Can You Paint A Car With A 30 Gallon Air Compressor?

Every car owner, or at least most car owners, knows that it’s vital to keep their vehicle well maintained. This ensures that your vehicle looks and feels nice.

At some point, you may have also thought about getting it painted, but without spending a ton of cash. It could mean a color change or a damage coverup. 

Check out what we uncovered when responding to the question “Can you paint a car with a 30-gallon air compressor?”.

As a general rule, most cars can be painted using a 30-gallon air compressor. In fact, the most important thing when choosing a compressor for painting is not the tank size but the CFM rating. 

You need to compare the CFM on he the air compressor to the paint gun that you plan to use. The CFM should be adequate enough to provide you with a high enough air output to do the job. 

How Many CFM Do You Need For Spray Painting?

Okay, so this is a question that gets asked a lot, “How many CFM do I need for spray painting my car?”. Not everybody knows that the air compressor needs to supply enough CFM to the spray gun to achieve maximum and consistent performance. 

Spray guns can require anywhere from 3 CFM and up. You can find spray guns that have a 3 CFM rating at 22 PSI for around $100.

This is plenty of power to spray paint your car. You can also purchase more expensive spray guns that are rated for 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI, but this will require a specific nozzle for a wider range if you’re doing a big project. 

Product namePSICFMVoltsStagesHP
Ingersoll Rand 30-gallon 175241202 13.1
DeWalt DXCMLA1983012 15522120V213.1
Campbell Hausfeld 30 Gallon Portable 13510.22301 2.0
1 Industrial Air ILA1883054 1556.3120-240V1 7.1
Husky 30 Gallon Air Compressor1755.112015.0

If you don’t already own an air compressor and you’ve landed here for some help, don’t worry, we have you covered.

Since you’re most likely looking for a 30-gallon compressor, or you already have one and you’re considering switching, we’ve compiled a couple of compressors that can accommodate a spray gun for car painting. 

1. Industrial Air ILA1883054 – Best Value

Industrial Air is well-known for its durable and long-lasting air compressors. The ILA1883054 is one of their belt-driven compressors that doesn’t break your bank.

Not only is it a reliable compressor, but it offers optimal performance for your pneumatic tools, such as your paint sprayer. 

This 30-gallon compressor brings 5.7 CFM at 90 PSI to your spray gun. The 1.9 HP motor features a cast iron, twin-cylinder shoe, and a one-piece cast iron crankcase.

It is oil-lubricated, so it will require a little bit of maintenance on your part, unlike an oil-less compressor. Additionally, the motor is wired for 120-volts but can be converted to a 240-volt application. 

The heavy-duty motor brings maximum performance and a maximum pressure of 155 PSI. The ASME vertical tank is equipped with pneumatic tires for portability and the unit is shipped with synthetic oil. 

You will also find an on/off switch, quick-set regulator, and working pressure gauges attached. 

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  • Dual voltage motor
  • Belt driven technology
  • High HP for this type of unit
  • Affordable
  • Reliable
  • Unique pumping system


  • Cast iron isn’t as heavy-duty as other comparable models

2. Campbell Hausfeld – Most Durable

Another well-known compressor brand is Campbell Hausfeld. To start, this is another compressor that offers a dual voltage motor. You can choose to run it on the standard 120V or convert it to 240V for professional use. 

It has enough power to put out 4.1 CFM at 90 PSI and 3.9 CFM at 175 PSI. It’s more than enough to tackle an array of odd jobs, such as car spray painting. You can use it for big or small household or professional projects with ease. 

The compressor features an oil-lubricated, two-stage pump. This helps keep the compressor working in tip-top shape for a longer period.

Additionally, it’s durable and many of the parts are made from cast iron for longevity. It comes with a fully enclosed metal belt guard for protection as well. 

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  • Quick recovery time
  • 5,000 hours of product life
  • Runs cooler than comparable models
  • 2 HP motor


  • Pricier than other models in the same group

3.DeWalt DXCMLA1983012 – Best Overall Performance

DeWalt is a name known to almost everybody who has ever touched a tool. They are known for their durable tools and equipment and bright yellow coloring. The DeWalt air compressor is a tough unit with optimal performance. 

You will find that this compressor has a maximum PSI rating of 155, 7.7 CFM at 40 PSI, and 6.0 CFM at 90 PSI. This is an industry-leading feature and the unit as a whole is one of the most durable out of the 30-gallon cast-iron units. 

It features a high flow regulator that provides 48% more airflow to your pneumatic tool for maximum performance. Additionally, the long-lasting 1.9 HP induction motor has the capability to being high pump performance for trouble-free operation.

Lastly, you will find that there are on-board controls that offer you quick access to the high flow regulator, tank & tool pressure gauges, quick connect outlet, and on/off switch for simple operation. 


  • Industry-leading maximum pressure and CFM
  • Durable
  • Quick to set up
  • Simple to use
  • Ideal CFM rating for pneumatic spray gun
  • Potable

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4.NorthStar Gas Powered Air Compressor – Most Powerful

NorthStar isn’t a well-known name, but they offer one of the most high-end air compressor options you can find. This compressor is gas-powered, which means you can operate it anywhere you go without electricity as long as you have gas for it. 

This compressor has a Honda OHV 389cc engine. It has a V-style cylinder design for maximum performance.

The horizontal air compressor has also has a heavy-duty, belt-driven complete cast iron pump. The pump runs at just 1,300 RPM and the heavy cast iron flywheel provides extra momentum. 

This compressor has a feature that many others do not. It uses an innovative low vibration technology that allows for smooth operation, even with such high power.

The compressor has a CFM rating of 24.4 @ 90 PSI, which is substantially more than most 30-gallon air compressors. It also has a maximum PSI rating of 175. 

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  • High CFM rating
  • Durable
  • Easy start lever
  • Powerful engine
  • Gas-powered


  • Pricey

Check out the complete list of air compressors for painting cars.

Painting Cars With An Air Compressor

To properly paint a car with a 30-gallon air compressor, you should first understand the three stages of the process. The first stage is the initial phase, the second is the preparation of an air compressor, and the third is painting & cleanup. 

Preparing Your Compressor For Car Painting

Before you do anything, you will need to prepare your air compressor, which is the easiest step of them all.

Simply turn on the compressor and let the air build-up. You will then need to ensure proper pressure regulation to match the specifications of the paint gun. Next, connect the sprayer to the hose through the couplings. 

If you need assistance fixing your hose through the couplings, here’s how you do it: 

  • Pour the thinner on the spraying cup
  • Unlock the metering valve lightly
  • Squeeze the trigger while the nozzle is turned towards a trash can for testing
  • You will hear air then the thinner will disperse
  • If you have succeeded in these steps, you can pour the remaining thinner into the cup

Step1: Initial Stage

The first stage is the initial stage. Within this stage, you will be choosing the paint and thinner, preparing the area, obtaining the proper PPE, and purchasing a primer.

You add the thinner to the paint to help it better move through the siphon tube and nozzle without an issue.

This part of the process ensures the environment that you’re painting will be clean and neat after the painting is done. So it’s important to cover the floor. 

You should also protect the painting surface from over-spraying by using masking tape and a magazine. You can also put up a barrier around the surrounding area that will keep the paint from transferring to objects around the vehicle. 

Additionally, you will need the proper personal protective equipment. The reason for this is because the paint is harmful to your health.

There are fumes in the paint that can essentially destroy your respiratory system and also cause skin diseases. The proper equipment needed are respirators, gloves, safety glasses, and a mask. You will need it when you paint, sand, and remove the rust from the vehicle. 

Lastly, apply the primer if it’s needed. 

Step 2: Painting

This is the most important stage. You will begin by first mixing enough paint for your car and placing it in a clean container.

Then add the correct amount of thinner to make the paint viscous. You can then add the mixer to the cup to ⅔ level and close it. Firmly grasp it before pressing the trigger as it can have a bit of a kickback. 

You can begin painting by pressing the trigger. You will want to hit the car with the paint at an almost parallel angle, not 90 degrees.

Try to keep yourself off the drips that come from the gun and overlap each pass to make the layers thick enough. Don’t stop painting while there’s paint in the cup. If you need a break, remove the cup. 

When you’re done painting, let it dry. If a recoat is needed, you may do so. A recoat is an ideal option as it will make the surface paint last longer. 

Step 3: Cleanup

This is the last stage and it ensures a super clean environment. You should return all paint to the original container and remove the tape you applied before the paint dries.

If it’s dry when you remove it, it could peel the paint with it and it will also be much more difficult to peel. If paint drops in the working area, clean it up as soon as you can. 


We hope that you found this article informative and helpful. As you can see, you absolutely can spray paint a car with a 30-gallon air compressor. Most air compressors of this size have enough CFM and PSI to provide to your paint sprayer. 

You may see that most people say you can’t paint your whole car unless you have an air compressor that provides you with over 20 CFM.

This is true to a certain extent. The higher CFM and larger spray gun will allow you to paint your car quicker, but you can still paint your whole vehicle with a smaller spray gun. The 30-gallon compressor and spray gun with a 3 CFM rating or higher will suffice just fine. 

      Residential & Commercial Air Compressors