If you’ve ever tried to operate a nail gun to frame something, you know that you’ll need an air compressor. That’s something that you simply can’t do without. Proper framing always needs a high-quality air compressor with adequate power.
The air pushes the nails out of the gun so that the frame holds together. However, there are tons of models that you can choose from, so you’re spoiled for choice.
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Since you certainly wouldn’t want to go back to the store for another after the purchase, we’ve made the choice for you. My favorite is the Makita MAC5200 because of its power. Check it out at Amazon. Here are some of the best air compressors for framing out there.
1. Makita MAC5200 Big Bore 3.0 HP Air Compressor
Heavy framing requires a lot of power. In this situation, you need a compressor that can go all the way without stopping.
The Makita MAC5200 meets these expectations head-on and it is a great addition to your tool chest. It is a perfect combination of power and portability. In fact, it’s nearly unbeatable as an air compressor for framing.
The specs on this thing are amazing. Its compressor car has two settings. The first has an output rate of 6.5 cubic feet per minute and generates a peak pressure of 90 psi. The second has an output of 6.9 cubic feet per minute and generates a peak pressure of 40 psi.
The compressors are powered by a motor from a 13.8 amp source, and they generate 3.0 hp. While this isn’t the least power-hungry model out there when you’re going for power, you can’t really make excuses.
Finally, the wide-bore cylinder which houses the air in the compressor has a capacity of 5.2 gallons. That’s sufficient for you to use for professional-grade work.
A lot of precautions have been taken to make the Makita Mac5200 very portable and safe. Firstly, its size has been kept very compact for portability. Secondly, it’s equipped with a steel frame so that it provides stability to the compressor while it stands. The handle even has an anti-slip rubber grip and 8-inch tires. All of this makes it very easy to transport.
The only flipside to this is that it produces quite a lot of noise. At 90 dB, it can be a problem at silent workplaces.
2. Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
While it may not be as powerful as its big brother, the Makita MAC2400 is also very capable. Since it’s even smaller than the MAC5200, its portability is higher. However, the capacity and the power is more than enough for personal and professional projects at 2.5 hp.
The MAC2400 has a 4.2-gallon tank which makes for a very respectable volume to carry around. It won’t last you for days on end, but it’ll do for semi-professional grade work. The power it delivers can vary between 40 to 90 psi.
For increased power output, there is a large diameter piston included in the air compressor. The piston has a fast recovery tie and brings on more cubic feet per minute of air to work with.
Also, the MAC2400 doesn’t overheat or overuse fuel. Instead, it has a very cool running temperature and an oil-lubricated pump which makes for smooth operations. This reduces friction inside the compressor, incidentally reducing wear and tear inside. This results in a longer lifespan than most of the best air compressors for framing.
The only real problem with the Makita MAC2400 is the one that was mentioned in the earlier model. The noise generated by the air compressor is still too loud at 80 dB. It will definitely disturb quiet environments.
3. PORTER-CABLE 3-Tool Combo Kit
Porter-Cable is a brand which is known for catering to the consumer, more than the professional hardware user. However, this air compressor is great for both personal and professional projects. The Porter-Cable PCFP12234 is not just a compressor, but a tool kit as well.
It includes a 6-gallon tank, which makes it a professional-grade air compressor. It can allow 2 to 3 tools to draw air from it at once. It also includes a 16 gauge finish nailer, an 18 gauge brad nailer and am 18 gauge crown stapler.
As for specs, the output rate is 2.6 cubic feet per minute at 90 psi. That’s not best in class by any standard, but within the price range, it’s pretty satisfactory. The motor requires a voltage of 120 V to run and that makes it a great fit for commercial jobs. If you have a big project to do and you need to save money, this is one of the best options.
Despite the large capacity air tank of 6 gallons, the Porter-Cable PCFP12234 is extremely portable. It only weighs about 30 pounds and is oil-free. Hence, you won’t need to do any maintenance at all for a long time.
Again, really the only negative here is the noise that it makes. Granted, for a compressor of this size, a noise of 82 dB is quite low. But overall, the noise will disturb quiet environments.
4. Eagle EA-3000 Air Compressor
The Eagle EA-3000 is one of the quietest air compressors for nail guns and framing out there. It’s for people that need to work in their garage and don’t want to upset the kids. The exact noise level is around 40-45 dB. That’s not as quiet as a mouse, but it’s definitely quiet enough that people won’t notice from a room away.
The power consumption of the air compressor is also very impressive. It only requires about 6.5 A of current. This can cut down on your electric bill if you’re a regular framer. It’s also extremely powerful; much more so than any of the others on this list so far. It has peak air pressure at around 100 to 125 psi. This range is great for professionals or amateurs.
Things to Look for When Buying Air Compressors for Framing
This stands for pounds per square inch. This metric tells you how much pressure can be delivered from the air compressor. For reference, the normal air pressure on the surface of the earth is 14.7 psi. That should give you an idea of the power that you can expect from an air compressor.
Usually, an air compressor that delivers up to 90 psi is safe for professional or personal projects.
This stands for cubic feet per minute. It’s very important since it tells you if your air compressor is compatible with the nail gun. If the two numbers don’t sync up, malfunctions can occur and one of the two machines will be damaged.
This depends on the environment that you’re working on. If you work in a home or an office environment, then you should opt for a very quiet compressor. However, if you’re working in a professional setting, you should opt for what suits your nail gun the best.
Portability & Size
This, again, depends on where you’re working. If framing is a hobby of yours, then you should go with portability. This means that you should go with a light cylinder that can be easily carried around.
However, if you’re working every day in a professional space, then you should go with a large size that allows for high local mobility. What that means is, the compressor can be heavy, but have wheels and handles for easy portability.
If you use these guidelines and this list, then you should be able to pick out a great air compressor for framing.