How To Choose An Air Compressor For Spray Painting

air compressor for spray painting

Last updated on March 19th, 2023 at 12:26 am

Choosing a suitable air compressor for spray painting projects can sometimes be challenging. However, we’re going to consider 3 factors to help you choose the right one.

If you’re still using a brush and roller for your painting projects, then you’re obviously missing out on the thrill and efficiency of using a paint sprayer powered by an air compressor.

There are many disadvantages of using a brush and roller as opposed to using a paint sprayer. One of the more obvious ones is the marks left by rollers on the painted surface.

Since a roller will always leave it’s marks on the painted surface, it is not always the ideal tool for a professional painting job. With a paint sprayer, you can achieve a high degree of smoothness on the walls you paint.

One more reason why using a paint sprayer is better is that it saves a lot of time. With a paint spray gun, you get to paint whatever you’re painting in a fraction of the time it will take when you use a brush and roller.

There are different types of paint sprayers. Some are powered by compressed air from air compressors, while others don’t make use of compressed air to function. With the ones using compressed air being the most popular among professional painters.

In this article, we’ll talk about how you can choose the right air compressor to power your paint spray gun.

When choosing an air compressor for spray painting, you have 3 significant factors to consider. 2 of those factors are the major ones you need to pay attention to the most.

Factors To Consider When Choosing An Air Compressor For Spray Painting

spray painting air compressor

The 3 factors are:

  1. Pressure
  2. CFM
  3. Tank Size

Related: 10 Best Air Compressors Of 2021 [ Reviews And Buyer’s Guide ]


There are mainly two types of spray guns that used compressed air. The HVLP (high volume low pressure) spray gun and the LVLP (low volume low pressure) spray gun.

As you can see from the names, their pressure requirement is not very high. Both types of spray guns requires low pressure to operate.

The most significant factor you need to consider is what we’re going to talk about next.


CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. In other words, it is the volume of air produced by the air compressor per minute. It’s not the force of the air, CFM refers to the quantity of air the air compressor can produce at a certain pressure, say 90 PSI.

The CFM is arguably the most important parameter you need to check for if you’re shopping for an air compressor for your spray painting project or business.

To be on the safe side, first of all, you need to check the CFM requirement of the spray gun you intend to use with the air compressor.

After you determine the CFM of the spray gun, you need to make sure that the air compressor you choose produces more than the CFM of the spray gun.

You should not purchase an air compressor that produces the same CFM. You need to get one that produces more than the CFM of the spray gun.

Any mistake here can cause your spray gun not to work efficiently. So, make sure you give this serious consideration.

Once the CFM requirement is met, you need to move on to the third factor, which is also crucial to the success of your painting project.

Tank Size

Unlike other pneumatic tools like nailers, which use air intermittently to fire nails, paint sprayers require a continuous flow of compressed air from the air compressor.

As a result of this they use up more air over the same period of time. This is why, while you can use a 6 gallon air compressor to power a nailer, you cannot use it for paint sprayer.

Paint sprayers require a compressor with a large tank, preferably from 50 gallons and above, in order to be able to keep up with the spray gun.

When these three factors are considered when buying an air compressor for your paint sprayer, you’ll definitely make the right choice.

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