how much pressure washer psi do i need

Pressure washers are the most popular, effective solution for getting rid of any serious messes. They’re great for getting rid of grease, debris, graffiti, you name it. But before you go buying or renting a pressure washer, you need to take into consideration how much PSI you need to get the job done—but what is PSI, anyway?

If you’re new to pressure washers, you might not be familiar with what PSI is. It stands for “pounds per square inch” and is the unit of measurement for pressure. The higher the PSI, the stronger your pressure washer is.

The reason why people love pressure washers so much is that they’re powerful enough to get rid of almost any gunk. But without proper knowledge and use, your pressure washer can easily damage your property instead of cleaning it. To avoid damages and effectively get your cleaning job done, we’ll be helping you choose the right pressure washer PSI for you.

As you’ll soon discover, pressure is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to selecting the right power washer. So, we’ll even go over all the other factors you must consider before you go about selecting your power washer. Keep reading to the end – because we’ll even give you a recommendation on where you can start your shopping journey!

Why It Is So Important To Consider How Much Pressure Washer PSI You Need?

If you buy a pressure washer without considering how much PSI you need, there are two possible outcomes. If you buy a pressure washer that puts out too low of pressure, you end up cleaning inefficiently.

But if you buy an overtly powerful pressure washer—too powerful for your particular project—you could end up damaging your property. In this second instance, you also may waste your money on way more equipment than you actually need.

Some people like to say that if you aren’t sure how much PSI you need, you should start small and work your way up to a higher PSI. Although this advice is valid to a certain extent, this could just lead to overbuying, which is a waste of money.

Don’t worry, though, we’ve got you covered. This guide will help you identify the exact pressure washer PSI you need for a certain cleaning job so you can avoid cleaning inefficiently, damaging property, and wasting money.

So – How Much Pressure Washer PSI Do I Actually Need?

Different cleaning projects require different PSI’s. Some surfaces are only capable of handling very low pressure. Then, there are others that require extremely high pressures to be fully cleaned. Still, some surfaces and materials can take all kinds of pressure from 500 to up to 3000 PSI.

It’s easy to see how this can get really complicated, really quickly. We haven’t even begun to address situations where you need different PSI for different jobs!

To make this as simple as posisble, here are the different PSI ratings and the common cleaning jobs suitable under these ratings.

Light Duty 1500-1900 PSI

For regular maintenance and light household cleaning jobs, a light-duty pressure washer will do. These feature PSI ranging from 1500 to 1900 and would be enough to get rid of dirt and mild stains. This is the safest pressure washer PSI rating for all surfaces, but it isn’t ideal for getting rid of tough stains.

Low pressures are best for cleaning delicate surfaces around the exterior of the house. The gutters, soffits, and windows tend to be more fragile than your deck or driveway, for example. As such, they require more attention and care than the rest of the house’s exterior.

A light-duty pressure washer is also ideal for cleaning trash cans, cars, vans, and trucks. These pressure washers are also great for cleaning outdoor patio furniture, particularly wooden and wicker ones, without causing the wood to splinter or warp.

Medium Duty 2000-2800 PSI

Medium-duty pressure washers do a better job at cleaning dirt buildup and oil stains than low-duty pressure washers. This classification ranges from as low as 2,000 PSI to as high as 2,800 PSI. You can use a medium-duty pressure washer for almost any surface. They’re great for cleaning concrete, brick, and wood. They work especially well for cleaning patios, sidings, roofs, decks, and fences.

The medium-duty power washer is best for getting rid of stubborn stains and dirt that a low-duty pressure washer can’t clean. You can also use this on wooden surfaces without chipping the wood and creating splinters. Do not use a medium-duty pressure washer on your windows or vehicles as this may crack your window or cause a dent in vehicles.

Heavy Duty 2900-3200 PSI

Moving on, you can also consider a heavy-duty power washer with PSI ranging from 2,900-3,200. If you own a boat or yacht, a heavy-duty pressure washer is great for blasting away any algae and barnacles that might’ve got stuck on the bottom of your boat.

These are also the most commonly used pressure washers for cleaning driveways, sidewalks, and pathways. They are also used to prep different surfaces for painting.

Extra Heavy Duty 3300 and higher PSI

For heavily stained driveways and caked-on dirt, you might need an extra heavy-duty pressure washer. If you plan to use this on painted fences, walls, or floors, do take note that at around 4000 PSI, a pressure washer can strip paint off of surfaces. Although this is a bad thing if that’s not your intended use, these pressure washers work perfectly for getting rid of graffiti on walls.

If you’re looking for an industrial cleaning solution – whether you’re in the construction, food service, trucking, or any other industry – this is probably the right option for you.

But like we said at the start, it isn’t all about power. There are a few other factors you should consider before you decide on the right power washer for you.

Other Factors To Consider Before Buying A Pressure Washer

Although it’s very important to look at the PSI rating when choosing a pressure washer, there are a couple of other things to consider when choosing a pressure washer as well—such as the GPM, CPU, and the different types of pressure washers and their uses.

GPM or Gallons Per Minute

Gallons Per Minute (GPM) is also known as the “flow rate” of water. It’s the amount of water that flows out of the pressure washer per minute. If the PSI is the amount of power needed to break up the dirt and grease, the GPM is the volume of water used to flush away the dirt.

Both the GPM and the PSI are important. The higher the GPM, the faster the water comes out, which ultimately affects how fast you can get your cleaning job done. The only downside to a higher GPM is that you end up spending more on your utility bill due to the higher amount of water being used. You also may have to consider the environmental concerns of all this extra run off.

CPU or Cleaning Power Units

The Cleaning Power Units (CPU) or Cleaning Units (CU) is the PSI multiplied by the GPM. It is also known as “effective cleaning units” and is used to compare the effectiveness of one pressure washer to another. The higher the pressure washer CPU is, the better the performance.

In the end, it still depends on the type of cleaning job you need to do. A high PSI, GPM, or CPU doesn’t always equal better performance if it ends up destroying the surface being cleaned instead.

Hot vs Cold Water

Aside from the PSI rating, water flow, and effective cleaning units, you also have to consider whether a hot or cold water pressure washer is more ideal for your cleaning job. Both hot and cold water pressures have different uses.

They can have the same PSI ratings, GPU, and CPU, but you might find that one works more efficiently than the other depending on the water temperature. You can learn all about the difference between hot water and a cold water pressure washer in our blog.

Gas vs Electric Pressure Washers

An electric pressure washer tends to have a lower PSI than a gas pressure washer. They’re great for cleaning everyday items, such as your vehicles, BBQ grills, outdoor patio furniture, decks, and equipment.

They are often cheaper than gas pressure washers and are portable. The only downside is that there’s a limit to which areas you can reach since an electric pressure washer has to be plugged in while cleaning.

A gas-powered pressure washer typically has higher PSI ratings than an electric one. They tend to be larger in size and are more durable too. However, they’re also expensive, more high maintenance, and noisier than the electric pressure washers.

Commercial vs Residential Pressure Washers

Commercial pressure washers were initially used by businesses to keep their equipment, storefronts, and workstations clean. But nowadays, even homeowners are using commercial pressure washers for cleaning hard household surfaces.

The main difference between commercial and residential pressure washers lies in the amount of power they have, the materials they’re made out of, and their run time. For more in-depth information on the differences between a commercial and residential pressure washer, take a look at our blog post. It will give you a more in-depth understanding of which is right for you.

Is it better to rent or buy your pressure washer?

One of the most common questions we get is whether it’s better to rent or buy a pressure washer. The short answer is it depends. If you’re the type who uses a pressure washer three or more times a year it’ll be worth it to invest in your own.

But if you have tons of cleaning jobs to do and it can’t just be completed with one power washer, it might be best for you to find a rental.

If you still aren’t 100% settled on the idea of buying a pressure washer, don’t worry. We created a complete guide on the things to consider to help you decide whether you should rent or buy a pressure washer.

Ready To Find Your Next Pressure Washer?

If you’re looking for a pressure washer store that offers a wide range of pressure washers with different PSI ratings, you’re in the right place. Hotsy Equipment Company is the go-to store for all your pressure washer needs.

Commercial pressure washers in San Antonio come in all PSI ratings, from low-pressure to extra heavy-duty pressure washers—we’ve got it all!

We have all types of pressure washers, such as electric pressure washers, gas pressure washers, cold water pressure washers, and hot water pressure washers for sale. And if you aren’t ready to commit to a pressure washer just yet, we offer a pressure washer rental as well!

So, what are you waiting for? Head over to the site to learn more and take a look at our catalog. We even wrote up a list of the best commercial pressure washers currently on the market if you need a recommendation. Or, reach out to us via email, phone, or chat. We’ve got just about 50 years of experience in this industry and can get you set up with exactly what you need!