How to select the best Air Compressor for Painting?

How to select the best Air Compressor for Painting?
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Do-It-Yourself is becoming a more viable option in these days where everything is automated and it is all too easy to pay for a service at a ridiculously steep price.

Tracing back to the old days, things were simpler where any job around the home was easily fixed by a more than capable person living there as opposed to now where the first option is to call up a professional.

With that in mind, painting is a simple job that many people don’t like getting their hands dirty over.

With the changes in quality of paint has been the introduction of new tools and equipment that will improve the quality of how you paint.

Air compressors for painting are great tools that will allow you a much faster and in some cases a nicer method of painting you wall, fence or whatever item you wish to change color. The compressed air on the paint allows for a seamless layer without any marks, smudges or brush stroke, helping to create a natural and finished look.

Professionals usually use these but that does not stop you from owning one in your home and using it for any kind of improvement project on your mind.

How to find the right air compressor for painting? 

Size of Air Compressor

There are a variety of sizes and choices to choose from so you should figure out what is best for you through the different styles and types afforded.

Investigate the tank size of the air compressor and determine if there will be enough to paint. If you’re only planning on painting a small area and not the walls of an entire room then consider a smaller sized tank, therefore requiring less paint and power.

For the most part, a larger tank would be used on industrial sites and best if you’re in that type of situation. For occasional use, the: 

Campbell Hausfeld Pancake Air Compressor


Airflow is perhaps the most important quality when deciding on your air compressor. Measured in CFM, or cubic-feet-per-minute, it can also be expressed as PSI (pounds per square inch) to indicate air pressure. The reason this is important is determined on how you will be using your air compressor.

Home improvement products will require around 6.0 CFM/90 PSI, so that is a good base number to start from. It is recommended that you work around 40 percent higher than the recommended pressure when dealing with specific tools. 


Horsepower refers to the strength of the air compressor’s engine, with specific horsepower required to match certain types of jobs.

Horsepower and CFM can be closely related and both are indicators of the strength of the air compressor; however it is recommended that the CFM be prioritised over the horsepower when selecting the best air compressor. For an averaged powered air compressor, check out: 

​Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor

Power Source

Gas powered or electric motors also play a role in the operation of an air compressor. Cost impacts on this choice, with electricity and gasoline prices helping to determine which would be the most viable choice.

If you live in an area with relatively high gas prices then you should opt for the electrical powered air compressors, something like the: 

Bostitch Oil-Free High Output Compressor

If you live in an area with high electricity bills then perhaps you should consider investing your money in a gas powered air compressor. Alternatively, having a gas powered air compressor can be just as effective if the area you are working does not have electricity.

Finally there is the distinction between an oil-free and a lubricated compressor. Lubricated air compressors boast a longer useful life and a lower noise when in operation. One of their main downfalls is the requirement of oil, which sometimes gets sprayed to indicate an oil change is necessary.

This would be particularly hazardous if you are using it for painting purposes, in which case the oil-free option would be the best. This would also be applicable to situations where a clean environment is needed. 

What are the types of air compressors?

There are different types of air compressors in the form of Reciprocating, Rotary Screen, Rotary Sliding, and Centrifugal. Each of them has their own advantages and disadvantages.

Deciding on one of these categories does not negate them for use outside their best areas, so do not worry if you select one that is most efficient for painting and you feel as though you may need to use it again for another non-painting related task.

Reciprocating air compressors

Reciprocating air compressors have a simple design, which makes them easy to operate. They are one of the most popular designs of air compressors available and require no oil or lubrication to ensure they work efficiently.

On the downside there are still maintenance costs which are expensive and it is noted that they can be much more vulnerable to problems.

Rotary screw air compressors

Rotary screw air compressors are cheap as well, including usage and maintenance and have a minimal number of moving parts. They are however not very efficient and have difficulties operating in dirty environments, contributing to their short expected life.

Rotary Sliding vane air compressors

Rotary Sliding vane air compressors have a lower rotational speed, ability to operate in dirty environments and have a comparatively longer life span than the other options available. Careful maintenance is required as are the usage of oil and lubricant to keep the equipment working efficiently.

Finally there are centrifugal air compressors, which are excellent at creating high pressures and working consistently with ease. These compressors do range on the higher end of the price market and require a much greater understanding of how air compressors operate; therefore they are not necessarily suited for use by everyday people doing regular household chores.


There are a variety of different features to deciding which the best air compressor is for you and an even greater selection to choose from when you actually start to investigate them further.

While it will mainly be a selection catered towards painting, the use of the air compressor is not restricted to just this task, ensuring that you have a useful and reliable air compressor for any kind of task you require it for. For the most part, these devices work efficiently and are not going to constantly cause issues, so you can rest assured that making this purchase is the best choice for your painting needs.

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