Best Air Compressors for HVLP Painting – Houses & Cars (2021 Reviews)

Cody
| Last Updated: January 30, 2021

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Painting isn’t just more enjoyable, but it also results in a higher quality finish when you rely on an air compressor and a spray gun. Of course, you’d have to know how to pick the best air compressor for painting, and that’s what we’re about to show you in this extensive guide. 

As a spoiler alert, know that you’re going to need different air compressor sizes for various painting projects!

Hoping to cut right to the chase? Below are the best air compressors for painting:

  1. California Air Tools 10020C
  2. WEN 2289
  3. Porter-Cable C2002

Product

Our Rating

Price

California Air Tools 10020C

  • 2 HP, 125 PSI
  • 10 gallons
  • 110V

WEN 2289

  • 1.5 HP, 150 PSI
  • 10 gallons
  • 110V

Porter-Cable C2002

  • 150 PSI
  • 6 gallons
  • 120V

Bostitch BTFP02012

  • 0.9 HP, 150 PSI
  • 6 gallons
  • 120V

Campbell Hausfeld AC080510

  • 1 HP, 125 PSI
  • 8 gallons
  • 120V

Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV

  • 1 HP, 110 PSI
  • 3 gallons
  • 120V

Ingersoll Rand P1.5IU-A9

  • 2 HP, 135 PSI
  • 20 gallons
  • 115V

What is HVLP and What Does HVLP Stand For? 

HVLP stands for “high volume, low pressure”, and it defines a certain standard that spray guns will work by. When you use an HVLP spray gun, you can expect considerably less overspray on the final product, as well as a finer finish. This is particularly useful for furniture builders and cabinet makers, though anyone who’s after painting at a lower pressure will appreciate HVLP.

What Size Air Compressor For HVLP Spray Gun?

When running an HVLP spray gun, you want your air compressor to be able to maintain a maximum of 25 PSI through its regulator. Most air tanks can do it easily, especially when you’re looking to spray smaller objects.

If you go for more gallons in the tank, you’ll enjoy more extended spans when you don’t have to run the compressor. More horsepower, on the other side, means you’ll have to wait less to catch back up as the pressure drops.

Typically, a 10 gallon air compressor paired with a 2 HP motor that holds up to 125 PSI can do a good job for a wide range of painting projects.

What Size Air Compressor for Painting?

When it comes to any type of painting other than HVLP, the same differences apply. That is why you can expect to need a different size of air compressor, depending on whether you’re painting your house, your car, or just a wall.

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Painting My House?

For house painting, you’ll want to look after an air compressor with a tank of around 8 gallons and a 1 HP motor.  If it can reach a maximum of 125 PSI and support a 2.2 CFM @ 90 PSI, it’s good to go. However, because painting a house is a big project, chances are you’ll also want your air compressor to be as silent as possible!

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Painting Cars?

Car painting is one of those DIY projects you can confidently tackle with a 1 HP air compressor of around 3 gallons and a maximum PSI of 110. Just make sure you pick a model that is highly portable, so it won’t be a pain to keep dragging it around your car or parts as needed.

What Size Air Compressor Do I Need for Spray Painting?

Generally speaking, if you have a paint sprayer rated at 6 CFM for 40 PSI, you can pair it with an air compressor powered by a 1 or 2 HP motor. This applies to most non-industrial and DIY applications.

Review of the Best Air Compressors for Painting 

So far, we’ve shed some light on the topic but also raised some questions. For once, you know there’s no one-size-fits-all air compressor for the various painting jobs you might get into. Let’s show you some practical differences that will help you pick the best air compressor for painting, on specific categories.

Best Overall:
California Air Tools 10020C

PROS

  • Designed with portability in mind
  • Provides very good value for the money
  • Requires little maintenance or extra costs
  • Reliable motor with great power output for painting
  • Operates at a very low noise level compared to similar models

CONS

  • Built-in connectors could be sturdier
  • Not as lightweight as you’d hoped it to be

Our Review:

The best air compressor for painting is a product of California Air. With a powerful 2 HP motor that runs at 1680 RPM, it delivers more than enough power for most spray guns out there. The maximum PSI is 125, though it produces 5.3 CFM @ 90 PSI and 6.4 CFM @ 40 PSI.

Since spray guns require continuous operation, the fact that this compressor comes with an overload protector makes it an even more suitable, practical, and reliable option. Not to mention that the 10 gallons of air in the tank will prove quite handy when you get to work.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

As an air compressor from the Ultra Quiet series, the 10020C will impress you with its low-noise operation. Rated at about 70 dB, it will be a pleasure to run it either outdoor or indoor. What’s more, it has a truly long-lasting dual-piston pump and is ready to support up to 3000 hours of run, as opposed to only 500 hours you’d get from the average air compressors on the market.

Runner-up:
WEN 2289

PROS

  • Drain valve conveniently placed for easy access
  • Oil-free operation requires minimal maintenance
  • Vertical tank takes less space in your workshop
  • Designed for easier maneuvering and transportation
  • Reliable power output for a wide range of painting jobs

CONS

  • Includes some plastic parts
  • Noise level during operation could be lower

Our Review:

The runner-up is another 10-gallon air compressor with a sturdy steel tank that should stand the test of time. The WEN 2289 actually gives you a tad higher maximum PSI, of 150, though the power output is 1.5 HP. As for the airflow during operation, expect 5 CFM @ 40 PSI and 4 CFM @ 90 PSI.

Clearly, these numbers show it should easily handle the requirements of a spray gun. Since it is also designed with care and attention to detail, and it makes a rather affordable option, it is definitely worth your attention.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

With specs not too far behind our best overall selection, WEN’s 10-gallon air compressor is oil-free, which translates into hassle-free for the less technical operators. It requires minimal maintenance, therefore, will encourage you to give it a try. And the practical design with rubber-grip handle and never-flat wheels makes pushing it around feel like a walk in the park.

Best for the Money:
Porter-Cable C2002

PROS

  • Designed to facilitate a quick recovery time
  • Lightweight and portable, it is easy to carry around
  • Starts easily, with low amp, even in cold temperature
  • Stores enough air for comfortable paint gun operation
  • Features a stable, pancake-style case with water drain valve

CONS

  • Somewhat loud during operation
  • Comes with a lengthy break-in procedure

Our Review:

The title of the most effective air compressor with a more than affordable price tag goes to Porter-Cable’s pancake air compressor with a 6-gallon tank. Rated with 150 maximum PSI and 2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI, it will allow you to enjoy a fairly quick recovery time.

It’s small but compact, the tank capacity strikes the minimum requirement for a less demanding spray gun, and it features the quality design we’re used to seeing from this manufacturer. Stable and reliable, it works with an extension cord or straight to the wall socket, and it will start easily even in cold weather.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

This Porter-Cable air compressor offers you all the practical aspects of a 6 gallon pancake air compressor. But what you’ll hardly encounter in the models from the same category is the presence of a second air coupler. That’s right, this pancake air compressor comes with two air couplers from the factory, allowing you to run two air tools at the same time.

Best Air Compressor for HVLP:
Bostitch BTFP02012

PROS

  • Features an oil-free pump
  • Practical pancake style design
  • Decent power output for HVLP
  • Easy to maneuver and carry around
  • Acceptable noise level during operation

CONS

  • Includes some plastic parts
  • Warranty limited to just one year

Our Review:

If you’re into HVLP, this 6-gallon air compressor will easily make you curious. Despite being one of the smallest units you can find, it is super lightweight and portable. The maximum PSI it can handle is 150, but you’ll be more interested in the 2.6 SCFM it supports at 90 PSI and the 0.9 HP power output, welcomed for the low-pressure part!

Equipped with two couplers and a high flow regulator, it will help you make the most of your spray gun. What’s more, it relies on an effective motor that won’t be intimidated by cold weather. And so, good performances and extended reliability recommend it as the best air compressor for HVLP.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

With this Bostitch air compressor, you’ll be getting all the high volume and low pressure you’d want for HVLP applications. Given its maintenance-free, oil-less pump, it’s an even more attractive option, and efficiency and durability are often praised by those who tried their hand on it already.

Best Air Compressor for Painting House:
Campbell Hausfeld AC080510

PROS

  • Ideal for painting jobs
  • Portable, with handle and wheels
  • Moderate noise level both indoor and outdoor
  • Features an oil-free pump that is easy to maintain
  • Comes with a fully-covered shroud, for extra safety

CONS

  • Heavier than you’d expect it to be
  • Handle won’t allow wrapping a lengthy cord on it

Our Review:

For painting a house, you’ll have a hard time finding a better air compressor than this one. Campbell Hausfeld exceeded expectations with this quiet compressor ideal for home environments. The maximum 125 PSI from a 1 HP motor is good enough for the job, as it leads to a 2.4 CFM @ 90 PSI.

Hobby painting has never been easier than with this maintenance-free, oil-free air compressor with a long-lasting pump. Adding the fully-covered shroud design can only make you even more determined to try it, knowing that it’s both dependable and safe to operate.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

This Campbell Hausfeld AC080510 air compressor is more hyped than many other models in the house painting category. It’s easy to use, and it delivers as expected, plus, it comes with free maintenance, and it has a surprising noise level of as little as 68 dB.

Best Air Compressor for Painting Cars:
Campbell Hausfeld FP209499AV

PROS

  • Enough power output
  • Good value for the money
  • Works for a wide range of projects
  • Includes an inflation kit with 10 pieces
  • Features an oil-free, maintenance-free pump

CONS

  • Motor is a tad loud
  • Hose could be of better quality

Our Review:

One of the smallest air compressors you’ll come around, this model from Campbell Hausfeld is a best option for painting cars. While it has a tank of only 3 gallons, the motor is powerful enough at 1 HP to do the intended job. And the fact that it relies on an oil-free pump that requires minimal maintenance makes it a great choice for any operator.

Despite the horizontal-tank design, this air compressor is small and compact, with a minimal footprint. Its gauges sit in the perfect position for you to read them easily. Speaking of which, you should be able to watch it deliver 0.36 CFM @ 90 PSI, with 110 being the maximum PSI it can cope with.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

One can tell from a distance that this particular air compressor offers good value for the money. Its small, compact design makes it versatile and easy to carry around. While its functionality has everything that it takes to turn car painting into an easy, enjoyable activity, you’ll be able to use it for a lot more than that, thanks to the 10-piece accessory kit in the package.

Best Air Compressor for Painting Walls:
Ingersoll Rand P1.5IU-A9

PROS

  • Excellent power output
  • Comes factory pre-wired
  • Made with cast-iron, for extended durability
  • Supports continuous duty, for demanding applications
  • Sits on pneumatic tires and features an ergonomic handle

CONS

  • Motor is a tad loud
  • Hose could be of better quality

Our Review:

When it comes to painting walls, Ingersoll Rand has the solution. Their P1.5IU-A9 with 2 HP and 135 maximum PSI is designed for continuous duty, just like you’d expect for an air compressor that needs to back up a paint sprayer. What’s more, at 90 PSI, it can deliver a hefty 5.2 CFM flow.

Longevity is ensured by the manual overload protection of the motor, and by a durable cast-iron pump with belt guard. Due to the fact that it relies on the synthetic lubricant All Season Select, it will work smoothly for up to 2.000 hours before any change out will be required.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

The Ingersoll Rand P1.5IU-A9 has both the power output and the perfectly-sized 20-gallon tank to handle tough applications like wall painting. It supports continuous operation, the automatic Start/Stop switch control makes operation a breeze, and its noise level is more than acceptable. 

What Makes an Air Compressor Great for Painting?

For your air compressor to truly stand the task of painting, it would have to match the requirements of the spray gun. Basically, any air compressor that can meet the spray gun’s requirements will be a great choice. Consider the following aspects: 

CFM

The rule is simple – your spray gun needs a certain CFM, which varies from one model to another. Check its user manual to see exactly what it needs, and pick an air compressor that can produce even just a little over that value. If it’s much higher, it’s no problem, but it shouldn’t be equal or smaller than the one of the gun! 

Tank Size

The tank size gives you a higher air volume to make use of during the painting. When the air compressor needs to refill the tank, you might experience a change in the paint delivery, which can result in unpleasant visual effects. 

That is why, if you aim for large painting projects, you should get a bigger tank. While if you only plan to tackle small projects, you can be more than fine even with a 3 to 6 gallons tank.

Types of Air Compressors for Painting 

Spray guns work at relatively low pressure but require a continuous flow of air. Therefore, you’ll notice that the type of tank makes a significant factor in classifying air compressors for painting. From this perspective, you’ll bump into: 

Hot Dog Air Compressors 

This is the most common type of air compressor for painting. Available in a wide range of sizes, from 3 gallons to 20 gallons, or even a lot more than that, you’ll find the hot dog design more often than anything else. It is preferred to pancake models because it typically has a larger capacity. At the same time, it takes up a bit more space due to its vertical footprint. 

Pancake Air Compressors 

Pancake shaped compressors are popular because of their style and compact design. You’ll find quite a few pancake air compressors for painting, too. Though, you’ll notice that these come sized at 6 gallons. If you need more than that, you’ll have to look for a hot dog model. 

Pontoon Air Compressors 

Pontoon air compressors are actually a system consisting of multiple units interconnected. It’s usually hot dog compressors in series that form a pontoon air compressor. So, the name derives from the resemblance with a pontoon boat. Nevertheless, these are better for very large and lengthy painting jobs, and are the least portable from all of your options. 

Conclusion 

If you love a fine layer of painting, you’ll just need to take out your spray gun and connect it to an air compressor that can handle its requirements. We’ve given you some specific directions regarding the models and the specs of the best air compressors for painting.

Now, all you need is to double check the specs of your spray gun and make a smart choice according to its requirements.

People Also Ask

Feel like you could use a bit more info specifically on the HVLP spraying? Here’s what other buyers wonder, and what you, too, might want to know:

Can You Paint A Car With A HVLP Sprayer?

Yes, you can paint a car with an HVLP sprayer, and you might actually get superior results by doing so. Because it has less overspray, an HVLP gun will help you get a better job, using less paint, and working less to scrub the spray excess in the end.

The benefit of transfer efficiency is doubled by the fact that you’re exposing yourself to fewer microscopic paint droplets, which translates into reduced strain on your health.

What Air Pressure For HVLP Spray Gun

The HVLP name indicates that an HVLP spray gun would require a high volume of air pushed out at a low pressure. Typically, it takes a 15 – 25 CFM air flow at about 10 PSI pressure.

How Does HVLP Work?

HVLP spray guns work like other spray guns, but it’s the combination of high air volume with low pressure that gives a different result. Basically, the paint is atomized into particles that are soft and with low-enough velocity to finely transfer to the object you’re painting.

What Size Air Hose For HVLP?

Most operators would have an air hose of anything from 25 ft to 50 ft. To pair a HVLP gun with it, for general spray uses, you’ll also need the hose to have a 3/8-inch diameter.

Do I Need an Oil Lubricated Air Compressor For Painting?

No, you don’t need an oil lubricated air compressor for painting. The best models for painting are actually oil-free. Not only do they require less maintenance but they also take out the oil from a process where you want your air to be as clean and dry as possible.

Cody

My name is Cody and I've been a writer for Tool Tango for quite some time now. I've always had a knack for building things with my hands and creative writing, so being able to combine the two has been great. I love being able to give back to the DIY-community, while also learning a thing or two along the way. When I'm not writing, I enjoy watching Netflix with my girlfriend, fishing, and working in the shop.