A pressure washer is now an integrated part of a home, and industry to keep the area and equipment clean of mold, grime, and dirt.
But it varies in types, capacities, and performance, making it difficult to pick the right item for certain needs.
So if you are wondering what size pressure washer do I need and don’t know how to determine it, keep reading.
What Size Pressure Washer Do I Need?
The size of the pressure washer you need depends on the cleaning task at hand.
For light-duty tasks such as washing cars, a pressure washer with a pressure output of 1300 to 2000 PSI (pounds per square inch) is sufficient.
For medium-duty tasks such as cleaning driveways or decks, a pressure washer with a pressure output of 2000 to 2800 PSI is recommended.
For heavy-duty tasks such as cleaning large areas or stripping paint, a pressure washer with a pressure output of 2800 to 4000 PSI is necessary.
It’s important to select the appropriate size pressure washer for your specific cleaning needs to ensure optimal performance and safety.
Here is a table outlining the recommended pressure washer size based on the type of cleaning task:
|Cleaning Task||Recommended Pressure Washer Size|
|Light-duty cleaning tasks (patios, decks, small vehicles)||Electric pressure washer with 1300-1900 PSI and 1.2-1.6 GPM|
|Medium-duty cleaning tasks (large vehicles, fencing, driveways, outdoor furniture)||Gas pressure washer with 2000-2800 PSI and 2-3 GPM|
|Heavy-duty cleaning tasks (industrial equipment, paint stripping, concrete surfaces)||Gas pressure washer with 3000-4000 PSI and 3-4 GPM|
How Does Pressure Washer Work?
A pressure washer is a device that uses high-pressure water to clean surfaces.
It works by using a motor or engine to power a pump, which pressurizes water from a garden hose and forces it out through a spray wand or nozzle.
Here’s how a pressure washer works:
Water supply: A pressure washer is connected to a standard garden hose that supplies water to the pump.
Pump: The pump pressurizes the water, increasing its pressure and flow rate. This is typically done by using a piston or plunger to compress the water.
High-pressure hose: The pressurized water is then fed through a high-pressure hose that connects the pump to the spray wand or nozzle.
Spray wand or nozzle: The spray wand or nozzle contains a small orifice that restricts the flow of water, further increasing the pressure of the water as it exits the nozzle.
Trigger: The spray wand or nozzle is equipped with a trigger that allows the operator to control the flow of water and adjust the pressure as needed.
Cleaning: The high-pressure water is directed at the surface to be cleaned, which dislodges dirt, grime, and other contaminants.
Why Does The Pressure Washer PSI Matter?
The pressure washer PSI (pounds per square inch) is a measure of the pressure of the water coming out of the pressure washer.
It’s important to consider the PSI when selecting a pressure washer because it can impact the cleaning power and effectiveness of the tool.
Here’s why the pressure washer PSI matters:
The higher the pressure washer PSI, the more cleaning power the pressure washer has.
A higher PSI can help to remove dirt, grime, and other tough stains from surfaces more effectively.
The pressure washer PSI should be matched to the type of surface being cleaned.
For example, a low PSI may be suitable for delicate surfaces like cars, while a higher PSI may be needed for tough surfaces like concrete.
A pressure washer with a higher PSI can clean surfaces more efficiently, as it can remove dirt and grime faster, which can save time and water.
Using a pressure washer with too high of a PSI for a particular surface can cause damage to the surface and create a safety hazard.
For example, using a high PSI on a car’s paint job can cause the paint to chip or peel.
The Amount Of Pressure Washer PSI Is An Actual Need For Certain Purposes
Yes, the amount of pressure washer PSI required for a certain cleaning task can vary depending on the surface being cleaned and the level of dirt or grime present. Here are some examples of when a certain amount of pressure washer PSI is needed:
For light-duty cleaning tasks such as washing a car or cleaning outdoor furniture, a pressure washer with a PSI of around 1300-1900 may be sufficient.
This level of pressure can effectively remove dirt and grime without causing damage to delicate surfaces.
For more medium-duty cleaning tasks such as cleaning a driveway or removing mildew from a fence, a pressure washer with a PSI of around 2000-2800 may be needed.
This level of pressure can effectively remove tough stains and grime from surfaces like concrete or wood.
For heavy-duty cleaning tasks such as stripping paint or cleaning industrial equipment, a pressure washer with a PSI of around 3000-4000 may be required.
This high level of pressure can effectively remove stubborn stains and grime from hard surfaces.
Extra Heavy Duty
If you need to remove caked-on dirt or heavy stains from driveways, then using the extra heavy-duty pressure washer will be the right decision for you.
Its PSI rating ranges from 3300 to higher.
This type of pressure washer is also preferred as an industrial cleaning solution and is suitable for use in construction, trucking, food service, or other industrial purposes.
Types Of Pressure Washers
Pressure washers come in various types, which you can set apart depending on their power sources, the temperature of the water they use, and the usage.
Electric Vs. Gas Pressure Washers
Pressure washers are available in two types, including gas and electric. An electric pressure washer is perfect for smaller jobs.
Its PSI rating ranges from 1000 to 1500 while the GPM is around 1.5.
These types of pressure washers are lighter, quieter, and cheaper compared to gas models.
Electric pressure washers also don’t require much maintenance and are preferable for cleaning off outdoor furniture, vehicles, and tires.
But the mobility of an electric pressure washer is limited due to its power cord and power outlet. Even the electric washer isn’t compatible with the extension cord.
Conversely, a gas pressure washer comes with up to 2000 PSI and 4 GPM capacities.
These models are perfect for medium to heavy-duty cleaning jobs like washing sidewalks, concrete, and siding, or removing graffiti and paint.
Cold-Water Vs. Hot-Water Pressure Washers
Cold water pressure washers are suitable for removing dirt, mud, and sand. These come in a more compact size and cost a relatively lower price than hot water models.
Cold water models depend on the sheer power of pressurized water to get rid of dirt.
You can use detergent on a cold water pressure washer, but it won’t be a good idea to clean greasy or oily surfaces.
Conversely, hot water pressure washers are suitable for more difficult cleaning projects. In general, hot water cuts through oil and grease more easily.
Plus, hot water models can clean quickly, even using less detergent compared to cold water models.
Lastly, hot water pressure washers are costlier, bulkier, and have considerably lower PSI.
Commercial Vs Residential Pressure Washers
In general, commercial pressure washers are used for business purposes like cleaning storefronts, equipment, and workstations.
But currently, many homeowners have started using this type of pressure washer to keep hard household surfaces clean.
The key differences between commercial and residential types are the amount of power, building materials, and run time.
Overall, commercial pressure washers are more durable and have more cleaning power, as well as being more expensive than residential models.
The Right Size Nozzle For A Pressure Washer
Using the right size nozzle based on a certain surface is vital along with determining the size of the washer, particularly to have improved performance.
A basic rule of thumb is that the smaller the nozzle opening, the more concentrated the spray will be.
But remember, too concentrated a spray can damage the surface, making it crucial to pick the right size.
In this case, you can test various sized nozzles on the concrete surface to pick the right one safely.
Luckily, lower PSI pressure washers come with adjustable nozzles to let you to alter the flow rate while cleaning.
This eliminates the need to remove the nozzles every time before cleaning different surfaces.
Conversely, a higher PSI pressure washer includes multiple nozzle tips along with a universal color-coding system to determine the spray angle.
The following are some color codes with their spray angles:
The black nozzle sprays soap and detergent at a 65-degree angle onto the surface at a lower pressure.
White nozzle spray water at a 40-degree angle at low pressure, making it perfect for cleaning fragile surfaces like windows.
This colored nozzle sprays water at a 25-degree angle and is commonly used in household cleaning tasks.
It means you can use this nozzle to get rid of dirt and mud from decks, siding, or patios.
With a little extra attention, you can use this nozzle to clean cars and boats as well.
This green nozzle is wider than the yellow or red nozzle and can clean a larger surface quickly.
This 15-degree yellow nozzle delivers concentrated spray, making it perfect for washing mildew, stains, and paint off tough surfaces like concrete.
However, this nozzle can damage wood or other softer surfaces.
The red nozzle prays at zero degrees and produces highly concentrated water. This nozzle is only safe for hard surfaces like metal and concrete.
Another common type is a rotating nozzle, which can spray in a circular motion.
Some pressure washers include adjustable wands to set the pressure and spray pattern without changing the tip.
Pressure Washing Safety Tips
Operating a pressure washer is a risky and messy job. Thus, it’s worth taking the time to prepare and follow safety tips while working with it.
Eye and hearing protection
A pressure washer is quite noisy and can spray back water and debris toward you while operating at high pressure.
Wearing goggles and hearing protection is essential to protect the eyes and ears.
Use both hands
Hold the wand of the pressure washer securely with both hands to prevent it from flying out of the grip.
Keep following these tips until you gain confidence and get a reliable hand.
Don’t get too close
Keep the spray tip around 18 inches away from the surface to minimize the risk of ruining the surface due to high pressure.
Be careful with windows
Pay extra attention while cleaning the windows, especially if they are old. The water pressure can be too strong for the pane and smash the window.
Use lighter pressure to clean the windows, and it’s better to check the manufacturer’s suggestion before starting the job.
Test the pressure
As said earlier, test an inconspicuous area using the spray setting nozzle before starting washing.
This will prevent damaging the surface due to applying too much pressure.
For example, washing paving using a too narrow nozzle can cause grooves in the surface.
Don’t pressure wash older siding
You shouldn’t pressure wash older siding that was painted before 1978, as this requires a professional power washer.
The reason is that old paint can flake off during pressure washing as it can contain lead. The dust and chips of lead paint are dangerous to inhale.
While the professional is washing your older siding, keep the family, pets, and yourself away from the working area.
FAQs about what size pressure washer
Which One Is Better: Renting Or Buying A Pressure Washer?
There is a large controversy between renting and buying pressure washers due to their price.
But the fact is that it depends on your needs.
If you need a pressure washer 3 or 4 times a year, you should rent one.
But if you have a huge pressure-washing task, invest in your own.
What Size Pressure Washer Do I Need For Home Use?
A pressure washer with 2,000 to 3,200 PSI is the most versatile option for most household jobs.
It means you can use this size of pressure washer for cleaning cars, fences, home siding, grimy garage floors, and boats.
But if you need to wash tough stains around the home, consider 3200 PSI.
Can I Clean The Driveway Using A 2000 Psi Pressure Washer?
Yes, a 2000 PSI pressure washer can effectively clean a driveway.
A pressure washer with this PSI level is suitable for medium-duty cleaning tasks, which include cleaning driveways.
The amount of pressure needed can vary depending on the level of dirt or grime present on the driveway surface.
A pressure washer is a far better choice than a garden hose to remove grime, dirt, and grease from the surface and keep them clean.
It also saves water and ensures faster operation with better results.
But you won’t find the pressure washer beneficial if you don’t know what size pressure washer do you need and invest in the wrong items.
Hope you will avoid this mistake and get the desired performance after reading this in-depth pressure washer size guide.