Air Compressor for Spray Painting Furniture [My Top Picks]

Best Air Compressor for Spray Painting Furniture

Simply put, an air compressor is a kind of pneumatic device that converts power (like electricity, diesel, gasoline, etc.) into pressurized air which is stored in the form of potential energy.

Due to the air pressure produced in the air compressor, the paint is released in the form of a fine mist so that it can be applied to furniture, walls, or almost any other surface, with relative ease.

The actual process behind the electric or gas-powered motors used to pressurize the air in a compressor can get a little long-winded, but suffice it to say that an air compressor uses a motor to pressurize a lot of air, then releases it through a hose to be used for various purposes.

How Does An Air Compressor Work?

For most of the portable-sized air compressors that are designed for home use, there are two settings for the gauges – a lower limit and an upper limit.

As soon as you switch on the power, the motor pulls the outside air and pushes it into the storage tank. The more the air is stored and forced in, the higher the pressure inside the unit is built. And as soon as the upper limit is reached the unit switches off the motor.

You can now use the stored pressurized air by releasing the valve. The high-pressure air moves through the air hose to power up the tool. Now when the air pressure in the storage tank reaches the lower limit, the unit turns on again to refill the air inside the tank.

Do You Really Need One for Your Project?

At this point, you might be asking yourself why you would even need something like an air compressor.

I mean, you do not have a whole house to paint, and you probably will not even think about adding another coat of paint for another year or more, so why should you invest in what seems like professional-grade painting equipment just to save a few hours?

Well, to be frank, there are several reasons that you may want to consider an air compressor and a paint sprayer.

In general, a portable air compressor can be used to blow air for cleaning, for filling tires and other blown-up products, for nail guns, and of course, they can be used on a paint gun (for painting a house or even a car).

For that matter, in the long run, an air-compressed paint sprayer along with an air compressor might not only save you money on rollers, brushes, and paint trays but also on various other products that you will not need to use as often with a sprayer.

5 Best Air Compressors for Spraying Furniture

There are a lot of amazing air compressors that can be used to make your furniture spray painting job much faster and easier, and there are a few that will not really be worth your money. So, it’s a good idea to do a little research into a product before purchasing it for your individual needs.

If you have a big project (or even a small one), and you want to get it done quickly, start looking into some of these great air compressors to get the job done right…

1- Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 Air Compressor

Makita MAC700 2.0 HP* Big Bore™ Air Compressor
  • Cast iron pump with big bore cylinder and piston, combined with...
  • Substantially lower noise levels with a large 1,720 RPM pump, enabling...
  • Low amp draw reduces incidences of tripped breakers and voltage drop...

*Last update on 2024-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

As one of the top sellers in the industry, this high-quality portable air compressor has maintained consistently high ratings among user reviews.

The Makita MAC700 is equipped with a 2.0 HP motor and a cast iron pump with a larger cylinder and piston, combined with a greater bore and stroke for maximum compression, faster recovery, and decreased noise.

The tank is 2.6 gallons, and capable of sustaining an operating pressure of 130 PSI and delivering 40 PSI (3.8 CFM) and 90 PSI (3.3 CFM).

The MAC700 has an oil-lubricated pump and is equipped with a large automotive-style filter for increased air intake and higher efficiency. This powerful machine is a little pricier than others, but its high durability and efficient operation make it worth the extra cost.

• Cast iron pump
• Lower noise levels
• Oil lubricated to minimize wear
• One year of manufacturer’s warranty
• Higher output with very little maintenance
• Roll-bar handle for portability and protection
• A bit heavy

2- PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK UMC Pancake Compressor

PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor, 6-Gallon, Pancake,...
  • 150 psi max tank pressure of the portable air compressor allows more...
  • 2.6 SCFM @ 90 psi of the electric air compressor allows for quick...
  • 6 gal Pancake style tank of the PORTER-CABLE air compressor is made...

*Last update on 2024-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This small, but powerful air compressor is another top seller with high marks on sites like Amazon.

The pancake-style tank on this compressor has a 6-gallon capacity as well as a water drain valve, rubber feet, and a maximum of 150 PSI. It provides longer air tool performance and features a 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI allowing for speedy recovery times.

One of the best things about this device is it’s lightweight, so it’s easy to use when you know you’ll have to move it often.

• Shroud, handle, and console cover
• Water drain valve and rubber feet
• Easy to use and start even in cold weather
• Easy to transport with handle and integrated cord wrap
• Oil-free pump for longer life and low maintenance costs
• Leakage issues
• Complicated user manual

3- California Air Tools CAT-4710SQ Quiet Compressor

California Air Tools 4710SQ Quiet Compressor 4.7...
  • Ultra Quiet only 60 Decibels
  • Oil-Free Pump for Less Maintenance & Costs
  • 4.7 Gallon Steel Tank

*Last update on 2024-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This electric-powered compressor is perfect for DIYers who want to use the tool inside the home. Also, you can use it very easily in a variety of temperatures and on uneven terrains as well.

This 5.5-gallon compressor is designed to emit a surprisingly low 60 decibels of sound, making it one of the quietest compressors available on the market today.

The powerful 1.0 HP (SP-9413) motor operates at only 1680 RPM which means that less noise is produced, and the compressor will not wear out as fast. One more good thing about the machine is it has an Oil-Free Dual Piston Pump System which is designed with high performance and durability in mind.

• Low noise
• Rust-free steel tank
• Very easy to transport and handle
• Oil-free Pump for Less Maintenance
• N/A

4- DEWALT DWFP55126 6-Gallon 165 PSI Pancake Compressor

DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, 165 PSI...
  • 165 max PSI 6.0 gallon tank (22.7 L) and 2.6 SCFM* delivered @ 90 PSI...
  • High efficiency motor of the electric air compressor is made for easy...
  • 78.5 dBA** noise level of the 6 gallon air compressor is made for a...

*Last update on 2024-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This corded electric compressor has a six-gallon tank, starts up easily in cold weather, and weighs only 30 pounds. That makes it one of the lightest compressors available for paint sprayers today.

This DEWALT DWFP55126 Pancake Compressor also features a 165 max PSI 6.0-gallon tank (22.7 L) and 2.6 SCFM delivered with a 90 PSI pump. The long work time means you can cover large spaces in short order.

Another great feature is that it has two connectors, allowing multiple users or sprayers to be connected at once.

• Easy cord wrap for storage
• High-flow regulator for better performance
• Oil-free pump for maintenance-free operation
• Efficient motor for easy start-up in cold weather conditions
• Console cover, ball drain valve, protective rubber leg covers
• Leakage issues

5- Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Air Compressor

Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon Pancake Compressor
  • The portable air compressor has a long-life oil-free, maintenance-free...
  • 150 max PSI 6.0 gallon tank (22.7 L) and 2.6 SCFM* delivered @ 90 PSI...
  • BOSTITCH high efficiency motor of the 6 gallon air compressor is made...

*Last update on 2024-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is another one of the smaller air compressors available on the market today. It’s lightweight and portable, only weighing 33 pounds.

It has an oil-free, maintenance-free pump that delivers 2.6 SCFM 90PSI and maximum tank storage of 150 PSI which allows for long run time so jobs get knocked out quickly.

Although this 6-gallon tank is comparatively cheaper than others, its high durability and efficiency make it worth investing in.

• Low noise operation
• Convenient to use and store
• High flow regulator and couplers
• Highly durable oil-free, maintenance-free pump
• High-efficiency motor to start instantly in cold weather
• Does not include hose

Different Types and Styles

There are several different kinds and styles of air compressors available to paint furniture at home or a vehicle in your garage.

Because each one operates differently, if you are going to purchase one for use with your painting project it is best to know what your options are, and what kind would work best for you.

1- Reciprocating air compressor:

This kind of air compressor pressurizes a successive volume of air, which is already confined to space. It then elevates the air to a higher degree of pressure with the use of motorized pistons.

2- Rotary screw compressor:

This is a positive displacement compressor. Essentially it has two rotors inside a casing, and these rotors compress the air internally.

3- Centrifugal air compressor:

This is a dynamic air compressor that passes energy from a rotating impeller to the air to create a continuous flow of air pressure.

Besides the common types, there are different designs/styles of air compressors you are likely to encounter when you want to buy one. Some of them are:

a. Pancake Compressors: These are flat and round in design. It’s ideal for people who want a compact and easy to transport portable-sized machine.

b. Hot Dog Compressors: They are cylindrical in design. Relatively heavier and bigger than pancake compressors it’s also most common due to its compact, and easy-to-transport style.

c. Twin Compressors: It’s basically a standard hot dog compressor with the difference that it consists of dual tanks stacked on top of each other. Obviously, if you want to accomplish larger projects quickly this is the style for you to choose.

d. Pontoon Air Compressors: This air compressor style resembles pontoon boats and from there they got its name. It features two horizontal tanks, located horizontally along the width of the compressor.

e. Wheelbarrow Air Compressors: These are most popular among contractors due to their portability along with higher efficiency. These come with two cylindrical tanks that are positioned along the length of the compressor. The tanks are fixed in a way that resembles a dolly-type “wheelbarrow”.

Factors You Need to Consider When Buying

However, when you purchase an air compressor for spray painting furniture, walls, decks, vinyl siding, or just anything else; be sure to look into a few of these specific features so that you pick the right one as per your requirements…

1- PSI and CFM

These are the two most important features you need to look at closely while buying a portable air compressor for home use.

While PSI (meaning “per square inch”) tells you how much the air compressor pressurizes the air per square inch; CFM (meaning “cubic feet per minute”) is the measure of how fast it pressurizes the air per minute.

A portable air compressor will typically require to have 0 to 5 cubic feet per minute (CFM) at 70 to 90 pounds per square inch (PSI). Whereas if you are working in an industry or at a professional level with larger tools that are connected to stationary systems, your requirements may exceed 10 CFM at 100 to 120 PSI.

How much air pressure you will need will typically depend on what you will be using your compressor for. For example, if you are planning to use it for powering your air tools at home, you will certainly need pressure in a range of 70 PSI to 110 PSI.

2- Material and Weight

Strong and durable metals like cast iron will last a long time, but it will also make a very heavy product. So, it is best to consider both the durability, and the weight, and decide based on your needs.

3- Portable or Stationery

Unlike stationary models, portable air compressors can be moved quickly from one room to another without any problem, you may need to consider them for painting and other household purposes.  

4- Size and Storage Tanks

In general, portable air compressors vary in size according to the type or size of storage tanks they have.

While there are compressors with small storage tanks that are most appropriate for spray painting or using nail guns, there are a few other varieties that may include long and narrow tanks integrated making them a bit larger in size.

It is important to note that you only choose a larger storage tank if you really need one for the sake of your job. In most cases, it’s best to choose a portable storage tank that is small and easy to handle.

5- Power & Power Source

The energy needed for an air compressor to perform a job is referred to as its “horsepower”. This simply means that the more horsepower is the more powerful will be your compressor. If you want to buy an air compressor machine for more than one purpose, it’s good to invest in a unit with greater horsepower.

On a similar note, another important factor to look at is the power source that a compressor uses to operate. These can be either electrical or gasoline.

While electrically operated air compressors are more affordable and efficient to use, the gasoline models are more versatile, reliable, and efficient especially if you want to use them outdoors. Due to the fact that gasoline-fuelled air compressors may cause pollution, you should avoid using them indoors or in an enclosed area.

6- Durability and Warranty

Air compressors do not come cheap, so whatever model you choose to buy make sure that it’s designed sturdy and can last for years to come.

Obviously, a unit that comes with most of the metal parts (like a tank, regulators, and other fittings) can withstand all the conditions better and can serve you for longer.

Also, make sure that the unit features sturdy rubber feet and an ergonomic handle for easy carrying. Although these may sound immaterial, they can help a lot in enhancing the life of the unit by protecting it whenever you are transporting it by hand.

Furthermore, do not forget to check about the warranty conditions whenever you are buying expensive tools like an air compressor. Most reliable brands offer a warranty that may range anywhere from one year to three years.  

7- Few Other Special Features

Although an air compressor may seem to be a simple machine, many of them can come with various extra features that can improve its performance.

For example, some units may come with multiple connection points, allowing you to use your unit for several different tools (like nail guns, impact wrenches, and paint sprayers) simultaneously.  

Although this distinct functionality comes in powerful expensive units, this can be an overwhelming feature, especially for contractors as it can save them a huge amount of time.

In addition to this, there are self-oiling units, that come with tools, kits, and features with a wide variety of adjustability options. Whether you need them or not will however depend on your project and the budget you have in mind.

Last but not least, you will also need to check the compressor-style and consider buying an air compressor that comes with interchangeable valves and pressure regulators. With this, you can make use of your unit for a wider variety of tasks (and not just for painting) without compromising on performance.

Using and Maintaining Your Portable Air Compressor

While I can give you some general information here that will help you get an overall grasp on how it all works, the owner’s manual will give you the most detailed instructions specific to that particular product.

Take a little time to read it and you will find the operation of the air compressor to be easier and more efficient.

If the air compressor is electric, it can be as simple as plugging it in and turning it on. However, even then you will probably have to give it some time to build up the pressure before actually using it for anything. After you have it started and given it a little time, you should be good to go.

On the other hand, if it is a gas-powered compressor, it may require you to prime it, and then pull on a ripcord to crank up the motor.

Another important safety tip is to never use a damaged air compressor. If the integrity of the air compressor is weakened, the high amount of pressure inside could end up escaping in a sudden and violent burst that can cause serious harm or even death.

So, it’s recommended that you inspect the air compressor system prior to use and never use an air compressor that is dented or punctured.

Also, remember to wear gloves and safety glasses when you are using an air compressor for painting furniture, and for almost any home renovation job. When using the system, the paint is spraying out of the spray gun, so it could easily get into your eyes and cause serious damage.

Worse, if there is any kind of defect in the equipment, you will be glad you were wearing the appropriate safety gear if something were to malfunction dangerously – it may just save your life, limb, or eyesight.

Maintaining your air compressor is as important as using it the right way. You don’t want to spend money on a product, only to allow it to break down due to improper maintenance.

It’s good to read the owner’s manual for instructions on storage and maintenance tips that are specific to your product. However, here are a few tips for general maintenance.

  • Change the oil if and whenever necessary.
  • Bleed the condensation valves according to the manual.
  • Search the compressor for any loose parts and tighten them up.
  • Keep the intake and connectors clean and free of obstructions.
  • Keep track of how long each full tank lasts, so that you can compare and know if the time suddenly decreases.

Common Problems with Air Compressors & How to Fix Issues?

An airbrush compressor can help you save time while getting excellent results.

However, like any other device, you will need to know what issues you might face and troubleshoot potential problems if you want to get the most out of your investment.

What follows are a few tips and suggestions that will help you better understand airbrush compressors, so you can use them properly.

1- Starting Issues

If your air compressor does not start, you may not have to go to the repair shop right away. Instead, check the air pressure gauge and see what available pressure is there.

If it is higher than the amount required for the work you are about to do, then release enough of it until it’s about where it is needed. This will allow the air compressor to start as the pressure is low enough for it to kick on.

2- Humming Sound

While air compressors have a motor, you may hear an unusual hum coming from the device. If the sound is loud, then you may have an issue with the unloader valve.

Although this may sound like a complex issue, it’s not that difficult to understand and repair under most circumstances. You simply need to purchase a new unloader valve and replace the old one.

Empty the tank and replace the valve making sure it is secure, and then restart the motor to fill the tank. If done properly, the hum will be gone.

3- Air Leakage

One of the most common issues associated with air compressors is leakage of the air itself.

Before fixing this issue, you will need to determine if all the connections are fine as they are the most likely sources of air leakage.

Start by removing the hose from the airbrush compressor but leave the compressor on. Now, apply soapy water to all the connections and seals. If you see bubbles, that is where a leak is taking place. For the most part, damaged components and busted pipes are the cause, but the good news is that they are easy to replace with relatively little expense as such parts are relatively cheap.

If you have a complicated air compressor, you may want to use a repair shop to have a professional do the job. They will charge fees for their service, but you will get the repair performed correctly and they usually back up their work.

4- Stopping Frequently

Another common issue with air compressors is that they can slow down or come to a full stop from time to time.

For the most part, this problem is usually with the power connection or the amount of power that is being provided to the compressor. Make sure that your power supply is more than enough to run the compressor.

If the power is there, then the issue might be with the oil level or lubricating coating that is part of the compressor unit. You must have clean oil that is free of any debris for the compressor to work properly. And, if the oil or lubricating coat is the problem, you may want to have the compressor taken to the shop or have an expert look it over.

Another thing to keep in mind is that low temperatures may affect the performance of the air compressor. This is because the oil inside may get thicker or even solidify which means you should not just fire it up if it is cold. Instead, move the compressor to a warm place so that it has a chance to heat up and it should work fine.

Related FAQs

What is the duty cycle of an air compressor?

The duty cycle of an air compressor can be referred to as the amount of time for which it can deliver pressurized air within a given span of time. Typically, a compressor that comes with a higher duty cycle is designed for heavy usage compared to a compressor with a low duty cycle percentage. A higher duty cycle is certainly more important for those who plan to run the compressor more continuously to keep up the airflow.

Single vs. Two-stage air compressor: which is better?

Simply put, the difference between single and two-stage compressors is that of power. While a single-stage air compressor can deliver about 150 PSI of power, the two-stage motor can deliver about double that. So, if you are planning to get a compressor for bigger jobs, it’s good to get a bigger two-stage motor.

Oil vs Oil-less air compressor: which is best for my project?

As in the name, the basic difference between an oil and an oil-less air compressor is the previous one uses oil for operation and the latter does not.

Oil air compressors are designed for heavy-duty industrial usage and its perfect for you if you want to have a noiseless, long-lasting, durable unit. However, if you want a cheaper, portable, and lightweight unit that’s more efficient for home use it’s good to look for oil-less compressors.

What is the difference between an inflator and an air compressor?

While inflators and air compressors may seem to be the same for many buyers, they are actually not.

The basic difference is that an air compressor for inflating (or an inflator) does not come with a tank. They are usually small (for inflating purposes) and feature only a pump and a motor. Air compressors on the other hand feature a tank and are meant for operating bigger tools like paint sprayers and nail guns.

The Bottom Line

Portable air compressors are a favorite among handymen, carpenters, painters, and even DIY enthusiasts.

Especially if it’s a new painting project in your home, we all know that there is a great deal of work that goes into it. Even before you start moving furniture, taping things off, and laying down drop cloths for spray painting, you have to research and purchase the right tools for the paint job.

No matter whether you need to spray paint old furniture (in your home or office) or want to make your nailing and installing molding task a little bit easier – picking a good heavy-duty air compressor can be your solution.

Hopefully, this guide has given you a clear picture of what you should look for in your air compressor so that you will not feel quite so intimidated by the concept of using one.

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