The Perfect Size of Air Compressor for Different Nail Guns

Most people find DIY tools very confusing, and they usually have a bunch of bad experiences because of inappropriate tool selection. Later on, this bad experience discourages them from performing home repair jobs using different tools on their own. For instance, using a nail gun with an ideal-sized air compressor is one of them.

A nail gun is commonly used for home renovation jobs. It is necessary because it is the primary tool used in all construction operations. A nail gun needs pneumatic pressure, which is frequently obtained by an air compressor, to function.

Additionally, a primary nail gun may not be able to afford a standard-sized air compressor all the time, even though it is a game-changer for powering air equipment. But what is the perfect size of an air compressor? It actually depends on the nail gun criteria.

Though, it is advisable to use a portable air compressor with a 2 to 6-gallon tank capacity, 60 PSI, and a minimum 2 CFM efficiency.

Nail guns are among the most frequently used instruments with compressors, which come in different sizes. As a result, DIYers commonly worry about the size of their air compressors.

In this article, we will see the perfect sizes of air compressors for different nail guns.

What is an Air Compressor for a Nail Gun?

When selecting an air compressor, it’s essential to consider your chosen toolset. Not every compressor can provide an equal amount of airflow or pressure.

How Does an Air Compressor Work?

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Potential energy is generated when atmospheric air enters the inside of an air compressor and it can be preserved for use later.

The pressure increases whenever the compressed air is intentionally released, and an open balloon converts the potential energy into valuable kinetic energy. But the reality is that various pneumatic instruments can produce different power levels.

Industrial air compressors and diesel engines both use air to operate. The pump cylinder, crankshaft, and piston of an air compressor are required for its operation in various activities.

These fundamental parts of air compressors provide power to run instruments for drilling, nail guns, grinders, sanders, spray guns, etc.

In the case of a good air compressor for a nail gun, pounds per square inch (PSI), horsepower (HP), and cubic feet per minute (CFM) are the three most important criteria for determining if a compressor is suitable for a nail gun or not.

CFM, HP, and PSI

PSI (pressure), CFM (flow), and HP (power) are generally recognizable to anyone who has worked in the air compressor sector.

In reality, PSI, CFM, and HP are among the essential aspects to consider when choosing the ideal air compressor for any particular purpose. These factors are vital to deciding which size of air compressor would be best for your project.

  • CFM: CFM is a measure of flow regarding air compressors or other air tools. It acts as a meter to measure how much air the compressor can deliver to the air tool. Most nail guns require between 0.5 and 4 CFM to operate correctly.
  • PSI: To use a nail gun effectively, a PSI of pressure is required. All nail guns can operate at the proper pressure (PSI) due to the majority of air compressors on the market today. The majority of compressors are rated for a maximum PSI of between 60 and 120 PSI. Even the most challenging nail guns can work at roughly 115 PSI.
  • HP: Pressure and flow are more important factors in determining horsepower. Therefore, new and effective compressors can perform more tasks with less horsepower. Less horsepower can save energy and increase profits over the compressor’s lifetime. But the fact is that in the measuring of air compressor size, HP level does not matter a lot.

The Size of an Air Compressor Matters – When Using a Nail Gun

Different nail guns require different sizes of air compressors, and this depends on CFM and PSI rather than HP.

1. Pin Nailer

The operation of pin nailers will not need a lot of energy or a large compressor tank. They often work with less airflow than 1 CFM. A 2-gallon compressor with 0.5 to 1 CFM and 60-90 PSI output will ideally help the nail gun function.


2. Siding Nailer

Typically, siding nailers require 2.5 to 3.5 CFM and 90 PSI. Therefore, compared to other nailers, they often include a substantially bigger compressor. Moreover, for a siding nailer, a compressor with 5.5 CFM and 90 PSI will do just fine. These compressors typically have tanks that are 8 to 10 gallons in capacity.


3. Brad Nailer

For a brad nailer, 0.5 to 1 CFM and 60 to 90 PSI is perfect. It has a tank that is at least 2 gallons of a compressor. 


4. Finish Nailer

The finish nailer’s requirements are the same as the brad nailer. It needed 0.5 to 1 CFM, 60 to 90 PSI, and a 2-3-gallon compressor. 


5. Stapler

The majority of staplers do not have an extremely restrictive CFM requirement. These air tools only require 0.5 to 1 CFM, so a tiny compressor with a 2.0 CFM delivery capability will be enough. It’s more than enough to have 90 PSI.


6. Framing and Fencing Nailer

Framing nailers require a higher CFM rating than some of the other nailers. Usually, they need 2.5 CFM and 90 PSI. This suggests that a 4.0 CFM, 90 PSI compressor will function just as well. A 6 to 8-gallon tank will do fine for a framing nailer.

Image: Gid Joiner

7. Roofing Nailer

The average roofer needs an air compressor of 2.0 to 2.5 CFM. Therefore, a compressor that can provide 4.0 CFM at 90 PSI should be sufficient for your needs. For a roofing nailer, the compressor’s 6 to 8-gallon tank is ideal.


8. Palm Nailer

A palm nailer requires a palm 1 to 2 CFM compressor, 70 to 90 PSI, and a 3-6-gallon compressor.



Here is a chart of different air compressors with their size for different nail guns.

Nail Gun TypeCFMPSICompressor Type
Pin nailer0.5 to 1 CFM 60 to 902 gallon, Hotdog/Portable
Siding nailer 2.5 and 3.5 CFM80-1208-10 gallon, Pancake/Portable
Brad nailer 0.5 to 1 CFM60 to 902 gallon, Hotdog/Portable
Finish nailer0.5 to 1 CFM60 to 902-3 gallon, Pancake/Portable
Stapler 0.5 to 1 CFM 60 to 902 gallon, Pancake/Portable
Farming and fencing nailers 2.5 CFM906 to 8-gallon, Portable
Roofing nailer2.0-2.5 CFM906 to 8-gallon, Portable
Palm nailer1 to 2 CFM70 to 903-6 gallon, Pancake/Portable

So, here we have tried to mention the most popular types of nail guns with their air compressor capacity. Choose your preferred option according to your home job.

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