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If you’re going to be painting, you need something to help you atomize the paint properly in order to get the best results. And a good air compressor for painting is precisely what you need.
In case you’re not sure which one to get, here are the best air compressors for painting on the market. Weigh the pros and cons, understand what you need from your compressor, and finally make your choice.
Air Compressor – Comparison Table
|Air Compressor||Tank Size (GL)||Weight (lbs)|
|California Air Tools 10020C||10||82.5|
|Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV||3||21|
The 7 Best Air Compressors for Painting
1. California Air Tools 10020C
This oil-free air compressor brings state-of-the-art technology to both pros and entry-level DIYers.
Its impressive 5.3 CFM and a 125 PSI maximum pressure qualify it to be the best air compressor for painting houses.
And although it runs on a powerful 2HP motor, its operation is relatively quiet at only 70 dB.
This is because it runs on a low 1680 RPM that sustains its motor and extends its lifespan.
Being an oil-free model means there’s no maintenance required, and this provides a lot of conveniences –especially for beginners.
The only problem with the California Air Tools 10020C is that it’s very heavy at 82.5 pounds. So don’t count on moving it around that often.
Also, it’s not the most affordable choice, but it provides you with value for your money.
- Steel air tank with a wheel kit for mobility
- Quiet relative to its tank size and pressure power
- Very high pressure levels
- Voltage and drain options give customers more flexibility
- Wide-capacity tank
- Pretty heavy
- Awkward wheel placement
- Issues with bottom welding joints
If you’re looking for the most powerful air compressor fit for heavy-duty jobs, there’s none better than the California Air Tools 10020C.
However, you should also be aware that you’re giving up on portability.
2. DeWalt DWFP55126
When you’re talking about paint sprayers, more often than not, pancake compressors would be dismissed.
Whether it’s because they’re not big enough, too loud, or don’t provide enough CFM.
However, the DeWalt DWFP55126 does an amazing job at paint spraying despite being a pancake model.
Its 6-gallon tank and 165 PSI maximum pressure help you take on various tasks.
At 90 PSI, you’ll get an ample 2.6 CFM pressure, which can run your sprayer with few recovery breaks.
Moreover, the DeWalt DWFP55126’s operation is relatively quiet at 75.5 dB. This means you can even use it indoors.
- Not too noisy
- 165 PSI maximum pressure
- Adequate tank capacity
- Great value for the money
- Doesn’t come with a hose
- Hose attachment bearings prone to leaks
Although it’s a pancake model, the DeWalt DWFP55126’s performance is superb. With its tank capacity and pressure levels, it’s even good for a size air compressor for painting cars.
3. Porter-Cable C2002
The Porter-Cable C2002 is another pancake air compressor that suits painting jobs as it has a reliable 150 PSI maximum output with 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI.
This reduces its recovery time to make it more practical.
Moreover, its 6-gallon tank provides you with enough air to finish bigger painting jobs.
It’s equipped with rubber feet to provide stability and a water drain valve to be more convenient.
Not only that, but the Porter-Cable C2002 also comes with two factory-installed air couplers that allow two users to operate it simultaneously.
The only downsides are that the noise levels of this unit are very high, and the pressure it provides may have some inconsistencies.
- Relatively portable
- Has an integrated cord wrap
- Oil-free pump reduces maintenance costs
- Very noisy operation
- Pressure isn’t consistent
The Porter-Cable C2002 is an affordable air compressor that provides you with a high pressure level and an ample degree of portability. If you’re going to work outside where higher noise levels aren’t that much of a problem, it’s a great choice.
4. Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV
The Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV comes with an overall user-friendly design.
For a budget air compressor, it combines a bunch of impressive features.
From the 110 PSI maximum pressure to the 3-gallon tank, it’s the right choice for automotive painting.
However, it wouldn’t be compatible with high CFM sprayers as its CFM rating is quite low, measuring 0.36 at 90 PSI.
I wasn’t very fond of the longer charging time it takes, but once I got around it, I found the performance of this unit impressive.
I liked how I could quickly move it around as it only weighs 21 pounds.
- Includes an accessory kit
- Lightweight design
- Ample tank capacity
- Low-pressure level
- Cycles every 7-8 shots when nailing
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly choice that will still provide you with satisfactory performance, I’d recommend the Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV. Although you shouldn’t expect anything too grand in terms of delivered pressure.
5. Bostitch CAP1512-OF
The Bostitch CAP1512-OF is a small yet powerful air compressor. Its pressure levels can reach 150 PSI, which enables you to run any tool from nailers to sprayers.
Moreover, it reaches that maximum pressure in a very short time, so it’s a great air compressor for spray painting, building garages, or redoing roofs.
The Bostitch CAP1512-OF runs on a powerful 1.5 HP, 12 AMP motor to ensure that none of your breakers will be tripped.
Being lightweight at around 23.5 pounds means it’s quite portable.
You’d expect a small unit to be quiet as well, but unfortunately, the Bostitch CAP1512-OF is pretty noisy during operation.
The on-board hose and tool storage is an excellent addition that allows you to bring your fasteners and fittings along.
- High 150 PSI maximum pressure
- Powerful motor
- Quite portable
- Reaches full pressure quite fast
- Loud operation
- Not suitable for framing guns
At an affordable price level and high-pressure levels, the Bostitch CAP1512-OF is one of the best air compressors you can get.
6. Senco PC1010
Don’t judge the Senco PC1010 by its 1-gallon tank before you check out its powerful 1HP motor.
With this unit, you can get up to 44 drivers per minute, which makes this unit the perfect one for entry-level painters working inside.
If your work doesn’t require more than 120 PSI as the maximum output, I’d highly recommend this unit.
The Senco PC1010 operates very quietly at levels as low as 60 dB. This means you can even use it for painting indoors.
Moreover, it’s pretty lightweight and portable at only 20 pounds.
- Ample motor power
- Compact and lightweight design
- Quiet operation
- 1-year warranty
- Only suitable for light-duty work
The Senco PC1010 is the best portable air compressor for painting you can get on the market. However, you shouldn’t be expecting to do anything more than light-duty work using it.
7. Rolair JC10 Plus
The Rolair JC10 Plus is an improved version of its predecessor, the Rolair JC10.
That’s why you can notice impressive features such as a 1HP oil-free motor, a sturdy cage that protects the tank, integrated cords, and gauges that face upward.
Moreover, it has a cast aluminum two-cylinder pump that spins at 1700 RPM. So its operation is pretty quiet.
Its 2.35 CFM pressure level is adequate, but the 2.5-gallon tank is a little too small for such a hefty (42.9 pounds) and pricey unit.
- Compact design with a small footprint
- Quality valve extends the motor life and provides smooth start-up
- Ample pressure levels
- 2.5-gallon capacity suits medium-duty tasks at best
- Air filter tends to fall out of the cage
For the capacity and pressure it provides, the Rolair JC10 Plus is a little overpriced. But then again, it’s the most compact choice you can find.
What Size Air Compressor Suits Painting?
The question depends on what exactly you’re going to paint. The bigger the task, the bigger your tank capacity and higher pressure levels you should get.
You can finish light-duty to medium-duty jobs with a tank size between 4 to 10 gallons.
On the other hand, if you’re going to be doing professional work, I’d recommend getting something with a 10-gallon tank or higher.
What Should I Look for in an Air Compressor?
Air compressors come in two variations: portable and stationary.
Stationary ones are bigger and heftier as they’re designed to remain in one place, such as a workshop. They provide you with higher pressures and larger tank capacities.
On the other hand, portable ones don’t have as much capacity or pressure levels, but they can be moved from one place to another quite easily.
Your air compressor can be powered by electricity or gas.
Electric-powered ones are oil-free, so they require little to no maintenance, produce less noise, and are suitable for indoor use.
Contrarily, gas-powered ones are suitable for outdoor use as they’re loud, more powerful, and give you more mobility.
Smaller projects around the house would require a 4 to 6-gallon tank.
But if you’re going to do professional work or heavy-duty tasks, you should get a 10-gallon tank or even bigger –depending on the size of your job and how frequently you can or would like to take breaks.
How to Use an Air Compressor for Painting?
Once you ready your tool and your workspace, prepare the paint.
First, thin it down by adding water. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to know how exactly to thin down different types of paint.
Connect the tubes and hoses to their ports and plug the sprayer into an output.
Turn your sprayer on and monitor the PSI levels on the air compressor to make sure they’re always maintained at an appropriate level that matches the sprayer’s requirements.
When you’re painting, keep the nozzle about six to twelve inches away from the surface you’re painting. Moreover, make sure to keep a fluid sideways or up and down motion. This is to ensure that the paint will look as smooth as possible with no bulkiness anywhere.
How to Remove Water from an Air Compressor?
Turn the compressor off and unplug it from the power source.
Reduce the internal pressure to less than 10 PSI. You can do so by pulling the tank’s safety valve to release pressure.
Locate the tank drain valve. They’re usually located at the bottom of the tank. Then, open it and get all the moisture out.
While each of these best air compressors is good for something, some of them strike great combinations.
For heavy-duty tasks and bigger projects, I’d recommend the California Air Tools 10020C as it’s pretty powerful and has a 10-gallon tank that enables you to finish most jobs in one go. However, it’s a bit of a pricey choice.
If you’re looking for something more affordable but still provides you with reliable performance, go for the DeWalt DWFP55126.
While if you’re looking for the best budget choice, opt for the Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV. The Senco PC1010 is another budget choice that’s also very portable and compact.