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Pressure Washer Buying Guide

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Pressure washers power through cleaning tasks outdoors and no two are the same. Our handy buying guide answers our customers’ frequently asked questions, to help you choose the right pressure washer for you.

A pressure washer is a handy piece of kit and it’s fun to use. Watch stubborn dirt and grime wash away with little effort, taking the hard work out of cleaning the decking, car, fence, walls, driveway, patio, garden furniture, wheelie bin, and more!

Pressure washing car with pressure washer

The Basics

All pressure washers work on the same principle. The water enters the machine at a low pressure, then either an electric or petrol motor pumps the water out at a much higher pressure.

Should I go for an electric or petrol pressure washer?

Electric pressure washers are generally more suited to home-use than petrol. They run cleaner and quieter, starting with a simple touch of a button. Electric pressure washers are lighter and offer the power needed for the usual home and garden pressure washing jobs. The main disadvantage is that they must be plugged in to an electrical outlet or compatible extension lead, and care must be taken not to trip over the cable or get the electrical connections wet.

Petrol pressure washers are recommended for more regular and professional use. They are more heavy duty than electric models and sometimes offer more power. They are a better choice for large scale jobs. Petrol pressure washers also offer more mobility as they don’t need to be near a power outlet.

To summarise:

  • Weekend use
  • Light, clean, easy to use
  • Must be plugged in
  • Daily use
  • Heavy duty, more power
  • Use anywhere

Pressure washing decking with pressure washer

What size pressure washer would suit my needs?

Pressure washer size is determined by the pressure it provides rather than physical dimensions, and this is measured in either the metric term: bar, or the imperial term: PSI (pounds per square inch).

Pressure Washer Size Guide

  • Light duty: 100 bar / 1,500 PSI and below
    • Examples of light duty washing: cars, garden furniture, bicycles, motorbikes, garden tools, BBQs, bins, outdoor play equipment.
  • Medium duty: 100-200 bar / 1,500-2,800 PSI
    • Examples of medium duty washing: fences, lawnmowers, gutters, sheds, walls, decking, patios, driveways.
  • Heavy duty: 200+ bar / 2,800+ PSI
    • Examples of heavy duty washing: larger/dirtier walls, decking, patios, driveways.
Washing car with pressure washer

What pressure washer features should I look for?

Water Flow Rate

The water flow rate is usually measured in litres per minute or hour. If matched with a high PSI, a high water flow rate will indicate very efficient cleaning and rinsing capability.

Motor or Engine Size

Check the watts on electric models and the cubic centimetres (cc) or horsepower on petrol models. The higher it is the more powerful and heavy duty the pressure washer is.

Water Butt Connectivity

A water butt connection will allow you to purchase a compatible accessory that will connect your pressure washer to your water butt. It will mean you can use the rainwater collected in your water butt for your pressure washing, saving you money and being kinder to the environment.

Usability Features

Features to consider, which will determine how easy your pressure washer is to use:
  • Wheels
  • Weight
  • Hose length
  • Cord length (electric models)

Pressure washing paving on patio with pressure washer

Do I need accessories for my pressure washer?

Most pressure washers will come with a selection of attachments suitable to a range of different pressure washing tasks. These may include interchangeable wands, nozzles, brushes and detergents, so usually you will have everything you need included but further accessories and replacement parts may be purchased separately.

If you are buying an electric pressure washer for the first time, you may need to invest in a suitable extension lead. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for further information.

Decking and rattan garden furnitureWhat can I do with my pressure washer?

Here are some great uses for your pressure washer:
  • Prepare surfaces for painting - whether it’s a wall, deck, fence, shed or piece of garden furniture; a good clean is essential prior to your outdoor painting jobs. Your pressure washer will blast off stubborn dirt and old, flaking paint.
  • Wash a bicycle, motorbike, car, van, trailer, tractor, boat, etc.
  • Clean the patio
  • Wash the decking
  • Wash out smelly wheelie bins
  • Wash your other outdoor power equipment, e.g. lawnmower
  • Wash out dog runs/kennels, chicken coops, etc.
  • Clean outdoor play equipment, e.g. slides and swings
  • Wash garden furniture
  • Wash garden tools
  • Clean out gutters
  • Clean walls, driveways, sheds, fences, etc.
Note: Be very careful with windows; especially old ones. The pressure might be too strong for the pane, cracking or smashing the window. Some pressure washers have adjustable pressure settings, and the lighter pressure setting may be suitable for cleaning windows. Check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Top Tip: Before pressure washing, test an inconspicuous area with your spray setting and nozzle first to ensure it’s not too strong and causing any harm. For example, if pressure washing paving with a nozzle that is too narrow, you may cause grooves in the surface.

Safety Tips: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember the force of the spray can be dangerous. Wear safety goggles and shoes while pressure washing, and never point the pressure washer at anybody.

For more information and advice on pressure washers, call into your local Topline affiliated store.

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