The Ultimate 2021 Guide to the Best Air Compressor for Painting

best air compressor for spray painting

Last Updated on July 5, 2021

One of the staple items that any workman needs to have is a trusty air compressor. Whether you’re a homeowner or a business, the best air compressor for painting can be a real lifesaver. If you’re new to buying appliances like these, then you need to check out the guide that we have prepared for you. In it, you will find our top 10 recommendations for 2021, as well as an in-depth buying guide.

The Best Air Compressor for Painting for 2021 Review: Key Features, Pros, and Cons

Here are the 10 best products that you need to check out if you’re in the market for the best air compressor for spray painting. We have listed down the capacity, compression power, and the airflow/working pressure of the machine so that you know exactly which model to buy.

ImageBrandTank CapacityCompression PowerWorking PressureMaterial of the TankPrice
BEST OVERALL
California Air Tools 8 gallons1.0 to 2.0 HorsePower (HP)3 CFM at 40 PSI & 2.2 CFM at 90 PSIAluminium
PREMIUM PICK
STEALTH 20 gallons1.8 HorsePower (HP)5.5 CFM at 40 PSI & 5 CFM at 90 PSISteel Alloy
BEST VALUE
Craftsman6 gallons0.8 HorsePower (HP)2.6 SCFM at 90 PSISteel Alloy & Aluminium
Makita2 gallons1.0 HorsePower (HP)2 SCFM at 90 PSISteel Alloy
HPT6 gallons1.3 HorsePower (HP)4 CFM at 90 PSIStainless Steel
Makita4.2 gallons2.5 HorsePower (HP)4.8 CFM at 40 PSI and 4.2 CFM at 90 PSIBig Bore Cast Iron & Stainless Steel
Craftsman 10 gallons1.8 HorsePower (HP)5.0 SCFM at 40 PSI and 4.0 SCFM at 90 PSIQ235B Stainless Steel Structure
2 gallons0.75 HorsePower (HP)1.5 SCFM at 90 PSIAluminium Alloy, Lithium Ion Battery, & Ergonomic Material
DEWALT 6 gallons1.0 HorsePower (HP)2.6 SCFM at 90 PSIStainless Steel Structure
Ingersoll-Rand4 gallons2.0 HorsePower (HP)4.3 CFM at 90 PSIStainless Steel Structure & Cast Iron cylinders

1. California Air Tools 8010A Oil-Free Aluminium Tank Air Compressor

BEST OVERALL

Read Customer Reviews Here »

The California Air Tools 8010A is the best air compressor for painting, and we love how quiet it is. In fact, it runs at only 60 db, making it perfect for your indoor painting needs. The aluminum tank has an 8-gallon capacity and weighs only 48 lbs. It can operate at 1-2 HP and can also work at a maximum pressure of 120 PSI. It’s lightweight, powerful, and portable.

Our Observations

Highlighted Features:

  • 8-gallon aluminum tank
  • 1-2 HP rated motor
  • 3/2.20 CFM at 40/90 PSI
  • Oil-Free dual pistol pump
  • Thermal overload protector (only 8.5A)

Pros:

  • Made of high-quality aluminum, the CAT 8010A weighs only 48 lbs.
  • The motor can work at 1-2 HP.
  • The CAT 8010A is very quiet, operating at 60 decibels.
  • It provides 2.20 to 3 CFM, depending on the pressure.

Cons:

  • The tank and other parts are welded very shabbily.

2. Stealth Oil-Free SAQ 12018 20 Gallon Air Compressor

PREMIUM PICK

Read Customer Reviews Here »

Stealth is one of our favorite brands, especially when we’re looking for dependable and high-quality air compressors. If you have a bigger budget, then the Stealth 20 gallon model is a great choice. The 1.8 HP motor can provide you with a 5.5-6 gallon performance at 40 PSI. The rubber wheels make it easy to move around, and it operates at a very quiet level of 70db.

Our Observations

Highlighted Features:

  • 20-gallonn steel tank
  • 1.8 HP rated motor
  • 5.5/5 CFM at 40/90 PSI
  • Rubber-reinforced handle and wheels
  • Ultra-quiett mode at 70db

Pros:

  • The Stealth’s 1.8 HP motor has a 1000 hour life-cycle.
  • An oil-free pump is easy to maintain and use.
  • Its performance of 5.5 CFM @ 40 PSI is impressive.
  • This is a quiet machine that works at only 70 decibels.

Cons:

  • It’s a heavy machine and is difficult to maneuver.

3. Craftsman CMEC 6150K Pancake 6 Gallon Air Compressor

BEST VALUE

Read Customer Reviews Here »

The Craftsman pancake model is the best air compressor for spray painting, despite its small size. It is a powerful and maneuverable machine with an oil-free pump and a motor rated at 0.8 HP. It can deliver a steady maximum pressure of 150 PSI, and it can easily support 2 users all at the same time. It only weighs 32.5 lbs, making it the most portable air compressor.

Our Observations

Highlighted Features:

  • 6-gallon steel tank
  • 0.8 HP rated motor
  • 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
  • Maximum pressure of 150 PSI
  • Oil-free pump with 2 simultaneous couplers

Pros:

  • Craftsman’s Pancake air compressor provides a maximum pressure of 150 PSI.
  • The 0.8 HP motor starts up easily in cold weather too.
  • The 6-gallon tank is very portable.
  • 2.6 SCFM lends it a very quick recovery window.

Cons:

  • This air compressor is rather noisy at full power.

4. Makita MAC210Q Quiet Series 2 Gallon Oil-Free Air Compressor – Best Efficiency

Read Customer Reviews Here »

This is one of the best air compressors that we have ever come across. The Makita MAC210Q is part of the “Quiet” Series, and it runs at a fantastic 60db only. It’s also one of the most powerful and efficient models we’ve reviewed, reaching a 100 PSI in only 10-15 seconds. The tank size isn’t much but it is still the perfect choice for light painting, filling tires, etc.

Our Observations

Highlighted Features:

  • 2-gallon aluminum tank
  • 1.0 HP rated motor
  • 2.0 CFM at 90 PSI
  • 1750 RPM and longer motor life
  • Oil-free dual-piston pump with roll-cage

Pros:

  • The roll-cage construction makes it a versatile model.
  • 1 HP motor runs at a lower RPM for more longevity.
  • Makita has one of the quietest air compressors in the market.
  • It has a fantastic 135 PSI maximum capacity.

Cons:

  • The small tank size makes it unsuitable for heavy-duty work.

5. Metabo HPT EC914S “The Tank” Pancake Air Compressor – Best for Professionals

Read Customer Reviews Here »

With a recovery rate of 4 CFM at 90 PSI, the Metabo HPT EC914S has 30% more airflow than most models in the market. We were very impressed with its lightweight design and ease of use. In fact, it’s a versatile machine that can be used for all kinds of professional tasks. The 1.3 HP motor can maintain a maximum pressure of 200 PSI – making it very powerful.

Our Observations

Highlighted Features:

  • 6-gallon steel tank
  • 1.3 HP rated motor
  • 4 SCFM at 90 PSI
  • Maximum pressure of 200 PSI
  • 30% more airflow than other pancake compressors

Pros:

  • Metabo “The Tank” has 25% more PSI than other pancake compressors.
  • Its 4 SCFM at 90 PSI recovery rate is impressive.
  • We also love the lightweight design of this compressor.
  • The 6-gallon tank capacity is perfect for all tasks.

Cons:

  • “The Tank” can get very noisy at high pressures.

6. Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor – Best Performance

Read Customer Reviews Here »

With a 2.5 HP Makita Big Bore motor at its core, the MAC2400 air compressor will provide you with very high-quality performance. This is one of our most favorite compressors, and it is very powerful – providing you with 4.8 CFM of airflow at 40 PSI pressure. The oil-lubricated pump is very efficient and runs at 1730 RPM. It is engineered for low maintenance and high output.

Our Observations

Highlighted Features:

  • 4.2-gallon tank
  • 2.5 HP Big Bore motor
  • 4.8/4.2 CFM at 40/90 PSI
  • Low 1730 RPM
  • Makita Big Bore engineering

Pros:

  • It has the most powerful motor among other portable air compressors.
  • The 4.8 CFM airflow is a very impressive feature.
  • Big Bore motor has a durable cast-iron design.
  • Makita MAC2400’s removable cylinder is very easy to maintain.

Cons:

  • The pressure of the compressor can sometimes drop very fast.

7. Craftsman 2008 HARD 1.8 HP Air Compressor – Best for Convenience

Read Customer Reviews Here »

We think that the Craftsman 2008 HARD is the best air compressor for painting if you’re willing to splurge a little bit. The 1.8 HP UMC motor is easy to maintain, and the 10 gallon tank provides a very powerful performance. In fact, it has an impressive airflow rating of 5 SCFM at a pressure of 40 PSI. It also has a maximum tank pressure of 175 PSI.

Our Observations

Highlighted Features:

  • 10-gallon tank
  • 1.8 HP UMC motor
  • 5.0/4.0 SCFM at 40/90 PSI
  • Maximum tank pressure of 175 PSI
  • Safety valve included

Pros:

  • The 10-gallon air tank is great for heavy-duty work.
  • 175 PSI maximum pressure can handle all kinds of tasks.
  • Like all Craftsman compressors, the airflow rate is fantastic.
  • The design of the compressor is very convenient.

Cons:

  • Sadly, the retainer of the air filter is very flimsy.

8. SuperHandy Cordless Oil-Free 135 PSI Air Compressor – Best for Portability

Read Customer Reviews Here »

Most air compressors for painting need to be connected to a DC power source. The SuperHandy model is a game-changer, since it is equipped with lithium-ion batteries for cordless usage. It has a brushless motor that can consistently deliver 0.75 HP of power at a low 1500 RPM. We also like the ergonomic grip and the consistent 1.5 SCFM airflow. It’s ultra-quiet at 60 decibels.

Our Observations

Highlighted Features:

  • 2-gallon tank
  • 0.75 HP brushless motor
  • 1.5 SCFM air flow rate at 90 PSI
  • Low 1500 RPM for maximum motor longevity
  • Safety & Drain valves included

Pros:

  • This is the most portable and best air compressor for spray painting.
  • SuperHandy’s dual lithium-ion battery makes this machine reliable and portable.
  • The low RPM means that the brushless motor has a long life.
  • At 60db, it’s one of the quietest compressors.

Cons:

  • It’s not suited for heavy-duty use.

9. Dewalt DWFP 55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Air Compressor – Best for Home Use

Read Customer Reviews Here »

This is a quiet, light, and efficient air compressor that you can use for your home. For painting, nail guns, tires, etc. the Dewalt DWFP 55126 is the best product you can find. It has a brushless motor that can deliver 1 HP of power. With a maximum rating of 165 PSI, the compressor can give you 2.6 SCFM of airflow @90 PSI. It also has a ball drain valve.

Our Observations

Highlighted Features:

  • 6-gallon tank
  • 1 HP brushless motor
  • 2.6 SCFM airflow at 90 PSI
  • High flow regulator and built-in couplers
  • Maximum 165 PSI

Pros:

  • The ball drain valve makes tank draining very simple.
  • Dewalt’s pancake compressor has a maximum rating of 165 PSI.
  • It can provide more than 2.6 SCFM of airflow at a 90 PSI pressure.
  • The noise level is pretty good.

Cons:

  • The fittings of the compressor are somewhat leaky.

10. Ingersoll-Rand Twin-Stack P1IU-A9 4-Gallon Portable Air Compressor – Best For Versatile Uses

Read Customer Reviews Here »

With an ergonomic and lightweight design, the Ingersoll-Rand twin-stack compressor is one of our favorite products. It has a powerful motor that can provide up to 2 HP of performance. We were also very impressed by the 4.3 SCFM air flow rate, which is great for a small compressor. If you use the proper lubricant, you can get 2000 hours of service out of this compressor. The twin-stack cylinders hold 4 gallons.

Our Observations

Highlighted Features:

  • 4-gallon twin-stack tank
  • 1 HP motor
  • 4.3 SCFM airflow at 90 PSI
  • All-Seasonn Select lubricant included
  • Cast iron cylinder with protective shroud

Pros:

  • For a small machine, the Ingersoll-Rand delivers a powerful 2 HP.
  • The 4.3 SCFM air flow rate at 90 PSI is very impressive.
  • Using All Season, you can get 2000 hours of use from this air compressor.
  • It delivers 135 PSI of pressure.

Cons:

  • This compressor has a high noise rating.

best air compressor for painting

Buying Guide

Here are some of the factors that you need to keep in the back of your mind while shopping for the best air compressor for painting. These are important specifications that you should expect from whatever machine that you purchase.

Compression Rate/Airflow

The aim of an air compressor is to compress air – which means that it should have a great compression rate. We would recommend you to seek 2 CFM or more at 90 PSI. California Air Tools and Makita are our favorite models in terms of airflow rates. We also like Dewalt.

Portability & Convenience

If you want the best air compressor for spray painting, then you need a machine that is portable, convenient, and easy to use. We would recommend the SuperHandy cordless model or the Craftsman pancake air compressor. These are easy-to-maintain, carry around, and use as they are very light.

Tank Capacity & Max. Pressure

We would also recommend you seek a high tank capacity, especially if you’re looking to take care of heavy-duty tasks. Metabo “The Tank” and the Makita Big Bore are powerful machines that have large tank capacities and pressure levels. Actually, the Tank has a maximum pressure of 200 PSI.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What size compressor do I need for painting?

For spray painting, you’re going to need a minimum PSI value of 15-25. All the models that we’ve listed for you are powerful and can easily provide you with that pressure level.

Q: How do I choose an air compressor for painting?

First of all, you need to look at the brand, the CFM rating (airflow rating), and the maximum pressure rating. We would also recommend you to look at noise levels, power source, weight, material, ease-of-maintenance, etc.

Q: Can you paint a car with a 20-gallon compressor?

Yes, you can paint a car with a 20-gallon compressor, such as the Stealth SAQ 12018 20. However, it’s better to use small compressors like the Ingersoll-Rand or the Makita to paint the details.

Q: What is the best air compressor for a home garage?

For your home garage, we’d recommend you to look at the Makita MAC210Q, the SuperHandy cordless, or the Dewalt DWFP pancake compressor. These air compressors are easy-to-use, light, and powerful.

Conclusion

This is basically all of the information that you need to buy the best air compressor for painting, filling tires, and all of your other home maintenance needs. All of these are reliable and will provide you with years of service. Make sure that you go through our reviews and buying guideso that you can

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