If you need to wash large decks, clean stained driveways or strip paint, experts say you need a gas pressure washer. Be forewarned: it's easy to damage home siding with too high a pressure setting (especially soft woods like cedar or in spots where the siding is caulked). Regardless, most experts maintain that gas power washer is the best tool for that job. You just need to select the proper pressure settings and use a nozzle with a wide enough angle (usually 25 degrees) to avoid doing damage.
We found the most recommendations for Ridgid pressure washers, sold at Home Depot. This is partly because Ridgid uses Cat triplex pumps, a top-rated brand of the most recommended pump type. These industrial-grade pumps aren't just durable, they're also cost-effective to repair, and Ridgid's three-year warranty is another plus. Ridgid pressure washers also earn kudos for their Subaru OHV engines, which are fuel-efficient and meet California emissions standards. Like similarly well-regarded Honda OHV engines, these provide benefits not only from an environmental perspective, but for the user's health, too.
Reviewers say the 3,000-psi Ridgid RD80701 (*Est. $600) is an excellent buy for the money because of the aforementioned Cat triplex pump it features. Another recommended model, the 3,300-psi Ridgid RD80702 (*Est. $750), offers a faster flow rate -- 3 gpm compared with 2.6 for the less expensive RD80701. The Ridgid RD80701 pressure washer isn't sold at PressureWashersDirect.com, but staffers there say that in general, 3,000 psi is powerful enough to strip paint.
Most owners posting user reviews say they love these Ridgid power washers; of close to 70 posting on HomeDepot.com, over half give it 5 out of 5 stars. We did find some complaints about leaky pumps and small parts needing replacement. Owners say that warranty service is good, but that it can also be slow. Additionally, if you see a Ridgid RD80701 whose price has been substantially reduced, it's apt to be one of the earlier units that used an axial cam pump instead of a Cat triplex. If you come across one that looks like a surprising deal, price-wise, be sure to verify which pump is being employed before you plunk down your money.
Product experts at PressureWashersDirect.com recommend a Karcher gas pressure washer as best in its category, the Karcher G 3050 OH (*Est. $500). The Karcher G 3050 OH is rated at 3,000 psi, with a flow rate of 2.5 gpm. It has a Honda GC190 engine, and an axial cam pump with a brass pump head for greater durability. The engine has a two-year warranty, the rest of the unit gets one year. Over 55 owners posting reviews of an earlier version of this model on PowerWashersDirect.com give it an average rating of 4.7 out of 5, with few complaints recorded.
Experts say that since most homeowners use a pressure washer for only about 20 hours a year, a heavy-duty Cat pump may be a good long-term investment -- lasting about 1,000 hours on average before needing service -- but is otherwise overkill. Less expensive gas pressure washers often use axial cam pumps, and many earn high ratings from owners.
One model that gets great owner reviews is the 3,000-psi, 2.5-gpm NorthStar 1577544 (*Est. $500). It uses an axial cam pump and has only a two-year warranty, but it is powered by a Honda GC190 OHC, the same engine used in the Karcher G 3050 OH discussed above. Note that Honda's GC engines aren't recommended as highly as the superior Honda GX series, but they're still fuel-efficient and meet California standards. As for the washer itself, its water pressure is adjustable, a real plus. Many of the 58 reviewers on NorthernTool.com describe themselves as home handymen, and they give the NorthStar 1577544 an almost perfect average rating -- 4.9 out of 5. All say they would recommend this pressure washer to a friend.
A less expensive 3,000-psi pressure washer, the Husky HU80432A (*Est. $400), earns high ratings and mostly positive reviews and ratings from owners at HomeDepot.com. It has a Honda GCV190 engine and a brass axial cam pump, with a flow rate of 2.5 gpm. This Husky pressure washer carries a two-year warranty.
However, unless you plan to strip paint, experts say you don't need a washer with 3,000 psi. The Craftsman 20432 (*Est. $350) is rated at 2600 psi with a 2.3 gpm flow rate. It has a Honda GVC160 (160 cc) engine and an axial cam pump. Owners give it high ratings on Sears.com; the main complaints we saw are that it doesn't have a detergent bottle, and the hose reel doesn't work properly. On the positive side, most owners say it starts easily and has plenty of power. It has a two-year warranty.
The 2,600-psi Troy-Bilt 20415 (*Est. $340), available at Lowes.com, is virtually identical to the Craftsman pressure washer discussed above -- same engine, same two-year warranty. (Both brands are manufactured by MTD.) It's an update to a pressure washer that's earned top marks in comparison tests, and over 80 owners reviewing it at Lowes.com thus far give the 20415 decent ratings (an average of 3.4 out of 5) and good feedback. A number of similar Troy-Bilt pressure washers also get positive owner/user reviews.
We also found some positive reviews for less expensive pressure washers by Craftsman, Husky, Power Boss, Powerhorse and Troy-Bilt. Your best choice may depend partly on where you can easily get parts and repairs. Pay special attention to the engine, not only for emissions but also for fuel economy.