What size air compressor for framing nailer

What size air compressor should I get for my framing nailer? This is a question we are asked quite often. It’s not an easy question to answer because many variables need to be considered before you can arrive at an acceptable answer.

The most important factors to consider before buying an air compressor for framing nail guns are CFM, HP, and the size of the tank. 

If you’re in a hurry, the answer is: Get a bigger one. Professionals recommend using a 4 – 10 gallons air compressor for framing nail guns, providing at least 4.2 cfm and 80 – 120 psi. 

If you’re a homeowner or hobbyist, We wouldn’t recommend going bigger than 6 gallons. Though, if you plan to use your compressor for multiple purposes, you are better off with at least 10 gallons.

It was a quick answer for what size air compressor for framing nailer. If you want to know the answer in more detail, keep reading.

Important factors to look at when choosing an air compressor for framing nailer

Required CFM for your framing nailer

The CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) of air required for your framing nailer is determined by the size of the nails you are using. The higher the CFM of your compressor, the faster it can send air to the nailer. Most framing nailers require 4 – 10 CFM, with the higher end needed for larger nails. 

How to find out the CFM requirement of your framing nailer?

If you want to find the right size compressor for your nail gun, you’ll have to calculate the cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air that is required to supply your tool of choice. The calculation is quite simple:

Increase the cfm to the highest rating of the pneumatic framing nailer you plan to use, then divide it by 1.5. The result will be the average cfm required by the framing nailer to operate. 

HP (horsepower) of your air compressor 

The horsepower (HP) of your compressor is directly related to your compressor’s motor. The horsepower is not as important as the CFM, but it does play a role in how efficiently your compressor will run. 

Most people think a higher horsepower means the compressor will run faster, but it is not true. A compressor with higher horsepower means the more energy to run the compressor (higher energy consumption means more money spent on electricity, hence higher running cost). 

Generally, experts recommend using a 2 – 5 HP compressor for framing nailers

Size of the air compressor tank

Another important factor is how much time your compressor takes to recharge after every nail. The size of the compressor tank is directly proportional to the time taken for recharge.

A larger volume of the tank means more nails you can shot. If you plan to use the air compressor for multiple purposes (like driving nails, blowing dust, etc.), get a larger tank that can hold enough air for multiple purposes.

The ideal tank size for framing nailers ranges from 2 – 20 gallons. The large tank size makes your compressor run at peak efficiency.

Here is a list of the different tank sizes for framing nail guns:

2 to 4-gallon tank size: 

These are the smallest compressors, which are only good for basic home usage and very light-duty applications. If you buy this size of air compressor for a heavy-duty task, you’ll end up overheating the compressor or won’t be able to shoot nails continuously. You need to overfill the tank every time to fire a few nails. So these are not recommended for large jobs.

4 to 6-gallon size: 

These are the most common air compressors. If you go for a compressor within this range, it’ll easily handle framing nailers and finish off the medium projects. However, if you’re looking for a compressor to run multiple tools simultaneously, we’d advise you to look at larger units.

6 to 10-gallon tank size: 

These tanks are designed for heavier usage and can handle multiple framing nailers and other tools. These compressors are robust and durable. They can run larger framing nailers for extended periods. With this size of air compressor, you don’t need to refill the tank every time. This helps in saving time and is good for continuous use.

10 to 20-gallon tanks: 

A compressor with this capacity is good for large construction projects and can handle heavy-duty air tools. These are high-end compressors with multiple usages. They are designed for large commercial applications.

Related Article:

What size air compressor is good for impact wrench

Types of Framing Nailers used with Air Compressor.

The framing nailer can handle different heavy-duty tasks, such as framing, metal connectors, and decking. 

They come with three types of power sources: battery-operated models for portability and light-duty use in tight spaces. The most powerful type is usually driven by an air compressor, which provides the most power and least maintenance. 

Here are the 3 types of framing nailers.

Pneumatic Framing Nailer: 

This type of pneumatic nailer uses pressure from compressed air to drive the nail. These are popular among professionals and require a more powerful air compressor to work well.

Cordless Framing Nailer: 

These are popular due to their cordless nature, and they work on batteries. They are used for smaller projects and can be easily moved from one place to another. Cordless framing nailers are less powerful as compared to gas-powered nailers. But they are very convenient to use as they produce less noise and don’t require an air compressor.

Brushless Framing Nailer:

The brushless framing nailer is the latest addition to the family of framing nailers. Compared to cordless framing nailers, these are more powerful and drive nails very quickly. They also don’t need an air compressor.

Which type of air compressor is best for framing nail nailers: Stationary or Portable?

Along with the size of the air compressor, the type also matters. There are two types of air compressors: stationary and portable. 

Stationary air compressors

A stationary compressor usually has a larger tank and is more powerful than a portable one. It is preferred for heavy-duty tasks and powering pneumatic tools with high horsepower. The sound of a stationary compressor is high, and hence these are not preferred in residential areas. 

Portable air compressor

A portable air compressor is much smaller and consumes less power than a stationary air compressor. The portability of these compressors makes them ideal for taking around on the job site. A portable air compressor’s noise level is also very low, so they are preferable in residential areas. 


For the majority of the work, including framing nailers, a portable air compressor is suitable. If you are looking for an air compressor that can serve your purpose well, go for a Campbell Hausfeld pancake-style portable air compressor.

The noise level of this air compressor is only 68 dB, so it is really quiet even when used indoors. And for easy mobility, it comes with two wheels. 

How to use a framing nail gun with an air compressor.

Once you buy the right size air compressor for framing nailers, the next step is you need to know how to operate them together. It may seem challenging at first to use an air compressor with a framing nailer but follow these simple steps, and you’ll be nailing like a pro. When using this powerful tool, make sure you read the instructions carefully and always wear safety gear.

Here is the guide on using a framing nailer with an air compressor.

Step 1: Connect the hose

The first step is to connect the air compressor hose to the framing nailer’s inlet slot. Some models’ inlet slots will fit only certain types of couplers. 

Step 2: Set The Compressor in the Right Pressure

The next step is to set the pressure of your air compressor. For 2 – 3.5-inch framing nailers, you should set the pressure between 100 – 130 psi. You can use your compressor’s regulator to set these levels. For nailers with larger nails, the pressure should be higher, so make sure that the pressure of the compressor is set correctly. 

It is always good to look at the manufacturer’s guidelines for the nailer you are using to know how much psi is needed and follow the pressure chart included with your air compressor. Otherwise, you may have problems using your nailer and damage your equipment. 

Step 3: Select The Right Trigger

The trigger on framing nailers is either a bump or a single trigger. A bump fire trigger requires simply holding it down to keep firing nails. It is faster but not very precise. So if you’re a beginner, don’t start with a bump-fire trigger because it is harder to control. 

On the other hand, a single firing trigger requires you to pull it back for every shot, so you get more control (a bit like a handgun trigger). It’s easier to use the single fire trigger and is less likely to cause you problems.


As you know, framing nailers are pneumatic tools that need a quality air compressor to operate. The type of compressor required depends on the usage and requirements.

Always be sure to buy an air compressor that can power your air tools and is large enough for your future needs. A portable 6-gallon air compressor is best for framing nailers, as it is easy to carry and can be used anywhere.

We hope our article answers the question “what size air compressor for framing nail.” We tried our best to give you the correct information.

However, if your requirements differ from what we recommended, please do not take our recommendations as to the only solution. Always buy equipment that is right for your needs. We suggest you do your research to find out the best one for you. 

If you still have any questions about which size would be best suited for your needs, contact us with more information, and we’ll help. We’re always happy to talk with our readers who need some guidance on finding the right tools or equipment that meets their specific needs.

FAQ – Frequently asked questions:

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Framing Nailer

Framing nailers need a powerful air compressor to produce enough pressure and volume. PSI should be between 90-130. The size of the air compressor should be 6 gallons or larger for framing nailers to use without any inconvenience.

Can I use a 4-gallon air compressor for framing the nailer?

Yes, you can use a 4-gallon air compressor for framing the nailer. But mostly, they are ideal for small works, you can not use multiple tools with this size air compressor.
That’s why experts always recommend to choose an air compressor that has enough power to drive nails continuously without surprising you with a stall or tripping breakers and refilling again and again.

By Matthew

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