What Size Air Compressor for Paint Sprayer?

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Last Updated on November 23, 2022 by John Smith

Air compressors are essential to efficiently paint with a paint sprayer. After all, you wouldn’t want to paint a whole house by hand, wouldn’t you?

Unfortunately, if you aren’t an expert, it will be difficult to determine what size of air compressor you should use to run your paint sprayer, as the correct answer depends on a number of aspects.

So, in this article, I’ve decided to thoroughly explain what size air compressor for paint sprayer you should select based on your needs.

Let’s begin.


What Size Air Compressor for Paint Sprayer?

If you want to learn what size of air compressor you should choose for running a paint sprayer you should consider 3 factors:

  1. Project size
  2. Budget
  3. Portability needs

Project Size

The whole point of using an air compressor to fuel a paint sprayer is to paint as quickly and accurately as possible.

Knowing this, wouldn’t it be terrible if you ran out of air pressure in the middle of a paint job?

Thus, the first thing to consider when selecting the size of an air compressor is the size of the surface you intend to paint. 

Let me explain:

If you’re going to paint a surface the size of a home, you should get a 60 or 80 gallon air compressor that produces roughly 16.0 CFM at 90 PSI and has enough runtime to completely paint that area.

When tackling a medium-sized project, such as painting a car, a 20 to 40 gallon air compressor that provides roughly 6 CFM at 90 PSI will suffice.

If you’re only planning on painting small surfaces that don’t exceed 150 square feet, a 10 gallon air compressor with a 3 SCFM output at 90 PSI should suffice.

Budget

Whether you’re planning on getting an air compressor to run your paint sprayer and your other most used pneumatic tools (e.g. air impact wrenches, framing nailers, etc…), you are still limited by your budget.

It’s not the same to have $2000 to spend than to be willing to invest only $500 or $1000 in an air compressor.

This is why I’d say that if you’ve got about $2000+, then you can go for a 80 gallon air compressor. But, if you got less than $1000 to spend, then you got no other option than to go for a 20 or 30 gallon air compressor.

Portability Needs

We know that this is stating the obvious, but it’s not the same to carry around a 80 gallon air compressor than an 10 gallon air compressor.

This is were portability comes into play.

If you want to enjoy the power of a powerful air compressor that can run your paint sprayer for longer periods of time or even blow out water lines, and you intend to keep it in the same location all the time, a 60 to 80 gallon air compressor is the best option.

However, if you intend to move the air compressor frequently and portability is important to you, a 10 or 20 gallon air compressor with wheels is your best bet.


What Size of Air Compressor for Painting Houses?

You’d be surprised how frequently I get questions from painters asking what size air compressor they should get to run paint sprayers to paint houses.

And the answer is straightforward: it depends on the surface to be painted as well as their willingness to wait for the air compressors to refill the air tanks.

As a general rule, an 80 gallon or 60 gallon air compressor is the best size for painting a small to medium house with 3 to 5 rooms as it will provide enough air pressure to achieve this.

However, if the house is larger or you want to paint the exterior as well as the interior, you will have to get used to waiting for the air compressor’s tank to refill several times, regardless of its size.

What Size of Air Compressor for Painting Cars?

Cars’ paint can be chipped or damaged by sun exposure, or you may simply want to change the color of your car to give it a new look.

It doesn’t matter; the only thing you need to know is that if you want to paint a car with a paint sprayer, you’ll need an air compressor that can run for as long as it takes to paint a car with a paint sprayer.

In my opinion, if you’re going to paint a sedan car, you should get a 40 or 60 gallon air compressor that can produce around 13 CFM at 90 PSI, which is enough air pressure to paint a car of this size.

However, if you want to paint a smaller car (say, a Toyota Prius), a 30 gallon air compressor should be enough.

What Size of Air Compressor for Painting Furniture?

At its simplest, an air compressor will provide air pressure to your paint sprayer so it can spray paint consistently and save you time while improving the quality of your job.

But, what if you’re planning on painting a small surface like a chair or a table?

Then I’d say a 10 gallon air compressor is the best choice.

I know, I know, it’s small when compared to the air compressor I’ve been talking about. But, the fact is that you only need about 20 PSI to paint furniture, which is more than a 10 gallon air compressor is capable of outputting.

So, if you want to save money and have an air compressor that’s powerful enough to run a paint sprayer to paint furniture, then going for a 10 gallon air compressor is the best choice.


The Best Air Compressor for Paint Sprayer

ProCalifornia Air Tools CAT-60040CAD Air Compressor

Features

  • Air pressure rating: 10.60 CFM at 90 PSI and 12.60 CFM at 40 PSI
  • Tank size: 60 gallon
  • Pump: Oil free pump

I believe that the ProCalifornia Air Tools CAT-60040CAD air compressor is the best air compressor for a paint sprayer.

You never know what kind of painting job you’ll want to tackle in the future, which is why I believe its 60 gallon air tank is a huge advantage, as it will provide you with enough runtime to tackle both big and small painting jobs.

Its 2 horsepower motor provides enough power to produce 10.60 CFM at 90 PSI and 12.60 CFM at 40 PSI, which is essential for running a paint sprayer long enough to completely paint a small house.

I know it lacks wheels, which limits portability, but this is a minor issue when compared to its oil-free pump, which saves money and time by requiring no maintenance.

Pros

  • 2HP motor delivers 10.60 CFM at 90 PSI and 12.60 CFM at 40 PSI
  • It only makes 75 decibels of noise when at full operation
  • Oil free pump that requires no maintenance
  • 60 gallon tank that provides a longer runtime (that takes 6:30 minutes to refill)
  • Two convenient pressure control gauges
  • Thermal Overload Protector

Cons

  • Lack of wheels

Customer Reviews and Scores

There are more than 47 reviews on Amazon.com about this product at the time of writing and they have given it a 4.4 out of 5 rating on average. These reviews are positive overall.



Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequent questions that pop up when discussing what size an air compressor should have to run a paint sprayer.

How much PSI does a paint sprayer need?

In my experience, an air compressor must produce at least 25 PSI in order to power a paint sprayer.

If you’re going to paint a large surface, such as a house, you’ll need a more professional paint gun with at least 35 to 40 PSI.

However, if you intend to paint a smaller surface (such as a car or even furniture) with a standard paint sprayer, 25 and 30 PSI will suffice.

Will a 6 gallon air compressor run a paint gun?

Yes, a 6 gallon portable air compressor will be able to run a paint gun.

You just need to make sure that it outputs at least 25 PSI as this is the standard of PSI needed to run paint guns.

Author
Hi, I’m John Smith, a proud husband, and father of two little beautiful girls. After a long time of thinking I made up my mind to build a website around my passion.. helping people who need smart advice from handymen with years of experience.

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