Our Best Pressure Washing Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
Pressure washing looks straightforward. However, there’s a big difference between good and bad pressure washing. Today, we’re explaining the best tips, tricks, and techniques to help you pressure wash like a professional.
How to Wash Like a Pro: Tips and Tricks
Sure, you could fire up the pressure washer and start blasting at every piece of grime you see but there’s a smarter way to pressure wash. Follow the tips below to see how the professional pressure washers do it.
- Spend time preparing the area before you pressure wash; sweep dirt, dust, and debris away from the surface otherwise, you’re just going to make a mess and it’s going to take longer to clean your driveway
- When cleaning most hard surfaces, use 4 to 6g GPM (gallons per minute) at 1500 to 3500 PSI (pounds per square inch); this is the level preferred by most commercial contractors
- The only exception to this pressure rule is when cleaning wood or other “softer” surfaces, in which case you should use 500 to 2,000 psi
- Consider testing a piece of wood with your pressure washer before you begin washing, especially if you’re unsure about the PSI; find a spare piece of lumber, or flip the board over to see how your pressure washer affects the surface
- You have more options than just sandblasting; if sandblasting is too expensive, or the sand is too harsh, consider “soda blasting”, where you use baking soda as a softer, environmentally-friendly alternative to sandblasting
Choosing the Perfect Nozzle
Choosing a nozzle requires careful consideration of a number of different factors. Here are some tips for picking the right nozzle:
- The nozzle plays a crucial role in your cleaning process; the nozzle’s size and spray angle determines the gallons per minute at different water pressures
- To determine nozzle size, you need to know the GPM (gallons per minute) and PSI (pounds per square inch) recommended for the surface you’re cleaning
- When your nozzle size increases, it reduces the PSI of your pressure washer without changing the flow
- When you reduce the pressure of your washer with the unloader, you decrease both the PSI and the GPM; smart contractors reduce the PSI by increasing nozzle size, not by adjusting PSI
- Zero degree nozzles concentrate all cleaning power into a very tight area, while 65 degree nozzles spread water to a wider area; typically, 40 degree nozzles are the most popular option because they provide strong cleaning power while still cleaning a large amount of surface space
- Rotating nozzles are another popular option; rotating nozzles combine the power of a zero degree nozzle with the coverage of a wider-angle nozzle
- When looking at nozzle labels, you’ll find that the standard nozzle size is a #4 orifice, which means the nozzle delivers 4 GPM at 4,000 PSI
- Understand that PSI isn’t constant throughout the length of the spray; your nozzle’s PSI measurement is based on the PSI when the water leaves the nozzle – the further you are from your target, the lower your PSI will be
Tips for Renting Versus Buying a Pressure Washer
One of the biggest pressure washing questions is whether you should rent or buy a pressure washer. Which one is the right choice for you?
- If you own a home, and you plan to pressure wash once or twice a year for the foreseeable future, then buying a pressure washer is a smart option (assuming you have the storage space for the pressure washer)
- An average household pressure washer will cost between $350 and $600; if you want a professional model, then you can easily spend over $800
- Meanwhile, renting a better, more professional washer for a single day will cost you about $75 to $100
- You also need to factor in costs like maintenance and fuel
- Avoid electric pressure washers; yes, they’re cheaper, but they rarely provide the power needed to clean a full-sized home, property, or vehicle; typical electric pressure washers operate at 2400 cleaning units (PSI x GPM), while even average-grade gas engine pressure washers clean at over 6,000 cleaning units
Ultimately, if you run the numbers, it’s in your best interest to buy a good pressure washer today. Avoid buying a cheap pressure washer, as you’re going to spend more time re-cleaning the same surface. You may also need to buy a new pressure washer 2 years down the road when your cheap washer breaks down.
You also need to factor in the costs of running to and from the rental location. There’s another hidden benefit to owning a pressure washer – you can rent it to your neighbors to help offset the cost (everyone likes having a neighbor with a pressure washer).
By following the tips above, you’ll be pressure washing surfaces like a professional in no time!