What Size Air Compressor Needed To Paint Car_

What Size Air Compressor Needed To Paint Car?

This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, we may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you). Please see our full disclosure policy for details.

If you are a DIY (Do it yourself) enthusiast looking to paint your car after seeing a how-to video on YouTube and wanting to save yourself a few bucks, stay here for a piece of robust information. Or maybe, you are an auto repair shop owner looking for ways to serve your clients better by going into painting cars, you cannot afford to miss out on the detailed information contained in this post.

When you are painting a car you should have an air compressor size of at least 60 gallons. When you have this capacity, it will allow you the ability to paint properly. Here’s something you want to think about: you have your cash and are ready to go shopping for an air compressor but do not have full knowledge about the size of the model needed to complete a car’s painting.

Trust me, you’re in the right place to get a complete guide on everything you need to know about the size of the air compressor that you will need to kick off your car painting.

Before we explore in detail the ideas about air compressor size for painting your car, let us quickly highlight what an air compressor is. From there, we will look at the things to consider before measuring the size of an air compressor.

What is an Air Compressor?

Just as the name goes, an air compressor is a compact device that regularly compresses air by applying pressure. This pressurized air is then used to supply power to powerful tools like an air impact wrench, a jackhammer, and a spray gun, which is used to regulate the amount of paint during car painting.

You will see many operators of manufacturing plants and corner gas stations use the air compressor to power their devices that are based on the principle of atmospheric air under pressure. What it does for them

There are numerous kinds and sizes of air compressors in the market today, and getting the right type and size is paramount for a successful car painting.

The air compressor system comes in three kinds. We have the reciprocating compressor which helps to squeeze the air in a cylinder, using a piston. There is also the rotating screw compressor. This type compresses volume by using a rotating spiral screw. Thirdly, we have the centrifugal compressor which generates and transfers air pressure to the air using a rotating impeller.

Functions of an Air Compressor When Painting

An air compressor can be used for carrying out a wide range of tasks. Typically, as a machine, an air compressor works with other tools to make handling certain jobs easier.

Let’s look at a few of the functions of an air compressor:    

To Inflate Tools 

Air compressors are used to increase the amount of air pressure in some devices, including pool toys.

To Power Devices

They are also used to handle some tasks of powering medium-sized to heavy duties tools, including mail-order catalogs, impact wrenches, drills, nail guns, and more. 

To Increase Refrigerant’s Heat

In a refrigerator, the air compressor is at the heart of the cooling system. It drags in low-pressure, cool gas air from the room, thereby raising the pressure and temperature. The refrigerant leaves the air compressor as a hot and high-pressure gas.

To Purify & Cool

One other thing an air compressor does is purify compressed air, removing water vapor and vapors due to lubricants from the compressor. Besides, an air compressor also cools off or reduces the temperature of the compressed air.

How Air Compressor Works?

The first thing to know about an air compressor is that it uses its own motor, which can either be a gas engine or electric motor, to power or inflate some of the tools it is used for. Essentially, an air compressor works with these volume-sucking tools with a single motor. It converts electrical energy into motive energy.

Air compressor works on a very principle: air is compressed to increase pressure while volume drops. Depending on the model or type you’re using, an air compressor requires power from a gas or electric motor. With an air tank, air compressed by the compressor keeps the air pressure in place to be able to power the air tools. 

A valve head located at the top of the compressor cylinder houses two metal flaps: a discharge valve and an inlet valve. The movement of the piston inside the compressor cylinder causes a vacuum. The vacuum creates a pressure difference between the inside and outside of the cylinder, allowing the cylinder to open the inlet. The vacuum created is occupied by the air to give room for the upward moving piston to compress the air. When the air enters, the inlet valve opens, allowing the compressed to get stored inside the cylinder for increased pressure.

Size of Air Compressor To Complete Car Painting: What To Consider

Now we are back to the primary subject matter ‘size” as stated earlier, the size of an air compressor is very crucial for a fair and even painting of a car. Get a size too small, and you may not get enough juice to complete your car paint.

Different sizes of air compressor tanks are commercially available today. You must get a tank that will allow you to paint your car in one go. We recommend a 60-gallon tank. If you can afford a bigger one, you can get that too. It is never too big, but it can be too small.

A small-sized tank might be portable and easy to move but comes with a great disadvantage. Utilizing a small-size air compressor will not only slow you down and delay your work but will also cause uneven paint because it cannot supply paint on one go. They are of an advantage when only a portion of the car is to be painted.

To one side is the size of the tank; there are other characteristics to look out for when you go shopping for an air compressor. These characters also contribute to the performance of the air compressor. They consist of but are not restricted to the following factors:

The Compressor’s Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM rating)

This is popularly seen in the abbreviation as CFM. The CFM is an important characteristic that you should look out for when hunting for a compressor. It is usually written on the body of the compressor, so you do not have to border about reading a large manual. The CFM determines the power capability of the air compressor to draw air from the tank and the rate at which it releases the air through the spray gun.

It is imperative to note that the higher the CFM rating, the better your chances of painting your car on one go. It is faster, and the painting will be symmetrical. The CFM doesn’t do this alone; it also depends on the pressure of the air compressor, which is also written boldly in the body of the compressor.

Some parts of your car may have a better finish than others, resulting in a staggered and uneven coat. This is always the result if you buy a low CFM rating air compressor. Asymmetrical painting is not ideal. When buying an air compressor, make sure it comes with a CFM rating of about 14-18 per unit. If what you’re looking at is a little retouch or minor car painting issues, an air compressor of about 5 CFM rating is not bad.

The Amount of Horsepower

The horsepower (HP) of an air compressor is also an important quality you will have to look out for in an air compressor. By horsepower, we mean the amount of work a machine can deliver or do. An air compressor must come with a higher horsepower rating to carry out a huge painting task. Yet, a higher HP doesn’t translate to a better compressor, but it is more efficient and can offer quality assurance when it comes to power other tools.  

The horsepower determines the speed at which air fills the air tank. High horsepower is directly proportional to a faster release of paint through the spray gun.

The Amount of Air Pressure

This is also known as the PSI ratings. It is already known that the air compressor compacts air under pressure. High pressure is important but not necessary for an aesthetic painting of the car. So, don’t think that a high Psi rating will amount to smooth coating. You can utilize a low-pressure compressor that has a high CFM. What matters more is the speed and consistency at which the paint comes out of the gun, which is a characteristic of the CFM.

You don’t need much air pressure to be able to get quality painting and coat. One of the things you can do to achieve the desired results is to spray the bottom coat of your car while something in the region of 20-25 PSI will be best to spray a clear coat. If you go for a higher volume, low-pressure spray painter, you may not need to crack higher PSI reading. For a typical car painting, the best thing to opt for is the 90 PSI air pressure. 

The Size of the Paint Spray Gun

The spray gun releases the paint on the car and depends on other characteristics of the air compressor the work effectively. Spray gun comes with specifications that are in line with the size of the air compressor you decide to purchase. Getting the wrong spray gun will either make you put too much paint or too little paint on your car, and that’s not what you want.

Deciding the size of the paint gun you want to use means you’re also deciding on the level of control the compressor is going to have on the consumed air. A good paint gun may require as little as 5-7 CFM. However, a high-end paint gun may require much more than that. It is up to you to choose which of these you want to go for in the long run. However, there is a difference between low-end and high-end paint guns. Professional paint guns deliver much more accuracy when painting your car.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the best range of CFM and Horsepower to pick?

The CFM and HP are important qualities of an air compressor. You will want to go out for a CFM range of 4 to 7 at a pressure of about 20 to 50 psi. The HP can be from 3.5-5.0. As earlier noted, a higher horsepower rating doesn’t mean that you have a better compressor. Nevertheless, you should not compromise on buying the best air compressor on the market.

Q: What size of the air compressor is best?

A big-sized air compressor is actually better than a small-sized air compressor. Nevertheless, if you what to paint the car yourself and are not in so much hurry, you can use a small-sized air compressor.

Q: How do I paint a car with a small size air compressor?

A small-sized compressor will not allow you to paint your car in one go. However, it can be as efficient as a big-sized air compressor. All you have to do is paint in parts. You can choose to paint just the doors on a go and relax for that day to allow the paint to dry properly. The next day you can choose another part of the car to spray. It can take you about three days, but a good finish is guaranteed,

Final Thoughts

The size of the air compressor you get to paint your car solely determines the quality of paint job you will produce at the end. This guide is informative and should have an impact on the size of the air compressor you eventually pick. Take all the factors into account and you can be sure you have smooth painting and coat on your car. Remember, the bigger, the better, the bigger, the faster, and the better the finish.

Similar Posts