The Differences Between Pressure Washers and Power Washers (and When to Use Each)

The Differences Between Pressure Washers and Power Washers (and When to Use Each)

When it comes to maintaining a home’s exterior—from the house itself, to the driveway, sidewalk, deck, and patio—pressure washers can shave hours off of an otherwise time-consuming, tedious job. For example, if you’re restoring your wood deck, you could spend countless hours scrubbing stains and old paint with a stiff-bristled brush or broom—or use a pressure washer, and get it done much faster. 

In that particular DIY scenario, and many others, using a pressure washer—rather than a power washer—makes the most sense. That’s right: Though the terms are often used interchangeably, they’re not the same piece of equipment. Here’s a breakdown of the difference between pressure washers and power washers, and when to use each.

The difference between pressure washers and power washers

Both pressure washers and power washers use highly pressurized streams of water to clean exterior surfaces. The main difference is that pressure washers use cold or room temperature water (whatever comes out of the hose), while power washers heat the water to temperatures up to 311°F before blasting it out. But that heat comes at a price: While a pressure washer will set you back between $100 and $200, power washers start around $2,000.

Here’s some more information on both types of equipment, including when to use each:

Pressure washers

  • Cheaper
  • More versatile
  • Lighter and easier to move and maneuver 
  • Can be powered by gas or electricity
  • Gas-powered: Louder, more powerful, fumes, can move around without being plugged in
  • Electric: Quieter, not quite as powerful, no fumes, some must be plugged into an electrical outlet, while others have rechargeable batteries
  • Typically connected to a hose, but can be attached to a sink faucet (with an attachment) and use hot tap water (which typically gets up to between 105°F and 140°F
  • Remove dirt, leaves, moss, and other yard debris from driveways, sidewalks, patios, decks, outdoor furniture
  • Safe for concrete, brick, softer stone surfaces, other masonry, vinyl siding
  • Using the fan attachment and lower pressure, it’s safe to use on wood (e.g., decks, platforms, walkways, and docks), windows, vehicles, tile, and painted surfaces
  • Better for getting into tight spaces and crevices
  • Requires less water than power washer

Power washers

  • Much pricier to purchase, but can be rented from hardware stores and equipment rental companies for $150 to $400 per day, which is still cheaper than hiring a professional
  • Can be used to sanitize surfaces, getting rid of germs, bacteria, fungi (including mold and mildew), and other types of organic growths
  • Cleans surfaces faster than pressure washing
  • Surfaces dry faster than they do after being pressure washed
  • Better for removing grease and oil
  • Gets the job done with less detergent 
  • Heat + pressure can damage surfaces softer than concrete
  • Better for larger surface areas and commercial projects 

Lead Image Credit: Shutterstock

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply