How Many Gallon Air Compressor Do I need to Paint a Car?

Painting a car at home can be an affordable way to tackle a big job yourself. There are a number of factors that could make or break your paint job. Getting or making sure you have the correct size compressor is one of the first things you should do after you decide on the color. We often get calls asking about how many gallons the compressor tank should be to paint a car. This is often a misconception when looking into the painting process.

First you need to decide on a paint gun you’re using to paint your car. The air consumed is controlled by the paint gun you use. Paint guns like our Concours Paint Gun line can require as little as 5-7 CFM while a high-end professional gun can require 2-3 times that to spray paint correctly. If you already are set on a paint gun you can try and match your compressor to the gun or vice-versa. The gallons of the compressor isn’t usually an issue, but the compressor itself and the CFM it puts out is. Just like paint guns there are large high-end compressors that will put out the air needed, and there are smaller air capacity compressors that will have a high CFM rating and can keep up with air flow needed with no issues.

As a rule of thumb most air compressors with an air tank capacity of 30 gallons and up and usually handle painting a car if you match the paint gun CFM to the CFM rating of the compressor. Make sure the gun you’re using requires LESS than the maximum output of the compressor so you aren’t running it constantly when painting. In the end of the day the CFM rating is more important than the gallons of air the compressor tank has on reserve.

If you don’t have a need or space to get an air compressor for painting you can also look into self contained turbine style Paint Gun kits. These have a built in air-compressor that are a very high CFM but have almost no air reserve. Most can be stored under a workbench and can paint an entire car no problem. A quality turbine kit can get expensive and a high end turbine paint gun kit could cost you almost as much as an air compressor. In the end you need to decide which will suit your work space and project the best.

If you still have painting questions or need help choosing a air compressor feel free to give our tech team a call and they can walk you through your decision. You can reach our tech team at: 1-800-343-9353. See our full line of air compressors HERE.

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