What Size Air Compressor Do I Need To Paint A Car

Do you find yourself in need of an air compressor to paint a car? There are many different sizes that are available. You can rent or buy one depending on how much use is needed. You will need to choose the right size air compressor for your paint job.

So the question arises here what size air compressor do I need to paint a car? 

The most common size used by professional painters is about 10 HP (horsepower). It has enough power to run a couple of dryers and a spray gun.

The compressor tanks should have a capacity to hold at least 30 – 50 gallons of air. The CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) rating should be at least 18, and air pressure of 25 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) is needed for a good flow.

It was a quick overview of your questions. If you want in-depth information about what size air compressor need for paint car and other paint job-related questions, read on.

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need To Paint A Car?

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right size of air compressor for the paint job. In this section, I will explain the four main factors which play a key role in deciding the size of the compressor for a painting car

Tank Size

The tank size is one of the most important factors when choosing an air compressor for painting. The main purpose of the compressor is to provide a continuous and constant air supply to paint and spray guns and dryers.

The compressor should deliver a constant volume of air at a pressure that is required by the spray gun. The larger the tank capacity, the longer you will get to take between recharges.

If you choose a smaller tank size like 3 Gallon, you will need to refill it more often, which can be frustrating. That’s why I always recommended tank size is 50 Gallons or more. With that size you can easily paint a car with air compressor.

PSI Rating

PSI stands for Pounds per Square Inch, and it is a unit that measures the pressure of the air that comes out of the compressor. The higher the PSI rating, the greater will be the volume of compressed air supplied by the compressor to spray guns and other tools.

This is an important thing to consider when choosing an air compressor for painting your car because if you have a low PSI rating, you may find that your paint gun is not spraying properly.

The result will be a very poor finish, and you may need to repaint a missed area.

In general, the recommended size for psi is between 15 – 18. Also, it is important to note that the PSI you will need varies with the type of equipment you use.

CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) Rating

This is the amount of air that moves through the system in one minute. The bigger the CFM rating, the faster and more paint can be sprayed and moved at once. The CFM rating of the air compressor is an important factor that determines the speed of the paint spray gun.

If you have ever tried to paint a car with a small air compressor, then you know it’s not the easiest task. To get the job done properly, you always need an air compressor capable of delivering enough CFM to get the paint spray gun up to speed.

That’s why professional painters always recommend that you go for a CFM rating of at least 18 because it will ensure that you have enough volume of air to do the painting job quickly and efficiently.

Note: If you choose an air compressor with a low cfm rating, your paint will move slowly and take longer to do the painting job.


It is important to know the horsepower rating of an air compressor because it determines how fast and for how long you can use the compressor.

The horsepower rating is the total amount of power that the compressor uses to compress air and give it out at a given pressure. The horsepower rating is very important when painting a car because it determines how fast you can spray and move around.

But this doesn’t mean you should only get a high horsepower compressor for painting. Suppose a lower horsepower air compressor, like 10 hp offers the same amount of pressure as a high horsepower model. In that case, the lower horsepower compressor is more efficient and cheap on your wallet.

However, if you intend to use the air compressor not only for painting a car but also for powering other tools, then you should opt for a compressor with a high hp.

Spray Gun or Nozzle

You are wrong if you think each spray gun works the same with any compressor.

There is a specific size and specification of the nozzle and needle for each spray gun and compressor. You can’t use a spray gun with a wide needle and nozzle on a compressor with a small nozzle.

If you do so, the paint will not atomize properly, and you will end up with a poor finish. The same thing applies when you use a compressor with a larger nozzle than your paint spray gun.

Every type of air compressor has its own set of specifications for the ideal nozzle and needle size. That’s why experts say no matter the type of air compressor you choose, it is important that you know exactly what type of spray gun or air nozzle it can support. 

An air compressor that can support your paint gun will work best for you because it means that the spray gun is supported and stable while it is in use. This will provide you with consistency when painting your car.

Points To Consider When Buying an Air Compressor

Material Quality

The material quality of an air compressor is important thing to consider because it determines the machine’s durability. It also affects the overall quality of work that is produced while painting a car. While buying an air compressor for painting, pick a model with a metal bonnet and tank because it will be more durable.

Noise Level

This is another important factor to consider because it determines how intrusive the machine is to your work. The noise level of an air compressor should be given a high priority when choosing a unit because it can distract or interrupt your work and affect the quality of work produced.

quietest compressor will not impair your enjoyment of painting a car, and it will also allow you to carry on conversations while working.


Price should always be a factor to consider when you buy something, which is the same with air compressors. Air compressors can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000. If you are buying an air compressor for painting purposes only, it is best to go for a midrange model because it will deliver on performance and be within your budget.

If you are choosing an air compressor for painting and other purposes, then go for a high-end model.

How To Maintain An Air Compressor For Painting A Car

An air compressor is a very useful piece of equipment. However, it needs to be maintained and cleaned regularly to work efficiently and deliver excellent results.

If you are using the air compressor only for painting, there is no need to maintain it regularly. However, it would be best to still clean the machine and tanks from time to time.

Here are some tips on how to maintain your air compressor for car painting.

  • Clean the filters regularly. This will ensure the machine does not clog up and that it continues to work efficiently.
  • Clean the machine properly after using it. This will ensure that the rust it has accumulated is gone.
  • Keep the machine dry at all times. Moisture can damage the compressor and reduce its life.
  • Check the oil of the compressor now and then. This will ensure that it does not run out and the machine keeps running smoothly.
  • Check the pressure release valve from time to time. This will ensure it is working properly and not causing any leaks.
  • Check the accessories often to ensure they are in good condition. If there is a problem with them, it is best to replace them as soon as possible.
  • Clean the paint guns often for them to work efficiently. Check for any damages and replace it if required.


In the end, again, my words are the same: It is important to know the psi, cfm, and horsepower ratings of an air compressor because it determines how fast you can spray paint on a car. Therefore, it is important to get a compressor with proper specifications if you want to paint your car quickly and efficiently.

I appreciate your visit and i’ll come up with more interesting articles for you.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any more questions about What Size Air Compressor Do I Need To Paint A Car, please leave a comment below, and if will get back to you as soon as possible.


What size air compressor do I need to paint a car?

An air compressor with a 30 to 50-gallon tank size is most suitable for an average-sized paint job. It can spray paint continuously for one hour at low-pressure settings.

How Much HP Does An Air Compressor Need To Paint A Car??

The 10 hp size of an air compressor is suitable for small and medium paint jobs. A compressor with this horsepower rating has 15 to 25 gallons of tank size.

How big of an air compressor do i need to paint my car?

The size of the air compressor will depend on the size of your paint job. A 20-gallon air compressor is sufficient for a small car and a 30 to 50-gallon tank will work best for a larger car.

Does tank size matter in air compressors?

Yes, The machine’s tank size determines how much paint will be available for use before the compressor needs to be turned on again. The bigger the tank size of an air compressor, the longer it can spray paint before it has to be refilled.

How do I know the pressure of my car paint?

You should ask the paint manufacturer what pressure level you should use to spray-paint your car. After choosing the right pressure level, ensure your compressor has the necessary pressure rating.

By Matthew

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