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What Size Air Compressor for Framing Nailer? CFM, HP & Tank Size

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No doubt, air compressors are one of the essential machines that are used for multiple projects on a residential, commercial, and industrial level. When we talk about framing nailers, air compressors are also used with nail guns. But, what size air compressor for framing nailer?

The size of the air compressor required for framing nailers is determined by three factors: CFM, HP, and tank size. What are these things? What do they have to do with your framing nailer? What should you know before getting an air compressor for your tool? Let’s find out!

What Size Air Compressor for Framing Nailer

Types of Framing Nailers

There are several types of framing nailers nowadays. They all function differently but need the same amount of power to drive nails into wood or any other material you use for your project.

1. Brushless Framing Nailers

A brushless framing nailer is one of the strongest and newest types on the market. These guns can drive nails into even hardwoods, metals, plastics, or any other material you use for your job. What’s more, they do this with incredible speed.

2. Cordless Framing Nailers

Typically, a cordless framing nailer operates on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. What’s more, it allows you to work in places with no electrical outlets nearby or even on a job site without a power supply. Another advantage of this type of gun is that they do not require hose hookup for continuous air compressor operation.

3. Pneumatic Framing Nailers

Air compressors are used with this type of nailers besides a power source like electricity or a gas engine that drives pneumatic systems. They work the same as electrical ones. However, they need some time to charge them up when it runs out of power, while electric models can be used instantly after plugging in.

This tool has incredible speed and can drive nails into any material within seconds with minimal effort from your side. Pneumatic guns usually do not need batteries. Therefore, you won’t have to change batteries as often if you frequently work outside. Also, these types of tools have high durability and longevity.

3 Main Parameters You Should See Before Selecting Air Compressors for Framing Nail Gun

You need to understand three main parameters that will determine what size air compressor for framing nailer you need and help you select the right air compressor.

1. CFM

First of all, we should talk about CFM (cubic feet per minute). What does this number represent? Simply, it shows how much volume of air your tool can handle every single minute.

Higher the CFM, better working conditions will impact guns, especially when driving nails into hard materials like concrete or metals.

2. HP (Horsepower)

The second parameter is HP (horsepower). What does this number show? It represents just how powerful the motor inside your compressor is to drive airflow through hoses and hose connections and provide enough pressure to drive the nail into a surface. What number should you choose? What is good and what’s not?

3. Tank Size

When choosing how big of an air compressor you need for a nail gun, consider how many gallons it holds. What size do I need to get? Will a bigger one be better than a smaller one? Although CFM, HP, is the same as with other models.

In general, larger tanks offer a prolonged time between refills; small tanks require more frequent refills, which can interrupt your work process! But this isn’t always true; some big compressors have higher power consumption resulting in the need to refill it more often.

CFM Requirements for Framing Nail Gun

Now that you know all the parameters, it is time to figure out what capacity air compressor you will need for framing nailers? What CFM does my tool requires to work efficiently, and how much should I invest in this aspect of buying a high-powered gun?

Generally, every single model requires an average CFM between 80-120 CFM. The more powerful your pneumatic device is, the higher amount of airflow you will need.

In the case of an average powered nailer, 120 cubic feet per minute is enough. However, if your tool has more horsepower, consider choosing a larger tank capacity so you can supply your equipment for a prolonged period without refueling.

What Size Air Compressor for Framing Nailer

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In Case You Want to Calculate CFM requirement on your Own

So how do you calculate your air compressor’s CFM? Well, you can do this by taking the highest rating of a pneumatic framing nailer and dividing that number by 1.5 to get an average amount needed per shot.

Horsepower Requirements for Framing Nailer

While picking an air compressor for framing nailer or nail gun, make sure to choose the one that can generate 5HP-10HP. It is a myth that the more the horsepower of the compressor, the more it will produce.

What Size Air Compressor for Framing Nailer?

Tank size is measured in gallons. What does this number mean, and how do I know the best option to choose? The bigger the tank, the longer you can go between air compressor refills.

However, smaller tanks have to be refilled more frequently, interrupting your work. What do you prefer – a quick automatic tool or one with limited use without interruption during the day? You can go with a larger compressor if you’re constantly working; if your job involves lots of breaks, then a smaller compressor would suffice.

For Home Use – 2-4 Gallons

Medium-Sized Projects – 4-6 Gallons

Large Projects – 6-10 Gallons

You may want to read: Best Air Compressor For a Nail Gun (Top 9 Reviewed)

Portable Air Compressor Vs. Stationary Air Compressor – For Framing Nailer

When we talk about stationary air compressors, the name indicates this kind of compressor is stationary. If you do not have much space or are not mobile, they make sense for you to use because once you install them, you cannot move them.

On the other hand, a portable air compressor requires less installation effort, but it’s not as durable since it has more components that can break down.

So if you want something with high durability, go ahead and choose a stationary unit but if portability isn’t an issue, save some money and opt for a smaller device.

For a framing nailer, the best option is portable compressors. If you are running two or more nailers from different compressors and want them all on hand at one time, then there’s this wheelbarrow air compressor.

What Size Air Compressor for Framing Nailer

How to Get Your Projects Done for Framing Nailers? (4 Steps)

Now, when you know everything about CFM, HP, and tank size. It is time to understand how you get your projects done for framing nailers?

What are the most important things that must be considered to choose an appropriate unit capable of powering your tools efficiently without breaking them down all the time?

Follow the steps given below to be done with your next nail gun project like a pro.

1. Adjust CFM

To nail a sheet of plywood or any other object, you do not need the highest power possible. It’s best if your air tool can operate at lower CFM and air pressure. It will ensure that each stroke nails only one board before it runs out of energy-saving time.

2. Trigger Selection

One of the most crucial parts of any framing nailer is its trigger. Before using the nailer, select your trigger as a single fire or bump firing (It depends on your project), these trigger options differ in speed but not in control or precision.

3. Safety Measures

Framing nail guns offer a lot of power and speed, but they can be dangerous if not handled correctly.

Additionally, make sure you observe how your compressor works before using it. There should be some safety precautions to be kept in mind when handling this type of device. Make sure to read the user manual of the nail gun as well as your air compressor to know all of the safety measures.

4. Always wear the required protection gear (earplugs/face shield)

When firing nails at window panes, never aim at anything sharp or fragile due to ricochets from particles on the ground below; aim low instead so as not to hit anyone walking underneath, etc.

Maintenance Tips for Framing Nailer

You need to ensure that the nail gun’s power source will be able to work for a long time now that you know everything about it. What are some simple tips on how to keep it in good working order?

Here’s what you should always keep in mind.

1. Use only the recommended oil

If there isn’t any provided with an air compressor, get one from the same manufacturer or at least from the company well known for its quality products and high reliability.

Remember that using the wrong type of lubricant can cause damage to internal components resulting in more failures later down the line.

2. Warm-up tools before firing nails into the material.

The piston and other moving parts may be damaged if this step is skipped due to fast pressure changes. For them to remain new, make sure they are warmed up properly before using.

3. Never Run the Compressor Until it Shuts Down from Overload or Overheats

It will let you know that there is a problem with the unit, either due to a faulty switch which needs to be replaced, a burnt-out motor, etc.

What happens if your compressor does not work at high pressure? Damage to rings leading to leaks and overall failure.

Keep an eye on the temperature; if it gets too hot, you should stop using it immediately.

Regardless of what nail gun you use, make sure all components work flawlessly before firing nails inside.


What size of air compressor for framing nailer do we need? Here are the three types of framing nailers listed in the article according to their characteristics. Also, there are some parameters you need to consider while choosing an air compressor: its HP, CMF.

In general, CMF should be around 80-120, and HP should be around 5HP-10HP. With the bigger size of the compressor tank, you do not need to refill them again and again. You do your projects by adjusting CMF, trigger selection, and safety measures.

You should make sure to maintain your framing nailer to make them work effectively and for long.

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We’re a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.

The Tool Geeks Team

We're a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.

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