Pressure Washer vs Power Washer: Is There a Difference? - Backyard Boss
We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

Pressure Washer vs Power Washer: Is There a Difference?

If you’re planning to tackle some much-needed outdoor cleaning around your deck, patio, or outdoor space, you may be wondering what tools are worth the investment. With so many different options available, it’s easy to find yourself questioning whether your project is better suited for a power washer or pressure washer. Is there even a difference?

Before you run out to make your next big purchase, we’re going to look at the subtle yet significant differences between a pressure washer and a power washer. By exploring the benefits and challenges of each, I will help you decide which one is the best option for you. So, let’s get started!

Power Washer

a pressure washer being used to clean dirt from concrete
Image Credit: Peachtree Pressure Washing on flickr

Power washers use a combination of pressurized water and high temperatures to clean hard to remove grime, salt, mold, mildew, stains, and even paint from a wide variety of different surfaces. Because the water used is kept at a high temperature throughout the time, it allows you to leverage both the pressurized water and steam to boost your cleaning efforts.

These units are a favorite of those looking for commercial cleaning solutions in large garages, farm settings, or companies that work with heavy-duty equipment because they are uniquely equipped to remove grease stains.

If you are looking to tackle mold, mildew, weeds, or algae, the heat of a power washer will also serve to provide a much better clean. This is because the heat can be used to effectively kill off the mold and algae that could, if left, risk the health of anyone that is around this area. The heat also kills off any weeds that you are cleaning away using your power washer between the cracks in your driveway or the space between stones in your walking path.

Many power washers have a built-in water tank to hold and heat the water. It adds to the overall weight of the power washer and should be considered if you need a highly portable unit.

Best Uses for a Power Washer

A power washer is designed for more heavy-duty work, bringing both heat and pressure together to tackle the most stuck-on grime. They should be reserved for hard, solid surfaces that can handle the heat of the water, as not all surfaces can. If you are unsure, try cleaning one small spot in an area that can easily be hidden if it were to be damaged.  These devices are most often used on hard surfaces like cement and concrete for this reason.

Some of the situations where a power washer really shines include the cleaning of weed build-up, grease, extreme dirt, and moss growth. It’s also a great choice when addressing mold and algae as the heat will not only clean up the surface but it will also work to prevent any regrowth in the immediate future. While power washers can be purchased by anyone, they are most often used for commercial purposes.

Pros and Cons of a Power Washer



Recommended Power Washer

Maxell Mi-T-M HSP-3504-3MGH HSP Hot Water Gasoline Direct Drive Pressure Washer
    Powered by a 389cc Honda OHV gas-powered engine and capable of heating water to a temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, this power washer is capable of tackling tough messes with ease.



Powered by a 389cc Honda OHV Engine, this compact power washer can maintain its small size due to its ability to heat water up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit above the ambient temperature (up to a maximum outlet temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit) without the need for a large water tank. The professional-grade insulated trigger gun protects your hands while using even the highest water temperatures. The power washer includes 4 quick connect nozzles to adapt to any task or project.

Pressure Washer

A pressure washer being used to clean the top railing of a deck
Image Credit: ~jar{} on flickr

pressure washer is very similar to a power washer with one distinct difference – there is no heat involved. The terms are often used interchangeably because a power washer is just pressure water with a built-in heater. However, the addition of heat makes a big difference between the two, both in price and function.

A pressure washer is a great choice for removing mud, dirt, dust, and grime from a wide variety of surfaces. The fact that a pressure washer doesn’t involve a heating unit provides two clear benefits. It is lighter weight without the inclusion of a water tank and comes at a lower price point

Due to the lower price point, pressure washers are far more common both among homeowners doing their DIY cleaning as well as any business that isn’t faced with tough or hard-to-clean grime. The pressure of the water being delivered is, in many cases, equal between pressure and power washers. When shopping, you can compare these factors by looking at the PSI and GPM of the options that you are considering.

Best Uses for a Pressure Washer

Pressure washers are highly versatile tools that can be used in a variety of situations from basic household clean up to larger public spaces and commercial tasks. The lower-cost option of the two, pressure washers are often purchased by homeowners who are looking to clean sidewalks, walkways, patios, and driveways. They provide enough pressure to remove dirt, grime, mud, salt build-up, and other stains.

On a larger commercial level, pressure washers are often used for cleaning the exterior of commercial buildings, stadiums, parking garages and other public spaces. They are an easy solution to cleaning a large area effectively without spending too much time or money, making them a popular choice for small business owners and commercial cleaning companies.

Pros and Cons of a Pressure Washer



Recommended Pressure Washer

Simpson Cleaning MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer
    Powered by a Honda GC190 gasoline engine, this pressure washer offers surprising power and versatility for even the toughest jobs



This powerful and reliable pressure washer offers 3200 PSI, providing you with the power needed to tackle the more challenging projects around the home. It is equipped with a HONDA GC190 premium residential gas engine which is dependable. With 5 stainless steel nozzle tips and a plastic soap nozzle, the spray pattern can easily be adjusted to meet your needs. Supported on a heavy-duty powder-coated steel frame with 10” premium pneumatic tires, it can easily navigate uneven terrains allowing you to transport your pressure washer wherever needed in your yard or outdoor space.

When Should You Avoid Pressure Washers and Power Washers?

There is no denying the fact that these tools are a great way to save time and tackle outdoor clean-up projects with confidence. However, they are not safe to use on all surfaces. If you are working on cleaning something that is more delicate in nature, like an antique of any kind, it isn’t worth the risk. The high pressure of the water can quickly cause significant damage that can’t be reversed.

Older decks or furniture that may have dry rot lack the strength to withstand the water pressure, causing them to fall apart. This is also true of softer surfaces like laminar sandstone.

Finally, avoid any finished surfaces, unless you are looking to remove the finish on a project. Both pressure washers and power washers are known for their ability to strip and stain from a variety of surfaces. While this is great if removing the finish is your intention, those that aren’t planning on refinishing their projects will be disappointed to find that they have created more work for themselves.

Power Washer or Pressure Washer? Our Recommendation

To choose whether a pressure washer or power washer is the best fit for your needs, you first need to understand what you want to accomplish. While you can get smaller, quieter, and easier to store pressure washers for basic household tasks, they lack the power for the more challenging cleaning jobs that you may plan on tackling. It is for this reason that the power washer is popular with farmers, garages, and those working with heavy-duty equipment.

On the other hand, if your work is limited to cleaning your deck and outdoor furniture, you may find that a pressure washer offers everything that you need at a lower price point. It is a great solution for most homeowners.

With all of this considered, we recommend the Simpson Cleaning Megashot Gas Pressure Washer for most prospective buyers. This gasoline-powered pressure washer offers a higher PSI than most corded-electric models, allowing it to tackle a wide variety of different tasks and challenges. Unless you have specific needs that require the additional power of a power washer, we are confident in saying that this pressure washer will have you covered.