What is the Cost to pressure wash house? Dirt, grim, and algae build-up can discolor your home and lower your curb appeal. Having your home pressure washed every two to three years can help remove this build-up and keep your home looking better for longer. Pressure washing is generally done by the hour, with a 2,000 sq.ft. home taking roughly 2 hours to complete. Depending on where you live and the state your house is in prior to starting, this can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 on average, with most homeowners spending around $275 for the job.
Cost to pressure wash house
|Pressure washing costs|
|National average cost||$150|
|Average range||$100 – $500|
Pressure Washing vs Power Washing
When the time comes to have your home washed, you may encounter a variety of options, including both pressure washing and power washing. While they sound similar, these are two different methods of cleaning. Pressure washing uses unheated water under pressure, which has been fed through a pressurizing motor powered by either electricity or gas. It generally also involves some form of detergent to help facilitate the cleaning process.
Power washing is similar but uses heated water to clean. This can be an advantage for certain types of grime or dirt and can help remove more dirt in a shorter amount of time. It is usually not recommended for siding but is best used on surfaces like concrete that will not be damaged by the heat and pressure.
However, the company you contact to do the job may recommend one over the other depending on the condition of your home, the material your home is clad in (brick may require power washing, for example), and what the desired outcome is. Power washing may cost slightly more than pressure washing, with an average cost for a 2,000 sq.ft. home coming closer to $300 than $275.
Electric vs Gas Washer
Pressure washers come in two varieties, which is determined by what is used to power them – electric and gas. Both can produce the same amount of pressure necessary to clean your home, are roughly the same size, and similar in how they operate. The biggest difference is how they are powered. If the company you contract with to pressure wash your home uses an electric model, you need an outdoor ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) socket for them to plug into. Most companies fill the gas units either on-site or shortly before arrival. You may be charged slightly more for a service that uses gas, but you will be responsible for the added electricity on your bill. So, the costs to you will be roughly the same.
Pressure Washing Labor Costs
Each company that pressure washes homes may have their own pricing structure, with some charging per linear foot and others charging a flat fee. Most, however, charge by the hour with an average hourly cost of around $50 to $150, often with a two-hour minimum. If your house is smaller than average, you may wish to contact a company that charges by the linear foot, at a rate of around $1 to $2 a foot. Costs can be higher depending on what your home is clad in. For example, you may be charged an additional $1 a foot for brick homes and for houses with a lot of dirt or grime to remove.
Keep in mind that the bulk of this job’s cost is in labor fees. Expect to pay around $250 in labor fees for a 2,000 sq.ft. home.
Pressure Washing by Area
The exterior of your siding is only one area that you may want pressure washed on your property. Pressure washing can also be used on a variety of other areas of your home and yard to help get them clean. Keep in mind that many companies have minimums, so you may be better off having multiple areas cleaned at once or to add these areas on when having your house washed to avoid paying extra in fees:
|Area being cleaned||Average cost|
|Patio – 50 square feet||$75|
|Concrete pad – 50 square feet||$75|
|Deck – 300 square feet||$100|
|Driveway – 400 square feet||$100|
|Fence – 200 linear feet||$200|
Pressure Washing DIY Concerns
Pressure washers are available for rent at most big box stores for around $50 a day, which can seem like a big savings if you have a lot of areas to wash. And for many jobs, this may be suitable. However, be aware of a few concerns if you intend to DIY the job.
The first is the amount of pressure per area. Pressure washers are adjustable with pounds of pressure per square inch (PSI). Wood, vinyl 1, brick, and concrete each need different PSIs, and different levels of dirt or debris may also require adjustments to the PSI as well. A professional can calculate this and ensure that your property is not damaged. Doing it yourself may result in damage to your siding or other wood surfaces.
The second issue is the material. Most roofs should not be pressure washed, for example, because it can damage them. You may not be aware of which areas to avoid, and you can damage your property.
Another issue is the nozzle. Pressure washers have several to choose from, and the more narrow the spray, the more concentrated the force. You may not realize how powerful some nozzles can be, which can cause damage.
The final concern is safety. More than 6,000 people are injured by pressure washers each year, some of them seriously.
Hand Washing vs Pressure Washing
Sometimes when a surface needs to be washed, you may need to decide between hand washing and pressure washing. In general, hand washing will take longer and require a lot more effort to do the same job than what a pressure washer could do in minutes. Hand washing your siding, for example, would also require ladders or scaffolding 2, while a pressure washer may be able to reach well above the ground without aid.
However, there are times when hand washing should be used. If you have delicate materials that could be damaged from the pressure, such as an asphalt 3 roof, hand washing is the better option. Likewise, if you have a small area that needs to be cleaned, it may be easier to simply hand wash than to either rent a pressure washer and risk damaging it or hire someone who may charge a minimum fee.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Painting Your House
Pressure washing is often the first step to painting your home, as the siding must be clean and dry. Pressure washing can help remove some loose paint as well, speeding up the job. Painting your house after pressure washing costs around $1,850 to $2,500.
Additional Considerations and Costs
If you have an asphalt driveway, a good time to seal it would be after pressure washing. The asphalt would be free of any dirt or debris, and once dry, it can be sealed. This has a cost of around $200.
Pressure washing can help increase your home’s curb appeal. A good time to pressure wash it would be before putting it on the market or having it valued.
Check to make sure the pressure washing company you contract with has insurance to pay for any damages to your home that may occur during service.
A pressure washer can be used to clean gutters if done properly. This should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to avoid damage.
Pressure washers are capable of etching surfaces like concrete, which means that they may harm softer surfaces like cedar siding. This is the reason you should always trust professionals because they understand how to adjust the pressure and nozzle to account for softer materials.
If there are plants or landscaping near the area being pressure washed, make sure any detergents used are safe for plants and do not contain bleach or other harmful chemicals.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Pressure Washer
Pressure washers have come a long way. Over the last ten years the quality has increased as prices have become more affordable. The cleaning ability of a pressure washer is great, removing dirt, grime, and algae quickly, efficiently and effectively. A pressure washer can greatly increase your ability to maintain and clean your property and equipment giving it greater value. If your time is valuable, a pressure washer could be a good investment, but if you get the wrong machine, you will be frustrated and you could waste a lot of time and money.
The goal of this buying guide is to help you understand what a pressure washer does and what you need to look for when deciding to purchase one. If you’re ready to start shopping, check out the pressure washers at kmstools.com. Or keep reading to learn more about the following:
- How a Pressure Washer Works
- Pressure Washer Pumps
- Direct Drive or Belt Drive
- Gas or Electric
- Pressure Washer Accessories
- Choosing the Right Pressure Washer
How a Pressure Washer Works
A pressure washer is actually a fairly simple piece of equipment. A motor or engine turns a pump, pushing water through an orifice (tip). The water accelerates as it goes through the small hole, much like a river flows faster in a narrow gorge, and that fast-moving water is very useful for blasting dirt and grime. The math is quite simple. Each time the pump turns over, a specific volume of water is pushed through the tip. The more water you push through the tip, the more pressure is developed, and therefore more power is required. The higher the pressure, the faster the water moves, and the harder it hits the dirt, removing it from the surface you want to clean.
What to Consider
The two most important considerations when buying a pressure washer are size, which determines how long it takes to do the job or how many jobs you can do in a day; and life expectancy, which determines how many hours of work you can do per dollar spent during the life of the machine.
Here are some basic ratings:
Horse Power (HP)
This is how much power the engine or motor produces. This rating is important because it directly relates to how much pressure and volume the pump can produce.
Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI)
The pressure generated by a pressure washer is measured in pounds per square inch or PSI. Pressure contributes to the cleaning force.
Gallons Per Minute (GPM)
The water volume produced by a pressure washer is measured in gallons per minute or GPM. Volume also contributes to the cleaning force.
Cleaning Power Units (CPU)
Cleaning Power Units quantifies a pressure washer’s cleaning ability. To determine CPU, multiply GPM x PSI. The greater the CPU, the greater the ability the machine has for cleaning deeply and effectively.
Often consumers are so focused on the PSI rating of the machine, they do not consider the CPU. For example, a pressure washer may have a rating of 2,800 PSI and 2 GPM, giving it a CPU of 5,600. Another pressure washer is rated for 2,400 PSI and 4 GPM. That’s a CPU rating of 9,600. In this example the lower PSI machine has more than 40% greater cleaning power than the higher PSI machine. The result is that the 2,400 PSI machine will be able to clean an area 40% faster than the 2,800 PSI machine.
Now consider this: A garden hose typically provides 6 GPM at 10 PSI giving it 60 CPU. With a standard spray nozzle attached to the garden hose you can get around 5 GPM at about 40 PSI generating 200 CPU. We all have seen the difference of how much more effective a simple spray nozzle is at cleaning dirt off surfaces. Trying to clean your driveway with your garden hose spray nozzle generating 200 CPU is fairly ineffective. However, if we take a mid-range pressure washer rated at 2.0 GPM and 2,500 PSI (5,000 CPU), the CPU rating represents a staggering 25 times increase over a typical garden hose spray nozzle.
A commercial pressure washer rated at 4 GPM and 4,000 PSI is an incredible 16,000 CPU. It is not difficult to see the difference in efficiency. However, this is all true within a range. If you have extremely high pressure and low volume, you can cut steel or concrete (water jet cutter), and if you have extremely high volume and low pressure, you have a river. Neither of these would be very good for cleaning your house or driveway.
Pressure Washer Pumps
This is the part of the pressure washer that receives water from your hose, and pumps it through a tip at high pressure. There are several common types of pumps that you will see in commercial and home-owner type machines. All pressure washer pumps have pistons and valves similar to a gas engine or an air compressor. On some pumps the pistons are driven by a plate on an angle (wobble plate), and in other cases the pistons are driven by a crankshaft. Crankshaft driven pumps are generally built better and will last longer.
Pressure washer pumps are equipped with bypass valves, so that when you let go of the trigger, or when the tip gets plugged, the water will bypass and go back to the inlet side of the pump. If left in this mode for longer than the manufacturer recommends, the water will get hot and cause damage to the pump. On a gas-powered pressure washer, the pump includes a thermal relief valve that dumps hot water into the bypass loop. Most bypass valves are adjustable so you can dial down the pressure when cleaning sensitive materials
Low-cost pressure washers have pumps with very low life expectancies—some as low as 60 – 100 hours. When buying a pressure washer, make sure you find out the life expectancy of the pump. If the information is unavailable, stay clear because it is very likely that the manufacturer does not want you to know how low it is.
Another very important factor to consider is parts availability. KMS Tools was a warranty/service centre for some low end brands, however lack of parts availability and unreliability of these machines were such a problem that we decided to no longer provide this service.
Before buying your machine, ask where you can get parts if you need them. KMS is often referred to by other retailers as a source for parts and repairs for numerous brands that are pretty much disposable. If you are buying a new machine for $200.00 or less, expect it to be a disposable machine that might last you only one season, and be prepared to spend a lot of time to get the job done.
Direct Drive or Belt Drive
The drive describes how the motor is connected to the pump. Direct-drive systems are most common. The pump is bolted directly to the motor or engine with a shaft coupler. Compared to a belt-drive system, direct drive requires fewer parts and space, resulting in a more compact design. Direct drive is also considerably more economical than an equivalently rated belt-drive machine.
Belt-drive systems are typically seen on industrial platforms. The pump on a belt-drive unit turns at a much slower speed. The belt absorbs vibration that would wear out a unit faster. Since the pump turns at a lower speed all the pistons and valves in the pump are larger. All this adds up to a cooler running machine that will last considerably longer than an equivalent direct drive version. However, there is slightly more maintenance and considerably more dollars involved (10 – 30% more). If you are using your pressure washer on the job, then you want to consider buying a belt-drive machine. However, an equivalent direct-drive machine will have the same performance for a lot less money.
Gas Engine or Electric Motor
On a pressure washer, the engine or motor powers the pump. The more powerful the engine or motor (rated in HP), the greater the PSI and GPM the pump produces. Gas engines are typically designed to last between 300 and 3,000 hours. The motors on electric pressure washers usually last longer than the pumps.
Electric motors are very low maintenance and fairly quiet. There is also no exhaust so they can be operated indoors or in poorly ventilated areas. A typical electric pressure washer that is 115 Volt and 15 Amps will be fairly light duty because it is built for the low-price market. The motor is not strong enough to generate much pressure or volume. While electric pressure washers are compact and usually portable, most jobs take longer with a light-duty electric pressure washer.
HP is rated differently on electric motors compared to gas engines. A typical low-price electric pressure washer is rated around 1 to 1-1/2 HP and would be equivalent to a 3 HP gas pressure washer. (Electric motor HP has to be doubled to equal gas engine HP.)
Heavy-duty electric pressure washers are available for applications where power is available and portability isn’t a factor, and exhaust from a gas engine would be a problem.
Gas pressure washers are larger and heavier and mounted on a cart with wheels. Some are better balanced and easier to maneuver. Gas engines can produce more power and are a lot more mobile as they do not need to be plugged in to an electric power source. Since gas engines can be more powerful, the pump can generate considerably more PSI and GPM so that they can clean faster and deeper than any 115 Volt rated electric pressure washer could. However they do take a little more maintenance and cost more to operate. They must be used in well-ventilated areas because of the emission of carbon-monoxide fumes.
Pressure Washer Accessories
Without accessories, your pressure washer is fairly useless. It would be like having a drill without any drill bits.
Pressure Washer Hoses
You probably want a 50 ft length hose. If you go shorter, you will have to keep moving your machine. Make sure you get a quality hose with the proper PSI rating to match your machine. A poor quality hose will break down faster, is more susceptible to leaks and kinks, and will usually be less flexible and harder to work with.
Pressure Washer Wands and Tips
The wand includes a handle with a trigger valve, and different lengths and angles of wands are available for different applications. You can change the spray pattern by changing the tip at the end of the wand. Most pressure washers come with a selection of tips—from a very narrow spray to generate higher force at the tip for deeper cleaning to a wider spray that has less force but covers more area. Most tip sets also include a low pressure tip for applying cleaning solutions.
In addition to tips, other, very useful attachments are available:
A dirt blaster or rotary nozzle attaches to the end of your wand. It has a very narrow spray that spins in a circular motion very rapidly. Dirt blasters are effective because they can quickly clean hard surfaces very well and, when used properly, avoids the tiger striping effect on your driveway that happens with conventional spray tips.
For cleaning out-of-reach areas, look for an extension wand that’s adjustable up to 24 feet in some cases. Extension and telescoping wands are beneficial if you need to reach up high. They can save you from trying to pressure wash while standing on a ladder.
A gutter cleaner is a simple hooked extension that affixes to the end of your wand. It lets you get into your gutters to clean them out.
A Whirl-A-Way is an accessory that looks a little like a lawn mower and has two rotating nozzles inside. They are available in sizes from 12” to 24” and excel at cleaning large flat areas.
Hot Water Pressure Washers
Hot water pressure washers are commercial machines with built-in water heaters. The cleaning effect of the machines is considerably better than a cold water machine with comparable PSI and GPM because hot water simply cleans more effectively than cold water. Hot water pressure washers break down and remove dirt and grime faster than cold water pressure washers, and often eliminate the need for expensive chemicals. Do not feed hot water into a normal cold water pressure washer pump. The heat will damage seals and o-rings.
Detergents can greatly increase the speed of cleaning and help remove tough stains. Most pressure washers come equipped with a venturi tube that will draw in the detergent from a bottle or pail and add it to the water stream. The detergent should be first applied with a low pressure spray, given some time to do its work to break down the dirt, and then washed off with a normal high pressure spray.
Choosing the Right Pressure Washer
When it comes right down to it, you need to buy a pressure washer that fits your application. There are many different types of pressure washers—from very low-end machines to extremely powerful industrial machines. Before you buy a machine you need to sit down and ask yourself these questions:
- “How will I use a pressure washer?”
- “How often will I use a pressure washer?”
If you are a home owner, you will probably use a pressure washer less than 50 hours per year. In this case getting a machine rated for 500 hours will last you up to 10 years if properly maintained. However, if you are using it on the job, you will want something rated for 2,000 hours or more. If time is important to you, buy as big a pressure washer as you can justify. A 13 HP gas pressure washer will clean your driveway about 10 times faster than a small electric unit. It will also last longer because it doesn’t have to run nearly as long to do the job. Finally, plan in advance what attachments you will want in the future and make sure that the pressure washer you buy has enough power to support them.