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Article by george@lockstep.media / January 19th, 2022

Power Washing vs. Pressure Washing

Power washing and pressure washing both spray water with high pressure to clean various surfaces. While they have a similar basic function, they are distinct processes. The main power washing vs. pressure washing difference is that power washing uses heat in addition to water pressure.

Let’s look at the differences between these two processes. We’ll explain what is power washing and what is pressure washing; additionally, we’ll explore what surfaces or jobs each is suitable for.

pressure washing driveway

Power Washing vs. Pressure Washing: The Differences

When comparing power washing vs. pressure washing, the most significant difference between the two is heat. A power washing machine’s jet wash uses heated water, while a pressure washer uses cold water.

Both techniques use water pressure to remove dirt, grime, algae, etc., from outdoor surfaces. However, power washing also heats water to clean hard to remove dirt. 

The hot water of a power washer means it can do some jobs that a pressure washer can’t. For example, a power washer is best if you have spaces with tough dirt and grime, like grease, salt, or mildew. In addition to water pressure, hot water acts on persistent or stubborn dirt.

Power washing is a heavy-duty option. As such, it’s best for surfaces like cement or concrete because these durable materials can handle the heat.

Pressure washing is better for almost all other domestic or business uses because it effectively removes dirt without damaging the surface area with heat or excessive pressure — when used correctly.

What is Power Washing?

What is power washing? Power washing uses hot, pressurized water to clean outdoor surfaces. These machines are frequently referred to as hot water pressure washers. 

Power washing machines are the best choice for more extensive jobs involving grease, blackened surfaces, and stubborn dirt and grime. 

Hot water helps remove and dissolve grease and grime. It’s a similar principle to washing dishes in that it uses a combination of force and heat to lift and clean a surface. 

How Does Power Washing Work?

As mentioned above, power washers use the force of pressurized water to remove dirt. However, they also use water heated to high temperatures because of water’s ability to dissolve grease and other materials. 

The combination of high pressure and heat means that power washers can clean almost any surface. However, you should note that power washers are very aggressive and can cause damage when used on the wrong surface.

Power washing is a heavy-duty option. While it’s sure to remove any grease, dirt, or stains, it can also damage the surface underneath. Brick, masonry, and softer surfaces like wood can sustain damage when blasted with too much pressure and heat. 

As a result, it’s best to use power washing for surfaces like long driveways.

Power Washing Advantages and Disadvantages

Power Washing Advantages?

Heat: 

Hot water is better at cleaning. Essentially, this is because it’s a solvent. When water is heated to high temperatures, its molecules bounce around more. These actions can effectively break apart particles like grease, mold, mildew, etc., before washing them away. 

Power washing is the best option for stubborn stains like grease and oil.

Pressure: 

Power washers generally use higher water pressure. On average, they use somewhere between 2000 to 4000 pounds per square inch (Psi). Additionally, they tend to have a higher gallon per minute (GPM) than pressure washers.

 In short, they exert more pressure and push more water onto the surface you need to clean.

Great for Weeds:

When left unattended, driveways or other surfaces can become covered with weeds and moss. Removing this kind of growth by hand can be extremely time-consuming and challenging. Power washing is an excellent option for cleaning weeds, moss, and algae.

Boiling water kills plant matter. Additionally, it destroys the seeds underneath too, which means they’ll have a much harder time growing back.

Great for Large, Commercial Jobs:

Power washers are an excellent option for large, commercial jobs. If you have a large surface area to clean, these machines can save you a considerable amount of time. 

Power Washing Disadvantages?

As mentioned above, power washing is an excellent option for commercial jobs. These heavy-duty machines can tackle large surface areas and blast away dirt quickly and efficiently. However, these powerful capabilities come with some downsides.

Cost:

Power washers are typically more expensive than pressure washers. The main reason for this is that power washers require an extra heating element. This technology can add thousands to the price.

Less Versatile:

Power washers are great for big jobs that require lots of force. However, they can be too powerful for some smaller, domestic works. Pressure washers are far more flexible and can be used to clean a wider variety of surfaces. 

Too Powerful:

Power washers heat means it can effectively clean even the dirtiest area. However, this same quality can cause it to damage softer materials. As a general rule, power washers are best for cement and concrete because these surfaces can handle the heat. 

What is Power Washing Used For?

A power washer is the best choice when you need to clean large areas of hard outdoor materials. For example, if you have a concrete drive that has become discolored and caked with hard-to-remove dirt, grease, and weeds. 

Power washers are also best for commercial or industrial cleaning. You can use them to deep clean a restaurant kitchen or an auto shop because the hot water is perfect for tackling grease and oil.

Other good power washing uses are to remove deep black mold and other stubborn materials like chewing gum, ink, or spray paint.

What is Pressure Washing?

What is pressure washing? Pressure washing uses highly-pressurized cold water to blast away dirt and other debris. These machines are less effective when used to remove moss, mold, and oil, but they are powerful enough to be used for driveways and home exteriors. 

How Does Pressure Washing Work?

Pressure washers use the force of pressurized water to clean surfaces. As the water exerts force onto the dirty area, it blasts away built-up dirt, dust, mud, and other materials. Because the water is not heated, pressure washers won’t dissolve grease and grime. However, unless you are trying to clean up an auto shop or an industrial kitchen, a pressure washer is capable of even the most challenging job.

There are a wide variety of pressure washers available on the market. Many of them come with nozzles that can be used to control the force that the water hits the surface. These attachments mean that you can use pressure washers on a wider variety of materials and surfaces.

Pressure Washing Advantages and Disadvantages

Pressure Washing Advantages

Versatility:

Pressure washers are far more versatile than power washers. They come with a range of different PSI settings, which means you can use them to clean most surfaces without causing damage. 

One of the reasons why power washing is so popular is that they come with different nozzles. These nozzles change the degree of pressurized water coming from the hose. For example, a 0-degree nozzle shoots water directly at the surface, while a 25-degree attachment increases the surface area. 

This flexibility means that pressure washers are more suitable for different jobs, like cleaning a car, wood decking, siding, and so forth.

Suitable For a Wide Variety of Jobs:

Pressure washers come with lots of different options. You can choose between different GPM and PSI numbers to ensure that you have the right amount of force for the job. 

Pressure washers can do a good job on a wider amount of surfaces. For example, they can clean siding, decking, bikes, and even cars when set up appropriately.

More Options:

There are several types of pressure washers. The two main types are gas and electric. 

Gas-powered pressure washers are generally more robust and suitable for more demanding jobs.

Electric pressure washers are more suitable for a wide range of domestic use. Generally, electric washers are powered via the mains; however, you can also find cordless/battery-powered pressure washers. These pressure washers are easy to transport, but they are less powerful.

Cost:

Pressure washers are less expensive than power washers. There are a few reasons for this. 

Firstly, they don’t have a hot water element. Secondly, they are aimed at doing different jobs. Power washers can be considered more of a commercial or industrial option, while pressure washers are better for smaller jobs or domestic use.

Because pressure washers are aimed more at a domestic market, they have come at various price points. So, if you are working on a budget, you’ll be able to find a pressure washer machine or service that suits your needs.

User-Friendly:

As mentioned above, pressure washers are aimed at the domestic market. As such, the machines are pretty user-friendly and require less technical knowledge to operate. 

Of course, that’s not to say that they don’t have any learning curve at all. They are still powerful machines, and if you buy one, you should make sure to read the instructions thoroughly to ensure safe operation.

Pressure Power Washing Disadvantages?

Surface Damage:

Some people assume that they don’t have to worry about damaging surfaces because they are not using a power washer. However, it’s not quite that simple. 

Pressure washers can still be very powerful. For example, gas pressure washers can still go up to 4000 Psi. That amount of pressure can easily strip or damage a variety of surfaces. So before you start blasting away, you should do a little research and find out what pressure different materials can handle.

Danger if misused:

Again, because pressure washers serve the domestic market, they can find their way into the hands of people who have less awareness or training on proper use.

While they are not as powerful as industrial power washers, a high PSI with a 0-degree nozzle will exert a lot of pressure. As such, you should be careful when using them in a domestic setting as that pressure could hurt adults and pets.

Cordless pressure washers:

There is a lot to like about cordless pressure washers. They are easy to transport, and you can move freely through an area without worrying about dragging a gas canister or electrical cords. 

However, these machines are typically below 1000 PSI. While that’s ideal for softer surfaces and materials, it won’t be strong enough for deep cleaning or stubborn dirt.

What is Pressure Washing Used For?

Pressure washers are the go-to option for removing dust, dirt, mud, debris, and other materials from a wide variety of outdoor materials. 

Pressure washers are excellent for walls, decking, driveways, patios, and windows. Because they use cold water, you don’t run the risk of heat damage.

Some of the best uses of pressure washing are for cleaning surface dirt, discolored concrete, moss, algae, and mold.

Compared to conventional cleaning methods, pressurized water allows you to clean deep inside any area. Of course, you’ll still need to be careful when cleaning your exterior surfaces. Too much water pressure can damage paint or softer materials.

Power Washing vs Pressure Washing Summary

While some people use pressure washing and power washing interchangeably, each term describes a similar but different process. 

Power washing machines use water pressure and heat. It’s best for heavy-duty jobs that involve removing lots of grease or other difficult-to-remove materials.

On the other hand, pressure washing is best for cleaning drives, sideways, windows, decking, and so on. 

Power and pressure washing are effective ways to clean areas around your home or business. The results are spectacular and can give your property a new lease of life. 

However, there are several surfaces that are too soft for this type of cleaning. Sandstone, asphalt roofing, stained wood, and other painted items can all be damaged significantly by improper use of a power or pressure washer. 

To avoid the problems this could cause, consult with a pressure washer professional.

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