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Choosing a Pressure Washer: What You Need to Know Before Buying or Renting a Power Washer

April 24, 2023

woman using Stihl pressure washer

If you’re looking for a powerful and efficient way to clean your home’s exterior, driveway, deck, or car, a pressure washer might be the perfect tool for you. Pressure washers use high-pressure water streams to blast away dirt, grime, and other debris from surfaces, making cleaning faster and more effective than other methods, such as scrubbing or using a garden hose, however, not all pressure washers are created equal. 

With so many models and options on the market, figuring out how to choose a pressure washer to buy or rent can be quite the challenge. To help you save time on research, this pressure washer buying guide will help you figure out what’s best for your needs, before you invest in a pressure washer rental or purchase. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the types of pressure washers available, the features to consider, and other factors to help you make an informed decision.

Types of Pressure Washers

man washes car Stihl pressure washer

There are two main types of pressure washers: electric and gas. In general, professional pressure washers tend to be gas-powered models, while light or medium-duty pressure washers are more popular for home use. Each type has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to understand how they work and what they’re best suited for.

Electric Pressure Washers

Electric pressure washers are the most common type of pressure washers for home use, as they are lightweight, easy to use, and require minimal maintenance. They operate by plugging into a power outlet and using an electric motor to pump water through a high-pressure hose and nozzle. Electric pressure washers typically have a lower PSI (pounds per square inch) and GPM (gallons per minute) rating than gas or commercial models, but they are still powerful enough for most household cleaning tasks, such as washing cars, patios, and furniture. 

One of the advantages of electric pressure washers is their quiet operation, which makes them suitable for use in residential areas where noise restrictions may apply. They also emit zero emissions, however, they have a limited reach due to their power cord length and don’t have the same power level as commercial-grade pressure washers. 

Gas Powered Pressure Washers

A gas-powered pressure washer is perfect for tough outdoor cleaning tasks, such as removing oil stains from concrete or cleaning patio stones. They’re more powerful than electric models and run on gasoline, meaning that gas pressure washers have a higher PSI and GPM rating than electric models, making them faster and more efficient at cleaning.

If you need to tackle some serious outdoor cleaning, your best bet is to rent a gas pressure washer. They’re powerful, efficient and will help you make short work of a heavy-duty cleaning job, but they come with some trade-offs in terms of weight and noise.

While gas pressure washers have many benefits, gas models also have a few downsides. They tend to be heavier, louder, and more expensive than electric models. So, if you’re on a budget or looking for something that’s lightweight and easy to use, an electric pressure washer may be a better choice.

Pressure Washer Features to Consider

Stihl pressure washer

Once you’ve decided on the type of pressure washer that best fits your needs, you’ll need to consider the specific features that can affect its performance, convenience, and safety. Here are some of the most important features to look for:


PSI (pounds per square inch) and GPM (gallons per minute) are the two primary measurements that determine a pressure washer’s cleaning power. PSI refers to the force of the water stream, while GPM refers to the volume of water that the pressure washer can deliver. Generally speaking, a higher PSI and GPM rating means that a pressure washer can clean faster and more thoroughly.

However, it’s important to balance power with control, as too much pressure can damage delicate surfaces or create safety hazards. For most household cleaning tasks, a pressure washer with a PSI of 1500 to 3000 and a GPM of 1.5 to 2.5 should be sufficient. If you need to clean tough stains or thick grime, you may want to consider a higher PSI and GPM rating.

Nozzle and Spray Patterns

Pressure washer nozzles determine the shape, width, and intensity of the water stream. Most pressure washers come with several nozzle tips that can be switched out depending on the task at hand. For example, a 0-degree nozzle creates a pinpoint stream that is ideal for blasting away dirt and grime, while a 25-degree nozzle creates a wider fan-shaped stream that is better for rinsing and washing.

Some pressure washers also have adjustable spray patterns, which allow you to change the angle and shape of the water stream with a simple twist or dial. This feature can be useful for transitioning between different surfaces or cleaning tasks without having to switch out nozzles.

Hose Length and Material

The length and material of the pressure washer hose can affect your mobility and reach. A longer hose allows you to clean farther away from the pressure washer unit without having to move it around, while a shorter hose may be more maneuverable and easier to store. 

The material of the hose can also affect its durability and flexibility. Most pressure washer hoses are made of either PVC or rubber, with rubber being more resistant to kinks, abrasions, and harsh weather conditions. Some hoses may also come with a protective sleeve or coating to prevent damage from UV rays, chemicals, or sharp objects. 

Accessories and Attachments

Many pressure washers come with a range of accessories and attachments that can enhance their versatility and performance. Some common accessories include extension wands, surface cleaners, foam cannons, and brushes. 

Extension wands allow you to reach high or tight areas without having to climb or bend, while surface cleaners are ideal for cleaning large flat surfaces like driveways and decks. Foam cannons can apply soap or detergent evenly and efficiently, while brushes can scrub away stubborn stains and grime.

Ready to Buy or Rent a Pressure Washer? Contact Rentco Today!

If you’re looking to rent or buy Stihl pressure washers to make your outdoor cleaning tasks easier and more efficient, look no further than Rentco’s Tool Shed in Grande Prairie or Rentco Equipment Ltd. in Fort St John. Both locations are authorized Stihl dealers and offer Stihl pressure washers, along with expert Stihl service and parts. 

Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, our team of knowledgeable representatives can help you find the right Stihl pressure washer to fit your needs. Choose Rentco’s Tool Shed or Rentco Equipment Ltd. for all your pressure washer needs and experience the power and efficiency of pressure washers firsthand!