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Eight Things To Consider While Buying An Air Compressor For DIY Use

car air compressor

Can you think of a more versatile tool to have in your home workshop other than an air compressor? From sandblasting metal surfaces to inflating the pool tubes for your kids, an air compressor makes things easier for you. Besides, if you need to power a pneumatic tool like a nail gun, an air compressor might be the right tool for the work.  Whether you want it for a DIY home renovation or building some furniture or just for a simple tune-up of your car, you need an air compressor.

However, finding the right air compressor for your home workshop won’t be a cakewalk. For one, there are some technical factors like air pressure and volumes to consider. And the configuration can vary depending on the task you have in mind. Before you get confused with all the technical terms and configurations, let’s read on to learn what needs to be considered while buying an air compressor.

Know Your Purpose

Now, we know you are going to buy an air compressor for small DIY projects. But what sort of project do you intend to do with that air compressor? Are you interested in carpentry, or building furniture? If you are, you need an air compressor that works at sandblasting. Or maybe you want the air compressor only for painting your house. If it’s for spray-painting, you need to find an air compressor that is compatible with the airbrush.

Besides, you might have to buy additional kits for adjusting your air compressor with the other tools in your workshop. Hence, you need to specify your objectives before buying one. If you don’t have any specific purpose in mind then look for an average size air compressor that will help with regular fixing up jobs around the house. You can browse woodworking toolkit to find the best air compressor for your home.

PSI or Air Pressure Requirements

PSI (Pound per square inch) is the term used for measuring air pressure in an air compressor. This tool has a chamber where the air is compressed at high pressure and this is what fuels other tools and gets your work done. However, the air compressor has a specific limit on air pressure. To run a pneumatic tool like a ratchet, jackhammer, or nail gun, you need an air compressor that has a higher PSI than the tool requires. Otherwise, you will be unable to operate that tool.

For example, if you have a nail gun that needs 70 PSI to work you need an air compressor with 70 PSI or higher to operate that nail gun. For regular DIY use, you can buy an air compressor with a PSI range between 90-150.

The CFM Requirements

Compression works with two variables- pressure and volume. The more you compress an element, its volume reduces, and the pressure increases. To specify the workability of an air compressor, you need another metric that measures the air volume inside the compressor chamber, and it is CFM (cubic foot per minute).  It measures how much air can be produced per minute at a specific pressure (PSI).

CFM is also connected with tank size. CFM indicates how much time an air compressor will require refilling after a blow. If you plan on sandblasting or spray paint your home with your air compressor you might need to opt for a high CFM and large tank size air compressor.  On the other hand, impact tools such as a nail gun or a ratchet don’t need continuous air pressure, a quick output of high pressure is enough to make them work. Using a low CFM air compressor will suffice for these tasks.


Horsepower is the measurer for the motor power of the air compressor. While most air compressors have the capability of 1- 2 HP, there is also higher horsepower for more heavy-duty work. However, for simple home renovation projects or other DIY use, you might not need to go beyond a .7-1 HP motor. For instance, tuning up your car or inflating tires might not require you to have a high-powered air compressor. It might not provide you with continuous power, but you can easily get regular nailing, drilling, or retching.

Tank Size

The air compressor tank is not for fuel. It indicates the air chamber where compressed air is stored. Hence, a large tank size means you will get a continuous air supply for your project; and it comes in handy when you are spray-painting or sandblasting. However,  a large tank size doesn’t necessarily mean greater power. A small tank-sized air compressor with higher PSI can exert more pressure than a large-sized low PSI one.

Fuel and Power Type

Air compressors can be of two variations- gas-powered and electric run. While gas-powered air compressors are suitable for heavy works, a simple electric run air compressor might suffice your DIY requirements.

Air compressors’ mechanisms are based on several pistons, and you need to lubricate those pistons to make them work. However, a small-scale modern air compressor comes with pre-lubricated pistons that save you the hassle of oiling them. Some old-school models might still need oil lubrication for the pistons.


Portability is worth considering while selecting an air compressor for a DIY project. Modern air compressors are designed to be more light and portable, you can even get them stored in the back of your truck for some off-site project. Besides, most air compressors have wheels and handles attached to them for swift maneuver. You should consider these features while buying one.


Some air compressors can be quite noisy; especially if you are working in your home, it can get annoying. Gas-powered ones can be quite the noisemaker, so For simple home improvement projects, you should opt for an electric run air compressor, they are much quieter than the gas run ones. Make sure the noise level of your air compressor stays around 70-85 dB.

The Bottom Line

An air compressor can be a unique and efficient addition to your home workshop. Before you run to the nearby hardware store to buy one, you need to evaluate your requirements. If you intend to undertake some specialized projects or tools, make sure the air compressor is compatible with the task. Select an air pressure and volume that complies with your everyday needs.