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Power Washer Vs. Pressure Washer: What's the Difference?

Power and pressure washing services might sound similar, but they actually have very different purposes. Find out what they are and which you prefer.

4 mins readDecember 20, 2020

Power washing and pressure washing are two of the most popular deep cleaning treatments, so it's no surprise they get mixed up easily. Despite having similar names, these two services work very differently. If you want to pick the best style for your needs, you should learn a little about power wash vs. pressure wash.

Pressure Washing Vs. Power Washing

We'll get further into details about pressure washing vs. power washing later on, but first, let's start at the beginning. The basic definitions of what power and pressure washing are can tell you a lot about how they work.
### What is pressure washing?
Pressure washing goes by many other names such as jet washing. This type of equipment is a cleaner that forces a high-pressure stream of water through a nozzle. Different styles of pressure washers use different levels of pressure.

As you might have seen in pressure washing before and after pictures, pressure washers can quickly clean items far better than scrubbing them with a sponge.

What is power washing?

Power washing is an incredibly powerful cleaning method. The big difference between power washing and pressure washing is that __power washing blasts very high heat__.

The end result is a high-pressured jet of hot water that helps to kill bacteria and clean items with steam. The high heat of a power washer helps to remove more greasy or stuck-on materials.

When to Use Power or Pressure Washing Services

Due to their different cleaning styles, power washing and pressure washing have different outcomes. Depending on the type of mess you are trying to clean up, one style might work better than another.
### The best uses for a pressure washer
Pressure washers tend to do best at physically removing grime over large surfaces. They are usually the simpler option, so they do well for residential areas and basic messes. Some common ways that people use pressure washers include:
  • Cleaning dust off of the siding
  • Removing dirt from a driveway
  • Washing a car or patio furniture
  • Cleaning home windows
  • Getting leaves off of a driveway
  • Preparing your wooden deck for a new coat of paint

The best uses for a power washer

Meanwhile, the added heat of a power washer does a __better job of removing caked-on gunk__. Though they can clean over large surface areas like a pressure washer, that can be a waste of energy if you just want to rinse off some dust.
Instead, __power washers__ are best suited to detail cleaning in areas with stubborn grime, and they are the preferred tool in commercial and construction settings. Common uses for a power washer include:
  • Removing chewing gum from a sidewalk
  • Getting mold off of a wooden patio
  • Cleaning grease stains off of a warehouse floor
  • Getting mildew off of concrete walls
  • Cleaning leaves and slime out of gutters
  • Getting gunk out of lines between bricks or pavers

How to Get Safe and Effective Cleaning With Either Machine

Whenever you use a pressure washer or power washer, it's important to be cautious. Due to the high pressure, both styles of cleaner can be physically dangerous. Furthermore, an overpowered machine can also damage your property.
Follow __these safety tips__ to make sure that you stay safe whether you use a pressure or a power washer.

Tips to pressure wash safely

1. Wear all recommended safety gear, including glasses, gloves, and steel-toed shoes. 2. Start with the lowest setting possible and avoid using high settings around glass. 3. Always use a waterproof cover over any electrical equipment or outlets. 4. Do not point the pressure washer at anyone because the pressure can be high enough to remove fingers, toes, and eyes. 5. Never run a machine without reading the instructions first. 6. Check the machine for any rusted nozzles or leaking seals before beginning. 7. Wear well-fitting clothing that covers your arms, legs, and torso. 8. Never operate a gas model in a space without proper ventilation.
### Tips to power wash safely
1. Power washers need to follow all basic tips for pressure washer safety. They also need to follow some *additional rules* to avoid experiencing any injuries from the high heat. 2. Don't touch a surface with bare hands right after washing it. 3. Test a small spot of the surface first to ensure the high heat doesn't damage the finish. 4. Avoid using bare hands to touch parts of the machine that will be hot. 5. Try to keep your face or uncovered skin out of the steam from the machine.
### Learn About the Different Equipment Styles
You might not be able to distinguish between the two machines at a glance. However, there are quite a few differences in how each works. Some big dissimilarities between the equipment include:
  • Size: Power washers tend to be slightly larger since they have a heating element.
  • Transportability: Due to their larger size, power washers are more likely to be on wheels. Meanwhile, pressure washers come in smaller sizes you carry with a handle.
  • Power type: Both power and pressure washers come in gas or electric options. However, power washers are more likely to be gas because gas washers are more maneuverable and more powerful.
  • Nozzle shapes: Power washers typically have more nozzle options since they are the more versatile equipment type.

How to choose the best pressure or power washer

Those differences aren't the only thing to be aware of. There are all sorts of little details to focus on while you shop for a washer. To get the ideal pressure or power washer for your needs, you need to carefully think about these four key factors:
1. __Power type__: Choose whether you want an electric or gas model. Electric models are quiet and affordable, but they aren't as powerful. 2. __Pressure levels__: Look at the pressure output on the washer. The typical homeowner usually just needs something with 1,500 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure. For a commercial-grade machine, you may need something up to 3,000 PSI. 3. __Nozzle type__: Check to see if the machine has an all-in-one spray wand or interchangeable nozzles. A single adjustable nozzle is convenient, but being able to switch out nozzle tips gives you even more variety. 4. __Optional features__: Decide if you want a machine with helpful features like wheels, detergent tanks, expandable wands, or extendable handles.
### How to pick the best power or pressure washer nozzles
If you pick a machine that lets you swap out nozzles, you'll need to carefully choose the right nozzle for a job. Both power and pressure washers use a __universal color-coded system__ to tell you about the nozzle type:
- __Red__: This is the narrowest tip. It has a zero-degree angle and is very powerful. Only use it for detailed work like cleaning sidewalk cracks, and never use it up close on anything. - __Yellow__: This 15-degree angle provides a strong, steady spray. It works well for concrete or stone. - __Green__: Green is a 25-degree angle that works well in most household situations. It's useful for doing things like cleaning patio furniture or washing a car. - __White__: White nozzles have a 40-degree spray, so they're a nice balance between effectiveness and gentleness. These work well for most windows or vinyl siding. - __Black__: The 65-degree angle barely applies pressure. It mostly just rinses away dirt or wets surfaces for you.
### Which Business Charges More?
Whether you are planning on hiring a washing service or want to run your own pressure washing service, it's helpful to learn a little about costs. Typically, power washing is pricier than pressure washing.
Since the equipment is more complicated, it's more expensive and more costly to run. Power washing often uses more energy, more water, and more cleaning chemicals as well.
### How to calculate pressure washing rates
The typical pressure washing company charges users based on how long they work. Hourly rates can vary a little. Some companies charge as much as __$160 per hour__ or as little as __$50 per hour__. Therefore, lengthier cleaning projects, like washing a whole house, will cost more than quick cleaning projects like rinsing a driveway. Some companies will charge an __additional fee__ for cleaning roofs or other hard-to-reach areas.
### How to calculate power washing rates
When it comes to power washing, rates can vary a little more. Some companies do use hourly rates, while others charge per square foot or per project. For example, some companies might charge a __flat rate of $275__ to clean a house. Depending on the circumstances, a power washing estimate can be somewhere __between $60 to $200 per hour__.
## Is Pressure Washing or Power Washing Better?
Now that you know all about the differences between power wash vs. pressure wash, you might be wondering: Which one is better? The answer to this question is really just that it depends on your unique business needs. Each style comes with its own pros and cons.
### The pros and cons of pressure washing
The main pros of pressure washing include:
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Option to pick between electric or gas operation
  • More affordable than power washers
  • Often gentler on delicate surfaces
  • Plenty of different models to choose from

However, don't forget that there are a few potential cons:

  • Doesn't thoroughly disinfect surfaces
  • May not get rid of slimy, gooey, or sticky messes
  • Takes a little longer to get the job done
  • Might not entirely remove stubborn stains

The pros and cons of power washing

Meanwhile, power washing has many advantages such as:
  • Does a better job of cleaning away mold or mildew
  • Can melt away greasy residue
  • Is more versatile in a commercial setting
  • Kills weeds and prevents them from growing back
  • Works faster than a pressure washer

However, it can come with some downsides:

  • Costlier to purchase
  • Tends to require more power to run
  • Operation is a little more dangerous
  • May damage plastics or other heat-sensitive items

CoverWallet Is Here to Help Power and Pressure Washing Businesses

Any time you are working with these sorts of powerful equipment, you need to have the right [pressure washing insurance]( Insurance prevents unexpected expenses from causing major problems for you. At CoverWallet, we specialize in providing small business coverage for unique situations, such as:
- Accidental property damage that happens while using a washer. - Injuries to either workers or bystanders. - Theft or damage to your pressure washing equipment. - Water damage due to leaks during pressure washing.
You can always count on our friendly insurance experts. We will walk you through your different coverage options and find the right insurance for your business. Our team focuses on customized solutions that give you exactly enough coverage without charging you for unnecessary things. [Contact us today]( to learn more about our power washer vs. pressure washer insurance.

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