Should You Buy or Rent a Pressure Washer?
Consumer Reports compares the costs
A pressure washer can blast away years of grime from a deck, patio, or walkway in a single afternoon. But the question of whether to rent or buy one really comes down to how many surfaces you'll need to tackle—and how often you'll need to revisit the chore.
"If you will use a pressure washer three times or more each year, it can pay to own one," says Dave Trezza, a CR testing leader.
How CR Tests Pressure Washers
We measure how much pressure each model can produce in pounds per square inch, giving a higher score to those with a higher psi. Then we fire up each pressure washer and use it to strip paint from plastic panels, timing how long it takes. Models with a higher pressure output tend to perform better on this test.
We also measure noise. Almost all pressure washers are loud enough to require hearing protection. We size up ease of use by evaluating the basics, such as the process of adding fuel, and note features that improve the experience, such as an engine that automatically shuts off when oil is running low.
We also ask CR members about their experiences with gas and electric pressure washers, and use those responses to tabulate our predicted reliability and owner satisfaction scores for each model.
Best Lower-Cost Pressure Washers to Buy
Still on the fence about buying vs. renting? If you're faced with a large cleanup job, your best bet may be to rent a large, powerful pressure washer. That's particularly true if it has been years since you cleaned your deck, patio, or driveway.
Then consider buying a less expensive gas or electric model to keep on hand for maintenance. Start with our pressure washer buying guide for more on the pros and cons of each type.
CR members can also access our comprehensive pressure washer ratings. Here, we've highlighted inexpensive models worth considering if you don't want to spend a lot.
How to Clean Your Deck
Is your deck looking tired and dingy? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, a Consumer Reports test engineer, Dave Trezza, shows how to revive your outdoor space.