The best part of running this website is having the chance of answering the questions most people out there have when it comes to the tools they use on a daily basis.
One of those questions is about what size of air compressors should they get to run their nail guns.
The thing is that there are many types of nail guns which require different levels of air pressure, which could make things pretty confusing.
This is why I made sure to build this article that will answer that questions for each type of nail guns that you could get your hands on.
- What Size of Air Compressor for Nail Gun: Full Guide
- What Size of Air Compressor for Brad Nailer?
- What Size of Air Compressor for Framing Nailer?
- What Size of Air Compressor for Flooring Nailer?
- What Size of Air Compressor for Finish Nailer?
- What Size of Air Compressor for Pin Nailer?
- What Size of Air Compressor for Siding Nailer?
- What Size of Air Compressor for Palm Nailer?
- What Size of Air Compressor for Roofing Nailer?
- Quick Comparison Table
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Size of Air Compressor for Nail Gun: Full Guide
Before getting our hands dirty about what size of air compressor you need for your specific type of nail gun, we first need to talk about the factors that will be crucial to pick the right size of air compressor:
Air Pressure Needs
If you’re thinking of purchasing a nail gun or already own one, it’s important to understand the air pressure needs for your specific type of nail gun.
The rule is that a larger, more powerful pneumatic nail gun will require more CFM (cubic feet per minute) and PSI (pounds per square inch) from an air compressor to operate effectively.
But what exactly do CFM and PSI mean?
CFM refers to the amount of air that a compressor can deliver in a minute, while PSI measures the force at which the air is delivered. Most nail guns require between 0.5 and 4 CFM to run properly, and you’ll typically find that many compressors have a max PSI rating of between 135 and 175. Interestingly, the max operating pressure of even the most demanding nail guns is around 115 PSI.
As a general rule of thumb, you should aim for 50% extra capacity when selecting an air compressor for your nail gun. This will give you some wiggle room in terms of airflow, ensuring that you don’t purchase a compressor that matches exactly the requirements of your air tools.
For example, a nail gun that needs 4.5 CFM at 90 PSI would require an air compressor capable of delivering at least 6 and preferably 7 CFM at 90 PSI.
So, in conclusion, the air pressure needs of your particular nail gun will determine what kind of air compressor you’ll require. You can check out this table I made which will give you a closer idea as to what kind of air compressor you’ll need for your particular type of nail gun.
One very important factor to consider when picking an air compressor to run a pneumatic nail gun is the runtime you want to have.
I mean, if the air compressor’s tank is small, the nail gun will quickly use all the air pressure in the tank. On the other hand, with a larger capacity tank, the compressor will run out of air pressure less frequently, which means a longer runtime for your nail gun.
So, if you’re only using your nail gun for small projects, a smaller tank (2 or 3-gallon air compressor) might be sufficient for you as you won’t need a longer runtime.
However, if you’re working on a larger project that requires extended use of the nail gun, an air compressor with a larger tank, such as an 8 gallon air compressor, would be a better fit.
Let’s face it, when it comes to buying a new air compressor for your nail gun, your budget is a significant factor to consider as these tools could run up to more than $1000!
Also, it’s essential to keep in mind not just the initial price, but also the long-term maintenance costs, as in the long term, changing oil and making frequent repairs can get really expensive.
Perhaps a smaller $250 air compressor with a 3-gallon air tank with a lower price tag could still meet your needs which could save you from spending more than you can afford.
Or maybe you need something bigger, like a 6 or 8-gallon air compressor, because you’re planning on using your nail gun on intensive tasks. If that’s you, then be prepared to spend at least $700 on your next air compressor.
The size of the compressor’s tank is directly related to the air pressure and runtime, meaning that a larger tank will provide longer runtimes and more air pressure.
However, having a larger air compressor also means that the compressor itself will be larger and more cumbersome to transport.
So if portability is a concern, you might consider a smaller 2 or 3-gallon air compressor with a more compact design that’s easier to move around.
But, if you need a bigger air compressor that’s at least 8 gallons big, you’ll be happy to know that some compressors come with built-in handles and wheels, allowing for easy maneuverability even if the tank is on the larger side.
What Size of Air Compressor for Brad Nailer?
Pneumatic brad nailers are designed for precision work as they produce smaller holes in the wood, reducing the risk of splitting or cracking.
But, what size of air compressor do you need for your pneumatic brad nailer?
In general, brad nailers require about 0.5 to 1.1 CFM at 80 to 90 PSI of air pressure. So, according to my calculations, an air compressor that outputs about 2.5 CFM at 90 PSI can comfortably handle this kind of pneumatic nail gun.
Now, let’s talk about tank size: I believe a 2 to 3-gallon air compressor should comfortably run a brad nailer.
And the coolest thing about an air compressor this small is that it has a smaller tank that can be easily moved around. Plus, a smaller tank means less waiting time for the compressor to recharge, which is always a plus if you like efficiency.
What Size of Air Compressor for Framing Nailer?
If you’re looking to build a house, a shed, or any other big project, a framing nailer is gonna be your best friend as they are designed to drive larger and longer nails into heavier materials like lumber, plywood, and framing studs.
But here’s the catch: you can’t just use any air compressor for a framing nailer. No, no, no.
These babies require about 2.5 CFM at 90 PSI of air pressure which means you’re gonna need an air compressor that outputs at least 4 CFM at 90 PSI if you want to get the job done right.
Now, let’s talk about tank size.
You might think that bigger is always better, but that’s not necessarily the case with framing nailers because a bigger tank means more weight, and that’s not exactly ideal when you’re moving around a lot on the job site.
That’s why I’d recommend people to get an air compressor that sits around the 6 to 8 gallon tank size mark as it will provide enough air pressure and a solid runtime to run a pneumatic framing nailer for as long as you’d need.
What Size of Air Compressor for Flooring Nailer?
Let’s talk about flooring nailers – the tool that can make or break the success of your flooring project as they are specifically designed to install hardwood floors or subfloors with precision and ease.
One of the most important considerations when using a pneumatic flooring nailer is the size of the air compressor.
I mean, you don’t want to be left with a stalled project due to a lack of air supply, do you? So… what size air compressor do you need for your flooring nailer?
A flooring nailer requires about 2 to 3 CFM (cubic feet per minute) at 90 PSI of air pressure. So, you’ll need an air compressor that outputs at least 4.5 CFM at 90 PSI to comfortably handle a flooring nailer.
As for the gallon tank size, a 6 to 8 gallons air compressor is perfect for a flooring nailer as this size is enough to keep your tool running without the need for constant refilling. It also ensures that you have enough pressure and volume of air to drive nails consistently and without interruption.
What Size of Air Compressor for Finish Nailer?
Finish nailers are a whole different breed of nail gun normally used for delicate projects where precision is key.
You wanna install some crown molding? Finish nailer. You wanna trim out your windows and doors? Finish nailer. You wanna add some decorative touches to your furniture or cabinetry? You guessed it – finish nailer.
These babies need a little less power than your standard framing nailer, about 0.5 to 1.5 CFM at 70 to 90 PSI of air pressure, which means you don’t need a huge air compressor to get the job done. In fact, something that outputs 2.5 CFM at 90 PSI will do the trick.
And when it comes to the tank size, you don’t need to go overboard.
A 2 to 3-gallon air compressor is more than enough to power your finish nailer as it provides enough runtime to tackle any project with your finish nailer.
What Size of Air Compressor for Pin Nailer?
Let’s talk about the baby of the nail gun family – the pin nailer. Now, this little guy may be small, but don’t underestimate its power.
What sets pin nailers apart from the rest is their ability to fire extremely small 23-gauge pins that leave behind almost no visible hole making them the perfect choice for delicate trim work or attaching small pieces of wood together.
Now, when it comes to air compressors, you don’t need anything too wild.
A pin nailer typically needs about 0.5 to 1 CFM at 60 to 90 PSI of air pressure, which can easily be handled by an air compressor that outputs 2 CFM at 90 PSI. And, as for the gallon tank size, a 2 to 3-gallon air compressor will do the job just fine.
What Size of Air Compressor for Siding Nailer?
Well, if you’re working on a construction project that involves nailing siding to a structure, then you’ll want to use a siding nailer as these pneumatic tools are specifically engineered to tackle large-scale siding projects and can handle materials like fiber cement and wood.
So, how much air pressure do you need for a siding nailer? You’re looking at about 2 to 3.5 CFM at 90 PSI, so you’ll need an air compressor that can output at least 5 CFM at 90 PSI to handle the job.
Finally, I’d recommend going for an air compressor that has an air tank that’s about 6 to 8 gallons big which should give you enough capacity to keep nailing away without having to stop.
What Size of Air Compressor for Palm Nailer?
A palm nailer is a small and compact nail gun that can easily fit in the palm of your hand. That’s why it’s called a palm nailer, in case you didn’t know.
But why use a palm nailer, you ask?
Well, first of all, it’s perfect for tight spaces where other nail guns simply won’t fit. And secondly, it’s a real time-saver as you can drive nails much faster and with much more precision than with a hammer.
Pneumatic palm nailers, in particular, only require about 1 to 2.5 CFM at 90 PSI of air pressure which can easily be provided by an air compressor that outputs 4 CFM at 90 PSI which should do the trick just fine.
And as for the gallon tank size, a 3 gallon air compressor should be big enough to run an air palm nailer with ease.
What Size of Air Compressor for Roofing Nailer?
Roofing nailers are unlike any other nail gun out there, my friend.
These bad boys are designed with a purpose, and that purpose is to make your roofing projects a whole lot easier.
Why? Well, for starters, they’re light and compact, which means you can easily carry them up to the roof without breaking your back. Plus, they can fire nails at an angle, which is perfect for those hard-to-reach spots that you can’t quite get to with other nail guns making them perfect for projects like installing shingles, attaching roof decking, or fastening flashing.
Now, let’s talk about what you need to make sure your pneumatic roofing nailer is running well.
Pneumatic roofing nailers require about 2 to 3 CFM at 90 PSI of air pressure, which means you’re gonna need an air compressor that can output around 4.5 CFM at 90 PSI which is gonna give you the power you need to keep working without any interruptions, my friend.
But, don’t forget about tank size!
You’re gonna need a compressor with a tank that’s big enough to keep your roofing nailer running smoothly for as long as you need it. I’d say a 6 to 8 gallon air compressor is gonna do the trick.
Quick Comparison Table
Here’s a quick comparison table that will show you what air compressor is recommended for each type of nail gun:
|Name||Air Pressure Needs||Recommended Air Compressor Capabilities||Recommended Air Compressor Size|
|Brad Nailer||~ 0.5 to 1.1 CFM at 80 to 90 PSI||2.5 CFM at 90 PSI||2 to 3 gallons|
|Framing Nailer||~ 2.5 CFM at 90 PSI||4 CFM at 90 PSI||8 gallons|
|Flooring Nailer||~ 2 to 3 CFM at 90 PSI||4.5 CFM at 90 PSI||6 to 8 gallons|
|Finish Nailer||~ 0.5 to 1.5 CFM at 70 to 90 PSI||2.5 CFM at 90 PSI||2 to 3 gallons|
|Pin Nailer||~ 0.5 to 1 CFM at 60 to 90 PSI||2 CFM at 90 PSI||2 to 3 gallons|
|Siding Nailer||~ 2 to 3.5 CFM at 90 PSI||5 CFM at 90 PSI||6 to 8 gallons|
|Palm Nailer||~ 1 to 2.5 CFM at 90 PSI||4 CFM at 90 PSI||3 gallons|
|Roofing Nailer||~ 2 to 3 CFM at 90 PSI||4.5 CFM at 90 PSI||6 to 8 gallons|
Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s my attempt at answering those questions that frequently come up when discussing what size of air compressor is best for nail guns.
Can I use an air compressor for a nail gun?
The answer is a resounding YES, you can use air compressors to run nail guns (at least those that are powered by air).
Hell, I could even tell you that you can use almost any air compressor you can get your hands on to run a pneumatic nail gun.
Most air compressors on the market today produce enough pressure (PSI) to run any pneumatic nail gun you can think of. In fact, a lot of compressors out there have a maximum PSI rating that ranges from 135 to 175 PSI, which is more than enough to power your nail gun.
And even if you’re dealing with the most demanding nail guns out there, the maximum working pressure you’re gonna need is about 115 PSI, which can easily be covered by any air compressor out there.
How much air does a nail gun need?
When it comes to nail guns, the minimum pressure you need is at least 70 PSI, but if you want to actually get stuff done, I believe you’re gonna want to aim for 90 PSI.
Now, CFM is a measure of the volume of air consumed, which roughly translates to tool power, so if you’re using a bigger, more powerful nailer (like the ones used for framing) you’re gonna need more CFM.
Due to this, I always end up looking for an air compressor that outputs at least 3.5 CFM at 90 PSI, which I find to be the sweet spot when it comes to air pressure as it covers most nail guns.
Will a 3 gallon air compressor run a brad nailer?
With a maximum PSI that sits around the 130 mark, a 3-gallon air compressor can easily handle running a brad nailer.
In fact, a 3-gallon air compressor provides a constant supply of compressed air for a brad nailer to tackle tasks such as trim work, cabinet building or furniture repair.
In fact, it can comfortably run the following nail guns:
- Palm nailer
- Finish nailer
- Pin nailer