Best Air Compressor for Painting – Reviews and Buying Guide

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Written By Scott Angel

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A compressor is an essential tool when painting the exterior of your car, but if you are like most people, you probably don’t have one at home. This is why so many people are forced to buy an air compressor when they want to paint. With that said, there are actually several excellent air compressors available on the market, including many that are specially designed for painting.

Do you need to buy an air compressor for painting? There are lots of options out there but which ones should you choose?

Air compressors are used to pressurise air into a confined space. This is useful for a number of different applications including paint spraying, welding, metal working etc.

This post will give you a guide on choosing the best air compressor for painting. It will also cover other factors such as power consumption, noise levels and cost.

Best Air Compressor For Painting Review

1. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Pancake Compressor

If you’re still on the search for the best air compressor for automotive painting, you might want to have a look at the oil-free compressor from Porter Cable.

This air compressor is best known for its compact shape that blends in with a unique aesthetic. As you take a look at it, you won’t forget to feel that it’s quite cute. On top of that, the air compressor is pretty lightweight, so you can simply carry it using your one hand. 

However, you wold better not judge its functionality with its look. Unlike the mainstream ones, this air compressor offers you 150 PSI at max. You didn’t see that coming, did you? At 90 PSI, you’re getting as much as 2.6 SCFM that makes sure the compressor recovers very fast.

The motor, on the other hand, eats up 120 volts to run effectively, guess what? Even in cold weather, you can start the motor just like that. To make your painting job smoother and easier, you can connect multiple tools with this compressor; working with them all at the same time is easy-peasy.

While it comes with a wide range of amazing features, it actually has a 6-gallon tank. This might be a bit disappointing to you after you’ve read about the 8-gallon and 20-gallon tanks above.

However, if you do your home garage work and compare, you’ll find that air compressors with this size, has lesser tank-capacity. Now, that’s a bright side for you.

To enhance the durability, manufacturers have made the pump heavy-duty, which can withstand all the beatings. Besides, the set offers you console cover that makes sure all the vital components of the compressor stays protected.


  • Boasts a premium aesthetic
  • It’s lightweight and has a compact shape
  • You’re getting up to 150 PSI at max
  • At 90 PSI, you’re getting 2.6 SCFM
  • Highly efficient motor
  • Has a 6-gallon capacity tank
  • Sports a heavy-duty pump
  • Console cover protects the vital components


  • Could be more durable

2. Makita Stacked Pontoon Air Compressor

Makita Stacked Pontoon Air Compressor has two-cylinder air compressors stacked to deliver maximum volume and air pressure while maintaining portability and reducing an overall footprint.

This device is another strong air compressor, delivering 4.8 CFM at 40 PSI, making it one of the strongest we’ve explored as well. 

The couplers on this device allow you to connect and disconnect quickly from the air hoses for quick transitions in your painting project or with whatever air tool you’ve chosen to use.  

Unfortunately, this device is oil lubricated, and it does sacrifice a lot of portability compared to the other ones we’ve discussed here.  It is a strong air compressor, but for the price and weight, it’s not the best choice available.  


  • Efficient
  • Comes with quick-connect couplers
  • Small footprint for pontoon compressor


  • Expensive
  • Not portable

3. DeWalt DXCMPA1982054 Air Compressor

If you actually want an air compressor that you can use to tackle more demanding projects in the project, or maybe you want an air compressor that can perform better than that the small 6-gallon ones, a 20-gallon air compressor like the DeWalt DXCMPA1982054 20-gallon air compressor will certainly step up your game.

This thing can produce up to 5.7 CFM of air at 90 PSI. It’s loaded with cast iron, twin cylinder, oil lubricated pump. Oil lubrication means, you don’t have to worry about noise so much, but you must Keep an eye on oil, though, and make sure it got enough of it.

The pump is powered by a heavy-duty induction motor, ensuring the compressor runs steadily. Using and regulating it is very easy because it comes with good onboard regulator gauges, and quick connect air outlets to make attaching your hoses or tools, immediate and easy.

You can run it using normal 120 volt’s power outlets in your garage. However, it is recommended that you create a dedicated 15amp circuit for the compressor alone. Though it runs on 120 volts, you can still convert it to use 240 volts, if you want.


  • Durable.
  • Leak-proof.
  • It has pneumatic wheels which have a small footprint for easy mobility
  • It has a front handle enabling you to move it to various work sites with ease


  • Does not have a water filter
  • Requires a lot of power to function

4. Industrial Air Portable Pontoon Compressor

Industrial Air Portable Pontoon Compressor has a true pontoon compressor that maintains a decent amount of portability.  

This product has two smaller cylinder tanks and a high efficiency motor, which gives it some great strength while sacrificing a bit of runtime.  

Fortunately, because of its high efficiency, it can recover quickly after it runs out of air pressure.  

This device has a total of 4 gallons of capacity total, but it can provide 5 CFM at 40 PSI, right in line with the strongest devices we’ve seen yet.  Because it is lightweight and mounted to a frame designed for portability, this product gives you the best of both worlds.

 It certainly should because it has a much higher sticker price than the other options.  If this had a longer run time, it would be hands down the best product we’ve explored yet.  Because of that, however, it loses some points for overall value, making it a good buy, but not great.


  • Very powerful
  • Quick recovery
  • Relatively lightweight


  • Short run time
  • Expensive

5. Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor

How do you know if you’re using a good air compressor for painting cars? The brand says it all. So, we talked about giants like Porter Cable and DEWALT, and now we have the MAC5200 from Makita.

This air compressor comes with a 3.0 HP motor that gives you the efficient performance you need to make sure your painting job goes right. The motor has got a built-in thermal overload, which enhances its protection system.

Besides, at 90 PSI, you’re getting 6.5 CFM, while on the other hand, you’re getting 6.9 CFM in 40 PSI. The maximum PSI you’re getting is as much as 140, meaning, you get to take your productivity at its peak.

To add more to the productivity, the compressor comes with a large industrial style filter that helps to increase the air intake. As a result, you get more efficiency than ever.

Now, that’s just the performance. When it comes to durability, this beast right here knows how to withstand all the abuses. The Big Bore cylinder and the pump is made out of solid cast iron. This reduces all the wears the compressor can get while increasing the pump life. For which, you can use this compressor for years to come.

You can use this compressor even in harsh job sites. It has got a roll-cage construction that makes sure the whole body itself is protected from any type of threat.

Even though the MAC5200 from Makita comes with heavy-duty construction and a handful of mind-boggling features, it’s pretty lightweight.

Thanks to its low-profile design, you can store it anywhere that has space issues. You can also fold the handles. When needed, the rugged wheels will help you up to transport the compressor anywhere you want.


  • The motor comes with 3.0 Horsepower
  • Built-in thermal overload enhances the protection system
  • You’re getting 140 PSI at max
  • Large industrial filter increases air intake
  • Both the cylinder and pump are made of solid cast iron
  • Roll-cage construction for maximum durability
  • Lightweight and compact in shape
  • Rugged wheels help you up to transport it anywhere


  • The wheels are not as durable as it seems

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many CFM do you need to paint a car?

Normally, compared to others, paint guns themselves need a lot of CFM to run. You can operate a paint gun from 0.3 to 12 CFM. This means you’ll need a compressor that gives you at least 4 to 19 CFM, let it be for undercoating or touch-ups.

2. How much PSI do a paint gun need?

It depends on the type of paint gun you’re using. If you’re using an HVLP type spray gun, you can go for 40 PSI. With this, you’ll get up about 10 to 14 SCFM.

For spraying base coat, about 17 PSI will be enough for you. When you’re using an LVLP gun, you can try 20 to 25 PSI for clear coats.

3. How many CFM does an HVLP gun need?

If you’re using an HVLP, you’ll need about 15 to 25 CFM to get a perfect painting experience.

4. Can you use an HVLP gun with an air compressor?

Of course, you can. The air compressor we’ve mentioned in this write-up is compatible with both HVLP and LVLP type spray guns.

Final Verdicts

We have picked the best air compressor for painting. All these compressors are tested by our team of experts. We’ve included their pros and cons so that you can make a wise decision.

So, if you’re looking for a good quality air compressor for painting, then you should definitely check out the Makita MAC5200.

This is one of the most powerful air compressors available in the market today. Its power rating is 3.0 HP. Thanks to this high-powered engine, you can easily achieve your desired results.

Its large industrial filter increases the air flow. So, you won’t face any problems when working on a larger surface area.

The roller cage helps in protecting the entire machine from any kind of damage.

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