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

What size air compressor do I need to paint a car

An air compressor is a specialized equipment that pressurizes regular air so that it can be used to power various air tools such as grinders and spray guns. There is a wide range of compressors in the market today, and therefore, it is important to choose one that is specially designed for your job.

Painting a car at home is becoming popular among DIY enthusiasts. After deciding on the color and paint gun, the next thing is getting the correct size compressor as this can make or break your paint job. Choosing the wrong size can be frustrating as it may not provide you with enough power to complete the job. The following tips will help you choose the right air compressor for your auto painting projects.

1. Decide on the paint gun you’ll be using to paint your car

The first consideration you’ll need to think about is the paint gun you intend to use to paint your car. The paint gun you use is going to determine the amount of air consumed. Some paint guns require as little as 5 CFM while other high-end professional can require even two times three times that to paint your car correctly.

2. The size of the tank

The next thing you’ll need to consider for your auto painting air compressor is how big its tank is. Using one with a relatively small tank can result in uneven application of paint and a poorly done paint job. An air compressor with 50 gallons or more can paint your car evenly in just a single pass with no issues. However, the CFM an air compressor puts out is the most important thing and not necessarily the gallons of the air compressor. There are small capacity air compressors that deliver a high CFM rating to provide the airflow needed for the project.

3. The CFM rating

As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to take into account the compressor’s CFM rating. The CFM output of a compressor is the number that you really need to look out for when picking an air compressor. A higher CFM rating means that an air compressor can pump more air at a given PSI reading. It also means that you’ll be able to paint your car in a single pass even when you are planning to use the compressor for an extended period.

Using an air compressor with a low CFM rating could result in an asymmetrical painting with some areas having a better finish than others. Most auto painting air compressors have a CFM rating of between 14-18 per unit, and this makes them a bit expensive, but they certainly get the job done. They come in handy when it comes to base and clear coats. However, for simple retouches, you can do with an air compressor with as little as 4 CFM rating.

4. How much air pressure does it deliver?

Air pressure is measured in PSI rating, and it is also an important thing to consider when purchasing an air compressor for auto painting. Contrary to what you may think, a high PSI does not necessarily mean an even coat. Getting a HVLP (high volume, low-pressure) spray painter will ensure that that you don’t need to crank the air pressure so high to achieve the desired results. Such a compressor does not require too much PSI to run.

When using a HVLP spray painter, you can use 10-15 PSI to spray the base coat and about 20-25 PSI for the clear coat. Also, this rating does not change too much even when you are not using a HVLP spray painter.

So what do all these mean? If you are already set on spray painter, you should try as much as possible to match the compressor to the compressor and vice versa. We suggest you pick an air compressor size by matching the CFM and PSI requirements of your spray painter to that of the compressor.  Also, ensure that the spray painter you are using requires less input than the maximum output of the compressor to avoid running the compressor constantly. At the end of the day, the most important thing is getting the best performing compressor that can be used to power other air tools as well and making sure that your projects run smoothly.

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