There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the clean lines from pressure washing a dirty driveway. However, choosing a pressure washer that actually works for your needs is kind of hard and confusing. To make the decision simpler, we’ve compiled our best info, tips for comparing units, and also suggest a miracle item that will help you clean your walk ways in half the time no matter which washer you choose!
Pressure washers are serious equipment, so you should take the same precautions using them as you would using power tools and saws. Always follow the proper steps for powering and maintaining your washer. If there ever was a manual to read, it would be this one. Always wear appropriate clothing, eye protection, and strong close-toed shoes (no flip flops!) when operating a pressure washer.
Pressure washers are pricey, so make sure you are getting the one that will meet your expectations. Here are THREE things you should pay attention to:
Strength, Water, Power
Strength = the PSI number (Pounds per Square Inch) how strong the stream will be = how deep you can clean. The higher the number the stronger the stream/cleaning capabilities. 3000-4000 PSI is more than sufficient for most home owners.
Water = GPM (Gallons Per Minute) How much water will flow = how fast you can clean. Think: garden hose vs fire hose
Power = type of motor (Gas vs Electric) Pressure washing things like sidewalks and deck tops requires a lot more power than things like cars or boat washing.
How to compare units?
An easy way to compare machines to see which unit cleans more efficiently is to multiply each unit’s PSI number by the GPM number. (PSIxGPM) The one with the highest number should clean best.
WASHER A: 1400 PSI x 1.6 GPM =2240
WASHER B: 1400 PSI x 2.4 GPM =3360
WASHER C: 3300 PSI x 1.6 GPM =5280
In this example, WASHER C (with the highest = number) is the more efficient unit. “Efficient” meaning it will clean an area faster in less time than the others.
Electric-Powered Pressure Washers
There are a lot of great entry-level electric units out there. We found that anything below 1800 psi didn’t clean much on driveways or sidewalks. However, we started with an electric unit, 1400 PSI/1.6GPM and it cleaned cement, decking, and pvc lawn chairs really well – but it did take a whole day.
The good: smaller units, lighter weight.
The bad: Doesn’t get deep stains as well, takes longer to deep clean areas. There are lots of cords to wrangle – the electric cord, the wand (sprayer) hose, and the garden hose.
Gas-Powered Pressure Washers
These are the real deal. If you were to hire a company to pressure wash your driveway, they are going to show up with something gas-powered. We recently graduated to a gas-powered washer with 3300 psi and 2.4 GPM. It cleaned like a breeze.
The good: A lot more powerful. Cleans stubborn stains with ease. More maneuverable: not having a power cord to worry about allows for cleaning an area as long as your garden hose.
The bad: Louder. More powerful streams are more dangerous. You could easily blast through an old window pane, loose cement, or brittle lawn chairs. Be sure to take appropriate precautions and read the manual.
This magical attachment saved us SO much time. The space that usually took us 6 to 8 hours to pressure wash, was done in 60 minutes with this type of “surface cleaner.”
Disc attachments like these surface cleaners found on Amazon, are great for wide passes (not detail work) – which makes it awesome for cleaning large areas quicker. It also eliminates all those hidden-ink-like squiggle lines that often appear when the cement dries from using the wand alone. IMPORTANT: Make sure to buy the right disc attachment for your unit by verifying the psi compatibility on both.