If you want to clean your house, driveway, or deck, you need a pressure washer to get the job done right. It’s expensive to rent one, but is it worth it to buy a pressure washer?
Types of Pressure Washers
There are three distinct types of pressure washers, and their differences are pretty easy to understand. At the basic level, more power costs more money. It’s up to you to decide which type of pressure washer best suits your needs.
Let’s go over the three types of pressure washers, their average prices, and how you can use them (we averaged our rental prices from one-day rentals):
- Hot Water Gas (Rent: $200-$300; Buy: $1,000+): Usually reserved for commercial use, hot water pressure washers quickly cut through grime. They’re ideal for heavy-duty jobs, or situations in which you don’t want to use chemicals. They’re also really expensive, and hardware stores might not rent them out in your area.
- Cold Water Gas (Rent: $80-$150; Buy: $200-$350): Your everyday cold water, gas-powered pressure washer works well for most jobs. They’re also not too expensive to rent or buy.
- Electric (Rent: $30-$50; Buy: $150-$200): Electric pressure washers are incredibly cheap and don’t require a ton of maintenance. They’re also quiet, and you can use them indoors (no gas emissions). But they’re a lot weaker than gas-powered washers and don’t last as long. They’re best for smaller jobs or regular cleaning.
So, expensive hot water pressure washers are powerful, affordable cold-water washers are middle-of-the-road, and cheap electric pressure washers, while convenient, aren’t as strong as the gas-powered.
The question now is whether you should buy or rent a pressure washer.
Weigh the Cost and Your Needs
When compared to the cost of renting, a pressure washer generally pays for itself in about four uses. But you also have to consider what you need to clean, and how often you plan on using the pressure washer (the less you use it, the more maintenance it requires, but more on that later).
For most cleaning jobs—and especially monthly cleaning—a cold water or electric pressure washer works just fine. If you buy one for around $200, it’ll pay for itself in no time and should last for five to 10 years.
If you only need a pressure washer to clean your siding twice a year, you might want to consider renting one. The cold water and electric models are pretty cheap to rent, and you have the option to choose the type that best suits your needs. Plus, you don’t have to worry about storage or maintenance.
For hot water pressure washers, consider how often the hot water feature will come in handy. Sure, it makes routine cleaning jobs a little quicker, but the hot water is really meant to cut through cartoonish amounts of grime. You might see the positive impact of a hot water washer on a driveway you haven’t cleaned in half a decade, but the small difference it makes on your deck once a month might not be worth the extra $700.
It’s hard to justify buying a $1,000 hot water washer if you’re only going to use it a few times a year. You’re paying extra for something you don’t really need.
You also might regret your purchase when you have to deal with its storage or maintenance.
Is Owning a Pressure Washer Worth the Effort?
Even if owning a pressure washer is technically cost-effective in the long run, the hassle of storing and maintaining one might not be worth the money you save.
Owning a pressure washer is kind of like owning a lawnmower—they take up a lot of space, require maintenance, and you have to winterize them. Also like a lawnmower, you have to use gas pressure washers regularly if you want to prevent buildup and corrosion. Electric pressure washers, on the other hand, are small and require minimal maintenance.
If you only need to use a pressure washer four or five times a year, weigh the cost against the physical and mental inconvenience. When you rent a pressure washer, you’re paying extra for the storage and maintenance. But depending on your needs, it might be worth the extra cost for someone else to handle the maintenance responsibilities.
Hire a Professional
Of course, there’s a third option we haven’t mentioned yet—you can hire a professional to get the job done.
This option is not especially cost-effective. You’ll probably end up spending around $50 for every 100 square feet, or $50 to $200 per hour (a pro should be able to wash your house and siding in two or three hours).
Hiring someone is significantly more expensive than renting or buying a pressure washer. But it takes a ton of work off your hands and can be especially helpful if you don’t have any experience with pressure washers (or transporting one, or dealing with the chemicals, and so on).
However, this isn’t something you’d want to pay for every few months. You could hire a pro to take care of a tough, time-consuming job, like cleaning the years of grime off your siding. Then, you could buy a cheap electric pressure washer and wash the siding monthly, so it doesn’t get nasty again.
Another option is to borrow a friend’s pressure washer or even hire him to do the job for you (hopefully, he’ll give you a deal). Ask your contractor or car-loving friends, or anyone obsessed with handiwork.