Best Air Compressor for Spray Painting ( Reviewed 2023)

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Last updated: September 15, 2023

Expert Opinions and Reviews from Practical Experience with Air Compressors for Spray Paints

Unless you are using an airless spray gun or an HVLP that is electric or turbine driven, you will need a solid compressor to power your spray gun.

A good-quality air compressor will deliver the correct airflow and pressure to your gun and ensure you get the best color for your project. It is more likely to work with any paint gun and other pneumatic tools.

Sadly, finding the best air compressor for spray painting can be challenging, given the sheer number of products out there. But don’t worry, we are here to make things easier.

In this guide, we will look at ten of the best air compressors in the market for spray painting. All the units reviewed here are multifunctional and can power various pneumatic tools, including a paint sprayer. Without wasting any more time, let’s delve straight in.

Can I Use an Air Compressor to Spray Paint?

Yes, you can. If you’re using an air paint sprayer, you will need a compressor to operate it. This is because air sprayers, as the name implies, use air to atomize the paint. In other words, the compressed air is supplied by a compressor.

Another type of paint sprayer – airless sprayer – does not require air to function. Instead, it uses high-pressure pneumatics to atomize and expel the material onto the target surface. It can be gas-operated or electric-operated.

Air sprayers are quite popular among DIYers and professionals and are suitable for various applications, including spray painting.

There are many benefits of using air sprayers with compressors. They are more exciting and fun to work with than traditional painting methods like rollers and paintbrushes.

More importantly, they are more efficient and provide a smoother finish. There’s no orange peel problem, and you can complete the job faster.

What size Air Compressor is Needed For Spray Painting?

This depends on a few factors – the size of your project, your budget, and how portable you want the unit to be.

If you’re painting a small surface, such as a table or chair, a small air compressor for painting of around 10-gallon will be fine if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. A 10-gallon air compressor can output up to 20 PSI, which is enough to paint many small items.

However, if you’re planning to paint a larger surface, such as a tank or the walls in your home, you will need much more pressure and runtime.

In this case, an 80-gallon air compressor is highly recommended. Likewise, for a medium-sized project, such as a car, you will need a 20-40 gallon air compressor.

While it’s best to opt for a larger air compressor as this will allow you to cover more projects, you may be limited by your budget.

Larger air compressors are usually more expensive and can cost up to $2000 (for example, an 80-gallon model). If your budget is less than $1000, you may only be able to get a 20 or 30-gallon unit.

Expectantly, the larger the size of the air compressor, the lesser its portability.

What Are the Different Types of Air Compressors For Spray Painting?

There are many different types of air compressors. Most people are familiar with the large stationary models often found in some garages, body shops, and manufacturing plants.

These compressors usually have a vertical design and occupy a small floor space. But they are quite heavy and impractical for household use.

There are three common types of consumer-style air compressors designed that work best for DIYers and household applications. They include pancake, pontoon, and hot dog air compressors. Let’s go over each one.

Pancake Air Compressors

Pancake air compressors are named according to their shape, i.e., they have a flat, round tank usually made of steel. Due to their small tank size, they are best suited for small painting projects, airbrushing, and powering nail guns. They are relatively lightweight and have a low-profile design which makes them stable. You will need something more robust for projects requiring a high volume of air.

Hot Dog Air Compressors

As their name implies, hot dog air compressors have a slightly larger tank than pancake compressors, so they can handle larger paint jobs, as well as inflating projects.

However, they are less portable air compressors but stable than pancake units. However, they provide longer runtimes and higher PSI.

Pontoon Air Compressors

Pontoon air compressors resemble a pontoon boat and usually consist of multiple hot dog small air compressors for painting arranged in series. They can handle higher air volume, provide max PSI, and power a large variety of pneumatic tools.

They are the ideal choice for large and length paint jobs but are usually heavy and not easy to move around.

How To Choose The Best Air Compressor for Spray Painting

Here are the key factors to consider when purchasing an air compressor for spray painting. 

1. Weight

The weight of an air compressor determines how portable and maneuverable it will be. This is particularly crucial if you are working on a large project and want something you can easily move around.

It would be a lot easier to move a 10-gallon air compressor around than an 80-gallon air compressor.

Ultimately, your portability needs will depend on your work environment and the size of your project. If you’re working in a workshop and have a high-pressure hose that is long enough, then there’s no need to take the air compressor anywhere. On the other hand, for household painting, a portable may be preferred. 

Likewise, a larger air compressor will run for longer periods, which is beneficial if you’re painting an extensive surface. With a smaller unit, you can run out of air midway into the project. 

In general, you should opt for a small air compressor, ideally 8 to 20 gallons, if you want something you can move frequently. Otherwise, go for a larger compressor. 

2. Style

Another thing you should consider when choosing a suitable air compressor for your sprayer is the style. As earlier indicated, there are different styles of air compressors – pontoon, hot dog, pancake, etc. 

Pontoon air compressors are usually robust and have a higher CFM and run time. However, they are not portable as other models. Pancake compressors, on the other hand, are very lightweight and portable air compressors but are less powerful. 

So, the best choice for you boils down to the specific needs of your project.

3. Pressure

Two categories of spray guns use compressed air – the HVLP (high volume, low pressure) spray gun and the LVLP (low volume, low pressure) spray gun. As their names imply, both types of sprayers have low-pressure requirements. As a result, you won’t need a lot of pressure to get the job done. 

Having said that, adequate pressure is still required to atomize the paint and achieve an even application. For coat projects, you will need 25 to 30 PSI to ensure a smooth coating. 

4. CFM Rating

CFM stands for cubic feet per minute, and it refers to the air volume supplied by the air compressor per minute. It is the quantity of air that the compressor can produce at a specific pressure. This is the most important measure when trying to determine the performance or efficiency of a air compressor unit.

For the best performance, it’s best to go for an air compressor with a higher CFM than your spray gun. So, you must check the CFM requirement of your gun before proceeding.

If the air compressor has the same CFM as the gun or lower, the gun will be less efficient, and that will impact the results. Most sprayers have a CFM rating of 6 and above. 

5. Power

To get the best air compressor for spray painting, what you also need to consider when purchasing an air compressor is horsepower. This horsepower determines how potent and efficient the tool will be. A higher HP translates to a higher volume of air and pressure. 

Having said that, for DIY and non-industrial applications, a 1-2 HP motor is usually enough to power sprayers with 6 CFM and 30-40 PSI requirements. If you can get a unit with 2 HP, then that’s perfect! Make sure it can deliver at least 8 CFM at 40 PSI, especially if you plan to use it for multiple painting projects. 

6. Oiled vs. Oilless 

Before now, we used to have only oil compressors with regular pump lubrication. Nowadays, we also have oil free air compressors that are pre-lubricated. 

To choose between an oil vs. oil free air compressor, you have to base your decision on three factors – power, price, and maintenance. Oil compressors usually cost more and are difficult to clean and maintain since you must regularly check and add the oil. However, they typically last longer than oil-free units. 

On the other hand, oil-free air compressors are much easier to maintain and cost less than their oil counterparts. However, they are not as powerful as oil compressors. 

7. Noise 

The air compressor noise is an important consideration, especially if you’re going to use it in small, closed areas. Ideally, you want an air compressor that won’t disturb those around you.

You will find soundless air compressors, but they are usually very expensive. But that doesn’t mean there are no affordable models that are less noisy. 

Most manufacturers often highlight the sound made by the air compressor, usually in decibels. The lower the number of decibels, the less noisy the air compressor is.

Even if you have a noisy air compressor, there are other things you can do to reduce the noise. You can install sound dampers such as fiberglass insulation or other independent accessories to block the noise and keep it under control.  

Our Top 10 Picks for the Best Air Compressor for Spray Painting 2023

1. Craftsman Pancake Air Compressor

If you want an air compressor with all the essential tools and accessories you need for small painting tasks, you will not go wrong with this high-quality kit from Craftsman.

At just over 32 pounds, this unit is one of the best portable air compressors for spray painting.

It is easy to use and doesn’t operate as loud as most air compressors. The tone is low and deeper than many models with the same decibels, which makes it less annoying.

Talking about its weight, it’s pretty compact and has a 6-gallon capacity which maximizes portability and air storage. It has a robust construction made of solid cast iron, which makes it capable of handling high pressure and running for long periods.

Another major highlight of the unit is its inbuilt oil-free pump which removes any hassle with cleanup and maintenance. It also ensures the air compressor lasts longer than similar units that use oil. 

The pressure output is up to 150 PSI with 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI. This allows for quick recovery time and ensures adequate cut-inch pressure for several applications.

The air compressor is one of the more reliable models out there. It’s proudly made in the USA by one of the oldest and most reputable companies. It will work with any air tool, not just sprayers. You get all these and more at a very reasonable price.

Our only complaint about the unit is that the capacity is comparatively low. But that’s the compromise made to ensure it’s lightweight. The low-capacity tank means you have to refill it often if you’re using it for an extensive project. So it’s best suited for small jobs.

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Lightweight (easy to transport)

  • Offers rapid compression and quick recovery

  • Comes with necessary accessories

  • Affordable price

  • Easy to maintain (oil-free pump)

  • Great for beginners 

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • A bit noisy

  • Small tank

2. Porter-Cable Air Compressor

Don’t be deceived by its small size; this PORTER-CABLE air compressor packs a lot of power and flexibility.

It fills the tank quickly and provides enough airflow to power various pneumatic tools, including your spray gun, nail gun, impact wrench, finish nailer, and even tires.

Like the Craftsman air compressor, it has an oil-free pump for long life and maintenance. It is lightweight (weighs only 30 pounds) and takes up very little space for storage. You can easily toss it into your truck for a remote job.

It has a 6-gallon pancake-style tank suitable for small jobs and features a water drain valve and rubber feet for increased stability. The maximum tank pressure is 150 PSI, which allows for longer runtimes with more air in the tank. 

The tank is made of stainless steel for durability. The console cover also protects vital components. Remember to drain the tank whenever you’re done to prevent corrosion.

The air compressor has an SCFM of 2.5 at 90 PSI, allowing quick recovery time. It also includes two regulated air couplers to support two users. Make sure the SCFM is compatible with that of your sprayer before purchasing. 

We recommend using a gun with lower pressure demands; otherwise, you may need to wait for the compressor to catch up a few times while working.

The unit operates at 82 decibels, so it’s relatively loud. Also, the power cord is only 3 ft., which is too short. 

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Quick recovery time

  • Comes with rubber feet for stability

  • Weighs only 30 pounds

  • Longer run times 

  • Easy cold starts

  • Durable oil-free pump

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • Short power cord

  • Fairly loud

3. Dewalt Pancake Air Compressor

The Dewalt Pancake Air Compressor is built to overcome the limitations of regular pancake compressors. It is powerful enough (at least for most pneumatic tools), provides enough CFM, and is not too loud. 

The unit comes equipped with a 6-gallon tank that provides up to a maximum of 165 PSI, making it suitable for a variety of pneumatic tools in, including sprayers, nail guns, inflating tires, impact wrenches, framing nailers, and so on.

For the best results, ensure the CFM rating of your device is under 2.2 CFM. You will get a longer run time with quick recovery, so you won’t have to wait too long between projects. 

Even though the compressor produces a decent amount of air, it is not suitable for commercial use. 

As earlier indicated, the compressor operates with lower noise compared to many similar models in the market. Specifically, it operates at 78.5 decibels, making it suitable for indoor use.  

The weight is about 30 pounds, so it’s easy to carry and store. 

Other interesting features of this air compressor include a console cover to protect the console from damage, a high flow regulator to control the pressure output, rerouted outlet tube, and two universal couplers that make it possible for two people to use the tool simultaneously. 

You also get an oil-free pump for easy maintenance. The ball drain valve allows for quick and thorough tank draining. You can also remove the console cover for easy repair. 

Overall, we are impressed with the features of this handy air compressor. For its price, we can’t recommend it enough. 

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Easy to use

  • Can support two users simultaneously

  • Comes with an oil-free pump for easy maintenance

  • Highly efficient motor for easy start even in cold weather

  • Easy to carry

  • Perfect for small paint jobs

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • Not suitable for industrial applications

4. MAC 2400 Air Compressor

The Makita Big Bore Air Compressor is arguably one of the best air compressors for spray painting. Is a perfect match for serious DIYers or contractors who want a compressor that is both powerful and capable of withstanding extreme environments.

It has a solid roll-cage construction that makes it suitable for any job site. This is complemented by a cast iron pump that runs at a lower RPM of 1730, resulting in less noise and wear.

The pump is oil-lubricated to ensure cooler running temperatures and to improve durability.

As the name suggests, the pump is equipped with a Big Bore cylinder and piston to promote quick recovery and improve overall performance. The cylinder is constructed with cast iron to reduce wear and increase the pump’s life. It can be removed for easy maintenance. 

Unlike many standard models, this unit features a large automotive-style industrial air filter which helps to increase air intake, resulting in higher efficiency. It’s also equipped with a powerful 2.5 HP 4-Pole motor that provides 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI.

The unit produces about 78 decibels of sound while in operation, which is reasonably low considering its power. It will run almost any pneumatic tool, including sprayers, nail guns, staple guns, etc. 

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Doesn’t produce a lot of noise

  • Comes with a filter for better air intake and increased efficiency

  • Has low AMP draw to minimize tripped breakers during start-up

  • Delivers a quality paint job

  • Well-constructed 

  • Rubber feet to reduce vibrations and prevent marring

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • Fairly heavy

5. California Air Tools Steel Tank Compressor

If you want a air compressor you can use indoors without causing a lot of noise, this unit from California Air Tools might be the perfect match for you.

With only 60 decibels, it is the quietest model on the list. But beyond that, it packs a lot of features that ensure it delivers considerably high performance.

One of these is its filter technology. It is one of the few options that come with an air filter attached. This ensures it provides cleaner air to your spray gun, resulting in optimal operation. 

The tank is only 8 gallons, so it’s not the most robust unit, but this reduces the entire weight of the unit. Altogether, the whole unit weighs about 48 pounds which is fairly lightweight.

Even if you consider this heavy, there’s no need to worry as the wheel kit and handle makes it very easy to transport. 

Like most high-end models, the unit has an oil-free pump, which makes cleaning and maintenance easy. The lack of oil also means you can use it in various terrains and temperatures, even in cold weather. 

As earlier indicated, it produces only 60 decibels of sound, which is 30 percent less noise than standard air compressors. This makes it ideal for indoor use, especially where noise is an issue. 

Even though this compressor is ultra-quiet, it comes equipped with a powerful 1HP motor that facilitates pressure buildup and can run for up to an hour at a stretch.

The motor operates at just 1680 RPM, creating less wear and noise. It can run for over 3000 hours before wear, which is 6X the life cycle of many similar models. 

Our only complaint is that the unit doesn’t come with an air hose. You have to purchase the hose separately. 

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Ultra-quiet operation (only 60 decibels)

  • Equipped with an oil-free dual piston pump system for easy maintenance

  • Suitable for cold temperatures

  • Comes with a filter system for better tool operation

  • Fairly portable

  • Affordable price

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • No hose included

6. Wen 2289 Vertical Compressor

The WEN 2289 is designed for serious DIYers and contractors who want a powerful air compressor that can deliver. It’s a hot dog air compressor designed to stand upright, as the name suggests.

One of the main highlights of the unit is that it gives you full control over pressure. It is equipped with an adjustable regulator and two pressure gauges.

One gauge is for the pressure in the tank, while the other is for the regulated pressure. This allows you to get precise settings for the regulator.

In terms of capacity, the tank is 10 gallons and is made of reinforced steel. It provides airflow of 4 CFM at 90 PSI and 5 CFM at 40 PSI, while the maximum pressure of the tank is about 150 PSI. 

You also get a ΒΌ-inch NPT coupler and an oil-free pump. Talking about the pump, the absence of oil makes it much easier to clean and maintain for a long time compared to a pump that uses oil. 

The entire unit weighs about 71. 5 pounds, which is quite heavy, but it also comes with two 7-inch never-flat wheels for easy maneuvering and mobility. 

Overall, we are impressed with the quality of the device. Although it’s a bit expensive, it is well worth it, considering how powerful it is. Also, compared to most traditional hot dog units, it offers more stability, air volume, and power.

Given its massive size, it’s probably best suited for a professional job site.

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Comes with rubber wheels for easy movement

  • Easy to clean and maintain

  • Comes with pressure adjustment

  • Easy to use

  • Solid construction

  • Reliable quality 

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • Heavy

  • A bit expensive 

7. DeWalt Max Trim D55140 Air Compressor

The DEWALT Max Trim is another portable air compressor that stands out for small paint jobs, tire filling, cleaning out things, and powering a few other air tools. It is lightweight and quieter than many other air compressors of the same size.

It’s mainly designed for light jobs and DIYer applications. If you want something to take on larger jobs, consider getting a larger unit.

One of the first things you will notice about this unit is that it’s solidly built. It’s constructed with heavy-duty cast iron surrounded by a roll cage with frame protection. It also has a wrap around the control panel to shield the key components.

Despite its cast iron construction, the unit weighs only 24 pounds, making it lightweight and easy to carry around when needed. Connecting it to your tool is easy and quick, and it has a manual that is easy to follow. 

The oil-free pump allows for maintenance-free operation and increases durability. It also keeps your job site clean since no oil will be transferred to the workpiece. Endeavor to drain the unit from the valve after each use to avoid any water buildup in the tank. Check the manual for instructions. 

This air compressor comes equipped with a low 0.6 HP motor and delivers 0.75 CFM at 90 PSI, while the maximum pressure is 135 PSI. We normally recommend 1-2 HP, but 0.6 HP is still a good deal as long as you use it for the right jobs, ideally, hobby projects.

The tank refills in under 1.5 minutes, which is quite impressive; it will reduce delays in your work.

You will need a good air hose with brass fittings to use the compressor. It’s recommended to go for one with dual male connectors to get the best performance. 

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Perfect for light jobs 

  • Durable oil-free pump (low maintenance)

  • Lightweight and portable

  • Low noise rating (71 decibels)

  • Heavy-duty construction

  • Easy to use and maintain 

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • Doesn’t come with a hose

  • Not suitable for large projects

8. Husky 20 Gal. Vertical Air Compressor

With up to 1000 hours of lifetime and noise rating of 73 dBA, the Husky 20 Gal. Electric Air Compressor is one of the more powerful models that is not too loud.

The big-capacity compressor delivers 4.0 SCFM at 90 PSI, making it powerful enough for most pneumatic tools, including spray guns, drills, nailers, wrenches, etc.

The air compressor weighs about 106 pounds, so it’s quite heavy. However, it has eight rubber wheels, a strong grip, and a 6 ft. cord for easy mobility. Unlike hot dog or pancake models, it has a vertical frame design which takes up less space for storage. The electric motor/pump is oil-free and requires less maintenance. 

It is worth mentioning that even though the airflow is 4 CFM at 90 PSI, the max PSI is 165. A big regulator knob on the panel helps to control flow, while two quick couplers make it possible to connect the tool to another unit and work simultaneously.

Other notable features of the unit include intake silencer filters to maintain the air quality, a metal control panel with a big regulator knob, a reinforced frame to protect the pump and motor, a 1.5 HP induction motor with low RPM for longer service life, and performance, water drain valve, and a strong handle with solid grip. 

The unit recovers a bit slower than most models on the list, but this is not an issue, as it still performs well. 

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Oil-free pump

  • Reinforced frame to protect the pump

  • Solid rubber wheels for mobility

  • Quieter than most models

  • Comes with intake filters 

  • Easy to store 

  • Oil-free maintenance 

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • Quiet heavy

  • Slower recovery 

9. BOSTITCH Air Compressor

With just about 29 pounds weight, the BOSTITCH BTFP02012 is another portable air compressor that delivers good performance without hiccups. The pancake unit packs a lot of exciting features for its price. 

First, it comes outfitted with high-flow regulators that give you control over airflow and consequently maximize performance. It delivers 2.6 CFM of air at 90 PSI, while the capacity and pressure limits are 6 gallons and 150 PSI, respectively.

This ensures long run time and quick recovery. The high-pressure limit is rather impressive, considering the size of the unit.

Another important highlight is the oil-free pump and efficient motor. The motor starts even in cold weather, making it ideal for hobby painters who live in colder climates. The oil-free motor also means you won’t have to do much in terms of maintenance.

Like many high-end models, this unit is equipped with two universal couplers to support two users easily. As earlier indicated, recovery is quick as long as the motor is running, which comes in handy when working on a large project. 

As far as noise is concerned, the unit operates at 78.5 decibels, which is a bit loud. It will not disturb the neighborhood, but you probably won’t be able to have a conversation next to where it is. Also, the 5m cord that comes with the machine may not be convenient for people with a large workstation. 

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Quieter than many similar models

  • Great value for your money

  • Solid construction

  • Lightweight and portable air compressor(weighs only 29 pounds)

  • Highly efficient motor with easy start-up 

  • Oil-free pump for low maintenance 

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • Short power cord

10. PORTER-CABLE PXCMF220VW Air Compressor

With 100 years of providing quality power tools and 5-star service, Porter-Cable is one of the most reputable brands, making it the best air compressor for spray painting.

The Porter Cable PXCMF220VW is a powerful compress with an oil-free induction motor that delivers up to 150 PSI and shuts off automatically. It comes equipped with a 20-gallon steel tank with a Twin-V cast iron pump.

The pump is also oil-free and requires little maintenance. The lack of oil eliminates the need for constant oil checks and changes.

The unit has a low voltage start-up, so the motor has less current draw and torque. You also enjoy a longer run time when using it for small applications. It is equipped with a 1.5 HP motor and delivers 150 max PSI. Meanwhile, the normal CFM rating is 5 CFM at 40 PSI and 4 CFM at 90 PSI.

The tool also features high-grade motor windings that help extend the lifespan. 

The total weight is about 97 pounds, which makes it ordinarily hefty and difficult to move around. To solve this problem, rubber wheels were added to increase stability and mobility.

Our only complaint about the tool is that it’s quite loud. At 84 decibels, it can be very noisy, so it may not be the best option for a small, indoor space as it can wake up the whole house. 

Some of the supported tasks include hobby spray painting, nailing or stapling, inflating, and wrenching. 

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Pressure relief valve for efficient tank drainage

  • Includes seven wheels for mobility

  • Durable oil-free pump

  • Low voltage start-up

  • Comes with rubber wheels for mobility

  • Reliable quality

  • Reasonable pricing

What Could Change πŸ‘Ž

  • Quite heavy

  • Loud

Best air compressor for spray painting

How to use Air Compressor for Spray Painting?

Prepare Yourself

Start by wearing the correct safety gear because some spray paints are toxic. These include your hand gloves, a respiratory mask, and proper clothing. Next, select your paint and a thinner to go with it. This will ensure you get more color from the sprayer.

Prepare The Material 

Next, mix the paint and thinner in the specified ratios. You can remove any imperfections, such as sand, on the surface using an antistatic cloth. 

Select Your Spray Gun

Once the paint medium is ready, it’s time to choose the right type of spray gun for your compressor. Your gun should have a lower CFM requirement than the air compressor. Once the gun is ready, you can connect it to the compressor.

Connect The Air Compressor And Spray Gun

Once you have your spray gun and air compressor ready, connect them using a hose or some other attachment depending on the specific model. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Ensure you use the correct thread sizes. Also, the air compressor must have enough CFM, ideally higher than what the gun needs. 

Turn It On & Start Spraying

After attaching the hose to the air compressor and spray gun, turn on the compressor and press the trigger lock switch to start using the tool. You can adjust the pressure and flow of the paint to meet the needs of your project.

We recommend testing out the PSI level you’ve set by spraying on cardboard or something similar to ensure everything is working perfectly before shifting to the work surface.   

Tips for Using a Air Compressor to Spray Paint

To ensure the smooth operation of your air compressor when using it to spray paint, follow the tips below: 

  • Don’t use any size hose for the tool. Make sure the hose is not too long or too narrow, as that can cause pressure issues. For instance, a long can cause pressure drops. Choose an appropriate hose size according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, or use the one supplied with the tool. 

  • The hose diameter should be compatible with the volume capacity of the unit. In general, the higher the CFM rating of your compressor, the larger the hose you will need.

  • Make sure there’s no moisture in the air that is generated by the compressor, as this can alter the viscosity of the paint being delivered to the target surface. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to use a compressor that has an air filter. 

  • Tailing can occur when there’s a low-pressure supply to the spray gun. When this happens, some people often move closer to the workpiece; however, doing this increases your risk of having the paint run. Rather, you should wait a bit to allow the pressure to normalize before moving forward. 

  • Keep the compressor lines clean to prevent any change in the viscosity of the paint medium. Avoid any oil contamination in the hose or air tool. 

How to Maintain Air Compressors for Spray Painting

Routine maintenance on an air compressor ensures it functions correctly and helps to extend its service life. Follow the tips below to keep your compressor in good shape.

  • Whenever you want to use the machine, always check the components, especially the hoses, belts, and other moving parts, and ensure they’re working properly. Change any part that needs replacement or service it if necessary.

  • Never carry out any repair on the unit without going over the user manual. The manual is the best resource whenever you need to troubleshoot the compressor. 

  • If your compressor uses oil, make sure to change the oil when necessary to prevent any issues. The same rules apply to the air filter. Make sure it doesn’t exceed its limit and replace it when due.

  • Sometimes, the bolts and nuts on the compressor will become loose due to continuous use. This doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the machine. Rather, it’s a sign the machine has been vibrating a lot, and you should tighten them up. 

  • Make sure the intake valve of the compressor is clean at all times, as well as the connectors. This will ensure the machine works at full capacity. 

  • Inspect the hose for leaks and damages regularly. A damaged hose can affect the performance of the compressor. Also, check the air filter annually and ensure it doesn’t exceed its limits. 

  • General routine maintenance is also recommended and can be done annually. This will help extend the useful life of the compressor.

  • Avoid using any compressor that has a puncture or any form of damage, as the high pressure can cause a serious explosion that can lead to serious injury or even death. 

FAQs – What is the Best Air Compressor for Spray Painting

How Many CFM Do I Need For Spray Painting?

This depends on the particular spray gun you’re using. Most sprayers have a CFM requirement of 12 CFM or lower for optimal performance. For some models, the number can be up to 20 or even higher. Even though HVLP guns have low-pressure requirements, they often need a lot of air to be able to run for extended periods.

Can I Spray Paint Without Compressor?

Yes, a compressor is usually required when using an HVLP gun, specifically a compressor-style HVLP gun. The compressor supplies compressed air, which is used to atomize the paint medium. Airless sprayers, on the other hand, use material pressure to atomize paint, not air, so they don’t require a compressor.

What is the Best Air Pressure for Spray Painting?

This depends on your specific sprayer and the nature of your project. Most spray guns have a pressure chart in their user manual that recommends different pressures for different projects. In general, for most base coats, the pressure usually sits between 25 to 30 PSI. It’s usually more when higher atomization is required.

Can I Spray Paint With a 3 Gallon Air Compressor?

No, you shouldn’t! The air volume is just too small to do any meaningful work. If you do decide to use such a small compressor, you will have to refill the tank very often, which isn’t practical. To spray paint, you will need something larger to deliver enough compressed air, which is required to atomize the paint material. It’s recommended to use at least a 15-gallon compressor.

Can I Use a 6 Gallon Air Compressor for Paint Sprayer?

A 6-gallon air compressor is not the perfect choice for a sprayer. You will need something with higher air delivery for painting jobs. Whichever compressor you decide to use, make sure the pressure output is at least 25 PSI, which is the standard for operating spray guns.

Can You Use a Spray Gun Without a Compressor?

It depends on the type of spray gun you’re using. If it’s an airless spray gun, you don’t need a compressor or turbine to operate it. Airless sprayers typically use high-pressure gas or electricity to pump the material onto the target surface.

Can You Use a Spray Gun With a Pancake Air Compressor?

Yes, you can. A pancake air compressor is an excellent option for running a spray gun, especially if you need something small and lightweight. It’s particularly recommended for small tasks as long as it’s able to provide the correct pressure required to operate the spay gun.

Content Summary – Best Air Compressor for Spray Painting

Spray painting doesn’t have to be a challenging task as long as you use the correct tools. Choosing the right air compressor ensures you enjoy a longer run time and achieve a perfect final coat.

In selecting the air compressors above, we focused on factors such as power, weight, operating pressure, CFM rating, tank size, and sound level. We hope we were able to answer all your questions about choosing the best air compressor for spray painting.

It’s now time to jump in and get on with the next phase of your project. Drop your comments if you have any more questions. Until then, happy spraying!

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