PRO PICKS: 5 pros on their favorite pressure washers

Series:Hispanic Male painter power washing an upscale homePaint pros know the importance of a clean surface—and the value of a trusty pressure washer. Pressure washers come in handy for tasks like prepping decks, siding, and other large surfaces. Noticeable debris, dirt and stains wash away in no time. So we asked five pros to share their recommendations on these hard-working machines.

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1 FROM OUR PRO:

Craig Hardcastle, owner of St. Louis-based CTP Painting, relies on a basic, reliable pressure washer. For nearly 10 years, he’s turned to his Troy-Bilt 2600 PSI 2.3-GPM Pressure Washer with a Honda Engine.

“The number one reason I love it is because it’s reliable,” he says.

While he uses his pressure washer for cleaning and prepping concrete, fences, decks and houses, it’s not an everyday tool.

“We do a lot of staining of decks, and it does a nice job cleaning those,” Hardcastle says.

He also appreciates the options he has with four spray nozzles. But it’s the reliability over the years that has made him a fan.

“There are some products out there that just don’t work,” he says. “I can’t use my pressure washer in the winter; but every spring when I start it up again, it works.”

2 FROM OUR PRO:

With its focus on residential painting, Imhoff Fine Residential Painting relies on a pressure washer for concrete finishing and exterior paint jobs two to three times a week.

After working in the family painting business in Minnesota for nearly a decade, Douglas Imhoff started his own business with his wife in Denver, where for 10 years, he has had just one unit—a Mi-T-M 3000 Pressure Washer.

It’s reliable and versatile, he says, and it’s light enough that most of his crew members can lift it.

“It’s really heavy-duty,” he says. “In 10 years, we’ve had to repair it a couple times, but getting parts has always been easy.”

He and his team appreciate the ability to use different tips— such as Viper Rotating Nozzle Tips—and to add solvent to the flow.

Making sure your crew is trained, Imhoff adds, is essential. “It’s not widely known, but you can cause damage to homes or hurt yourself if you’re not careful,” he says.

3 FROM OUR PRO:

Skip McPherson uses his pressure washers 10 months of the year. The Virginia-based owner of McPherson Painting & Carpentry, LLC, says they come in handy predominantly for prepping surfaces for exterior staining and painting.

“Plus, here in the Chesapeake Bay area, everyone has a dock, and docks need regular care and cleaning,” he says.

With 30 years in business, McPherson says he’s found it’s wise to have two pressure washers on hand. That way, if one breaks down, he still has one. Plus, he says, he finds increased productivity often results from sending two crew members to a single job.

For the work he does, McPherson says he doesn’t need much power, so he looks for pressure washers with a maximum of 2.5 GPM and 3000 PSI.

“You have to be very careful with these machines,” he says. “You can cause a lot of damage if you’re not. Less is more.”

He also likes having a lighter-weight model that one person can lift into a truck. But he isn’t brand loyal, noting that he currently has a 3000 PSI PowerStroke and a 3000 PSI Troy-Bilt Pressure Washer.

“I’ve been pleased with both,” he says.

4 FROM OUR PRO:

For Michigan-based Paul Bauer, a pressure washer is a great tool for prepping decks and residential exteriors.

The owner of Bauers Home Improvement likes his 3100 PSI PowerStroke Pressure Washer.

“I like it for its portability,” Bauer says. “It’s easy to get up into the truck, and if we ever needed to get it to a second story, we could.”

Plus, because of its small footprint, it stores easily too—which is handy because it’s a tool you can’t use year-round.

Meanwhile, Bauer’s partner and brother still opts for a pressure washer that is no longer available, a 3000 PSI PowerStroke with a Honda GCV 190 Engine.

“He’s had it for a few years,” Bauer says. “It’s a bit bulkier, but it’s dependable. It’s a great machine.”

5 FROM OUR PRO:

With more than 15 years in business, Christian Militello of Militello Painting & Powerwashing outside of Philadelphia, believes in the power of a good pressure washer.

It’s a service that makes up a good portion of his business. That’s why he invested in a Pressure-Pro Professional 3500 PSI (Gas-Cold Water) High-Flow Belt-Drive Aluminum Frame Pressure Washer with a Honda Engine.

“Belt-driven machines last a lot longer than those with piston-driven pumps,” he explains. “The Pressure-Pro is built for consistent use. The ones you might buy at a box store are for medium use—maybe 10 hours a week. This one can do hundreds of hours a week, and we change the oil on it every 50 hours or so.”

He also likes that this pressure washer has replaceable parts that will make any future repairs easier.

For most jobs—siding, concrete, decks—a lower PSI setting is called for, Militello says.

“The only times we’ll use a maximum PSI would be on flatwork—removing graffiti or gum on concrete, for example,” he adds.

Militello mounts his pressure washer in a 14-foot enclosed trailer with a water tank and two chemical tanks.

He offers some advice to his fellow paint pros: First, look closely at PSI and gallons per-minute (GPM), which gives you a cleaning- units measurement.

“The higher the cleaning unit, the more area you can clean faster,” he says. “And one of the most important parts, no matter what you buy, is the pump.”

Look for pumps with a ceramic core, he advises, because they are more heat resistant.