How Much PSI Do I Need In A Pressure Washer?

When thinking about buying a pressure washer one of the determining factors should be how much pressure it can operate at.

The pressure from a pressure washer is measured in pounds per square inch or abbreviated to PSI.

Different surfaces will require different PSI’s to both get the job done and prevent damage to the surface.

Here’s a helpful chart to help you determine how much PSI you will need in a pressure washer:

Car washing1300
Deck surface 1500
Patio furniture1500
Mold & mildew3,000-4,000
Graffiti removal3,000-4,000

Although many homeowners use pressure washers to clean their cars, they often do so with a lot of risks when they neglect to ensure using a lower and more appropriate PSI.

Alternatively, using too low of a PSI for a surface that requires a lot more power can leave some to think their pressure washer is faulty or that they require a different tool.

In this post, we’re going to go in-depth into pressure washers and their PSI so you can feel more confident the next time you’re choosing a pressure washer or selecting the right PSI.

cleaning terrace with a high psi power washer - high water pressure cleaner on wooden terrace surface

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What Is the Ideal Psi for a Pressure Washer?

Depending on the task at hand you should be looking for a pressure washer that has a range of between 1300-2300 PSI. This range of pressure should be enough for removing common problems, like dirt, grime, oil, and stains.

Read on to find out what PSI you should be using for particular objects and what other options you have available when choosing your pressure washer.

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What Type of Pressure Washers Are There?

There are two types of pressure washers, electric and gas-powered. 

Electric pressure washers are easily found and bought from most hardware stores and online shops. Using an electric pressure washer can really easy and is as simple as plugging the washer into the mains.

On the other hand, gas-powered pressure washers are a little more specialist and take a little more preparation prior to use.

The benefit of using a gas-powered washer is the fact you can use them anywhere that has good ventilation and they can operate at higher pressure, making it easier to get rid of stubborn dirt and grime.

What Psi Is Best for Pressure Washing?

As mentioned earlier, the pressure depends on the task at hand. I will try to go through a number of common tasks for using your pressure washer and explain what pressure you need and why.

Pressure Washing Your Home

When pressure washing your home you need to take into account the state of the property and what materials your home is made from.

If you have a house in good standing and it’s made from brick you should be very careful washing the mortar between your brickwork, for this, it is recommended you use a pressure of between 1600-2000 PSI. 

If you happen to have an area that is not getting clean at this pressure you should use a hard brush and some detergent or bleach to help lift the stain and then wash off with the pressure washer.

Basic Pressure Washing tips for beginners

Pressure Washing a Boat, Yacht, or Jet-Ski

The very nature of these vehicles is to go onto the water, making them waterproof and able to take on quite high pressure.

You can use a pressure of anywhere up to 4000 PSI when cleaning any of these but a standard 2300 PSI should be just as effective and they are relatively budget-friendly options.

Remember that pressure washers can remove paint, vinyl, and stickers so it would be best to avoid any areas that haven’t been treated with lacquer.

Pressure Washing Cars, Vans, and Trucks

Cars, vans, and trucks are quite delicate and can have a tendency to get pressure washer dents if the correct pressure is not used.

You should typically use a setting of 1300-1900 PSI to make sure you don’t accidentally cause damage to your vehicle.

Pressure washers come with a way of changing the flow of water coming out of the wand, you can turn the end to create a fan instead of a stream, this is often used when cleaning vehicles at it is less damaging and provides a larger surface area for the water.

Of course, you can use the stream function on your vehicle to get rid of stubborn dirt or to get too hard to reach areas.

Pressure Washing Driveways, Sidewalks, Pathways, and Asphalt

A concrete driveway can be given new lease of life when given a good clean with a pressure washer, and then sealed.

You do need to be careful that there isn’t any damage to the area you are washing as the extreme pressures can push water into the porous underlayer, this can cause problems later on in the year when temperatures drop.

A driveway should be pressure washed at a setting of 2300-3000 PSI.

Be careful, especially when cleaning pathways as the mortar between the path stones can be damaged when pressure washing. A typical pressure of between 1500-2000 PSI should be used on pathways.

Pressure Washing Wood, Decking, and Fencing

When pressure washing wooden surfaces like decks you need to be careful not to penetrate the wood itself, if you can’t avoid doing this then make sure you pressure wash on a warm summer’s day as this will give the wood chance to dry out thoroughly.

Make sure that the wooden surface has been treated before washing, this will prevent the wood from going rotten.

Ideal pressure is between 1300-2300 PSI to wash wood surface areas.

Be aware when washing chipboard wood a pressure washer can cut holes into this type of wood because of its brittle nature, it is advised that you avoid pressure washing this type of wood and instead use a hose and stiff brush.

What to Do if Your Pressure Washer Isn’t Powerful Enough

If you are finding that you have a stain that just won’t budge no matter how high you have your pressure washer set, you might want to think about hiring a professional pressure washing company or hiring a specialist pressure washer.

These companies have very powerful pressure washers that the public doesn’t have access to, they are also trained in using the correct mixtures of chemicals for every stain.

A specialist pressure washer can have a pressure of more than 6000 PSI but does require very careful use as these machines are used to remove products like paint, ingrained oil, and embedded grease.

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As we can see choosing the correct pressure for the object or area you are cleaning is very important.

Make sure to check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to alter the PSI on your power washer and remember that you can also alter the radius of the jet wash by twisting the end of the power washer wand, remembering to turn off the power washer before doing so.