What type of pressure washer do I need? 33 examples


When choosing a pressure washer, the most important thing to consider is the PSI rating (pounds per square inch). The PSI rating means how much pressure is getting out of the nozzle to clean the desired surface. Each surface needs a certain pressure to clean well and efficiently. With a higher pressure, tougher stains can be removed. But when the pressure is too high, it can damage the object or the surface. Besides the price, another factor to consider is if you want to use a gas or electric pressure washer.

What type of pressure washer do I need:

Different types of pressure washers are used to clean different surfaces. It mostly depends upon the PSI rating of the pressure washer. For example, in order to clean driveways and concrete surfaces, a gas-powered pressure washer with a PSI rating of almost 3000 is recommended to get rid of old and tough stains. However, for residential purposes, like for cleaning decks, vehicles, and furniture, an electric pressure washer with an output pressure of 1700 PSI is best. Similarly, the experts recommended a heavy-duty hot water gas pressure washer is recommended by the experts.

What type of pressure washer do I need? 33 examples 1

Through this article, you will learn about the different types of pressure washers. Along with that, we will also educate you about the factors that you should keep in mind when selecting a pressure washer. Lastly, you will learn what types of pressure washers you can use for cleaning different surfaces like concrete, decks, vinyl siding, etc.  

What type of pressure washer do I need:

We have collected data for a lot of different types of jobs and the type of pressure washer you need for it. Check what type of cleaning jobs you expect to do. Keep in mind that if you infrequently do a certain job that needs a more capable model, it does not necessarily mean you need to purchase such a type of pressure washer. Most jobs can be done with a less capable model as well. It will only take more time and effort.

Type of job or location
Type of pressure washer
In and near your house
General use
Consumer Electric pressure washer. A model that can deliver up to 2000 PSI is fine
 
Hard surfaces with tough stains
Consumer Gas Pressure washer. A model up to 3000 PSI is fine. A more heavy-duty electric model is also fine.
Further away from your house
No electricity near
Consumer gas pressure washer
Two-story home
 
You need a higher pressure to reach the second floor. The best would be a Consumer Gas Pressure washer. A model up to 3000 PSI is fine. Or a more heavy-duty electric model is also fine.
No water source near
For small, limited jobs
Use an electric pressure washer with build-in water storage. Like the #####
 
Water from a bucket or water container
You can only use some specific electric pressure washers with a suction hose, like the Karcher K4 and L5 models. And most gas/electric models with a belt-driven pump. For those, you also need an additional suction hose
 
Water from a lake
You need an additional pump to use lake water.
Type of job or location
Type of pressure washer
Infrequent jobs
 
Consumer Electric pressure washer. A model that can deliver up to 2000 PSI is fine
Car or Truck washing
 
Consumer Electric pressure washer.
Shutter cleaning
 
Consumer Electric pressure washer.
Spot cleaning
 
Consumer Electric pressure washer.
Cleaning your grill
 
Consumer Electric pressure washer.
Lawn and patio furniture
 
Consumer Electric pressure washer.
Regular siding
 
Consumer Electric pressure washer.
Mildew and mold removal
Light
Consumer Electric pressure washer.
Regular
Consumer gas engine pressure washer, or heavy electric model
 
Heavy
Professional gas engine pressure washer, or power washer
Type of job or location
Type of pressure washer
Cleaning your deck
 
Consumer gas engine pressure washer, or heavy electric model
Cleaning your driveway
 
Consumer gas engine pressure washer, or heavy electric model
Pavement cleaning
 
Consumer gas engine pressure washer, or heavy electric model
Sidewalk
 
Consumer gas engine pressure washer, or heavy electric model
Siding
With tough stains
Consumer gas engine pressure washer, or heavy electric model
Tough stains
 
Consumer gas engine pressure washer, or heavy electric model
Industrial cleaning
Large scale cleaning jobs
Professional gas engine pressure washer, or hot water power washer
Farm use
 
Professional gas engine pressure washer, or hot water power washer
Type of job or location
Type of pressure washer
Cleaning Concrete
With tough stains
Professional gas engine pressure washer, or hot water power washer
Pavement
With tough stains
Professional gas engine pressure washer, or hot water power washer
Exterior Siding
 
Professional gas engine pressure washer, or hot water power washer
Boats and ATVs
 
Consumer gas engine pressure washer, or heavy electric model
Removing loose paint
 
Consumer Electric pressure washer.
Paint stripping
 
Professional gas engine pressure washer, or hot water power washer
Graffiti removal
 
Professional gas engine pressure washer, or hot water power washer
Extremely tough stains
 
Professional gas power washer

Types of pressure washer

There are two main types of pressure washers: electric and gas models. Both have their pros and cons.

Electric pressure washers

Electric pressure washers are more budget-friendly than gas models. But, they are generally not as powerful as gas pressure washers. Most models have a maximum pressure of around 2000 PSI, compared to the gas models 3000 PSI. But they require a lot less maintenance.

An advantage of an electric pressure washer is that they start with the flip of a switch. They are also quieter and cleaner and weigh less than gas models

For cleaning hard surfaces with tough stains, like you’re driveway, electric pressure washers are less effective. These surfaces often contain tough oil and grease stains. Most budget-friendly electric pressure washers have lower maximum pressure and are not as effective on these surfaces. However, other areas of your house, like vinyl siding and decks, require lower pressure. You do have more expensive electric pressure washers that have a high PSI rating, but they are less budget-friendly.

Gas pressure washers

Gas-powered pressure washers come in various sizes and generally produce more PSI than electric pressure washers. Small gas pressure washers can already produce 2000 to 3000 PSI of pressure with a GPM (gallons per minute) of 2.8. However. Large gas pressure washers can produce up to 4000 PSI of pressure with a GPM of more than 4. These larger ones are more targeted to professional users. They are very effective at cleaning driveways and other hard surfaces.

Some gas pressure washers have a manual pull-start. Others have an easier one-handed startup with a push-button electric starter.

Pressure washer vs. Power washer: Hot vs. cold water

Hot and cold water pressure washers refer to the temperature of the water coming from the nozzle of the pressure washer. A hot pressure washer is called a power washer. In power washers, cold water comes from the inlet and is heated up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit by the washer. The output temperature depends significantly on the model. Some models can even heat the water up to 250 Fahrenheit and are called Steam Pressure Washers.

Hot water pressure washers are very effective in cleaning surfaces and objects. Like your dishwasher, hot or warm water cleans more effectively. Also, detergents work more effectively at higher temperatures. Power washers are more used for commercial purposes due to their higher price.

In many cases, cold water pressure washers are fine for cleaning most surfaces and objects you’re your house. Some more delicate surfaces and objects can not even handle the hot water and high pressure.

A power washer has a higher running cost due to the needed gas to heat up the water. An advantage of a power washer is that it uses less detergent and cleaning chemicals

What type of pressure washer do I need to clean the driveway?

In general, you need a gas pressure washer or a strong electric model that can also deliver 3000 PSI. This is enough for cleaning most driveways with tough stains. Most more budget-friendly electric pressure washers produce up to 2000 PSI and are less effective for driveway or concrete cleaning jobs.

Along with 3000 PSI pressure, the recommended flow rate for cleaning the driveway is 3 GPM. Not all faucets can deliver that amount, but I recommend using one that can deliver at least 2 GMP. This helps to remove tougher stains. A higher GPM helps to flush the loosened dirt away. The greater the amount of water running through your nozzle in a minute, the less time it will take to clean the driveway. 

Suppose you want to clean an area where more delicate objects or paint can be damaged with such high pressure. Try to clean the driveway with a lower pressure, like 1500 PSI. If needed, use a degreaser or some other detergent to improve cleaning.

From the above discussion, we can say that to clean your driveway effectively, both the PSI and GPM play an important role. By combining a higher GPM with higher pressure, you can clean your driveway in record time.

Relation of GPM/PSI with time
3 GPM/3000 psi
2.5GPM/2500psi
2GPM/2000psi
5 minutes
   ●
 
 
7 minutes
 
   ●
 
9 minutes
 
 
   ●

The above table shows the relation of GPM and PSI and time. They are not for a specific driveway but give a good idea of what a higher pressure or more GMP can do. With a pressure washer with a higher GPM and PSI, it takes less time to clean the driveway. Lowering the PSI and GPM increases the cleaning time.

What type of pressure washer do I need to clean the deck?

For cleaning your deck, you can use a cost-effective household electric pressure washer. There is no need for a more powerful full pressure washer. Softwoods like pine and cedar require 500 to 600 PSI. Harder wood needs 1200 to 1500 PSI.

A regular electric pressure washer can be used to clean furniture, toys, windows, railing, grills, and vehicles. For most household cleaning jobs, an electric pressure washer is an excellent choice. It is lightweight and easily manageable. Another advantage of using an electric pressure washer is that they make less noise, and you only need a suitable outlet. They also require less maintenance than gas models.

Choosing the right nozzle is also important for effectively cleaning your deck. Generally, a fan tip or a rotating tip works best for wood cleaning. Always start your pressure washer in a safe area and not point the water towards people or glass windows. I recommend spraying at a distance of around 18 inches from the deck. Do not get closer than 12 inches unless using very low pressure.

What type of pressure washer do I need to clean concrete?

The best option for cleaning concrete is a power washer that can deliver at least 3000 PSI, and a flow rate of 4 GPM. A power washer uses hot water to clean tough stains effectively. A more cost-effective option is to use a gas pressure washer. Most are also capable of delivering 3000 PSI, only with cold water.

Concrete driveways, sidewalks, and patios with tough stains can be cleaned effectively with a power washer or a gas pressure washer. Most consumers graded electric pressure only deliver up to 2000 PSI. But you can find more potent electric pressure washers. Use a degreaser or concrete cleaner to remove really tough and stubborn stains.

The flow rate of your pressure washer determents how fast you can clean. It determines how fast the contaminants are washed away from the surface. Keep in mind that most faucets can only deliver around 2 GPM. Professional contractors like to work with a higher GPM for concrete. They often use their own water supply for this. Cleaning speed can also be increased by using a rotary nozzle.

What type of pressure washer do I need to clean vinyl siding?

Cleaning a vinyl siding only needs a relatively low pressure from 1300 to 1600 PSI. This is perfect for a cost-effective electric pressure washer.

How often you have to clean a siding depends on the location and color. If you have light-colored siding, it will show more dirt than dark-colored ones. Homes located in areas with dusty roads, subtropical climates, or a new development receive a lot more dirt. Those sidings will need to be cleaned more often. If you notice that your Sidings have brown or green stains, they require some cleaning.

What type of pressure washer do I need for semi-commercial jobs?

Semi-commercial jobs involve the cleaning of vehicles, boats, fences, and other business-related objects. For this type of job, a gas pressure washer is recommended. It needs to be able to a supply pressure of at least 3000 PSI. And can handle a flow rate of 2.5 GPM. Since you will use your pressure washer for commercial purposes, ensure that it has a durable frame and large wheels. This makes moving it around more easily. I recommend using a poly braided hose to tackle high pressure and a steel spray wand with quick coupling for an easy connection. Have a wide variety of nozzles at hand.

What type of pressure washer do I need for commercial jobs?

For commercial jobs, I recommend a heavy-duty power washer or pressure washer. The advantage of a power washer is the hot water that makes cleaning faster and easier. Jobs include cleaning large areas, construction sites, removing paint, grease, and tire stains of entire fleets of vehicles.

I recommend a heavy-duty gas pressure washer or power washer that can deliver 3000 to 4000 PSI for these kinds of jobs. And a flow rate of 4 GPM. Have a wide variety of nozzles so that you can clean any surface or object. As most faucets can only deliver 2 GPM, you probably need your own local water supply. For a high GPM, you should investigate using an additional pump.

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