 45 or white 65-degree nozzle is best for window cleaning.