Your nail gun is virtually useless without an air compressor that complements it. And as a framer, you have to deal with the fact.
That being said, a good framer always knows what air compressor he needs for his set of framing nailers. But the real trouble begins when you’re looking for a new compressor to finish up your framing works.
See, an air compressor is a competitive(and profitable) power tool industry itself. So, there are tons of models from dozens of brands in the market. Without prior help, finding the best air compressor for framing crew is really a hard nut to crack.
And you can’t take the risk, right?
Worry not buddy, we’ve been on the same page like yours and did a 13-days study in this regard. Over then, we’ve got 57 total compressors on our table, and hand-picked the best 7 models to discuss about.
And the article you’re in right now is the crafted copy of our hard-earned opinions.
So my friend, take a break from whatever you’re up to right now and consider going through the whole review. Eventually, you’ll end up with a shortlist of air compressors that exactly match to your framing requirements.
Let’s warm up with a quick glimpse at the comparison chart-
Top 7 Best Air Compressor for Framing Crew-Comparison Table for 2024
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Note: This was just a quick overview of the comparison of two major specs of our hand-picked products. If you need more guidance on other buying factors, we’ve added a comprehensive buying guide right at the bottom of the article. All those factors being acknowledged, you can choose the right suit within your budget.
When you’re out in a job site working with heavy framing works, you need an air compressor that goes along you all the way and faces every task assigned to it. In terms of both power and portability, Makita MAC5200 is one such model to go for.
Let’s have a look at the broken down features of our #1 ranked pick-
When mobility is your first priority, this versatile and powerful air compressor is almost unbeatable. The compressor car yields 6.5 CFM at 90 PSI pressure, and 6.9 CFM at a pressure point of 40 PSI. In between this range, every kind of framing jobs can be called upon.
The motor which powers up the compressor is of 3.0 HP, and that’s even from a 13.8 amp. We know that there are models consuming way less current, but when it’s about performance, you have to look over it.
Let us break things down into some practical examples-
Say, you are two individual framers and you’ve to run a couple of roofing nailers and 2 finishing nailers at the same time. As there are both 6.5 CFM and 6.9 CFM at two pressure points of 90 PSI and 40 PSI, you can run all these nailers without any lagging.
Moving forward, the cylinder of Makita MAC5200 is a state of art design. This wide bore cylinder has a capacity of 5.2 gallons of air, which is sufficient for professional grade usage.
To give it a touch of ultimate durability, Makita had been ultra-sincere in case of Makita MAC5200. The oil-based lubrication prevents wearing, friction, heat-trapping and tearing. All these perks point to only one benefit- enhanced lifespan.
The verdict is- once you’ve got Makita MAC5200 in hand, you can rely on it as a framing assistant for years to come.
To make Makita MAC5200 super transportable, there are some extra works done. First of all, the size had been kept way more compact than what it should be. Secondly, there is a rugged steel frame which will provide it with a stable standing. The handle has got an anti-slip rubber grip. And it makes this compressor even easier to carry along with you. Also, there are a couple of 8″ tires to make this transportation even easier.
- Cast iron built bore cylinder to hold up to 5.2 gallons.
- Operating pressures are from 140PSI.
- Delivery pressure is within 40 PSI to 90 PSI.
- A sturdy, roll cage construction.
- A couple of pressure gauges on the control panel.
- Four rubber feet to hold the compressor tight on the ground.
- A storage is there to store small hand tools.
- 8 inches wheels provided for easy carriablity.
- Produces 90 dB of sound, which is way too loud at silent workspaces.
In the race of portability and compactness in air compressor size, framers often have to negotiate with the capacity and power of air compressor. But not anymore, as long as you consider Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor as a potential option.
Eventually, this stands right on our #2nd top slot, and we will break the features down below-
At first glance, the cast iron made the pump and a couple of big bore cylinders will catch your attention up. This eventually provides a fast recovery time when you need a frequent supply of compressed air.
No more struggles with those tiny tanks, as long as you have the 4.2-gallon twin-stacked gallon of Makita MAC2400. The device operates itself at a power of 130 PSI. However, the power it can deliver can be within 40 PSI to 90 PSI, based on the demand. Either way, you can extract enough power to run a couple of nailers simultaneously.
CFM(Cubic Feet per Minute) is the key indicator of how good a compressor can be in work. To give the CFM a significant boost, Makita had implemented a larger diameter piston in it. Resultantly, the piston gets to have faster recovery tie, which eventually brings on more CFM to work with.
Heat and over-consumption of fuel are two of the most irritating problems with typical air compressors. Thanks to Makita, for working hard in these cases. The Makita MAC2400 comes with an oil-lubricated pump, which induces cooler running temperature. This lubrication, however, helps in achieving lesser wear as well. Result? Longer lifespan with equal consistency in work.
There are certain challenges when you work on an outdoor job site with an air compressor. But the construction and roller-cage design of this compression seem to check those threats right away.
Talking about durability and structure, this compressor is protected with a durable cast iron core. There will be less wearing and longer pump life as obvious consequences.
Although, Makita seems to work hard enough to deduce the noise production of this compressor. But the result is not visible yet. That brings us into one of the few complaints that users have with this model. The noise level is about 80 dB while working on full swing. And we think the producer has a lot of work to do yet.
Apart from the 80 dB, there are no other notable issues that we think will bother you at work. If rest assured, you can surely keep this compressor in your buying shortlist.
- Powered by a 4-pole, 2.5HP motor.
- A faster recovery time of the piston.
- An operating pressure from 40 PSI to 90 PSI.
- Copper discharge tube for more heat dissipation.
- Lower RPM(1730) and higher durability.
- Reduced wearing due to the cast iron-made cylinder.
- Durable roll-cage design.
- Easy to remove the parts, and easy to maintain.
- 79 dB seems too noisy for such a compact air compressor.
Related Post: best 60-gallon air compressor
Porter Cable is one of those few brands in the market, who had developed their own trust and authority among users. This PORTER-CABLE PCFP12234 is a fine example of that. Eventually, it happened to be the #3rd ranked air compressor for framing in our list.
Let us tell you the reasons-
The first and foremost factor to consider about an air compressor is its size and capacity. In that term, PORTER-CABLE PCFP12234’s 6 gallon tank is sufficient enough to power up to 3-5 tools at a time.
The power ratings are 2.6 CFM and 90 PSI, which is not best in the game, but pretty much satisfactory within this price range. The motor requires 120V power to run, which makes it a good fit for commercial purposes. At least, you would get rid of those sky-high electricity bills.
One of the most mention-worthy features of this compressor is it’s minimalistic 82 dB noise. Considering the compact components inside, it really took ourselves at utter surprise! A combination of such power output and lesser noise is a rare piece to find. Finger crossed!
Moving forward, this compressor is ultra-portable. The overall weight(with an empty tank) is around 30 pounds, which turns the portability into literally a kid’s game.
The next big question is, of course, it’s maintenance.
Well, the parts and accessories that you receive with this compressor, come oil-free. Means, you will have to do almost zero maintenance. For further relief, you should not be equipping any oil-lubricated tools with PORTER-CABLE PCFP12234.
In this combo kit, you will get a PORTER-CABLE PCFP12234 compressor, a FNC250C finish nailer of 16 gauge, a BN200C brad nailer of 18 gauge, and an NS150C crown stapler of 18 gauge.
The FN250C 16 Gauge Finish Nailer is powered by an oil-free motor which promises a long service life. There is also a strong rear exhaust to blow the dirt away. Provided with the right amount of punch, it’s compatible with any finish nail of 1″ to 2-½” in size.
Next on, the BN200C 18 Gauge Brad Nailer can handle any fasteners between a size range of ⅝ inches to 2 inches. The design is maintenance-free, and you’ll have a rear exhaust in this nailer as well.
The last equipment of the list is the TSO56 18 Gauge Crown Stapler. With a significantly small footprint, this stapler can staple on all kinds of woods. Driven by an oil-free air cylinder, it’s a must-have tool for any tool arsenal.
Apart from these key-items, there are also a 25 ft. air hose, along with a belt hook accessory, a coupler, a plug and a set of fasteners. For any kind of framing work, this is a combination of the dream for any framer out there.
- 6 gallons tank, providing 150 psi at max.
- Innovative, noise-canceling design.
- Weighs only 30lbs, pretty easy to carry along.
- Provides 10amp current and runs on 120V.
- Comes as a 4-in-1 framing tool kit combo.
- A 16 gauge finish nailer.
- An 18 gauge brad nailer.
- A heavy duty crown stapler.
- A handful of accessories.
- The regulator drops to a certain level before in taking air in the hose.
While seeking for an air compressor, some of the framers keep the functionalities on the top priority. But there are people who’ve to work right in their home garage, and therefore, noise becomes one of their major concerns.
If you’re a like-minded framer, Eagle EA-3000 can be the right pick for you. It’s one of the quietest possible air compressors in the market, and it’s so quiet that the person next room may not hear it working. The exact noise level is around 40-45 dB.
Apart from the noise, electricity consumption also happens to be pretty low. For full-on operation, the compressor takes only 6.5 amps of current. And that can be a real cut to your monthly electricity bill.
Moving forward to its functionality, we get a motor of 1HP power, along with a range of air pressure within 100 PSI and 125 PSI. For semi-professional framing, this range seems to be perfect.
There is an interesting fact about the motor of this compressor, and it’s the slow RPM that it possesses. Because of this feature, there is low wearing taking place, leading to longer service time.
To make it even easier to use, there is an adjustable pressure controller regulator in the integrated control panel. On top of that, there is a push lock feature, which works as a coupler.
The pressure gauge is a very delicate part of a compressor, on which the usability of the device depends. To provide better protection to the pressure gauge, this compressor comes with steel-surfaced protection around it. The gauge faces at an angle of 65 degrees to the user. This is another fine example of how smartly they’ve maneuvered the compressor.
The compression head is likely to ask for the least amount of maintenance. All you have to do is the operate it at correct pressure with correct accessories.
How much hardship you’ve to face to move this compressor around? Well, it seems to be pretty much mobile. But the weight of this compressor is a little more than some other EA series from the same brand.
The overall weight is 39.7 pounds, which may be a source of complaint about many of the users. That being said, there are four rubber-coated stands on which you can place it safely and securely.
- Oil-free pump with a double piston.
- A fuel capacity of 1 gallon.
- Extremely low with a max noise level of 46 dB.
- Slow RPM motor for less wearing.
- Less heat and friction for better energy-efficiency.
- Extra steel protection for the pressure gauge.
- Draws only 6.5 amp of electricity to run on full pace.
- 1HP 100-125 PSI motor for semi-professional framing.
- Weighs around 40 pounds, which is too heavy to hand-carry.
A perfect blend of power, aesthetics, efficiency, and durability- that’s what we can recognize California Air Tools CAT-4610AC Ultra Quiet Air Compressor with. It had earned its place as one of the best air compressors for framing crew, and here are the reasons-
Let us summarize what you will get inside it at first place-
It’s an ultra-quiet(as the name suggests) air compressor with a 1.0 HP motor, which can go higher at 2.0 HP at peak usage. The airflow is rated as 3.10 CFM at a given PSI of 40 psi. In case you increase the psi level to 90, it would decrease its cfm count into 2.20. Both of these cases are purposeful, based on which situation you’re dealing it with.
The California Air Tools CAT-4610AC is designed to be one of the quietest air compressors for framing and other similar chores. At least, they have given it their best shot. So far, the progress had been up to 60 dB, which is quite okay to work on the household environment. That being said, there are even quieter air compressors in the market.
Another air compressor design 101 is to make sure that the wearing is at a minimal level. This compressor has a motor that operates at 1680 RPM only. Less RPM means less wearing, and less wearing means more lifetime- the math is as simple as that.
Now, let us disclose one of the most impressive facts about this model- its durability. This model from California Air Tools had been one of the most durable models so far. With unbelievably 3000+ hours of lifespan, this can be your framing companion for the next 5 years for sure.
Apart from these notable features, it checks all other boxes that a good quality air compressor should. There is an increased duty cycle, resulting in a longer run time. There is also an oil-free piston design, a variety of work-temperature and so on. To make sure that you can transport the compressor easily, there is a boxed structure, which is easy to carry around.
Last but not least, it’s about the air capacity of the compressor. Although we didn’t expect it to have a 4.6 gallon, but it somehow manages to have one. On top of that, the air container is made of rust-free aluminum. So, it won’t get caught with rust even after years of regular use.
- 120 PSI max pressure at 110V/60hz powerage.
- The large dual piston that rotates at 1760 RPM.
- Comes with a jaw-dropping 3000+ hours of lifespan.
- Easy to start with the start valve.
- Ultra quiet, produces only 60 dB.
- Rust-free aluminium made 4.6 gallon oil tank.
- Comes as a steel twin tank version as well
- Not any precautionary step to protect from work site odds.
Framings air compressors don’t need to be double cylinder and bulky all the time. We mean, there is pretty powerful pancake air compressor that can get your job done as well. Take this PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK as a fine example.
The pancake style construction gives you optimal stability at the workplace. It has got a water drain valve, rubber protections and a good power of 150psi. Now, when you’re getting an output of 150 psi compressed air from such a compact compressor, that’s what it’s selling point is.
The recovery time of PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK is pretty much quick, as there is a 2.6 SCFM driven performance. Although you might catch up a small air tank capacity when it comes to a pancake compressor, but this one is a shiny exception. It has 6 gallons of capacity to hold compressed air.
The induction motor inside this compressor has an impressive quality of extended life and improved performance. No matter you’re inflating a tire up or firing a finish nailer, this will assist you all the way down.
The maintenance is pretty much worked out with this compressor. The pump comes to be completely oil-free, and that lessens up all of your maintenance efforts.
One of the most unique parts of this compressor is, it’s protection against the fizzy winter condition. Where many other compressor models are accused of malfunctioning or dysfunctioning at cold weather, this one is a pretty fine example. Even with the extension cord, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.
To protect the vital components of this compressor, there is a shroud of premium quality. Talking about components, you will get 13 different accessories along with this beautiful model. The list includes a nylon hose, a blow gun and it’s attachments, a tire gauge, a tire chuck, plugs, and a quick coupler. An all-in-one solution, right?
Pressure drop is a common issue in framing air compressors. But that seems to be the best in this case. The High-Flo air technology gives a bonus 30 psi air, and that comes in help to prevent pressure drop at all.
To let you keep the position of the compressor stable, and work around a good range, you will get a 25 feet hose made of nylon. The hose is so good that the pressure of air doesn’t even reduce by 5% at the end.
One warning is there with the PORTER-CABLE C2002-WK, and we feel like informing you about it. There is a brushed motor inside the compressor, and upon regular use, it requires frequent replacements.
- Pancake style, compact construction.
- 6 gallons air tank capacity.
- 150 psi air pressure output at max.
- Protective rubber legs for outdoor protection.
- Quick recovering time for constant usage.
- Extended motor life with more runtime.
- Comes with 13 pieces of accessories.
- 25 feet nylon chord.
- The motor brush needs frequent replacements.
This is the last pick of the list of 7, and at this point, we would like to go low in budget. We mean, it’s not every time you have heavyweight workloads and you need a compressor with high power. Sometimes, a 1.5HP compressor within budget is the catch. And Grip-Rite GR152CM 1.5HP Compressor is something exactly like that.
At first glance, we can’t help admiring it’s sturdy and yet compact construction. Upon further calculation, we found that the center of the gravity is kept low and close to the ground. So, it has a very tiny amount of unstability while kept on an uneven surface.
This is a perfect compressor for lightweight finishing, nailing or similar framing jobs. The motor can deliver 1.5 HP of power, and it draws only 8 amps for that. Therefore, it can won’t cut a great share of your electricity bill, and still serve you at it’s fullest.
At peak point, the motor can be turned into 2HP, and 3.4 CFM at 40 psi. However, if you bring the pressure up to 90 psi, the output becomes as low as 2.6CFM.
The size of the air tank is 2 gallon, and it’s just fine for a light-weight compact compressor like this. The pump up time is 50 seconds, and that’s pretty fast indeed. It takes 10-12 seconds to recover so that you don’t have to waste a long time between operations.
The sound that it produces is around 75 dB at max. But we expected it to be higher. But it brings the smile back on your face with its durability. So far it’s tested, the expected lifespan is around 4,000 hours.
The pump is made to be oil-less, so the maintenance frequency is also very low. Also, it has got a safe and secure roll cage. When there is a sudden fall down of anything on this compressor, it won’t affect the delicate parts of the machine.
Overall, we found Grip-Rite GR152CM 1.5HP Compressor as a very perfect fit for low-end framing works. It’s budget friendly, serves great for light-weight purposes and compact in size.
- 1.5 HP motor power with a 2-gallon air tank.
- Rugged construction with 4000+ hours of lifespan.
- Oil-free pump requires less mainenance.
- Low center of gravity provides stable standing.
- 2HP motor power at peak points.
- Only 37 pounds of total weight.
- 10 seconds of recovery time.
- 40-90 psi along with 3.4-2.6 CFM.
- Doesn’t come with any accessories.
How to Pick The Best Air Compressor for Framing Crew?
As you’ve gone through all of the reviews above, it’s time to wrap things up and come to a shortlist. That being said, it completely depends on one’s own choice that which specs of compressors he wants.
There are a number of parameters that vary from purpose to purpose. And if you have a plan to make a smart purchase, you’ve to keep an eye on each of these facts.
At this section, we’ll be going to take you through those factors to consider while buying an air compressor for nailing and framing-
Table of content:
- The PSI
- The CFM
- The Compressor Design
- The Tank Size
- The Noise
- The Portability
- The Internal Temperature
- The Cylinder Material
- The Protection for Outdoor Mishaps
- The Electricity Consumption
- The Power Supply
As you know, PSi stands for Pounds per Square Inch. It’s basically the measurement of the pressure that an air compressor can deliver you while framing or nailing.
At different CFM(explained in the next section), the PSI differs a lot. As long as you’re sticking to regular nailing works, you don’t need to worry about that so much. But don’t end up with a model that delivers too high PSI to implement for your purpose. Because the higher the PSI count is, the higher it costs.
CFM is another key role player in defining how good an air compressor can perform. It stands for Cubic Feet per Minute, and it’s a calculation of air pressure delivered by the compressor.
Now, the CFM of your air compressor and the CFM requirement of your nail gun should meet at one point. And there is no exception of that. Is this two doesn’t sync up with one another, malfunction or dysfunction will definitely take place.
The Compressor Design
As you know, there are majorly four kinds of compressors available in the market- the Hot dog style, the wheelbarrow style, the twin stack style and the Pancake style.
Being different in structure from each other, these four types of compressors also differ in terms of power and output as well.
- Hot Dog Style Compressors: The hot dog style compressor come with a horizontal design with a single cylindrical tank.
- Wheelbarrow Compressors: Wheelbarrow compressor has two cylindrical tanks but in a round size. This particular type of compressor is the easiest one to move around.
- Twin Stack Compressors: Twin stack compressors a couple of horizontal tanks, and the air capacity is more in it because of these two.
- Pancake Compressors: Pancake compressors have a round, flat air storage and it takes up less space to occupy itself.
The Tank Size
As you know, the size of air compressor tanks is measured in gallons. As nail guns are quite intermittent tools, they don’t need a large tank that gives highly pressurized air.
But bigger is better, and that applies in case of air compressor gallons as well. If you get a compressor within a tank size within 2 to 6 gallons, that would do just fine with any nailers.
In case you are going to use nail guns for a heavy workload, we would suggest going for even bigger air compressors. This will give you the scope to do your job relentlessly.
As air compressors are motor-driven mechanisms, they are bound to create noises. Now the important question is- is the noise level tolerable for you?
Different persons will come up with different answers for this specific question. When you’re working on a busy job site, 90 dB of noise may not be a threatening issue. But when you’re working right on your home garage, even a 70 dB noise can be real torture for the people nearby.
Therefore, understand the noise limit of the workplace you use an air compressor onto, and check for a good match of the noise level in your favorite air compressor.
Yet another important factor, as long as nailing or framing works on particular job sites are concerned.
See, you don’t want your compressor to be stuck onto the ground, right? So, you’ve taken it from places to places. That’s where the mobility or portability of an air compressor comes in play.
We’re not only talking about the weight here. Even in case of a heavy compressor, there are mechanisms that make it easy to transport. These mechanisms include handles, carrying trolleys, wheels and so on.
So, if you think that your air compressor is too heavy to carry with hands, make sure that it comes with such features.
On an additional note- carrying assistants like wheels are likely to wear and jam. In those cases, it creates even bigger trouble. So, make sure that the wheels are large enough.
The Internal Temperature
A whole lot of messy processes go on inside an actively working air compressor. So, it’s very likely that there will create a whole lot of heat.
That being said, many models come with an oil-lubricated pump, which reduces the amount the friction and the heat as well. Some models go even an extra mile and provide a built-in heat dissipation.
If your compressor is going to intake a heavy workload, make sure it’s likely to produce less heat. Otherwise, it will badly affect the performance of the compressor.
The Cylinder Material
Many users often look over this buying factor, but it’s important.
See, cylinders are the part where compresses air is going to be stored. So, it’s a common fact that the cylinder will be exposed to oxygen. To prevent the development of rust out of this oxygen the cylinder metal should be either aluminum or stainless steel.
On top of that, make sure to have a thick coat of color on the cylinder. This will provide even further protection from the rust of wear.
The Protection for Outdoor Mishaps
Most of the framers are going to take the air compressor with them on outdoor job sites. And that brings on the chance of accidentally falling off any heavy objects onto the compressors. As there are delicate mechanical and electrical parts in there, it can damage the whole thing.
To give you a relief out of this problem, you can look for a compressor that has a sturdy frame around the main compressor. Such compressors are likely to protect themselves from these accidental incidents we’re talking about.
The Electricity Consumption
The last buying considerations of the list are the electricity consumption. As you have to provide a constant supply of AC power to these compressors, it will eat up a lot of it.
The best way to check out how much power it will consume while working is to check out the amperage of the compressors. The less the amperage is, the less power will be consumed.
The Power Supply
The previous point of discussion was electricity consumption, which is, however, directly connected to the properties of the power supply unit. So, it’s no less important factor to consider.
Usually, you can see two major types of power supplies in air compressors- electrically powered and gas(gasoline) powered.
There are many significant points where electric ones are more convenient than gasoline-powered compressors. As an example- they require less maintenance, they are quieter, they are less costly to run and maintain, etc.
But the old school gas powered compressors have also a couple of benefits over electric ones. The first one of them is mobility. If the worksite is a remote area with no electricity around, this can be the only option.
Another benefit is, gas-powered compressors can provide more power to work with. But as long as we’re up to mediocre jobs like framing, you don’t need to occupy that much power.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
Do Framing Air Compressors need Pressure Gauges?
Pressure gauges are essential for not only framing but also for air compressors of every purpose. This will let you adjust the right pressure for the right purpose.
How can I understand the correct PSI requirement of my Nailing Gun?
As you know the psi requirement of the nailing gun and the air compressor itself should match. You can check out the manual of the nailing gun or look up at the internet with the model number of psi ratings.
Is more CFM is going to cost more Power?
There is a passive relation between CFM rating of a compressor and the power it might take. But yes, more CFM will cause more power consumption.
How can I make sure that an air compressor would stand stable on the ground?
To make sure that the compressors stand stable, there are often rubber pads provided onto the legs of the compressors. In case of bigger compressors, there are frames which will hold up the whole body of it.
Do my air compressor need wheels?
Air compressors don’t come with a built-in wheel, the frame of the compressor does. And wheels give you a strong hand to carry the compressor from one place to another.
Can I run a framing air compressor on battery power?
Framing air compressors are not in compatibility with DC battery power by default. But you can use an inverter to convert DC power into AC power.
You still reading, right? Thanks for getting to the dead bottom of the most effective compressor for framing crew list. We hope that you’ve been informed enough to make the right choice for your next framing chores. Best of luck!