With the spring cleaning season officially underway, remodeling the exterior of your home is just as important as tidying it up inside – even if you need the right tools. Pressure washers are power tools that can remove dirt and grime from major exterior surfaces by pressurizing water from a hose using electric motors or gasoline engines.
Pressure washers “can be extremely effective at removing stubborn stains or mildew from home sidings, garage floors, wood decks, brick and concrete patios, outdoor furniture, vehicles and more. even the grates, ”said Bailey Carson, head of cleaning at Handy. Experts have told us that April and May are the best months to invest in a pressure washer – which can cost anywhere from $ 90 to over $ 700 – because it’s right before the summer rush that many manufacturers tend to sell.
Types of pressure washers
Electric pressure washers use an electric motor or pump to increase the water pressure in your garden hose. According to David Steckel, an in-house expert at Thumbtack, electric pressure washers are more cost effective, generally lighter, and better for non-specialist use.
High pressure gas cleaners, on the other hand, are gasoline powered machines that are commonly used by professional pressure washing services. Gas pressure washers are more expensive – typically priced over $ 300 – heavier, noisier, and bulkier than electric pressure washers. They’re also more powerful than electric machines, making them a more efficient option for larger areas with stubborn stains and dirt like decks, concrete, and siding, and they don’t require an outlet. But Steckel warned that the intensity of gas pressure washers can ultimately do more harm than good in removing paint and other materials. He recommended sticking to an electric pressure washer if you are looking to do occasional maintenance around the home or if you are not a power tool professional.
What to consider when buying a pressure washer
The specific characteristics of a pressure washer can determine its strength and reliability when cleaning different types of exterior surfaces. Depending on what pressure washer you get and how well it can adjust, you can clean multiple places: fences, decks, cars, windows, boats, patio furniture and the list goes on. When buying a pressure washer, experts recommend taking into account the following characteristics:
Pounds per square inch (PSI): Used to measure water pressure and a water jet’s ability to clear debris, PSI varies depending on the type of pressure washer. The higher the PSI of a pressure washer, the more powerful the water pressure.
- Lightweight pressure washers typically have a PSI between 1300 and 1900
- Medium use pressure washers typically measure between 2000 and 2800 PSI
- And foolproof the machines have a PSI greater than 2800
Gallons Per Minute (GPM): This refers to the water flow from the machine unit to the nozzle and has to do with the flushing power which removes dirt. The higher the GPM, the faster the pressure washer will remove debris.
Nozzle Size: The size of the nozzle determines the pressure and distribution of the water. According to Carson, nozzles generally come in four or five sizes and “the smaller the nozzle, the more power you will get.” You can buy nozzles individually, ranging in size from 0 degrees to 65 degrees. The narrower a nozzle, the stronger the water jet. And while a larger nozzle uses less pressure, the dispersion is wider, which can speed up the job if the stains aren’t too stubborn. “Be sure to avoid zero degree nozzles unless you’re a professional – they’re more likely to cause surface damage and even injury,” Carson suggested.
Adjustable sticks: This accessory allows you to adjust the spray width or water pressure of your machine without changing the nozzle every time.
Portability: Electric pressure washers typically weigh between 15 and over 60 pounds, while many gasoline-powered pressure washers weigh well over 100 pounds, so the wheels will make it easier to transport the machine on cars and boats.
Detergent tanks: Pressure washers can have a built-in detergent reservoir, which holds a cleaning solution pressurized with water and released from the spray gun with the flick of a switch. If the pressure washer does not come with a detergent tank, you can use a siphon hose to mix the detergent with the water. However, Carson noted to never use bleach in your pressure washer as it can ruin and break your machine.
Best pressure washers in 2021
With expert home cleaning advice in mind, we’ve compiled the best pressure washers to consider using on your outdoor space.
Best Electric Pressure Washer: RYOBI
RYOBI Electric Pressure Washer
This RYOBI Electric Pressure Washer is a medium duty machine with 2300 PSI, 1.2 GPM and a built-in detergent tank for powerful, routine cleaning. It includes a brushless induction motor, which is generally quieter and lasts longer than the universal motors in pressure washers. However, it weighs 49 pounds, which makes it heavier than other typical electric pressure washers. If you’re hoping to move it, its large wheels and 25-foot high-pressure hose make it easy to transport to different areas of your outdoor space. RYOBI also offers a 3 year limited warranty to repair and replace damaged parts.
Best gasoline pressure washer: Simpson
Simpson PowerShot professional pressure washer
This heavy-duty Simpson pressure washer is a powerful and durable option for professional use, with a steel frame and 4400 PSI. It includes a 50-foot-long flexible hose and 31-inch spray lance to tackle hard-to-reach places, and comes with five different nozzles, from a zero-degree nozzle to a mild soap nozzle. The Simpson manufacturer’s warranty includes a five-year warranty on the pump, a three-year warranty on the Simpson motor, and a 90-day warranty on the accessories.
Best affordable pressure washer: Greenworks
Greenworks pressure washer
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly electric pressure washer under $ 100, this lightweight option from Greenworks has 1,500 PSI for cleaning driveways, cars, and patios while sporting a 13A universal motor at just under 17. pounds, it is also relatively light. It comes with 25 and 40 degree quick connect nozzles to adjust the pattern, as well as a 35 foot power cord and 20 foot hose for added flexibility.
Best Compact Pressure Washer: RYOBI
RYOBI 1600 PSI Electric Pressure Washer
This one from RYOBI is a more affordable option than most pressure washers – priced under $ 100 – and is lightweight, weighing just over 16 pounds. The handle at the top of the machine makes it a portable option for use inside a car or boat. It includes three nozzles: a 15-degree nozzle, a soap nozzle, and a quarter-inch turbo nozzle which, according to the brand, speeds up cleaning by up to 50%.
Best durable pressure washer: DEWALT
DEWALT Gas Pressure Washer
Designed for professional use, the DEWALT Gas Pressure Washer features premium 13 inch tires that can withstand frequent use on rough terrain, a sturdy steel frame that resists corrosion and 4000 PSI. The brand claims that its 50-foot flexible steel braided hose is three times more abrasion resistant than rubber. The DEWALT pressure washer also includes an adjustable unloader, which sends a flow of pressurized water through the bypass and precisely adjusts the machine pressure to suit certain jobs.
Best-selling pressure washer: Sun Joe
Sun Joe Electric Pressure Washer
With an average rating of 4.5 stars out of over 29,000 reviews on Amazon, this hit machine from Sun Joe is both portable and powerful, generating up to 2,030 PSI. It includes two removable detergent tanks on board that hold 0.9 liters of cleaning solution, a 34 inch wand and a 20 foot long high pressure hose. This pressure washer also features a brand-designed blackout system to automatically shut off the pump when the trigger is not held to both save energy and help the pump last longer.
More tips for using a pressure washer
Although pressure washers have many uses, they can be extremely dangerous if used improperly. Carson suggested “wearing long sleeves, pants, boots, gloves and goggles when operating the machine to reduce the risk of injury.” Steckel added to keep pressurized water away from your body as it can definitely “break the skin”. He also mentioned avoiding using one on a ladder due to safety concerns.
For the initial pressure washing – especially after a long winter of minimal exterior maintenance – Steckel suggested bringing in professionals to avoid having to purchase an expensive and strenuous machine.
“The best way to do that is to set yourself up for success and start with a clean slate,” Steckel said. “A pro comes with a super intense gasoline washer and takes you back to a whole new one by removing a single micro millimeter, and they’re pretty accurate.” Then buying a cheaper electric pressure washer makes cleaning “really easy for you to maintain on a seasonal basis.”
Experts also recommend testing the pressure settings in a safe and unobtrusive location before using it on the desired surface. Steckel suggested starting your pressure washing early to avoid using the machine near a freshly planted garden or flower bed, but not too early where heavy rains can make your surfaces muddy quickly.
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