Best Air Compressors for Spray Painting reviewed

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 16, 2022
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Spray painting has become a much easier task, thanks to air compressors. With the right air compressor, you can spray paint large fences, pavements, and even walls within a few hours. Because spray paint using air compressors has become a common thing now, there are multiple options for you to choose from. But how will you know which air compressor is the right one for your task at hand? The best air compressor for spray painting is one that will work with most kinds of pint and sprayers.
You can get an air compressor that works with most kinds of spray painting jobs, or you could get one made for a specific kind of job. Below, we have all the information you need about the modern-day air compressor for spray painting.

How Do Air Compressors for Spray Painting Work?

Nowadays, most spray painting work requires you to use air compressors. An air compressor is an essential tool for spray painting quickly. But what exactly is an air compressor. It is a tool that compresses air and then releases the air with speed. This helps to generate power. It has a motor which works to fill the tank with a lot of air. When air is put into the tank, it gets compressed and pressurized. As the tank is filled with more and more air, the pressure generated can be used to power a spray gun.

7 Best Air Compressor for Spray Painting

Finding an air compressor perfect for your painting job can be tough with all these options available. If you want to know about the products worth your money, you can check out this list below.

1. BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor

BOSTITCH BTFP02012 Pancake Air Compressor

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Working with air compressors can be a messy task. We say this because air compressor maintenance requires working with oil. This mess can be very tiring to clean up after a hard day of work. The BOSTITCH Pancake air compressor had an oil-free pump. You don’t have to worry about an oily mess on top of the already existing mess from the paint. Oil-free pumps also require little to no maintenance. Therefore, you don’t have to spend a lot of time and money on the well-being of the compressor. Working at a 150 PSI, the product can work quite efficiently. The 6.0-gallon tank is more than enough for a painting session. If you want a longer runtime on the tool, you can run the device on a 90 PSI pump and get 2.6 SCFM. Users who live in a colder region will love this air compressor. No matter how cold it gets, the motor will start easily. The six-gallon air compressor was constructed for easy startup no matter the weather condition. Worried about your neighbors feeling disturbed by the noise? The unit operates on 78.5 dB. Therefore the noise of the air compressor won’t travel too far. Pros
  • An oil-free pump does not create any mess
  • Works on a low 78.5 dBA
  • Large 6.0-gallon tank
  • 150 PSI pressure for efficient spraying
  • Requires little to no maintenance
  • Some users found that the motor sparks
Verdict A great air compressor to get if you’re looking for efficiency. The 6-gallon tank can take care of any painting job at one go. Working pressure of 150 PSI also ensures that your job is done faster. Check prices here

2. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor

PORTER-CABLE C2002 Air Compressor

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Efficiency is a key factor in any sort of job.  A unit that can be used by more than one user at the same time can help get the job done faster. This air compressor from Porter has two air couplers. Pre-installed and regulated from the factory, this compressor can be used by two users at the same time — a perfect tool to get for workers. Because the motor has a low 120V amp, you can turn it on easily, even in the winter. This motor can start within a second, no matter what the weather condition is. To give you a quick compressor recovery time, the motor works at 90PSI of electric air and 2.6 SCFM. The tank pressure stands at 150 PSI.  Because the tank can hold more air, you get a longer runtime on the product. This pancake-style 6-gallon tank comes with a water drain valve. The design of the tank helps it to remain stable. For an easier no-maintenance and no-mass paint job, the pump is oil-free. Pros
  • Two users can use the air compressor at the same time
  • Low 120V amp for easy staring even in winter
  • Pancake style compressor is stable
  • Comes with rubber feet and a water drain valve
  • Faster compressor recovery with 90 PSI and 2.6 SCFM
  • Not the quietest compressor on the list
Verdict The ability to be used by two users are the same time makes the tool quite efficient. Also, a low 130V amp ensures easy startup even in tough weather conditions. One thing to keep in mind is that this tool does make a little bit of noise. Check prices here

3. DeWalt DWFP55126 Pancake Air Compressor

eWalt DWFP55126 Pancake Air Compressor

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Most professionals are up for a pancake-style air compressor because of its stability. These air compressors hold a firm stance on the ground. The DeWalt pancake air compressor is a perfect example of a stable unit. Because the motor of the model is so highly efficient, you can easily use this for extension cord application. Working at 165 PSI, this air compressor can help you finish your painting tasks quite fast. The 6.0-gallon tank does not need to be refilled too often. You can go through large painting tasks with a full tank. To maximize the air tool performance, DeWalt has added a high flow regulator and couplers. Because the tool operates at the 78.5 dB noise level, you do not have to worry about bothering your neighbors. You can work at any time of the day without worrying about any noise pollution. An added console cover protects the controls on the machine. This cover can be removed when you need to do maintenance. Although the product has an oil-free pump, you won’t have to do maintenance on this product that often. Oil-free pumps are also a great addition to air compressors as it helps increase the longevity of the product. Pros
  • Added high flow regulators and couplers
  • Console cover keeps the controls protected
  • Working pressure of 165PSI
  • A high efficient motor that can be used for extension cord application
  • Pancake style compressor stays firm on the ground
  • Air might leak on some models
Verdict Pancake-style air compressors are great for balance and stability. With low operating noise, 165PSI pressure, and a high-efficiency motor, this one is the perfect pancake-style air compressor for at-home painting jobs. Check prices here

4. California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor

California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor

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A 6-gallon tank and air compressor are perfect for at-home painting jobs. But what if the job at hand requires more paint? Air compressors with a large 8-gallon tank, like this one from California air tools, will be perfect for bigger tasks. A large tank as such can be hard to travel with. To solve this problem, California has added a wheel kit that is free with the purchase. Installing the real gate is also quite easy. You get a detailed instruction guide that helps you set up the wheels within. To make things easier for you, the air compressor is lightweight as well. Therefore portability is not an issue with this model. The powerful 1.0 HP model from being pushed go to 2.0 HP. This combined with the 120 working PSI, ensures faster and more efficient work. The noise level on this model is just 60 dBA! With very little noise made, you can use this tool at any time of the day. Depending on the PSI and CFM settings, you can continuously run this device for 30 to 60 minutes. During this running time, there’s no overheating of the tool either. No overheating means that there is no heat damage. Pros
  • Large 8-gallon tank
  • Can be used at 1.0 and 2.0 HP
  • Continuous running of 30-60 minutes with no overheating
  • Very low 60 dB noise level
  • Added wheel kit for ease of portability
  • Does not include hose
Verdict This is a must-have air compressor if you have to deal with large painting jobs regularly. A low 60 dB operating noise on such a powerful tool is quite rare. Sadly, the hose is not included with the purchase, but the unit’s other features make up for it. Check prices here

5. Master Airbrush Multi-purpose Gravity Feed Dual-action Airbrush

Master Airbrush Multi-purpose Gravity Feed Dual-action Airbrush

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We’ve listed a lot of air compressors for large tasks and professionals, now here’s an air compressor that’s built for beginners. The Master airbrush is the perfect tool to start your painting job career with.  People who need an air compressor at home for smaller tasks will also love this tool. An added multi-purpose high-performance precision airbrush helped you with detailing. A 0.3 millimeters fluid tip along with the 1/3 oz. gravity fluid cup helps with a cleaner finish. Thanks to this feature, people who don’t have much experience with pray painting can get a professional-level paint job finished. Other features that we love in this model are the pressure regulator, and the air filter starts trap. This high-performance 1/5 HP model is surely efficient. On the tool, you will find a holder for two airbrushes. Although this might not be that big of a feature, it does make your work more comfortable. Users can use this model for auto graphics, cake decorating, hobbies, crafts, and even nail art! It’s quite a versatile tool. To help you start with confidence, the product comes with a manual that will show you how to use this air compressor. You also get a few ideas on where you could use this tool. Pros
  • High performance ½ HP model
  • Had a holder for two airbrushes
  • Can be used for anything starting from auto graphics to nail art
  • 0.3 mm fluid tip and 1/3 oz. gravity fluid cup added with the purchase
  • Great starter tool for beginners
  • Not ideal for large space paints jobs
Verdict This is one of the top air compressors to get if you are a beginner. You can learn, and gain experience using a spray painter using this device. The added 0.3mm fluid tip and high-performance airbrush help you get all the details in your art right. Check prices here

6. Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP Big Bore Air Compressor

Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP Big Bore Air Compressor

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Makita is a brand that is quite well known for making durable working tools. Made with a cast iron pump, this one from Makita also lives up to your expectations.  We think that buying this air compressor with a little bit more money is worth it for the product longevity that you get. With the cast iron pump, you also get a big bore cylinder. This, along with the piston on the model, gives you a speedy recovery time. The engineering with which the device is made results in improved performance. For added durability and protection in construction sites, a roll cage has also been added. When it comes to power, the tool has a 2.5 HP motor. The four-poll motor is capable of producing 4.2 CFM at 90PSI.  All this works hand in hand to increase your productivity. Although this is a very powerful machine, the noise made is quite low. Working at a low amp, this machine can be started in seconds, even in cold temperatures. The lower amp also eliminates the chances of tripped Breakers during startup. Pros
  • One of the most durable air compressors on the list
  • Added roll cage and cast iron pump gives the tool protection in job sites
  • Lower amp for eliminating tripped breakers during startup
  • Four poll motor produces 4.2 CFM at 90PSI
  • Big bore cylinder and piston gives speedy recovery
  • Expensive
Verdict Although this model is a bit more expensive than our other recommendations, the unit has a lot of benefits. No one can beat the durability that Makita gives you. A roll cage, cast iron pump, and four-poll motor give you amazing performance for years. Check prices here

7. California Air Tools 2010A Ultra Quiet and Oil-Free 1.0 HP 2.0-Gallon Aluminum Tank Air Compressor

California Air Tools 2010A Ultra Quiet

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When buying an air compressor checking out the sound level that it makes is a must. At an operating sound of only 60 decibels,  perfect air compressor to get if you live in a quiet neighborhood. Even if you use the tool in the middle of the night, you won’t be hearing any complaints from your neighbors for sure. The ultra-quiet air compressor also has an oil-free pump. As we now know, an oil-free pump calls for lower maintenance costs and durability. An oil-free pump also calls for better tool operation. The air that comes out is much cleaner. This air compressor is on the smaller side. The 2.0-gallon tank is perfect for all your at-home painting jobs. Also, the gallon is made of aluminum and is completely rust-resistant. So even with regular use, you won’t have to replace the tank that often. It has a 1.0 HP rating while running and a 2.0 HP rating at its peak when it comes to power.  The 3.10 CFM with the working pressure of 40PSI can also work at 2.20 CFM at 90 PSI. This California air tool is a must-have air compressor for people who have a low budget. The affordable compressor is also quite portable, thanks to the smaller tank. Pros
  • Gives out cleaner air thanks to the oil-free pump
  • Ultra-quiet 60-decibel operation
  • 2.0-gallon small sized tank for at-home use
  • Portable structure, no wheels required
  • Available at a reasonable price
  • Plug wire is quite short
Verdict This air compressor is one of those rare gems that is affordable and productive at the same time. The 2.0-gallon air compressor is perfect for work around the house and small painting tasks. The aluminum tank ensures durability with its rust-resistant structure. Check prices here

Different Types of Air Compressors

There are lots of different types of air compressors in the market. However, there are mainly four types that professionals mostly use. These include:

Axial Compressor

The axial compressor falls under a dynamic compressor. This type of compressor is usually used for industrial or commercial use. They are designed for heavy-duty work. If you need to use a compressor for a long period, and on top of that, you also need the performance to be better than the average rate, then this is exactly the type of compressor you should go for. This type of compressor uses large fan-like blades to compress the air. There are several blades in the system, and they mostly have two functions. Some blades rotate, and some blades are fixed. The rotating blades move the liquid, and the fixed ones direct the directions of the liquid.

Centrifugal Compressor

It is one of the most commonly used compressors in the market. This type of air compressor also falls under the dynamic type. This means the functions are very similar to axial compressors. The model also has fans like a rotary system which helps to move the air or gas to the desired area. However, unlike the axial compressor, it is not gigantic.

Reciprocating Air Compressor

This type of compressor has two points: one entry point and one exit point. From the entry point or the suction valve, the air is sucked into the tank, and then it is compressed using a piston. When it has been compressed, then it can be used to generate power. This air compressor is very easy to maintain and has very good performance.

Rotary Screw Compressor

This air compressor, as the name suggests, uses a rotor to compress air. The air is sucked at first. Then the air rotor starts rotating at high speed, which compresses the air. Most professionals prefer this type of air compressor because they are very easy to maintain. It has the least vibration compared to all the other types. Rotary compressors are small in size, efficient, and durable.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What’s the difference in air compressors?
The difference is in the process of how the air is being compressor. Different types of air compressors have different ways to compress air. Some use fans or blades, some use rotors, and some use pistons.
  1. What is a good CFM for an air compressor?
The CFM varies depending on the type of tool you are using. In general, it can be said that you can use 0-5 CFM at 60-90 psi. However, it will change when you are using it on big equipment. Then you might need more than 10cfm at 100 -120 psi.
  1. Can you convert CFM to PSI?
You can calculate CFM in relation to PSI. The pressure level is related to the force of airflow. So if at 140 psi you get 6 cfm then at 70 psi you will get 3 cfm.
  1. Which type of air compressor is used for spray painting?
In the case of spray paint, it’s generally recommended to use a Reciprocating Air Compressor. It will give the best quality of work.
  1. What is the best pressure for spray painting?
To get the most out of your spray gun, set the air pressure at 29 to 30 psi. This will ensure that your paint is not spilling and the quality of your work is at its best.

Final words

When looking for an air compressor, look for a feature that meets your job type, in this case, spray painting. Features such as PSI and CFM rating, and the tank capacity are vital when selecting an air compressor. You need to keep these features in mind before making your purchase. Only then will the product you buy be the best air compressor for spray painting for you.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.