DIY or Don’t: The Pros and Cons of Do-It-Yourself Pressure Washing

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated August 16, 2021
Clean Craftsman house with curb appeal
Photo: Ursula Page / Adobe Stock

DIY pressure washing can save you money, but there are other areas where it might cost you

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There are few things more satisfying than pressure washing every speck of grime tainting your outdoor space. Still, renting a pressure washer isn’t a foolproof way to clean caked-on dirt and buildup. Without the proper precautions, you run the risk of hurting your home’s exterior—or even yourself. Considering the pros and cons of pressure washing can help determine whether this method is a good choice for your cleaning project.

Pro: Renting a Pressure Washer Costs Less Than Hiring a Pro

Getting a professional pressure washing costs around $300 on average for basic hardscaping, such as your patio or driveway. Pressure washing your house can cost anywhere from $150 to $2,500 based on its size. By comparison, renting a pressure washer yourself goes for between $35 and $175 per day.

Pro: DIY Pressure Washing Can Clean a Variety of Exterior Surfaces

If you’re pressure washing for the day, you don’t have to stop at the mildew stains on your patio. There are many uses for a pressure washer, including your grime-ridden grill, the dusty boat in your driveway, and so much more. Always do a small test first and avoid more delicate surfaces that could become damaged.

Pro: A Pressure Washer Is Relatively Easy to Use (With Caution!)

Those who can barely operate a washing machine will rejoice in the simplicity of the pressure washer. Yes, there are important pressure-washing tips to know beforehand, but there are no nitty-gritty settings aside from the psi (pound-force per square inch). You may wonder how to pressure wash your home safely. The good news is most pressure-washing machines just require plugging in, hooking up a hose, and pressing a lever.

Pro: Power Washing Is Pretty Fun

Washing building facade and window with pressure water
Photo: bigtunaonline / iStock / Getty Images Plus

No pressure-washing pros list would be complete without mentioning how enjoyable it is to blast away all the dirt, mustard stains from your last barbecue, and whatever else you’ve had to look at for too long. Just be sure not to get carried away, as you might ruin your fun by causing damage.

Pro: Pressure Washers Don’t Actually Use That Much Water

When you picture the pressureful blast of a pressure washer, you might think every second equates to extra dollars on your next water bill. Surprisingly enough, this isn’t the case. Most DIY pressure washing machines use a comparable amount to your garden hose. In fact, they often use less. 

If you aren’t keen on using your home’s water supply, you can search for a pro that can bring their own water truck. Determined DIY-ers might also consider hiring a tank trailer to bring a water truck, though you’ll need a pump to fill the pressure washer from the reservoir.

Con: Pressure Washers Can Easily Cause Damage

Now that you know the pros of power washing, it’s time to consider the cons. Despite how fun and satisfying pressure washing can be, its high pressure can cause damage in a matter of seconds. A soft wash versus a regular pressure wash is a good idea for more delicate surfaces, such as wood or anything painted.

Con: DIY Pressure Washing Isn’t a Great Idea for Your Home’s Siding

There are only certain parts of your home that you can pressure wash, and vinyl siding is among these. Still, with so much room for error, this doesn’t mean it’s a great DIY. 

DIY pressure washing your vinyl siding can:

  • Blow holes in the siding

  • Strip off the paint

  • Disperse lead-based paint throughout your property (for older homes using this type of paint)

  • Cause water to penetrate your home and accumulate within your attic, walls, and flooring

  • Lead to mold and mildew growth if water enters anywhere it shouldn’t be (e.g. crevices between siding, your home’s interior, and more)

Learning how to pressure wash your home safely is paramount for your success, but experience is the true teacher. For beginners, seeking professional services is the best option to avoid damage.

Con: Pressure Washing Can Be Dangerous

A rogue high-pressure blast from a pressure washer can lead to serious injury, so it’s important to mind where you aim. Before you attempt DIY pressure washing, take note of the direction of the nozzle as well as your surroundings. Always keep an eye out for kids, animals, and neighbors while the machine is in use.

Con: DIY Pressure Washing Doesn’t Use Professional-Quality Cleaning Agents

The last con on our pressure washing list is a big one. When you enlist a professional pressure washer near you, the extra dollars don’t just buy an experienced hand. Pros use cleaning solutions that effectively clean mold, mildew, algae, and other buildup. 

If you DIY pressure washing, you’ll only have the water pressure to work with. While you can certainly find soaps to use, these won’t be the professional-grade quality that you’d get by hiring out.

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