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What size Air Compressor for Spray Painting? 7 Important Consideration!

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Now that we’ve explained the size of the air compressor for painting cars before on this website, it’s time we cover spray painting as a whole (not just a car) and address “What size air compressor for spray painting?”

You see, there are certain factors you need to consider while choosing a suitable air compressor for painting jobs. You’ve to know your CFM, PSI, and Tank Size requirements. Getting confused? No problem, we will explain everything in detail and try to clear all your doubts regarding air compressor sizing for paint sprayers.

What size Air Compressor for Spray Painting

What is a Spray Gun?

A spray gun is a pneumatic tool (painting tool) that uses compressed air to work. From the nozzle: propel the paint in a specific pattern on the surface. It works by forcing air on the surface of the liquid, which leads to droplets according to the set range of size.

LVLP and HVLP Spray Gun

LVLP stands for low volume, low pressure, which means your spray gun uses less volume, usually 5-18, and low pressure, usually 10-20 PSI. It sprays faster and gives a better and more precise finishing with less CFM depending on your working capabilities.

On the other hand, HVLP, which means high volume, low pressure, uses more CFM: 10-25 CFM, and you can select your compressor (higher) according to these needs.

What Size Air Compressor for Spray Painting?

1. CFM of Air Compressor

CFM requirements of the compressor depend on the CFM of the spray gun. Always choose a higher CFM compressor than spray gun CFM. If your spray gun is 10 CFM, choose a 12-15 CFM compressor. When it states 50% working, it means the 12 CFM of the compressor is actually 6 CFM.

2. CFM Requirements of a Spray Gun

Most spray guns work on at least 10 CFM but choose a spray gun according to your working requirements. Select a higher CFM spray gun if you need it for professional use.

3. Air Pressure Requirements of a Spray Gun.

Most of the HVLP spray guns work at 40 PSI. Choose accordingly. The general spray gun works 28-30 PSI. Select your compressor at least 90-120 PSI.

4. Duty Cycle

That compressor, which states a duty cycle of 50%, means it will work for 30 minutes and need rest for 30 minutes. Choose your compressor duty cycle according to your working needs, and choose a compressor with at least 40-60 min working.

5. Tank Size

The tank size mostly does not count if your compressor has higher CFM and HP. Although you need at least a 40-60 Gallon tank for spray painting a car, an average capacity tank is enough if you need a spray gun for small projects.

6. Air Hose Length

The longer the hose, the more time it will take air to reach the spray gun from the compressor. That is why choose a portable air compressor so you can carry it and do not need long extensions and hoses.

7. Horse Power

Choose a higher HP air compressor than a spray gun: if your spray gun works with a 10 HP, select a compressor with 12 HP.

Reciprocating or Rotary Air Compressor for Spray Painting

A reciprocatory air compressor might have higher initial prices than a rotary air compressor but has a long life of above 20-30 HP, which you require for spray painting. It is like a long time investment if you need professional use.

Portable or Stationary: Which One is Best for Spray Painting?

Choose a Stationery compressor when you need it for professional use, and it has to be in a specific place for a long time.

Although still, you should choose a portable air compressor as it is easy to move and you can take it anywhere with you.

Can I Use a Air Compressor To Spray Paint?

The Air compressor makes the spray paintwork easier. You can quickly and efficiently complete your painting process with a compressor. You need at least a 15-20 CFM compressor, and the compressor should be higher CFM and HP with a Spray Gun. If your Gun is 10 CFM, select a 15-20 CFM compressor.

How to Spray Paint with an Air Compressor?

It needs a few steps to connect and use spray paint with a compressor:

  • Wear goggles and a mask before starting.
  • Prepare the areas where you need to spray.
  • Clean the surface from rusting or dust.
  • Connect your compressor with a hose to your spray gun.
  • After connecting, plug the cord in the outlet and switch on it.
  • Adjust your pressure and let it fill at the correct PSI.
  • Hold your gun 6-12 inches far from the surface.
  • Choose your primarily direct. It should be vertical.
  • Ensure proper covering.

Minimum Size air Compressor for Painting a Car

An Air compressor for painting a car requires a large tank with higher CFM and HP. The minimum requirements of the compressor is a 15-20 CFM rating with 10-12 HP having a 40-60 Gallon air tank (so you do not need to refill it again and again)

The PSI requirement depends on the PSI of the air spray gun, and most guns have 20-25 PSI. The small compressor can perform this too, but it will be time-consuming: as it will need time to refill again and again ( 2-3 times).

Learn More: What Size Air Compressor For Painting a Car? 5 Crucial Factors to Consider!

What size Air Compressor for Spray Painting

Our Recommendation for Suitable Air Compressor

1. CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor

What size Air Compressor for Spray Painting

Having an affordable price and providing so many facilities makes the craftsman air compressor a great compressor. It is an excellent performance with a great design compressor. Does it require maintenance? Not. As it is an oil-free/maintenance-free compressor.

The compressor is a portable compressor: that comes with a handle to carry it easily anywhere. The rubber feet of the compressor control it from making noise and vibration, making it ideal for quiet places. You can efficiently perform: inflating tires, nailing, spray painting, stapling, and finishing with this compressor.


  • It has a heavy-duty capacity to run a spray gun.
  • Durable and reliable and comes with rubber feet to reduce noise levels.
  • Great compressor with low-quality parts.


2. DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor

Dewalt is a successful brand and has remained on the high-profile compressor manufacturing list for many years. This series of brands offer a quiet and oil-free compressor. The 6-Gallon air tank compressor has a heavy-duty working motor which allows it for many projects.

This durable air compressor is great for spray painting with high PSI and CFM working. Having quick recovery timing allows the user to save time. It comes with cord wraps which provide convenience and easy storage.


  • It is a portable air compressor with a 6-gallon air tank.
  • It works on 165 PSI and 2.6 SCFM.
  • The high efficient motor allows it to work for a long time and provides it with a quick recovery.
  • It is ideal for quiet places with its 78.5 dBA noise level.
  •  It is an oil-free compressor with a high flow regulator.
  • It has a console cover and an outlet tube rerouted.
  • It is an affordable, maintenance-free, and quiet compressor.
  • Great regulator and pressure gauges.
  • Ball-bearing in the compressor fitting is small.
  • Not for industrial level use.


3. Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP* Big Boreâ„¢ Air Compressor

What size Air Compressor for Spray Painting

Makita air compressor is one popular and reputed air compressor brand. It is an ideal brand for many owners who want to do DIY. Even for small and heavy-duty work, various air compressors are available for them.

Makita 2.5 HP big bore air compressor is ideal for heavy-duty working. The cast iron has a CFM of 4.2 and fast recovery, and making less noise makes it ideal for quiet job sites.


  • Portable and oil-lubricated air compressor.
  • It has a twin tank type and cylinder material cast iron.
  • Horsepower 2.5.
  • Loaded amp 12.3 with 115V.
  • 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI and max 130 PSI.
  • Tank size 4.2 Gallon.
  • Weight 77 lb with 79 dBA.
  • Motor works in 1730 with 2000hr pump life.


  • Industrial design air filter.
  • Exceptional power output.
  • Because of its cast design, it becomes heavier.


Our Recommendation of Best Spray Guns to use with An Air Compressor.

1. Astro Pneumatic Tool 4008 Spray Gun

Astro sprays paint guns have the standard spraying method: primers, enamels, acrylics, and cement. However, it can quickly and efficiently spray fences and walls. The working of the spray gun is on a 3HP compressor and needs only 50-60 PSI.

Astro pneumatic spray gun is a family-owned brand working for over 40 years. It is based in California, and however, the product is made in china. This spray gun can work with air compressors and hoses with its one-quarter-inch inlet thread, which is an industry-standard.


  • It is a 3-pounds gun with an adjustable fan.
  • Cup capacity is 1-quarter.
  •  It comes with a 1.8mm nozzle size.
  • It has an air valve, and it is easy to clean
  • 7-12 CFM air consumption.
  • Bold design with an adjustable fan.
  • Manual is extensively explained for newbies.
  • Difficult for left-handed users.
  • It has a small trigger.


2. NEIKO 31215A HVLP Gravity Feed Air Spray Paint Gun

Neiko spray gun has no premium price tags and works excellent for latex, oil-based, and water-based paints. It is a high-volume spray gun which is also great for finishing work. HVLP is professional high quality and provides professional spraying and painting results.

It may not be the best choice for base working, but it’s 1.7mm nozzle is excellent for balanced spray painting. A pressure gauge makes it easier to read operators’ positions. Working on 4.5 CFM and ideal for DIY projects, it provides consistent coverage.


  • Provides heavy-duty working.
  • HVLP, three-valve knobs work together for precise application
  • Air consumption is 4.5 CFM with a working pressure of 10 PSI and operating pressure of 40 PSI.
  • Nozzle size of 1.7mm provides a clear coating.
  • 600cc aluminum cup with a lid.
  • Comes with a pressure gauge, regulator, and cleaning brushes.
  • Various wrenches for assembling and disassembling.
  • Affordable.
  • It comes with the regulator and cleaning brushes with various wrench sizes.
  • The Gun has no stainless steel parts.
  • No variety in tip sizes.



Getting to know what size air compressor for spray painting is suitable depends on the features of spray guns and their working requirements.

The portable air compressor is an ideal choice for spray guns because it allows it easy to carry the compressor from one place to another.

We’ve also suggested three ideal compressors with two great working spray guns (reviewed based on user feedback), which will help you quickly find your best compressor and spray Gun according to your needs of working.


How big of an air compressor do I need for an HVLP spray gun?

HVLP is a heavy working spray gun and requires heavy pressure to work. You need a high-capacity compressor to work with an HVLP spray gun. You at least need 3-4 HP with 12-15 CFM with a 15-20 Gallon air tank compressor.

Can you spray paint with a 3-gallon air compressor?

Spray guns require more pressure, so for a 3-Gallon air compressor, you might need to work in 2-3 steps to complete spraying. A compressor with 10-15 CFM will work great even if you work with a 3-Gallon air compressor.

Learn More: Can you Paint a Car with a 30-Gallon Air Compressor?

What is the minimum CFM for spray painting?

Most spray guns have around 10 CFM. For these compressors, CFM with 12-15 CFM. For professional users, it is up to your working spray gun and chooses the CFM of the compressor according to your spray gun. Always choose compressors CFM higher than the spray gun CFM.

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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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