Today we’re taking a look at these three popular forms of high-pressure cleaning. How are they similar, and how are they different? Does one have an advantage over the other? And what are the average costs that customers can expect for hiring out the work?
Find out what differentiates power washing and pressure washing, the advantages of soft washing, and which tool is the best for your home improvement job.
Power Washing, Pressure Washing, Soft Washing: What’s the Difference?
Both power and pressure washing involve the same basic process of spraying high-pressure water at a surface for the purpose of cleaning it. And you’re likely to hear people using the two terms interchangeably. However, there is one important difference between power washing and pressure washing.
Power wash and pressure wash equipment look pretty similar. The big difference is heat. With power washing, the water is warm or even hot. Power washers allow the operator to change the temperature, giving the operator much more control of the cleaning process.
Because power washing equipment includes both pumps (for the pressure) and heating elements (to get the water hot), the equipment tends to be more expensive than simple pressure washers.
The addition of heat gives power washers a cleaning edge over other forms. However, power washing is also a bit more finicky. Too much heat can damage certain surfaces (such as vinyl siding and other various residential surfaces), and learning which surfaces work best at which temperatures takes time. Unless you’re highly comfortable working in this medium, it’s probably best to leave the power wash work to professionals.
Pressure washing is power washing without the heat. Pressure wash equipment simply pressurizes and sprays the water you hook it up to, at whatever temperature it’s already at. Because pressure wash equipment doesn’t need the heating or temperature control elements, the cost is generally much lower than the cost of power wash equipment.
Pressure washers are also simpler to operate than power washers, for the same reason. It’s not uncommon to see consumer-grade pressure washers for sale. You may even have one in your garage already. Pressure washers also often spray at a higher velocity than power washers. This can be an advantage in some applications, but it can also be a disadvantage if you’re trying to clean more delicate surfaces.
Soft washing differs from the other two methods in two ways. First, the spray is softer, using a lower PSI or special nozzles that reduce pressure. Second, some kind of chemical cleaning agent is added to the water. A soft wash, then, is a pressure wash with less pressure and added cleaning agents.
Most commercial pressure wash machines are equipped to do either pressure wash or soft wash, and a qualified professional cleaner can perform both techniques.
Which Technique Is Right for Which Surface?
All three techniques have advantages as well as weaknesses. Certain surface types respond better to one or the other, and all three techniques can do damage if used improperly or on the wrong surfaces.
When Power Washing Is Best
Power washing is best used for specific, stubborn situations. Getting grease and oil stains off surfaces, removing chewing gum from floors, and powering through mildew and mold all require the heat that power washing adds to the process. This heat gives power washing an advantage over the other options in certain situations. Any other situation around your home exterior where you have a highly durable material covered in stubborn stains could be a good candidate for a power wash. For example, power washing can also be used to effectively clean contaminants from most types of home exteriors. The heat that’s added to the process can be a great way to loosen stubborn, stuck-on debris, grime or gunk.
When Pressure Washing Is Best
Of the three processes, pressure washing is the highest intensity process. Pressure washing is a simple process; no heat controls or additives to worry about here. But reserve it for solid, hard surfaces, like concrete, fence work, stone, and tile. Roofs can be pressure washed with proper pressure settings. It can also be a good tool for removing stubborn stains and tough grime on hard surfaces.
The main advantage here is sheer intensity or power. Of course, that power can also be a disadvantage if it gets directed at something a bit too fragile. Anything porous, fragile, or flexible runs the risk of being damaged by pressure washing. Avoid pressure washing painted material as well as softer wood products like wicker or bamboo.
When Soft Washing Is Best
Soft washing is a great choice for many surfaces, including those that might not stand up well to higher pressure. A home improvement expert at Angie’s List explains that the chemical additive used in soft washing is great for breaking down biological material like mold, algae, or moss. The lower pressure used keeps other surface materials and even your yard and plants safe. He also points out that painted surfaces and masonry last longer when cleaned with a soft wash compared to a harder spray.
Soft washing is perfect for more delicate surfaces, including vinyl, aluminum, or painted siding, as well as brick, masonry, stone, stucco, and fiber board. Soft washing gets siding super clean without the potentially damaging impact of high-pressure washing. Because it’s safe for glass and seals, it can also be utilized to clean windows, which we recommend doing yearly.
The cost for all three kinds of washing is fairly similar. But rarely is “which one is cheapest?” the right question. When hiring a professional to clean your property (and we think you should), you’ll get the right mix of all three washes, at a price you agree upon beforehand.
Find out how to Prep for Power Washing Services.
Reliable Residential Pressure, Power & Soft Washing Services – Trotta’s
You don’t need to know the difference or figure out the best equipment for tough home maintenance jobs. Pressure, power and soft washing equipment are our tools of the trade. Call your local experts at Trotta’s at (330) 940-3705 or request a free quote online today.