Every carpenter knows that clients judge furniture pieces by the coat of paint applied. How do expert craftsmen paint furniture without leaving brush strokes? They use a secret tool in their Arsenal – the compressor.
The beauty of using a compressor when spray painting furniture is that the paint particles atomize evenly giving your pieces a nice, even coat. As a do-it-yourself home handyman, I’ve used a lot of brushes to restore old furniture.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt is that with the right compressor; any sloppy painter turns into a skilled one overnight. I’ve painted with many compressors and I believe in sharing knowledge.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but it will surely help you choose the best air compressor for painting furniture.
1. PORTER-CABLE C2002 Compressor with Kit
Were it not for its huge 6 galloon reserve tank, this compressor from Porter wouldn’t have made it to my best compressors list. On first impression, you will notice that it comes in a pancake-styled tank perhaps improving its overall stability.
When spray painting furniture, we need a compressor that has short recovery times and this is where the Porter-Cable C2002 outranks other large-tank compressors.
On unboxing; you will notice that the manufacturer includes 13 accessories. In addition to being the best air compressor for painting furniture you can use it for general furniture tasks like powering heavy machinery too.
It’s ISO1217-passed 6 gallons tank ensures that it gives you more compressed air even when operating at its stipulated maximum of 90 psi.
The best thing about the Porter-Cable C2002 is that the its single coupler is installed by the manufacturer. Don’t we all love compressors that maximize productivity by working without leaks?
Features & Pros:
- 90 psi tank
- Comes with a complementary accessories kit
- Leak-proof coupler and plug
- Manifold fails occasionally
buy here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000N5UHK0/
2. Quincy QT-54 Air Compressor – Model# 2V41C60VC
Back in the days, my father used to swear that Quincy compressors are work-horses: I only came to understand what he meant after using the Quincy QT-54.
The pump is able to continually push at 1310 revolutions per minute pushing up to 175 psi of pressure thanks to its industry grade Baldor motor. It will never fail even when pumping for longer periods as its capacitor is thermally isolated form overload. I’ve seen this first-hand at a local workshop.
For sure; this isn’t the cheapest compressor you could buy; but it will surely give you value for your buck. Quincy compressors are easily distinguishable by their tower-style tanks,
Features & Pros:
- Space-saving vertical tank
- 5 Horse power motor
- It has a premium price tag
buy here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001D5MU86/
3. Industrial Air IL1682066 V-Twin Cylinder
Any handyman worth his salt has used this 20-gallon compressor. The V-Twin cylinder is its biggest selling point. Even though this is an industrial compressor, it’s quite effective at spray painting furniture; especially when applying glossy finishes.
It is the ideal compressor for use in small to medium sized furniture workshops as it’s a compact work machine.
The 6.2 Horsepower motor is dual voltage meaning that you could use it on a standard 120 Volt workshop socket without using a converter.
Just like all the other compressors from Industrial Air, the Industrial Air IL1682066 has pneumatic tires putting icing on the portability cake. It’s clear-glass oil level makes servicing this compressor a breeze.
Features & Pros:
- Minimal noise produced
- Dual voltage motor
- It has the largest tank (20 gallons)
- Has limited mobility (even with pneumatic tires)
4. Puma Industries PK-6060V Air Compressor
As a rule of thumb, belt-driven compressors often make the best air compressor for painting furniture. On first sight, you will notice that this blue tower-style compressor from Puma industries uses a splash lubrication system.
This is by far the most efficient cooling mechanism for air compressors. Even when exposed to harsh environmental conditions, the large cast iron pump won’t corrode thanks to its lubricated coating. When properly serviced, the motor will possibly outlive is usefulness.
In addition to spray painting, the 3-horsepower motor makes it suitable for woodworking and general furniture revamping. You will never find a compressor this versatile at the PK-6060V‘s price tag. Instead of pneumatic tires, they’re using steel wheels with ball bearings. This maybe a deal breaker.
Features & Pros:
- Innovative design
- Energy-saving motor
- Durable pressure tank
- Cannot be used in busy workshops
5. DEWALT D55146 Hand Carry Compressor
Wood magazine never features workshop tools unless they’re exceptionally good. It’s no surprise that they recommended the DEWALT D55146 considering that it gives you 200 PSI.
Even when using it with multiple spray guns, the paint still atomizes efficiently. When choosing the best air compressor for painting furniture I look for one that gives enough power to run multiple appliances simultaneously.
Even when operating at maximum pressure, it’s still efficient. Traditional air compressors running on oil pumps were unreliable as they would overheat when used for extensive periods.
DeWalt ditched oil pumps for an air one when designing the D55146. The collapsible handle further adds to its compact design ensuring that it can be used in small workshops where storage space is a concern
Features & Pros:
- Efficient motor
- Maintenance-free air pump
- Relatively quiet
- The coupler occasionally leaks
buy here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000HZJLV2/
The things I look at when choosing an air compressor for spray painting furniture
It’s true that branded compressors are generally pricier compared to their generic counterparts but they are more reliable. Branded compressors are heavily tested before release to the market as the manufacturer wouldn’t risk failing their huge customer base.
They are also easier to service as their spare parts are easy to find in local shops. Do you think that thousands of carpenters would vouch for inefficient compressors? Of course not.
We have to make a choice between portability and performance. Smaller compressors are highly portable but they are unsuitable for heavier spray painting works. The best thing about smaller compressors is that they do not generate as much heat; even when used indoors.
Larger oil-cooled compressors on the other hand, though durable, cannot be used in small rooms. You will never achieve a smooth finish unless the compressor is installed in a well-ventilated, level floor.
3. Clearance from the intake manifold
Though obvious, there should be a reasonable distance (2 feet or more) between the manifold and obstacles. I would often forget this when working on large furniture orders. Before purchasing a compressor, you must consider the amount of open space available and make relevant relocations of need be.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you use an air compressor to spray paint furniture outdoors?
Contrary to popular belief, you can use indoor compressors outside; as long as they’re in sheltered from direct sunlight. Bright sunlight and moisture may damage the compressor’s motor. As painters, we often find ourselves having to spray paint outdoors.
I devised a work-around to this by creating a “temporary shelter” for my compressor. This way, the cast iron tank can never be corroded by moisture.