Pressure washers are great for tackling tough cleaning jobs with a high-pressure blast of water using PSI. When pressure washing, however, it’s important to remember that turning the washer on full force isn’t always the way to go.

Using too much pressure on your deck, fence, siding or even concrete can result in permanent and unsightly damage, which is why it’s important to understand the psi on your pressure washer and how it works. Of course, when in doubt, it’s best to bring in a professional pressure wash service to ensure the job is done correctly.



Psi stands for pounds per square inch and measures how much water pressure your unit can produce. The higher the psi, the more cleaning power you have. Most pressure washers offer a psi range, allowing the operator to choose which pressure level best suits the task at hand, and even the cheapest models produce more than 20 times the pressure of a typical garden hose.

Pressure levels can range anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 psi. When shopping for pressure washers, it’s best to choose a model that provides more psi than you think you’ll need, which will give you enough power to take care of extra-tricky stains and will prevent you from having to run your machine at full blast, which can wear it down over time.

Here’s a look at the basic psi levels recommended for common pressure washing jobs around the home or business:

1,000 to 1,500: The lowest pressure settings are best for pressure washing smaller surfaces such as charcoal grills, lawn furniture, bikes and cars, garden tools and other items that could be damaged by higher pressure.

1,500 to 2,000: This is the sweet spot for pressure washing decks, patios and siding, as higher pressure can gouge wood and other relatively soft surfaces, leaving ugly scars. However, when cleaning a wood deck or vinyl siding, remember that technique is as important as the psi setting; improper power washing technique can also leave blemishes, even if the correct psi is used. If you’ve got a tough deck job to do, hiring a pressure wash service may be the best way to protect your outdoor living space.

2,000 to 3,000: Larger areas such as driveways and walkways become much easier to clean when this psi range is used. Again, pay attention to your spraying technique; even concrete can sustain pressure washing damage if you’re not careful.

3,000 to 4,000: This psi range is where the heavy lifting happens. These settings are good for cleaning stripping paint and cleaning farm equipment, semi trailers and concrete. The high pressure can be dangerous, however, and is generally best left to a professional pressure wash service.

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