Best Air Compressor for Painting Cars

The 10 Best Air Compressor for Painting Cars in 2021 – Reviews & Buying Guide

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Before Francis Davis Millet invented the air compressor, painting vehicles was one of the most tiring, messy, and time-consuming endeavors one could ever think of. But, thanks to his discovery, the air compressor has become one of the most sought-after tools in the painting project. You see, painting your car is very different from polishing furniture or doing wall painting. It demands the right tools and equipment if you truly wish to achieve the best factory-looking paint job. For this to happen, you need the best air compressor for painting cars.

You see, as your car ages, its former glossy looks tend to fade away following the numerous knocks and scratches it receives while on the road. Since your car is one of your most valuable assets, giving it a polish once in a while is one way you can maintain its aesthetic appeal. For that reason, whether you’re a professional mechanic or a passionate DIYer, one way you can maintain consistency in your car painting or basic home projects is by investing in a high-quality paint sprayer. So, to achieve consistency and high-quality results, this guide has recommended 10 air compressors that will let you paint your ride to restore its former factory look.



Air Compressor for Painting Cars: Editor’s Top Picks


Top 10 Best Compressors for Painting Cars Reviews:


1. DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, 165 PSI (DWFP55126)


DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon,...


One thing that troubles most beginner customers when searching for a quality product is making the right pick amidst a myriad of choices. Thankfully, when picking the best air compressor to polish your ride, the DEWALT Pancake DWFP55126 Air Compressor has proved to be one of the most reliable models you can ever count on. Just as its name suggests, this model isn’t substantial. Instead, it has a basic pancake design that makes it a little bit smaller which is a plus when it comes to mobility.

About its performance, this air compressor is likely to make you wild. Why? First, it’s powered by a very powerful motor that delivers a maximum of 165 PSI of air pressure. If you’re a professional mechanic, then you’re aware that this air pressure rating is enough to provide consistent paint flow on your tools when painting your ride.

In addition to the powerful motor, this air compressor is equipped with a decent 6.0-gallon tank (22.7L). It also has a very efficient pump that handles both tough and lighter painting duties by providing 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI and 3.7 SCFM at 40 PSI for more consistency when working. The DEWALT Pancake DWFP55126 Air Compressor doesn’t just stop there. It has a decent 75.5dBA noise rating that guarantees you a noise-free environment when working. It’s also equipped with 2 universal couplers that allow two users to work simultaneously.


  • The motor can work in both hot and cold temperatures.
  • Provides a long runtime.
  • The 2 universal couplers allow two users to work simultaneously.
  • 30lbs weight makes transportation a breeze.
  • Has a very high-pressure rating of 165 PSI.


  • The ball bearings on the fitting hoses don’t fit well causing air leakage.
  • The regulator knob requires frequent adjustments.

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2. Industrial Air IL1682066.MN 20-Gallon Belt Driven Air Compressor with V-Twin Cylinder


Industrial Air IL1682066.MN 20-Gallon...


The best thing about the Industrial Air IL1682066.MN 20 Gallon Air Compressor is its massive size. While our former DEWALT Pancake DWFP55126 Air Compressor was specifically designed for lighter painting tasks, this one is specifically designed to accomplish most heavy-duty tasks due to its massive body that houses a huge 20-gallon tank. Besides, it’s an upright air compressor meaning it’s very easy to work with especially when you consider it has caster wheels for easy mobility.

Now, what makes the Industrial Air Compressor IL1682066.MN so special? First and foremost, this air compressor has a very unique design. The body itself is made of cast iron while the twin-cylinder pump, the head and the valve plate are all made of aluminum. Now, this type of construction allows faster heat dissipation giving the unit a longer lifespan. The 1.6HP motor is something else you’ll really love about this air compressor. Although it isn’t the most powerful, combining this output with a special V-Twin cylinder technology means that you’ll have maximum speed coupled with peak performance.

Lastly, the 20-gallon tank is something else you’ll really love about this unit. Although it increases the weight substantially to 159 pounds, pulling the entire air compressor with the help of the caster wheels means that you can work for a very long time without facing any inconvenience. Although this air compressor is UL and CSA listed and certified, it has a low air pressure of 135 PSI making it the best for average painting projects.


  • Comes with free oil for lubricating the pump.
  • Pneumatic tires allow easy mobility.
  • It’s very convenient thanks to the on/off switch and quick-set regulator.
  • Works with both 120 and 240-volts power outlets.
  • Can hold up to 20-gallons of air.


  • The air pressure is quite low.
  • Takes longer to fill the tank.

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3. California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor


California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air...


The California Air Tools 8010 Air Compressor is part of a new wave of quality compressors that are tremendously powerful but amazingly silent. Raving at 1680 RPM, it’s easy to think that this air compressor is extremely noisy. The surprising thing is that this unit is very quiet making it the best for any indoor painting project. Now, the 1.0 HP motor is one of the major contributors to this unit’s massive success. Designed to work at the rate of 1.0 HP in normal running and 2.0 HP at peak performance, this motor delivers enough torque that allows you to accomplish most of your daily painting projects.

More to that, this air compressor is equipped with a massive oil-free dual-piston pump that has a decent life cycle of 3000 plus hours. Since it’s designed to be pulled like a cart, the oil-free advantage allows you to pull this unit on uneven terrains as well as operate it in regions experiencing wild temperature fluctuations.

Now, although the California Air Tools 8010 Air Compressor is equipped with pneumatic tires, it’s not as big as you would have thought. With just an 8-gallon steel tank and a net weight of 48 pounds, this unit can be taken almost anywhere. It also has a maximum air pressure of 120 PSI, a voltage of 120V, a continuous runtime of 30-60 minutes, and a fast refill time of just 2 minutes.


  • It has a thermal overload protector.
  • Its oil-free dual-piston pump has a high life cycle.
  • Has a very low amperage draw of just 8.5 Amps.
  • Super-fast recovery time of 30 seconds from 90—120 PSI.
  • The tank has a fast-fill time of just 2 minutes.


  • The motor can produce a burning smell after extended use.
  • It has a low CFM rating.

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4. Senco PC1010 1-Horsepower Peak


Senco PC1010 1/2- Horsepower 1-Gallon...


The Senco PC1010 1-HP Peak is among the smallest air compressors we’ve lined up for you in our discussion. With just a 1-gallon tank, this compressor is not the best for large painting projects but rather a perfect backup in case you need to supplement your primary air compressor. However, for passionate DIYers looking to improve their art & craft or home improvement projects, then this air compressor is the perfect option for you.

Though the smallest in this write-up, this air compressor doesn’t disappoint at all. Its powerful 1HP motor is truly outstanding as it offers a 1HP worth of power when working at peak power and ½ HP when running. With such impressive strength, this air compressor has managed to achieve at least 1 CFM at 40 PSI and 0.7 CFM at 90 PSI.

Now, the Senco PC1010 1-HP Peak is a horizontal air compressor. Weighing just 20 pounds, this unit is very easy to carry without any hassle. Its 68 dB super quiet motor has been a major selling point as it allows the compressor to be used both at home and in the garage without worrying about noise. It also has a maximum air pressure of 120 PSI, a one-year warranty and a 2 minutes refill time making it one of the best air compressors in this business.


  • Has a compact shape and size.
  • Requires only 2 minutes of refilling.
  • The oil-free pump is CSA-approved.
  • Guarantees and ultra-quiet operation.
  • Backed by a 1-year limited warranty.


  • This air compressor is very small.
  • The valves are susceptible to leakage after several uses.

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5. Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Wheeled Compressor with Overload Protection


Rolair Air Compressor,2.5 HP,115V,130...


With immense experience in the air compressor business, Rolair knows exactly where the shoe pinches most and has hence gone ahead to offer their customers a more user-friendly air compressor that will meet their every need. The Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Wheeled Compressor is exactly what we’re talking about. Covered under a very strong roll cage, this unit has all its components such as the tank, the gauges, and the integrated cords covered perfectly to prevent any possible damage.

Its 2HP motor has been a major talking point as it revs at 3,400 RPM to power the twin-cylinder cast aluminum pump. As a result, the pump delivers a whopping 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI which is enough to allow you to accomplish all your painting endeavors with enthusiasm. More to that, the pump requires at least 10 oz of lubricating oil to keep it in good shape as well as permit a perfect cold starting in cold temperatures.

For those worried about the 108 pounds worth of weight, the Rolair VT25BIG 2.5 HP Wheeled Compressor is equipped with a pair of caster wheels to make mobility a breeze. Fitted with a 5.3 gallon cast iron cylinder, this air compressor is a perfect fit for passionate DIYers who enjoy taking matters into their own hands.


  • Has a very powerful 2.5HP motor.
  • Caster wheels make mobility a breeze.
  • The handle is easily foldable.
  • The motor has a high output of 3,500 RPM.
  • The components are protected under a very solid cast iron chassis.


  • The air filter is in a very vulnerable location.
  • The 5.3-gallon tank has a small capacity.

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6. PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor, 6-Gallon, Pancake


PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor, 6-Gallon,...


The PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor resembles our previous DEWALT Pancake DWFP55126 Air Compressor in terms of shape and general features. However, one feature that sets them apart is the classic red outfit which PORTER-CABLE is notoriously known for. Now, with a 6-gallon pancake-style tank, this air compressor is among the tiniest in the market. It has a weight of 34 pounds and a convenient carry handle at the top to make carrying a breeze.

To give you a little advice, don’t judge the performance of this air compressor with its looks. Although it might appear tiny, this compressor has a maximum of 150 PSI that’s rated at 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI to give the compressor a fast recovery time. The motor itself is a low-amp motor that demands just 120V to work efficiently even in cold weather.

The PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor might have one of the tiniest tanks in this guide. Although it’s just a 6-gallon tank, its capacity cannot be underestimated as it offers a lot of convenience for passionate enthusiasts dealing with home improvement or art & craft types of endeavors. This air compressor has two factory-installed air couplers that make it the best for two users.


  • At 34 lbs, this air compressor is highly portable.
  • Has a high air pressure of 150 psi.
  • An oil-free pump reduces maintenance costs.
  • Dual air couplers allow two users to paint simultaneously.
  • Requires low amperage of 10 amps.


  • It’s quite loud.
  • Doesn’t offer consistent air pressure.

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7. Industrial Air ILA1883054 30-Gallon Belt Driven Air Compressor


Industrial Air ILA1883054 30-Gallon Belt...


Another quality unit from Industrial Air is the ILA1883054 30-Gallon Air Compressor. Although it has appeared quite late on our list, this air compressor has a lot to be celebrated. First and foremost, this unit has a 1.6HP motor under its hood. By combining this motor power with the V-Twin cylinder technology, you can easily achieve top performance as the compressor is pushed to work to its full limit. Just like our previous Industrial Air IL1682066.MN 20 Gallon Air Compressor, this air compressor is a free-standing unit meaning you’ll have easy access to all the components.

About the pump system, this unit relies on an oil-lubricated twin-cylinder pump that offers a maximum air pressure of 155 psi. Depending on your painting requirements, this air compressor can deliver a decent 6.2 CFM at 40 psi and 5.3 CFM at 90 psi respectively.

When it comes to capacity, the Industrial Air ILA1883054 30-Gallon Air Compressor is equipped with a huge 30-gallon tank. Although the massive tank increases this compressor’s net weight to 190 pounds, Industrial Air has attached pneumatic tires to make mobility a breeze.


  • The motor is compatible with both 120V and 240V outlets.
  • The pump is both oil-lubricated and belt-driven.
  • Uses a powerful 1.6HP motor.
  • Has pre-attached pneumatic tires for easy mobility.
  • Maximum pressure of 155 PSI.


  • The tank tends to accumulate moisture.
  • The pneumatic tires require air refills.

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8. California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet Oil-Free and Powerful Air Compressor


California Air Tools 10020C Ultra Quiet...


When you hear of California Air Tools, what comes to mind is a high-standard brand that produces quality products in the air compressor category. The California Air Tools 10020C is no exception. In fact, this car air compressor is quite similar to our previous California Air Tools 8010 Air Compressor only that it’s a free-standing compressor. In fact, most folks believe that this air compressor is a replacement for the former CAT 10020 in terms of technology and overall performance.

If you’re a professional mechanic or just an enthusiast DIYer, the California Air Tools 10020C will not fail to impress you. First, this unit is powered by a massive 2HP motor that revs at 1680 RPM with a noise level of just 70 dB. This tremendous power is responsible for pushing the pump to its limits to allow it to deliver a maximum air pressure of 125 PSI. This means that at 40 PSI, you’re getting at least 6.4 CFM and 5.3 CFM at 90 PSI.

While most air compressors begin to overheat due to high output levels, the California Air Tools 10020C doesn’t get to that. Instead, it uses its inbuilt overload protector to deliver consistent results for up to 60 minutes without overheating. Combining this advantage with the oil-free dual-piston pump, this air compressor will offer a longer lifecycle of over 3,000 hours without showing any signs of wear.


  • The oil-free dual-piston pump is long-lasting.
  • Hasfewer maintenance costs.
  • Has a large 10-gallon steel tank.
  • Pneumatic tires offer easy mobility.
  • Has a very low amperage draw of just 7-Amps.


  • It has a few design flaws.
  • It’s quite expensive.

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9. Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor


Makita MAC5200 3.0 HP* Big Bore™ Air...


Although the Makita MAC5200 Big Bore Air Compressor has appeared so late in this guide, it’s one of the big giants most professionals eye whenever they’re looking for a reliable air compressor to accomplish heavy-duty painting projects. Now, one of the reasons why this unit has performed so well is due to its massive 3HP motor.

With its tremendous power, this motor can power the pump to deliver a maximum air pressure of 140 PSI. This means that at 90 PSI, you’re getting 6.5 CFM while on 40 PSI, you get 6.9 CFM. To improve both safety and productivity, this air compressor for cars has an industrial-style filter that regulates the quality of air passing through. The motor on its side is equipped with a thermal overload that protects the system against damages caused by power surges.

When it comes to performance, the Makita MAC5200 Big Bore Air Compressor is a real beast that’s designed to endure any abuse. The pump and the cylinder are made from cast iron that’s solid enough to reduce the rate of wear. There are caster wheels for ease of movement and a foldable handle that offers easy storage options once folded.


  • It has a 5.2-gallon tank that sustains consistent pressure.
  • The 3HP motor is very powerful.
  • The motor is equipped with thermal overload protection.
  • Has a high air pressure of 140 PSI.
  • Rugged wheels make mobility a breeze.


  • The wheels are hard to fix.
  • Not the best for huge painting projects.

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10. Master Airbrush Professional Cool Runner II Dual Fan Air Compressor


Master Airbrush Professional Cool Runner...


The Master Airbrush Professional Dual Fan Air Compressor is the last unit we’re going to review in this guide. Unlike all the other air compressors we’ve discussed, this one comes with everything different. First, this air compressor is the tiniest as it’s powered by a 1/5 HP single-piston motor. With such a weak motor, this air compressor cannot be used for spraying a car but rather for general home improvement tasks such as decorating cakes, nails, doing fine art, painting auto graphics, and drawing temporary tattoos among other hobbies.

But despite being so weak, this air compressor doesn’t fail to impress. That’s because Master Airbrush has included a wide range of accessories in the package to help you accomplish all your painting demands. There are 3 dual-action airbrushes with gravity-fed fluid cups, a cleaning brush set, a double-sided color mixing wheel, and 6 opaque colors included.

Now, with all these add-ons, you’ll definitely be expected to work tirelessly to accomplish each of your painting tasks. For that reason, this air compressor is expected to overwork causing it to overheat. To avoid this, Master Airbrush has added two cooling fans on the motor to handle the overheating issue whenever the pump delivers high volumes of air up to 0.8 CFM.


  • Two fan systems to prevent overheating.
  • Perfect for light home improvement tasks.
  • At 11 pounds, this compressor is easy to carry.
  • Comes with a wide range of add-ons.
  • Offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.


  • Only suited for beginners but not professionals.
  • Has a very low power output.

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Factors to Consider When Choosing an Air Compressor for Painting Cars


Now that we’ve discussed some of the best air compressors for painting cars, our next step is to discuss a few factors you need to consider when making your ultimate choice. You see, compressors are machines, and choosing one from a list of hundreds if not thousands of choices can be undoubtedly difficult. So, to ensure that you get some worth on every penny you spend, this section will discuss some aspects you’ll need to consider before buying a compressor unit.

  1. The Motor:

The first factor that makes up a quality air compressor is the motor capacity. If you’ve looked closely in our review section, you must have noticed that most of the air compressors have a varying motor capacities. There are some with 1HP, 1.6HP and others 2HP worth of power. Therefore, to guarantee high-quality consistent airflow, you need to get a machine that promises formidable power value. Since the motor is the one responsible for powering the pump, you need to ensure that you get an air compressor with good horsepower.

  1. Pressure:

When shopping for air compressors, one of the initials you’re likely to see in the specs section is the PSI. In case you’ve never bothered to think what this stands for, then it’s Pounds per Square Inch. Now, PSI is simply a rating of how much air pressure a tank can deliver. So, if your air compressor has a PSI value of over 100 PSI, then this is a decent value that can take care of all your painting endeavors.

Other than the PSI, another initial you’re likely to see is HVLP which stands for High Volume Low Pressure. So, if your spray gun is a HVLP, then combining it with a compressor with a lower PSI will be fine. Otherwise, if you’re using an airless sprayer, then you’ll have to ensure that your compressor can offer at least 100 plus PSI to guarantee exceptional performance.

  1. CFM:

When choosing an air compressor, one of the factors that get a lot of attention is the PSI rating. If you’re a passionate DIYer or just a professional whose career demands the use of an air compressor, then you’re aware of the fact that high PSI doesn’t necessarily translate to high performance. You also need to pay attention to the cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating for you to guarantee the best performance.

So, when considering this metric, you need to ensure that your air compressor has a higher CFM rating that meets the required CFM of your specific spraying tool. Most spraying tools have a CFM rating of around 90—100 CFM. To guarantee even paint flow when painting, you need to ensure that your air compressor has a CFM rating that’s at least 20—30% higher. Otherwise, if your air compressor has a lower CFM, then this will lead to inadequate pressure hence uneven paint flow.

  1. Tank Capacity:

The size of the tank is another key consideration you need to think of when choosing an air compressor. Remember, the tank is the reservoir that stores the air at high pressure to provide the required boost whenever it’s needed during high demands. For this reason, an air compressor with a large tank makes it the best for very demanding painting jobs as it will release air with a lot of consistency to help you accomplish your painting projects with ease.

Ideally, choosing a tank with a capacity of over 60-gallons is the best option. At least with such a capacity, you’ll have a lot of air at your full disposal to power most of your pneumatic tools including adding pressure to your tires.

  1. Portability:

Another factor you need to be very keen on when choosing a compressor is portability. Whether it’s for professional or for leisure use, you’ll have to transport your compressor at some point from one location to another. In case your machine is too bulky, then transportation will generally be tough and might lead to some serious damages if you’re not careful.

Unless you’re getting a lightweight machine for light painting jobs, a heavy-duty air compressor will need to have a set of pneumatic tires to make mobility quite easy. Thankfully, most of the air compressors we’ve discussed in this guide are wheeled making mobility quite easy.

  1. Noise Level:

Compressor noise is another key issue you have to consider when choosing a compressor. If you’re a professional who’s looking for a compressor that offers immense versatility, then you have to consider the noise level especially if you’re planning to work more on closed areas. For this reason, you need to invest in a machine with the lowest decibel rating to create a noise-free working environment.

  1. Oil or Oil-Free:

If you have paid close attention to our review section, you’ll notice that we’ve indicated whether a particular air compressor has an oiled or oil-free pump. Oiled pumps on their side are heavier and more expensive. The best thing about them is that they last much longer than their oil-free counterparts.

Oil-free pumps, on the other hand, are cheaper, lighter, and maintenance-free. So, if you’re a passionate DIYer looking for a compressor for one-time use, then a model with an oil-free pump is generally the best. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a compressor for professional use, then one with an oiled pump is the best to consider.

  1. Durability:

Last but not least, you need to consider the durability of your specific air compressor. Since you’d like your investment to stand the test of time, you must consider those factors that boost durability. For instance, the material used on the tank should be pure stainless steel or pure aluminum. Secondly, the pump should be oiled to guarantee maximum lubrication of the pistons to avoid wear caused by friction.


What Size Air Compressor Do You Need to Paint a Car?


In our discussion just above, we’ve mentioned that one of the factors you need to consider when choosing an air compressor is the size of the tank. Although all the other factors play a critical role in your decision-making process, the size of the tank is what determines how you’re going to use your air compressor. If you’re planning to use your compressor for light painting jobs, then one with a tank capacity of 1-gallon will work perfectly well.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to paint a small sedan car, then an air compressor with at least 30—50 gallons of tank capacity will work just fine. For those owning SUVs, trucks, or vans, an air compressor with a tank capacity of over 60-gallons will offer you the consistency you need to accomplish that task. For much heavier vehicles such as larger vans, trucks, or medium-sized tractors, a compressor with a tank capacity of over 80-gallons will just be the best.


How to Set Up an Air Compressor with a Spray Gun


Now that we’ve discussed everything you need to know when choosing the best size air compressor for painting cars, I’ve got one tricky question for you; do you really know how to set up an air compressor with a spray gun? You see, regardless of whether you’re a professional or a passionate DIYer, a HVLP spray gun is one of the tools you’ll merge with your compressor to accomplish most of your painting jobs.

Since your intention is to make your painting job appear as dazzling as possible, learning how to set up your spray gun will hence be an inevitable proposition. That said, this section will discuss a simple process you can follow when setting up your spray gun.

  • Step 1: What Goes Where?

The first step of setting up your spray gun is to understand the different components that are available in the package. Here, you’ll be dealing with an air hose, a compressor, regulator, filter, and spray gun. To understand which tool goes where you’ll have to consider referring to your owner’s manual to avoid attaching the tools to the wrong place.

  • Step 2: Attach the Regulator

Once you’ve mastered the tools, the next step is to attach the regulator to the air compressor to know the amount of air getting through your spray gun. This is a very important step that helps you to know whether your air regulator is in perfect shape. To test this, you need to compare the gauge readings when your compressor is not in use and when it’s in use. If the difference is below 5 psi, then your regulator is good to go.

When choosing regulators, you need to understand that these components are categorized into two. There’s the gun-mounted and the wall-mounted variants. Gun-mounted regulators are best for ordinary DIY projects while the wall-mounted variants are heavily intended for professional duties.

  • Step 3: Inspect and Attach the Air Hose

Once you’re through with the regulator, the next step is to attach the hose. Now, the hose is responsible for connecting the air compressor to the spray gun. For sufficient airflow, you need to choose a hose that has the right size and diameter. In the case of the diameter, you need to measure the inside diameter (ID) to ensure its narrow enough to suit the requirements of your spray gun. Remember, if the hose is too narrow or too wide, it will trigger an air pressure drop.

About the length, you need to ensure that your air hose doesn’t go beyond 10m long. In case it does, it might start to lose pressure and if it’s too short, it might deliver more pressure than it’s needed. With that in mind, simply screw your air hose on the regulator then connect the other side to the spray gun.

  • Step 4: Connect the Spray Gun and Set the PSI

With everything set up, the last step is to attach your spray gun to the air hose and set the PSI rating you’ll be working with. With your spray gun already connected, simply pull the trigger and check the position of the arrow on the regulator. In most cases, the arrow will drop to indicate the exact air pressure you’re using.


How to Paint Cars by Using Air Compressor Tanks


If we’re together up to this point, then congratulations! You’ve just assembled your air compressor and the spray gun. What’s remaining now is ample time to accomplish your painting project. In this section, we’re going to discuss how to paint your auto to restore it to its former glory.

Getting Started

Now that you’re ready, start by finding a convenient location to park your auto. If you have a garage, then it would be fine. If you don’t, you can consider parking your car in a shed at least near a power outlet. Once you’re done, you’ll need the following tools.

  • Electrical sander
  • Face mask
  • Masking tape
  • Safety goggles
  • Paint thinner
  • Spray gun
  • Air compressor

Now, if you’re planning to paint a medium-sized car, then you’ll need;

  • 1-gallon of base coat
  • 3-gallons topcoat
  • 2-3 gallons of clear coat

For larger vehicles, you’ll need;

  • 5-gallons of primer (basecoat)
  • 4-gallons topcoat
  • 3-4 gallons of clear coat

Step 1: Sanding

Start by applying masking tape on those areas you won’t be working on. Next, pick an electric sander and start removing the top coat, base coat, and clear coat from your car’s surface. For best results, sand in a circular motion, and don’t forget to sand the entire car. Once you’re through, apply thinner to a clean rag and start wiping off the leftover paints from your car’s surface.

Step 2: Priming

Once you’re through with sanding, the next step is to prime your auto. To do this, simply mix your primer and thinner in the correct ratio as stipulated in the instruction manual. When the paint is ready, hold the gun at least 6-inches away from your car’s surface and start spraying in a sweeping side-to-side motion. For consistency, press the trigger down continuously to allow thick paint to spread uniformly throughout the surface.

If you’re painting a medium-sized car, you’ll need at least 2-3 coats to cover the entire car which will take you around 10 minutes to apply each coat. Once you’re through, leave the primer to cure for about 20 to 60 minutes. In case you detect any powdery effects, use 2000 grit wet and dry sandpaper to remove any imperfections. When you’re done, use another clean rag and some thinner to cure the area.

Step 3: Painting

Remember how you applied the primer? The same technique will apply here when spraying the rest of the coats. As usual, apply the next coat which is the topcoat, and spray in a consistent sweeping technique from one side to the other. Take at least 10 minutes to apply each coat to guarantee efficient results. As usual, each coat will take around an hour to get cured so you have to give it enough time. In the case of powdery residue, you can use 2000 grit sandpaper to sand and smooth the affected area.

Lastly, spray the clear coat using the same technique and allow it to cure as per the instructions. Remember to remove the masking tape immediately you apply the clear coat to avoid having any imperfections. Once the clear coat dries, use a buffer to buff the paint.


FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions


1. Should I Get a Constant or a Stop-and-Start Air Compressor?

Now, air compressors are categorized according to size, type of pump, and mode of operation. Most people who’re new to these machines usually get lost whenever they hear some of these technical terms. One such dilemma you’re likely to get yourself into is choosing between a constant and a stop-and-start type of compressor.

If you’re buying the compressor for commercial purposes such as using it in your commercial garage, a constant air compressor is the most favorable option as it will need to run constantly. On the other hand, if you’re eying the compressor for lighter painting jobs, then a stop-and-start model will be more ideal.


2. Can I Use a Spray Gun With an Air Compressor?

The simple answer is yes. As you can see, most of the air compressors we’ve discussed in this guide are versatile enough to multi-task. Therefore, whether it’s a HVLP or an LVLP type of spray gun, you can easily attach it to any of these air compressors and accomplish your painting tasks.


3. How Much Air Pressure and CFM is Needed to Spray a Medium-Sized Car?

If you’re painting a car in a professional setting, a smooth and evenly finished paintwork is an absolute must if you wish to keep your clients happy. For that reason, a CFM rating of at least 12 CFM will be ideal to paint an entire car without losing consistency. On the other hand, if you’re using a HVLP spray gun, an air pressure of 10 to 15 PSI will be sufficient.


4. Which Air Compressor Size is the Best for Painting Cars?

When spraying a car, you need to ensure that sufficient airflow is guaranteed to avoid ruining your paint job. For that reason, you need to invest in a large air compressor that has a tank of at least 50-gallons. If you’re eying a pancake compressor to accomplish this job, it might not be the best idea as such compressors have small tanks (6 to 7-gallons) and much lower CFM and PSI ratings.


5. How Long Should I take Before Conducting an Oil Change?

Just like your car’s engine, the oil in your compressor’s pump demands to be changed at regular intervals to maintain consistency. If you’re using a reciprocating compressor, scheduling oil changes every 90 days will be ideal. On the other hand, if you’re using a rotary screw compressor, scheduling oil changes every 7,000 to 8,000 hours will guarantee efficiency.


Final Verdict

As you can see, painting your own auto right at the comfort of your home is not as complex as it once appeared. With the best air compressor for painting cars right at your disposal, you can easily accomplish this task all by yourself without hiring a professional mechanic. In this guide, we’ve managed to discuss 10 of the best air compressors in the market. Besides, we’ve discussed key factors you need to consider when choosing an air compressor. We’ve also gone ahead to discuss how you’re supposed to set up your air compressor before answering some pressing questions you might be having regarding air compressors.

With that said, whether you’re getting an air compressor for professional use or home improvement purposes, this guide has offered you everything you need to make a satisfactory choice.

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