Best Air Compressor for Painting – (Reviews & Buying Guide 2019)

If you are not using an airless paint sprayer or some specific HVLP model, then you know that owning the best air compressor for painting is essential. For the paint to be adequately atomized, the paint sprayer must be hooked up to some form of an air supply, and air compressors are just that.

A high-quality air compressor can be a best friend to both professional painters and DIYers. It should be able to work with almost all paint sprayers, giving you maximum efficiency. Such a product is a long-term investment, so you should make sure that the unit you choose is reliable and better than the overrated models in the industry.

However, air compressors have changed a lot during the years regarding the design, performance, and usage. Therefore, finding a high-quality unit may not be as easy as it seems. That’s why our team has created this buying guide full of useful information, tips and the top 7 air compressor for painting reviews.

Best Air Compressor for Painting ( Newest Models )

Having a good air compressor is of great importance for the quality of your work. For this reason, our team has handpicked the top 7 models you can find on the market these days. They are not ordered in any particular system for we are sure that you will like them all. Let’s get started!

1. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake Compressor

PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free UMC Pancake CompressorThe Porter-cable C2002 compressor is proof that to be strong you don’t need to be huge. It features a 150 psi max tank pressure and a low-amp 120-volt motor. Cold weather should not bother you at all for the engine starts quickly even in such conditions. You can use the unit for many tasks from filling tires to spray painting.

This air compressor is easy to use, and the induction motor ensures its long life and optimum performance. With the PORTER-CABLE C2002 Oil-Free Compressor, you get a quick recovery time and excellent results. However, this unit tends to work a bit louder than usual, so if you can’t stand hissing sounds, keep this in mind.

The six-gallon pancake-style tank of this compressor ensures the unit’s stability and the rubber feet and water drain valve are also some nice features. The most significant advantage this unit has is that it can support two users as it has two regulated, factory installed air couplers. On the other hand, the accessories that this model comes with are not the most reliable.

PROS:

  • a low-amp 120-volt motor
  • Works well in cold weather
  • Portable
  • Features rubber feet and water drain valve

CONS:

  • Too noisy
  • The enclosed user’s manual doesn’t specify a break-in procedure
  • Low-quality accessories

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2. Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor

Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free CompressorThis oil-free compressor is portable and lightweight. As the pump is oil-free, you will save some time because the maintenance is easy. The pump delivers 2.6 SCFM* 90PSI and has maximum tank storage of 150 PSI. This means that you will get a long working time and quick recovery.

The Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor does not come with a hose or gun kit but compensates with a high-efficiency motor. The compressor starts quickly even in cold weather. The operational noise level is 78.5 Dba, but the unit does not work as quiet as you would like.

For the air tool performance to be maximized, the air compressor features a high flow regulator and couplers. The unit can support two users because it offers two universal couplers. The product is also light to carry around and to store as it weighs only 29 lbs. Another small disadvantage is the rubber hose on the discharge side. During prolonged running, the rubber hose gets a bit hot and smelly.

PROS:

  • Oil-free
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Starts easily even in cold conditions
  • High flow regulator
  • Two universal couplers

CONS:

  • The item does not include hose or gun kit
  • Loud
  • When used for a more extended period, the rubber hose on the discharge side gets smelly and hot

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3. DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor

DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake CompressorThis Pancake compressor has a high-efficiency motor that will not disappoint you even in cold weather or extension cord application.  It features a 165 max PSI 6.0-gallon tank and 2.6 SCFM delivered at 90 PSI pump. You can use the compressor and your tool for long periods and the recovery is also quick.

The oil-free pump ensures the maintenance-free operation, while the high flow regulator maximizes the performance of the air tool you use. The DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor has two universal couplers which means that it can support two users. Another significant feature is the ball drain valve for quick tank draining. This compressor also has protective rubber leg covers that prevent marring.

The noise level this compressor offers is 75.5 Dba, which is excellent as your neighbors will be happy as well. However, you may find the pressure regulation to be a bit lousy when you set the pressure to any level lower the 100 psi. This is inconvenient when it comes to tasks such as spraying finishes.

PROS:

  • Oil-free
  • Quiet
  • Can support two users
  • Ball drain valve
  • 165 max PSI 6.0-gallon tank

CONS:

  • Vibrates too much
  • Lousy pressure regulation

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4. Makita Big Bore MAC700

Makita Big Bore MAC700When it comes to industrial quality power tools, everybody knows who Makita is. This worldwide manufacturer is all about quality, and the Makita Big Bore MAC700 proves it. This air compressor features a Makita’s Big Bore engineered pump cylinder and piston. For this reason, the unit will give you improved job site performance, less noise, and higher output.

The noise level of this compressor is 80 Db, and the net weight is 52 lbs. This means that it may not be the most excellent choice for projects that require the often moving of the compressor. However, this is to be expected, as the Makita Big Bore MAC700 delivers industrial power and results.

This compressor is powered by a 2.0 HP motor and is equipped with automotive style filter for excellent efficiency and increased air intake. This air compressor runs at half the RPM of most competitive units resulting in superior durability. Still, some things need to be improved as for example the susceptible gauges and regulator.

PROS:

  • Powered by a 2.0 HP motor
  • Features Makita’s Big Bore engineered pump cylinder and piston
  • It is not noisy
  • Automotive-style filter

CONS:

  • Too heavy
  • The gauges and the regulator are not well-protected

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5. Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV Air Compressor

Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV air compressorThis oil-free air compressor will save you time and effort as it is a maintenance-free product with reliable motor output. The Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV air compressor operates on 120-volt house outlet and can provide plenty of power to tackle any DIY project. The design of this air compressor ensures its easy moving. The most significant advantage of this compressor is the fact that it can be used for many things, such as ball inflation, upholstery projects, powering brushes and so much more.

Still, the product is not that big, and it cannot hold pressure for very long. Another disadvantage is the fact that it is too noisy for how little it is. To compensate for that, though, the Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV air compressor comes with a 10–piece accessory kit. You will get blow gun, inflation needles, fittings, and a coiled hose. The hose, however, is a bit hard to stretch.

At 0.36 CFM @ 90 PSI and 110 maximum PSI this compressor is suitable for painting, stapling and inflation needs. The flow it provides is consistent, and the conveniently placed gauges are easy to read.

PROS:

  • 10-piece accessory kit
  • Oil-free
  • Light and portable

CONS:

  • Too noisy
  • Not that powerful
  • Unreliable hose

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6. Makita MAC2400

Makita MAC2400The Makita MAC2400 offers improved performance and faster recovery time. The iron pump with Big Bore cylinder and piston ensure the great results this air compressor will give you. The unit features a 4.2-gallon twin-stacked tank that delivers 40 PSI (4.8 CFM) and 90 PSI (4.2 CFM) and sustains an operating pressure of 130 PSI.

You get reduced wear and cooler running temperatures due to the oil-lubricated pump. The Makita MAC2400 also has a built-in thermal overload for additional motor protection. A significant advantage this air compressor has is the roll-cage construction that provides complete protection. This way this product can withstand extreme job site environments. Still, as it is with most of the air compressors, the tank rusts out even if you drain it every day.

The main disadvantages of this air compressor are two. The first one is the cheesy air filter housing that interferes with the nearby plastic shroud, and you can’t tell if the filter is tightened down properly. The second con this unit has is the manufacturer’s manual it comes with. The instructions in it are inadequate and poorly written.

PROS:

  • Built-in thermal overload
  • Roll-cage construction
  • Cooler running temperatures
  • A 4.2-gallon twin-stacked tank

CONS:

  • Badly written manufacturer’s manual
  • Cheesy air filter
  • The tank rusts out easily

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7. Excell U256PPE 6 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor

Excell U256PPE 6 Gallon Pancake Air CompressorThis pancake compressor is also an excellent choice for your spray painting projects. It also has an oil-free universal pump and UMC motor that provide better tool operation. The Excell U256PPE 6 Gallon Pancake Air Compressor features a conveniently located control panel and a 6-gallon air tank. The low voltage start-up capability that is 64V is also a significant advantage. With this air compressor, you don’t have to be worried even if the temperatures are low.

This air compressor is a perfect option for older buildings and rural areas where the power supply may be deficient. The best part is that you can use this unit for many tasks, such as blow cleaning, stapling, brad nailing, hardwood flooring, spray painting, finish nailing and more.

The most significant disadvantage this unit has is the fact that it is too loud. Still, the pros are more than the cons. The air compressor has an integrated heavy-duty handle and onboard cord wrap. The air compressor has rubber feet, but it still tends to vibrate too much and sometimes even move.

PROS:

  • 64V start-up capacity
  • Oil-free
  • Features a 6-gallon air tank
  • Integrated heavy-duty handle
  • Onboard cord wrap

CONS:

  • Too noisy
  • Vibrates too much

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What is an Air Compressor?

Best Air Compressor for Painting

Before being able to find a reliable unit you need to know precisely what air compressors are and how they work. An air compressor is a unique device that uses diesel or gasoline engine, electric motor, etc., to convert power into potential energy that is stored in compressed air. Air compressors force more and more air into a storage tank, and that way increase the pressure. There are a couple of techniques by which this can be done. The air compressor shuts off when the tank pressure reaches its manufactured upper limit. Until the compressed air is called into use, it is held in the tank.

There are many applications the energy contained in the compressed air can be used for. The air compressor re-pressurizes the tank and turns on again when tank pressure reaches its lower limit. Remember that an air compressor is different from a pump as it works for any air/gas, while pumps operate on a liquid.

As there are many supplies related to spray painting, an air compressor is a necessity. Still, you could use it for a lot of different things, so don’t stop with paint sprayers.

Factors to Think About When Looking for an Air Compressor

  • Type of Air Compressor (Tank)

Air Compressor for Painting ReviewsStationary, upright compressors are something most people are familiar with. They are seen mostly is manufacturing plants, garages, and multi-bay body shops. As they have high horsepower, they also tend to be heavy and quite large. However, they are great for continuous use. The vertical design they have allows them to take up little floor space.

DIYers on the other hand, prefer to use portable air compressors. They are smaller and lighter than their stationary brothers. These compressors come in many styles, such as hotdog, pancake, wheelbarrow-shape, etc. Portable air compressors have a small footprint and are compact.

  • PSI and CFM

Besides horsepower, PSI and CFM are the two most important factors you need to keep in mind when choosing an air compressor. PSI means pounds per square inch. This is a measure of force but having higher PSI ratings does not always mean better performance.

In fact, many applications find the CFM (cubic feet per minute) to be the more important metric. If your air compressor has a higher CFM that means that it will also offer faster air compression. Therefore, it is better able to match the CMF of high-quality paint sprayers in the market.

Still, when CMF ratings don’t match that does not necessarily mean that the air compressor will be of no use. You will just have to stop more often so that the unit can adjust adequately to provide adequate pressure to the paint sprayer before restarting.

  • Horsepower (HP).

For most non-industrial and DIY applications, 1 to 2 HP motor will work good enough with paint sprayers that are rated for 6 CPM and 30-40 PSI.

Nowadays, 2 HP compressors are often seen in the mainstream retail market. If your choice delivers at least 8 CFM at 40 PSI, you should be good.

  • Work Area

As air compressors are motor-driven, they create heat and friction during operation, especially when it is oil-less compressors that we talk about. For this purpose, you need to make sure that the area you are going to work in is well-ventilated. This way you will avoid comprising the quality of your paint job.

  • Oiled versus Oil-free Air Compressors.

Years ago, regular oil lubrication of piston chambers was a must. A dedicated maintenance schedule was something nobody could run from. However, nowadays things are a bit different. Manufacturers started making pre-lubricated air compressors that are much more convenient. That’s why oil-free air compressors have gained traction among both professional tradespeople and hobbyist.

The question now is “Do I need an Oil-free or Lubricated Compressor?”. Generally, oiled compressors are more expensive and huger. Respectively, oil-free designs are lighter and maintenance-free, at least until the coating wears out. In the past, oiled compressors used to be the quieter model. However, nowadays noise is not that big of a problem for neither of the two models due to the technological advances.

In general, if you are a casual or just one-time user, opt for an oil-less air compressor. If you work in a specific industry, though, a massive, oiled tank may be required.

  • Noise

As we already said compressor noise has always been an important issue when it comes to air compressors. If you plan to work in small, closed areas, just imagine how irritating it would be to hear hissing sounds all day. You need to look for an air compressor that has a low decibel rating (Db).

Another thing you could do is look for compressors that could work with specific accessories. You may need to purchase and install them separately; however, they would definitely be a nice addition to your working process.

  • Expansion chamber muffles – They are similar to regular automobile mufflers and will block air compressor sounds. They are great at preventing low frequencies.
  • Intake silencer filters – They can easily silence intake activity into inlet holes.

We are not saying that silent air compressors do not exist. Still, they are quite expensive, and if you are not professional, they are not worth it. Keep in mind, that you can add noise dampers such as fiberglass insulation or mineral wool in your work area. This way you will prevent the outward spread of noise.

  • Versatility

If your painting is your primary motivation for buying an air compressor, that does not mean that you should not consider using it with other air tools. Look for compressors that are versatile and are worth the investment. You need something that you could use with the best commercial paint sprayer  or a good spray gun for painting cars.

  • Price

If you are a DIYer on a budget, pancake-shaped and portable air compressors would be a good option for you. They are small, lightweight and allow for chaining. That means that you don’t need to access a 220v outlet.

  • Brand

Regardless of the overall specifications, having an air compressor made by a recognized market leader is always the better choice. They offer a solid warranty and bigger retail network. Therefore, if something happens with your unit, you can be calm. This factor is something you need to consider every time when you look for a particular product. It does not matter if you look for the best telescoping ladder or great food for your dog, the brand name is always essential.

  • Reviews

Always read the reviews a particular product has. Read the negative and positive opinions. It is of no importance if you want to buy an air compressor for car painting or one for house painting, reviews are always something you need to read.

Common Issues With Paint Sprayers and Air Compressors

  • Moisture

For your paint sprayer to work correctly, you need to have a pure flow of air. There shouldn’t be any moisture in the atmosphere that is used to atomize the paint. If that happens, you will alter the viscosity of the paint. For this reason, you need to have a filter that separates the moisture from the environment.

  • Tailing

When using air compressors with a paint sprayer, tailing could also be a common problem. If this occurs, that means that the pressure levels are too low. Don’t move closer to the surface you are painting, just stop the work for a moment and let the pressure levels equalize.

This is normal unless you have a large compressor. You will need to let your compressor catch up to the work you do, so don’t worry.

  • Clean Air Compressor Lines

You may have some oil contamination within your air hose lines if you use your air compressor for multiple tools, such as a finisher or a nail gun.

This is not something you should underestimate as it may change the viscosity of your paint or even prevent it from adhering correctly. For this reason, you need to have lines that are clean and dedicated to the work you are doing.

Wrap Up

Well, guys, you have successfully finished reading our buying guide to getting the best air compressor for painting. Your painting projects will not be done correctly if you don’t own a high-quality air compressor- that is of course if your paint sprayer requires it. After reading our piece, you now know how many things you need to keep in mind when choosing a product.

We really hope that you have found our article and our air compressor for painting reviews useful! If that is true, share this buying guide with all your friends and family. Also, remember to drop us a comment or send us an email if there is anything you would like to discuss with us.

Helping our readers is our number one priority, that’s why we have many other articles devoted to finding the right unit. Find some free time and go check them out as well. Thanks for reading, and as always- stay put!

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