Best Air Compressor for Painting

Image: Review of best Air compressor for paintingOne of the main uses of an air compressor is for spray painting. Plenty of auto detailing shops use air compressors for redoing the paint on cars and the same is true for those who do their own car detailing. If you are one of the many who is in the market for an air compressor to power your paint gun, then you may be curious as to what the best option is.

After all, air compressors have a lot of different uses, so it is only natural to want to find the one that fits your specific needs the best. I understand that a lot, which is why I’m here to help. In this article, you will find out all that you need to know to make an informed purchase when it comes to best air compressors for painting.

Top 3 Air Compressor for Painting

Here are some air compressors that come recommended from either myself or my friends who have experience when it comes to picking a good air compressor for painting.

DeWalt DXCMV5076055 Two Stage Oil-Lube Industrial Air Compressor

The first product that I personally want to recommend is the DeWalt DXCMV5076055. With an operating pressure of 175 PSI and an SCFM rating of 15.5 at 90 PSI, this Dewalt unit is well equipped for paint jobs.

60 gallon Air Compressor for painting

Model: DeWalt DXCMV5076055 – Click to see Price

Why do I recommend this particular model? Well, there are two things that stand out to me when I use this Dewalt air compressor for painting.

The first thing is the power of this unit. This is, without a doubt, an extremely powerful air compressor. Boasting around 5 horsepower, this compressor has the power to support a wide variety of paint guns. I can’t imagine anyone having any complaints with the power of this tool.

The second thing that stands out to me is the capacity of this air compressor. At an impressive 60 gallons, the DeWalt has the tank capacity to last for a long time. It makes doing longer jobs a lot easier.

Finally the air consumption rating, which is very important for paint guns is also very good.

I will note that the cost and weight of this air compressor will make it a non-starter for some.

  • Powerful 5HP motor.
  • Very good CFM rating
  • Good tank capacity at 60gal.
  • Not suitable for home use.

Campbell Hausfeld CE4104 Air Compressor

If you are in the market for something a bit less pricey and maybe a bit smaller, then you may want to check out the Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor. While I can’t vouch for it personally, I have heard good things about it from friends who use it.

80 Gallon Vertical Compressor

Model: Campbell Hausfeld CE4104 – Click to see Price

First off, despite being a single stage compressor, it still somehow manages to deliver 140 PSI in an 80 gallon tank. So, despite the slightly lower operating pressure, it still has that large capacity that you should always look for in an air compressor for painting.

It also has a very good CFM range. It outputs around 16 or so CFM at around 90 PSI. This means that the Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressor works well with nearly all the air tools and spray paint guns that are popular today.

  • Excellent tank capacity 80 Gal.
  • High CFM rating
  • Perfect for professional work.
  • Expensive
  • Large and heavy

Budget Pick: California Air Tools 10020C

While I firmly believe that painting requires a very high-capacity air compressor, I also acknowledge that isn’t possible for everyone. Likewise, some may want a lower capacity tank for touch-up jobs. In that case, I would recommend the California Air Tools 10020C.

Ultra Quiet Oil-Free Air Compressor, 2 HP

Model: California Air Tools 10020C – Click to see Price

This is a cheap, portable air compressor. It only has a 10 gallon tank, but that isn’t bad for light painting. You can use it for more serious painting jobs, but you are obviously going to have to stop and wait a lot more, which may be annoying to some.

Another feature that makes me recommend this to home owners and DIY users is that, it is an oil-free compressor. This means less maintenance cost for you.

In terms of CFM output, the California Air is alright in my experience. With an output of around 5CFM at 90 PSI, it is a low-intensity compressor, which makes it compatible with a wide variety of paint guns.

  • Affordable
  • Portable compressor
  • Oil free: Less maintenance.
  • Good for home and DIY use.
  • Low capacity: only 10 gallon tank.
  • Average output at 5CFM

Buyers Guide: Air Compressor for Spray Paint

In this section, I want to do a sort of buying guide that will explain what sort of factors that you need to consider when buying an air compressor. Now, I know that other air compressor buying guides exist, but this one will be different.

The reason it will be different is because I’m looking at it primarily from the perspective of painting. Most buying guides will focus on how to pick out a good air compressor, but not specifically for painting. I’m going to focus on what criteria and features are most important for this specific job.


How many CFM do I need for a paint gun? As I’m sure any tool aficionado can tell you, CFM stands for cubic feet per minute and it is one of, if not the most important stat to look for when shopping for an air compressor. The reason for this is that it helps to determine exactly how much power and pressure the air compressor is giving off.

To be more specific, CFM, along with PSI, is a determination of how much your air compressor is going to be spraying out when you pull down the trigger. It should be pretty obvious why this is important in a painting setting.

Unlike many other air tools such as impact wrench or nailer, painting requires continuous supply of compressed air. For example, you only need a low CFM air compressor for nail guns, which an intermittent tool.
On the other hand, paint guns are one of the power tools that consumes large volume of air. If you use a unit with low CFM rating, then when the air is used up, the pressure drops and you will have to wait until the sufficient air pressure is built-up in the tank.

It is also important because painting guns tend to have very specific CFM limits that they work best with. So, it becomes even more important for you to become familiar with the CFM. You have to try and match up (roughly anyway) the CFM of the spray gun to the CFM of your air compressor. Some variation is fine, but you can’t be too off, or it won’t work out well.

Tank Size

Another important consideration is tank size. Why?

Well, think about it. Painting is a job that can usually take quite a while. Imagine how long it would take to spray paint a car or large piece of furniture from start to finish. It is going to take even longer if you have a low-capacity tank.

What size air compressor do I need for painting?
Unless you are going to be exclusively doing touch-up jobs, then it is recommended that you invest in an air compressor with a large tank. How large exactly? Well, that will vary quite a bit. My personal recommendation would be to invest in an air compressor with at least a 60 or 80 gallon tank. You could probably get by with 30 gallons, but 80 gallons is best.

That may seem excessive at first I know, but trust me when I say that it will pay off in the end when you don’t have to stop constantly in the middle of a paint job because your tank doesn’t have the capacity to keep up.

Safety Tips

While painting isn’t the most dangerous job that you will use an air compressor for, you should still make sure to take general safety precautions. This includes using protective gear like goggles, operating them in a wide open area (preferably outside), and making sure to keep your work area free of any hazards.

You should now have the knowledge necessary to make an informed purchase when it comes to picking out a good air compressor for painting.