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

what size air compressor do i need to paint a car


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

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

Painting a car requires careful preparation and the right equipment to achieve a smooth, professional finish. However, selecting the appropriate size air compressor is essential to ensure you have enough air pressure and volume to complete the painting process efficiently. This article discusses the size of the air compressor you will need to paint a car and some crucial factors.

Let’s get down to business.

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

Let us see what factors matter:

1. A High CFM Rated Air Compressor

  • A greater CFM is needed to break up paint into tiny particles that enable spray painting of the vehicle.
  • A large volume of air ensures that paint is applied uniformly and that the completed coat looks uniform.
  • A high-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) compressor is typically enough to finish an auto paint job. 
  • For example, two-stage compressors are perfect for this, as they can produce nearly 20 CFM.

2. Horsepower or HP

  • A 10 HP compressor is often sufficient for painting a car. Higher HP compressors, however, might function more effectively and serve various purposes.

3. Size of the Tank

  • When spray painting cars, the efficiency of the operation depends on the size of the air compressor’s tank also.
  • In larger jobs like covering an entire car, smaller tanks may need to be filled again, possibly multiple times. Additionally, the pressure and flow of the paint may vary more in smaller tanks, resulting in uneven coatings.
  • A tank capacity of 60 gallons or more will generally allow for the layer of a complete vehicle in a single pass without the need to refill. In contrast, tank sizes of 50 gallons or more than that are more suitable.

4. Pressure

  • The importance of getting perfect atomization of the paint through high CFM outweighs the pressure rating, which specifies at what pressure the color is delivered from the nozzle.
  • A minimum of 15 PSI is recommended, with 20 or 25 PSI preferable for specific applications.

How many gallons do you need in an air compressor?

To ensure the compressor produces adequate CFMs for your spray gun, many experts advise going no lower than 50 gallons. A compressor that can easily power a car spray gun might not be powerful enough to support continuous usage of other air equipment.

Final Takeaway

Choosing the right size air compressor is essential for achieving good results when painting a car. When selecting the compressor, consider the air pressure, air volume, tank size, and duty cycle too.


1. Is a 21-gallon air compressor enough to paint a car?

You may require more to spray paint your car. It can be enough, but more can be added for a better performance.

2. What pressure do you spray 2K paint on?

Choose the appropriate spray gun to use when applying the 2K paint. Set the pressure (psi) to the appropriate value, which should be between 27 to 30 psi.

3. How many layers of primer and paint are needed?

For this, around two to three layers would be sufficient. More than that may not look good, and too little will give a faded look.

Check out more Best Air Compressor Oil Substitutes.

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Shaleen Ashish

Shaleen is a Journalism postgraduate, and like every other gen-z, loves a good dose of humor, Italian food, fashion trends, and TV series. She is an acomplished author and expert in the field of air compressors. Shaleen discovered her passion for technical products and gadgets early in life, which drove her research and write about it.

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