What size air compressor for framing nailer? (With CFM Chart)


One of the basic tools required for pneumatic tools is an air compressor. And there’s no exception with the framing nailer as well.

But when it comes to compressors, there is a variety of sizes and shapes. So, what size air compressor for framing nailer would be the right fit? And how to pick the best model within that size?

Worry not, we have crafted the whole post around this couple of questions. We’ll talk about every considerable factor and break them down into bite-size chunks.

Take a break from whatever you are going, and let’s go along-

Table of content:

  1. What Does A Framing Nailer Demands from A Compressor?
  2. Understanding The Requirement of Your Pneumatic Framing Nailer
  3. Portable or Stationary: Which Compressor for Framing Nailers?
  4. What Size Air Compressor for Framing Nailer?
  5. Tips to Get Most Out of Your Framing Nailer

What Does A Framing Nailer Demands from A Compressor?

Framing nailers are often deployed into heavy duty works like sub-flooring, deck building, fencing, and framing. So they are in need of quite a decent power from the air compressor.

Also, this requirement changes on different types of framing nailer itself. Have a look at the list-

  1. Pneumatic Framing Nailer: Requires a highly powerful and portable air compressor in action.
  2. Cordless Framing Nailers: Runs on charged batteries and fuel cartridges. Doesn’t require air compressors.
  3. Brushless Framing Nailer: Same as cordless framing nailers. Doesn’t require any air compressor in most of the cases.

As you can see, you need to have an air compressor only with a pneumatic framing nailer. Taking that into consideration, let’s proceed to the next section-

Understanding The Requirement of Your Pneumatic Framing Nailer

Before we head into the different sizes of air compressors and their impacts, let’s study some basics.

CFM and HP are two of the key indicators of any air compressors, and for the air tools (like framing nailer) as well. For the best quality output, it’s essential to make a perfect match between the CFM and HP requirement of both of these machines.

Have a look below, where we’ve explained how to calculate the right CFM for the nail gun and the respective HP of the air compressors-

Calculating The Nail Gun Pressure Requirements


Nail guns are tools driven by compressed air. So, there would be a minimum requirement of air pressure for them, also known as CFM (cubic feet per minute). Usually, nail guns are quite low cfm air tools.

Every air tool has a recommended CFM requirement set right by the manufacturer. In case you want to determine it over again, here is the formula-

  1. Figure out the highest CFM rating of your pneumatic nailing tool.
  2. Divide it by 1.5.
  3. And that’s the average CFM required for your nailing job.

To make it even more consumable, here is a generalized chart of different CFM requirement of different pneumatic nailing tools-

Type of Air Nail GunCompressor TypeCFM Required
Brad NailerPancake/Portable2.0 CFM, 2 Gallon
Finish NailerPancake/Portable2.0 CFM, 2 – 3 Gallon
Upholstery staplerPortable2.0 CFM, 1 Gallon
Sheathing nailerPortable4.0 CFM, 4 – 6 Gallon
Framing NailerPortable4.0 CFM, 4 – 6 Gallon
Roofing NailerPortable
4.0 CFM, 6 Gallon.
2-4 nailers at the same timeWheelbarrow6.0+ CFM, 6 gallon

Note: So, you can see that the ideal framing nailer cfm requirement is 4.0. We will keep an eye on this value, and keep exploring further for the perfect size of air compressors.

Calculating The HP Requirement for Your Framing Nail gun

The next important thing to look up is the HP requirement of the air compressors. For many people out there, it’s a common myth that the more horsepower the compressor is, the more powerful the motor is.

But there are some plot holes in this idea.

First thing first, horsepower’s can be misleading. The HP along is not the direct indicator of how fast the compressor will work. As an example, two cars with the same horsepower engine can vary a lot in terms of top speed and mileage.

Furthermore, manufacturers are likely to calculate the HP of the compressor in a different manner. Some of them rate their compressors with the peak horsepower, which is also known as the brake horsepower. And some other manufacturers rate them by the normal operating horsepower.

Note that, peak horsepower is the maximum output of the compressor motor, given that the motor has an engagement with start winding.

For tools like framing nailers, we would recommend you to stick to 5HP-10HP compressors, provided that they come with the essential CFM and PSIG requirement.

Portable or Stationary: Which Compressor for Framing Nailers?


Apart from the power factors, another important thing to consider is portability. In a broad sense, there are two kinds of compressors in the market- the portable ones and stationary ones.

What Are Stationary Compressors For?

Stationary air compressors are there for producing an ultra-high amount of compressed air. And the power requirement is so high that you can’t source it from gas or DC batteries. The usual output of these compressors is 30-1000 CFM.

What Are Portable Compressors For?

When you don’t require a highly powerful compressor, but you need the compressor to be around your work site, a portable compressor is the one you should go for.

Portable air compressors are light in weight and compact in size. And the amount of compressed air they can contain is around 4-15 gallons. In term of CFM and HP, they are also perfect for semi-heavy tasks like nailing.

So, What is the right option between these two?

For a framing nailer, we definitely recommend you to go for a portable type air compressor. In case you are running two or more nailers from the same compressor, there is a better option called wheelbarrow air compressors.

What Size air compressor do i need for a framing Nail Gun?

Moving forward from the portability to the tank size, we’re even with more given options. But as we’ve decided to stick to portable types of compressors only, the size options will be rather limited.

You see, portable air compressors come with a tank size range of 2 to 20 gallons. And all that matters is, the amount of compressed air it can hold into it.

If you are looking forward to working on a remote site for all day long, you might need a bigger tank size in the air compressor. In case you are working within your own garage, you might deal with a smaller tank size.

Related Post: What Size air compressor for nail gun?

Here is a list of tank size recommendations for different scenarios with the air compressor-

  1. 2-4 gallons of tank size: Perfect for indoor, semi-professional nailing works with your pneumatic framing nailer.
  2. 4-6 gallons: If you have a single nailer which is needed to take outdoor for work, you might consider this tank size range.
  3. 6-10 gallons: In case you have to run 2 or more nail guns at the same time, a tank size range of 6-10 gallons will be perfect.

Tips to Get Most Out of Your Framing Nailer


Once you have got the right size of air compressor for your nailer, that’s just the start of the journey. There are a number of their factors that you’ve to keep under to hood in order to nail with it like a pro.

Have a look at the essential safety and using tips of a framing nailer-

Set the compressor in right pressure

Both CFM and HP are the indicators of how powerful the compressor is for any job. But while dealing with an air tool like framing nailer, you don’t need to equip it with the highest power possible.

Figure out the right amount of CFM and pressure for your framing nailer, and make sure the compressor is set in such manner.

Select The Right Trigger

The trigger is the releasing mechanism of nails when it comes to framing nailers. Usually, there are two types of triggers- the single fire and the bump fire trigger.

In terms of speed, bump firing trigger is faster, but it lacks ample control and precision. On the other hand, single fire triggering is great to do a precise and controlled nailing job. But for obvious reasons, it lacks the essential speed.

Check The Safety Concerns

While dealing with an air compressor for framing nail gun, a number of safety gears and precautions should be taken care of. The tremendous amount of pressure and speed that a nail comes with can be really dangerous if led in the wrong direction.

Also, keep an eye whether your nailer has got a nail head jam or any malfunction in the mechanism.


To earn professional-grade precision takes a lot of skill-oriented and technical expertise. And selecting the right size of the air compressor is just the beginning of them.

If you are entirely new in dealing with these facts and calculation, we would advise you to do your study first. From the handful of choices of air compressor, it’s really a hectic task to select the right one.

A last piece of advice for you, my friend. In the race of high power and functionality, air compressor keeps raising their price as well.

But if you are completely hobbyist mechanic or machinist, you don’t have to spend a fortune after it. So, keep a sharp eye on the price-quality ratio to grab the winning compressor within your budget.

Hope this guide helped you to understand what size compressor for framing nailer is perfect for you. Good luck!

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