PSI is a measurement of pressure that a pressure washer produces. Most household cleaning tasks can be performed using a pressure washer with 1300-2300 PSI.
What is PSI?
PSI is a measurement of pressure - pounds per square inch. If you’re shopping around for the best pressure washer, it can be tempting to rush out and buy the most powerful one in the store, but that isn’t usually a very good idea.
Why? Because pressure washers can be incredibly powerful, and if you choose one that is too powerful, it can actually damage the item that you’re trying to clean.
Pressure washers use pressure that is expressed in pounds per square inch, or PSI. PSI numbers can range from 500 PSI to 5000 PSI and even higher. The thing is that most homeowners really don’t need a pressure washer that is greater than 2000 PSI, so plan on saving yourself some money and some aggravation by only getting the pressure washer that meets your needs and no more.
Pressure Washers and PSI
Pressure washers are used to make complicated cleaning jobs go a lot more smoothly. If you have caked-on dirt, grime, and other debris on your home, vehicle, or driveway, a pressure washer makes the cleaning task both quicker and easier.
The high-pressure water that comes out of the pressure washer easily removes all types of debris, including mold and mildew. Nevertheless, you have to know the differences between various pressure washers if you’re going to get one that is right for you.
For starters, there are two basic types of pressure washers, and they are:
Most household cleaning tasks can be performed using a pressure washer with 1300-2300 PSI. Anything below 1300 PSI might not be powerful enough to do the job. Anything more than 2300 PSI might ruin or damage the item you’re trying to clean.
Gas-powered pressure washers are generally more expensive than electric ones, but they tend to last a lot longer as well. These are just a few things to remember when you’re researching different pressure washers.
What PSI Pressure Washer Do I Need?
If you’re asking yourself, what PSI pressure washer do I need, there are some general agreements on what numbers to use for what tasks. As a general rule, here are some PSI numbers and associated tasks that work well together:
If you’re going to use a pressure washer on a vehicle, keep in mind that using 1300 PSI to around 1900 PSI is generally enough. This is one type of cleaning that a lot of homeowners go a little overboard with when it comes to their PSI number.
If you’re going to pressure-wash your home, consider what it’s made of first and it's condition. The mortar between the bricks can be ruined with a pressure washer, so stick with washers that provide a pressure of between 1600 and 2000 PSI for the best results.
For siding, you have to look at the condition of the vinyl first. You can go up to 2000 PSI for your siding, but if any part of the siding is damaged or coming loose, it will need to be repaired first before you clean it.
For cleaning items such as jet skis, yachts, or boats, remember that they are already waterproof and can therefore take a lot of pressure from your pressure washer. You can use 2300 PSI to around 4000 PSI on these items if you like, although the lower PSI numbers are likely all you need. And since most pressure washers come with various nozzles, you can use one of those nozzles to concentrate the pressure on a certain area if you have extra-stubborn dirt or if the dirt is found in hard-to-reach places.
Pressure washing wood, including fences and decks, requires being careful because you don’t want to penetrate the wood. Washing these items on warm summer days gives the wood a chance to dry out so that this won’t happen.
For any wood surface, the ideal pressure for a pressure washer is between 1300 and 2300 PSI. That being said, it’s best not to pressure-wash some types of wood, including chipboard, because it can put holes in this type of wood.
What to Do to Make Sure That You Don’t Cause Damage
We mentioned earlier that many homeowners tend to use pressure washers that are too strong for the job, but it’s much easier to avoid this than you think. The first thing you need to do is read the manufacturer’s instructions because each brand will let you know what that particular pressure washer is capable of.
Of course, looking at the PSI number is always helpful, but the manufacturer knows that pressure washer better than anyone does, so always go by their recommendations and use their product only on the items they’re suggesting.
While items such as barbecue grills, bicycles, and scooters do well with 1500 PSI washers, removing graffiti or stripping paint may take a pressure washer with a PSI number of 4000. In other words, if you do your due diligence and research the pressure washer before you buy it, it’ll be much easier to make the right decision in the end.
And if the manufacturer’s recommendations differ from anything you read in an article, go with what the manufacturer recommends without hesitation.
Deciding on the right PSI for your pressure washer isn’t complicated, especially since the recommended PSI numbers usually come in a range. If you buy a pressure washer with a number in between that range, you should be fine.
Understanding that PSI is a measurement of the amount of pressure your washer can produce sets you well on your way to buying the right pressure washer for your needs. Remember: