Best Air Compressor for Spray Painting

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Without pressurized air, DIY enthusiasts won’t achieve an efficient flow of paint from a spray gun, causing delays and unsatisfactory output in painting jobs.

I remember undergoing the same challenge when I first did DIY painting for a home improvement task. After trying out various compressors over the years of doing paint jobs, I’m sharing options for the best air compressor for spray painting, including their pros and cons.

Our Top Air Compressor for Spray Painting Reviews

With a powerful maximum capacity and a large tank capacity, the California Air Tools 10020C bags the spot as the top spray painting air compressor.

Getting a compressor that performs according to your painting requirements should be your top priority. This way, you can easily paint your car, large fence, pavement, or walls. To help you make an informed decision when purchasing, I have compiled a list of the best models in the market.

Brand
California 10020C
Makita MAC2400
Craftsman air compressor
Product
California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free...
Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP* Big Bore™ Air Compressor
CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor Portable Air Tool Twin...
Power Source
Corded Electric
Corded Electric
Corded Electric
Sound Level
70 dB
79 dB
78 dB
Brand
California 10020C
Product
California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free...
Power Source
Corded Electric
Sound Level
70 dB
Price
Brand
Makita MAC2400
Product
Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP* Big Bore™ Air Compressor
Power Source
Corded Electric
Sound Level
79 dB
Price
Brand
Craftsman air compressor
Product
CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor Portable Air Tool Twin...
Power Source
Corded Electric
Sound Level
78 dB
Price

Best Air Compressor for Spray Painting Overall: California Air-tools 10020C

California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free...

The California Air Tools 10020C is the best overall air compressor for spray painting on our list, and a good reason. Unlike WEN Vertical Compressor for spray painting, this model has a motor with less noise (noise level of 70 decibels). This makes it ideal to be used longer without causing much noise.

Like California 8010, the California 10020C compressor has an oil-free dual system pump, reducing maintenance and cost. The absence of oil in the cylinder is not something to worry about since the machine can still perform the work perfectly over rugged terrain.

The model also has thermal overload protection that protects the gadget and motor from overheating. The compressor allows for simpler cold starts at lower temperatures. This makes it suitable for use in a wide range of temperatures and terrain conditions.

This compressor for spray painting has two pressure gauges and a regulator to keep the pressure constant. It also has two air outputs, allowing users to utilize two air tools simultaneously.

The compressor has a 10-gallon air tank with wheels and a 5500-watt generator that can continuously spray the area for up to 60 minutes.

The maximum pressure of 125 PSI makes it easy to spray higher walls without constraints. One of the drawbacks of the California Air Tools 10020C is that its tanks start leaking after some time.

Pros

  • The maximum pressure of 125 PSI makes it easy to spray hard-to rich-areas easily.
  • This compressor is multi-purpose, meaning it can perform various works. For instance, it can be used for drilling, airbrushing, and nailing
  • It requires less maintenance since it is an oil-free system
  • The compressor has thermal overload protection that protects it from overheating

Cons

  • The tank capacity of this compressor is not the largest. This may be inconvenient for folks who have larger or more frequent occupations
  • It’s not an easily portable compressor because it weighs 82.5.lbs
Sale
California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free...
  • Ultra Quiet, only 70 Decibels
  • Oil-Free Pump for Less Maintenance & Costs
  • Powerful 2.0 Hp with Low amp draw - 7.0 Amps

Best Easy-to-Use Air Compressor for Spray Painting: Makita MAC2400 Air Compressor

Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP* Big Bore™ Air Compressor

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore is an electric-powered compressor for strong and durable painting. It is a multipurpose compressor that is recommended for use in cutting, spraying, and grinding. Like the Craftsman Compressor, its cast iron body comprises twin-cylinder compressors that provide tremendous air pressure and volume.

The compressor also has a low power consumption, which decreases the number of activated switches during startup. The low AMP draw guarantees that the machine starts quickly the first time, allowing you to keep working.

The Makita Compressor contains a sizable industrial air filter that increases airflow and contributes to greater efficiency. This device’s couplers allow you to swiftly connect and disengage from air hoses for quick transitions in your painting endeavor or with whatever air equipment you choose.

This model contains an oil-lubricated pump, which ensures cooler running temperatures and reduces wear and tear. The roll-cage construction also provides the equipment that can withstand the job site environment. The 90-PSI pressure increases productivity and lowers noises that could hinder a user from working longer. 

Unlike the California 10020C compressor, which has a noise level of 70 decibels, this model has a noise level of 79 decibels, which is also moderate. This is a reduced noise that can’t irritate the user. 

The only drawback of this device is that it requires regular cleaning and maintenance since it uses oil to lubricate the parts.

Pros

  • The cylinder and pump are durable, ensuring long-term performance and preventing wear
  • The oil lubrication pump is suitable for low-temperature operations since it has a safety cage that protects it from harsh environmental conditions
  • It has two hose connectors, thus making it more versatile than the rest of the compressors
  • It can be used in various fields, such as cutting, grinding, and spraying. This helps minimize overall costs

Cons

  • It doesn’t have wheels, so you must lift it, hence making it difficult to move around with it quickly
  • It has a small tank, making it inappropriate, especially for larger tasks
Sale
Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP* Big Bore™ Air Compressor
  • Cast iron pump with Big Bore cylinder and piston is engineered to provide faster recovery time for...
  • Powerful 2.5 HP 4-Pole motor produces 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI for increased productivity and lower noise
  • Roll-cage construction provides complete protection to withstand extreme jobsite environments

Best Portable Air Compressor for Spray Painting: Craftsman CMXECXA0220242 Air Compressor

CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor Portable Air Tool Twin...

The Craftsman CMXECXA0220242 Air Compressor is considered one of the best for painting, at least for small-scale projects. Like the DEWALT Pancake Compressor, this model is portable and lightweight, making it ideal for individuals working from one station to another. 

With a maximum pressure of 150 PSI and a 2.6cu nominal ft/min flow rate, this element offers rapid compression and tremendous pressure. An oil-free pump and rapid recovery time between compressor cycles make this low-maintenance, simple-to-use compressor ideal for minor painting applications. 

The compressor also has a UMC motor that ensures a low-temperature start and a low noise level of 78 decibels to help the user work longer without noise interruption. 

Like Makita MAC2400, which can perform various functions, this compressor is also multipurpose. The compressor can be used for stapling, hobby painting, bolting, fastening, and nailing. 

The only drawback of this device is the safety control valve, which sometimes leaks, and you may have to replace it to get the best performance.

Pros

  • It is lightweight and portable, making it easy to move around
  • 2.6 SCFM enables rapid compression and recuperation time, allowing you to return to painting sooner
  • It has a range of accessories that are for versatile use
  • It is a multi-purpose device for bolting, stapling, fastening, nailing, and hobby painting

Cons

  • Due to its small size, you can only use it when doing small jobs
  • It’s less powerful than the California Air Tools 8010 since its pressure is low
CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor Portable Air Tool Twin...
  • [PORTABLE and LIGHT WEIGHT ] Portable small size air compressor for easy hand carry everywhere....
  • [LOW TEMPERATURE START & LOW NOISE] UMC motor enable low temperature start feature, low noise level...
  • [DURABLE and LONG LIFE CYCLE] Oil free and maintenance free pump system. High performance and...

Best Multi-Purpose Air Compressor for Spray Painting: DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor

DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, 165 PSI...

Even though it’s a small air tank, the DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor can pack a powerful punch like the California Air Tool models. It has a long run duration for your painting task, which is very useful if you’re just getting started with any DIY projects. 

The high flow regulator and connectors boost air tool performance, and the oil-free pump lasts a long time with no repair. This device has a soft noise level of 75.5 decibels, making it ideal for a quiet work environment.

Like others on the list, this device can perform various functions. For instance, you can use this air compressor for drilling, airbrushing, nailing, and painting. The device is also built of robust stainless steel and can withstand much pressure, making it an excellent choice for starting painters looking for something compact yet powerful.

Unlike the California Air Tools 10020C, it is lightweight, incredibly portable, and relatively stable. Due to its low profile, you may utilize it securely on the roof of a home. At times air tends to leak, which is one of its drawbacks.

Pros

  • Lightweight, weighing 30 lbs, making it convenient to carry and store.
  • It’s oil-free, just like the Craftsman Compressor, thus creating less noise.
  • It has protective rubber leg covers that prevent it from shifting due to vibrations.
  • It is a multi-purpose compressor, reducing the overall cost.

Cons

  • The compressor lacks wheels, so you have to lift it every time you move around as you spray paint.
  • It has some leakage issues if you don’t use it appropriately.
Sale
DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, 165 PSI...
  • 165 max PSI 6.0 gallon tank (22.7 L) and 2.6 SCFM delivered @ 90 PSI pump, enable long tool run time...
  • High efficiency motor of the electric air compressor is made for easy start up in cold weather or...
  • 78.5 dBA noise level of the 6 gallon air compressor is made for a quiet work environment

Best Movable Air Compressor for Spray Painting: WEN Vertical Air Compressor

WEN 2289 10-Gallon Oil-Free Vertical Air...

The WEN Vertical Air Compressor is made of durable material(stainless steel), just like the California Air Tools 10020C, to withstand a maximum pressure of 150 PSI. This makes it ideal for performing the spraying function without any itch.

The compressor has an efficient air flow rate of 4.0 cubic feet per minute (CFM) at 90 PSI and 5.0 cubic feet per minute (CFM) at 40 PSI, which makes spraying easy. 

The vertical tank has two seven-inch wheels that allow the user to move the compressor swiftly when working. There are also rubber handles that are easy to grip, enabling you to move the compressor while working. 

Unlike Makita MAC2400, which contains an oil-lubricated pump, this model has an oil-free pump making it one of the devices with a longer lifespan and easy to maintain. 

The WEN Vertical Compressor also features two pressure gauges to help the user monitor the pressure before resuming work. It also has a readily accessible drain valve that easily releases air after work completion. 

Like others on the list, this model can perform various functions such as nailing, drilling, and airbrushing. It also has a low noise level of 62 decibels, making it ideal for a quiet working environment. The only drawback of this device is that the pressure gauge may fail to work appropriately. 

Pros

  • The compressor has an extensive 10-gallon reservoir, making it excellent for heavier operations
  • It is an oil-free device, making it easy to maintain 
  • It contains wheels for easy movement when working

Cons

  • Any slight fault in the wheels may make the work difficult since the device is heavy
  • The pressure gauge may fail, making it difficult to monitor the pressure in the tank
WEN 2289 10-Gallon Oil-Free Vertical Air...
  • 10-gallon tank constructed with reinforced steel for a maximum pressure of 150 PSI
  • Provides air flow rates of 4.0 CFM at 90 PSI and 5.0 CFM at 40 PSI
  • Oil-Free pump requires no external lubrication for a longer lifespan

California 8010 Air Compressor

California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air...

The California Air Tools 8010 is a stainless steel compressor for individuals seeking the best air compressor for painting with a larger tank and more power. Like the California 10020C compressor, this model is also oil-free, making it easy to maintain and use in various temperatures and terrains.

The device also comes with easy-to-install wheels, enhancing movement from one point to another when painting. The compressor has a noise level of 60 decibels, which ensures you work in a noise-free environment. The 8-gallon steel air tank is an excellent feature for spraying paint on a larger area.

The California 8010 Compressor also has a minimum running watt of 2500. This watt rating makes the device run for 30 to 60 continuously. Like others on the list, the device can also perform other functions, such as nailing, airbrushing, and drilling. 

The only drawback of this device is that you must purchase the hose and connections separately. Although they are frequently accessible, consider this additional cost when purchasing.

Pros

  • It uses less energy and efficiently distributes heat
  • The compressor has an eight-gallon tank that allows you to do greater projects, just like the WEN Compressor
  • It has wheels that help you with easy transportation
  • It’s an oil-free compressor making it have minimum maintenance

Cons

  • Not intended for use with instruments that need a high air supply level
  • It uses electricity, which may increase the operation cost
Sale
California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air...
  • Comes complete with Wheel Kit & Air Filter | No hose included | Consider you will need a ¼”...
  • Product dimensions – 26" L x 14" W x 23” H | Max Pressure – 120 PSI | Voltage – 110V / 60 Hz...
  • Oil-Free Pump for Less Maintenance & Costs | Powerful 1.0 HP (Rated / Running) 2.0 HP (Peak) Motor

Features to Consider When Purchasing Compressors for Spray Painting

The best air compressor for spray painting must have a great tank capacity and high CFM rating to be powerful enough for operating painting tools. Compare these features to find the right compressor for your painting needs.

Air CompressorCapacityCFM RatingOil-Free Operation?Weight
California Air Tools 10020C10 gallons6.40 CFMYes82.5 pounds
Makita MAC24004.2 gallons4.2 CFMNo77 pounds
Craftsman CMXECXA02202422 gallons0.7 CFMYes22.8 pounds
DEWALT Pancake6 gallons2.6 CFMYes32.2 pounds
WEN Vertical10 gallons4.0 CFMYes71.5 pounds
California Air Tools 8010 8 gallons3.10 CFMYes48 pounds

Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)

CFM is a measurement of how much air moves per minute. It is one of the most important considerations when selecting an air compressor for spray painting.

Spray gun CFM requirements vary depending on the type, with smaller spray guns requiring less CFM than bigger ones. As a result, you must know your spray gun CFM needs. Then, seek a compressor with higher output than the spray gun’s CFM.

Best air compressor for spray painting
  • If the compressor and spray gun have the same CFM, the results will be subpar. Take close notice of this point. For continuous operation, I suggest a high CFM rate for your compressor.
  • Air compressors ranging from five to 10 CFM are commonly used in power painting equipment for industrial usage. The California Air Tools 10020C has the highest CFM making it suitable for large-scale projects.

Tank Size

The tank plays a significant role as it helps supply the air continuously during spraying.  Therefore, it is essential to consider the tank’s size when buying a spray paint compressor. It means that the tank must be significant to meet the air supply. 

It is advisable to get a sprayer with a big tank of at least 10 gallons, like the WEN Compressor. The greater the tank capacity, the more the compressor will deliver continuous airflow across a broader surface area.

Weight

Weight determines the portability of a product. When purchasing air compressors for spray painting, choose a compressor you can quickly move while spraying. 

For instance, the DEWALT Pancake Compressor is ideal since it only weighs 2.2 lbs. This makes it easy to carry from one point to another when painting.

Tank Type

Several people are familiar with fixed, vertical compressors. These are often seen in factories, multi-bay repair shops, and workshops. 

Vertical compressors are generally large and weighty, with a high horsepower rating for continuous use. They require less floor space because of their vertical design.

Meanwhile, mobile air compressors are smaller, lighter, and easier to move than permanent compressors. California Air Tools 8010 is the way to go regarding portability.

Fuel

It is also critical to ensure that the proper fuel is used to power a compressor. As for fuel, you may choose between gas and electricity.

Electric air compressors are less expensive and more efficient to operate. In contrast, a gas-powered compressor has the benefit of being more dependable and adaptable, especially if you will use it outside. 

The DEWALT Compressor is an excellent example of an electric compressor. However, you should avoid utilizing gas-filled air compressors in enclosed places or interior work since they might pollute the environment.

Best air compressor for spray painting on works

Ease of Use

It is advisable to get a compressor that is easy to use. A good compressor should be easy to install and have a manual that helps the users understand how it operates. The manual will help you know the capacity, the fueling mode, and how to fill the paint.

If you are a newbie, read and understand the manual. If the device is challenging to operate, seek assistance from an experienced person or contact the seller for further directions. This way, you will use the compressor efficiently without any problem.

Noise Level

The noise level of a compressor is a serious concern, and it is exacerbated if you are operating in a confined space. Every painter desires to use it in a friendly environment, free from noise and other obstacles. That is why you need a compressor to ensure you work well without making much noise. 

Go for a compressor with the lowest decibel level, like the California 8010 Compressor with a noise level of 60 decibels. However, there are other techniques you can use to minimize the spread of noise in your area of work. 

For instance, you can install sound dampers, such as fiberglass insulation, in the work area to prevent sound from spreading outward. 

Roll Cage

A roll cage protects the crucial components of air compressors. The possibilities of an air compressor being crushed are high unless you have the right quality roll cage. The DEWALT compressor is an excellent example that has a roll cage.

Related Questions

Can You Spray Paint Without a Compressor?

Yes, you can paint without; however, you will need more time to finish the project. In this case, you must use an airless paint sprayer operated using gas or electricity. You can find these sprayers at local hardware, supermarkets, or online stores.

What Is a Good CFM for a Spray Painting Air Compressor?

The CFM differs depending on the type of tool you are using. It is generally possible to employ 0-5 CFM at 60-90 PSI. It will, however, change when used on large machinery. Then you may require more than 10cfm at 100-120 ps.

What PSI Is Good for Spray Painting Using Air Compressors?

About 15 to 50 PSI is a good working range when using air compressors for spray painting. You can adjust the pressure depending on how you use the spray, like shading or putting touch-ups.

Conclusion

Spray painting can be challenging, especially if you are new to painting or don’t know how to operate a compressor well. Therefore, before purchasing a compressor for spray painting, it is vital to familiarize yourself with the device to get the job done correctly. Happy painting!