How to Find the Best Air Compressor for Painting Cars

An air compressor is what powers a spray gun, making it an essential tool for any body shop. If yours fails, there's no way you can finish that paint job unless you buy a new one.

However, you can't just go out and buy any air compressor for your spray gun. It's important to understand a few key aspects about of these tools before making your purchase. Buying a properly sized air compressor for auto painting will help you avoid common painting issues while enhancing your productivity.


What is an air compressor?

Air compressors convert power into pressurized air, which is then used to power a spray gun or another power tool.

Because air compressors have a wide range of applications, it's important that you purchase one that's specifically designed for spray guns. Otherwise, your compressor may not provide you with the necessary amount of power in order to complete the job.

Factors to consider

When shopping for an air compressor for painting cars, the three main specs to pay attention to are PSI, CFM and tank size.

  • Air pressure - Air pressure is measured in PSI (pounds per square inch). Most spray guns today are HVLP (high volume low pressure) spray guns. Therefore, they have a low PSI requirement.
    If you happen to have a LVLP spray gun, you'll still need a compressor with a low PSI output. The core difference between the two types of spray guns really boils down to their CFM requirements.

  • CFM rating - CFM, which stands for "cubic feet per minute," is one of the most important factors to look at when choosing a air compressor for painting. CFM measures how much air can be delivered at a certain pressure. Since paint guns are used continuously, they require a much higher CFM rating than other types of air tools.
    Most of our spray guns operate at 90 to 100 CFMs, meaning your compressor should provide anywhere from 4 CFM per unit (for touch-ups) to 19 CFM per unit (for undercoating). It's important to pay close attention to CFM rating when choosing an air compressor for your spray gun; choosing too low of a CFM may result in paint spattering or uneven paint flow.

  • Tank size - Painting is a very demanding job that requires consistent power. Because you'll be spraying paint continuously, you'll want to make sure your compressor is of a decent size. Look for one that has a capacity of roughly 50 to 60 gallons to maximize your efficiency.

Spray guns require a significant amount of power to operate. Therefore, it's important that you pay attention to these factors when shopping for an air compressor.

Best Air Compressors for Painting Cars

Auto Body Toolmart offers several outstanding air compressors that are ideal for painting cars. Here are two of our best-sellers:

Buying Your Air Compressor

Now that you know what to look for in an air compressor for painting, you can get started shopping. Browse our air compressors today and check out our Air Compressor FAQ page for more information on how to maximize the efficiency of these appliances and find the right one for your situation.



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