Getting Started
       With Air Brushing Compressors



This page - getting started with air brushing compressors - responds to questions posted by air brush compressor users just like yourself.

When you have finished reading the page, if your air brush question is not answered here, you can follow the link at the bottom of this page to post your air brush question on that forum page.

Air brush question: Can I use a l2 volt, 250 psi air compressor with an air brush? If so, what should I purchase?

My response: Yep, you can. Will it work? Probably not!

There is a correlation between compressor size and compressor use. If you don't match the two, you won't be happy.

Your 12 volt compressor is, I suspect, the type used to pump up car tires and is powered by an accessory adapter from the vehicle? Yes, it can provide air up to 250 PSI, but at an excruciatingly slow flow rate. The flow will most likely be inadequate for an air brush.

So, once you get the size of the air compressor right based on the flow and pressure demand of the air brush, that will narrows the choice for the right type of air compressor for your air brushing needs.

Visit the site map page and take a moment to read about Sizing an air compressor for more details, if you wish.

Air brush question: How to drain the water in reservoir? My son received an airbrush compressor for christmas and was wondering how to drain the water in reservoir? He says there is no draining mechanism. What are other ways to drain the water? Are all compressors different in ways to drain the water or are they the same?

My response: I don't know the model or the make of the compressor so I can't tell you for sure about your son's airbrush compressor.

Compressors with tanks or reservoirs have to have a method of draining the tank, as water is always a by product of compressing air, and water will eventually fill an air tank if it is not drained regularly.

Most tank drains are located on the bottom of the lowest part of the tank, allowing gravity to do its work in letting the water flow to a central spot where it can be most efficiently drained from the tank of water when the drain is opened. I wonder if the compressor your son has even has a reservoir. Some models of air brush compressors are demand type, meaning they supply the air right from the pump to the brush, and there is no reservoir of pre-compressed air to draw from.

If there was no manual with the compressor, Google the manufacturer's name and pose the question to them as well as downloading or requested the manual. You'll need the manual again in time, I'm sure.

Air brush question:Airbrush diaphragm compressor regulator valve does not adjust properly? The regulator valve will only stay at 30 psi if i turn it down the air dies. then i have to turn it back up. it is for an air brush set up so i need low air flow, what would the problem be or can i even fix this problem?

My response: let me get this straight. You have the regulator set for 30 PSI, and when you are using your airbrush, the air pressure supply drops quickly?

A few questions of my own need to be answered for me to help with your air brush compressor problem.

  • Does your air compressor turn on?
  • What is the uppermost pressure that your compressor can produce?
  • What size is the compressor (HP) and what is the flow required of your airbrush, at the 30 PSI it requires?

While there is a connection between PSI and flow, normally a regulator is sized for the compressor and the flow expected. Dialing down the pressure on the regulator may momentarily affect the flow, but typical flow rates for that compressor should be achieved at whatever pressure setting the regulator is set for.

If at the low pressure setting necessary for the air brush, if the flow at that pressure is too high, then an in-line needle valve should be installed before the regulator, which will allow you to adjust the flow to the regulator, and reduce the flow at the correct pressure setting after the regulator and to your paint brush.

Air brush question: Can I use a non-airbrush compressor for air brush painting? Can I connect an air brush to a 150psi porter cable air compressor? (construction grade air compressor)

My response: There are a few issues you want need to deal with if using a larger compressor, but essentially the answer is yes.

You first need to determine the pressure and flow requirements of the air brush. Then you will regulate the pressure to the correct pressure level. If the flow rate from the larger compressor is too great, put a needle valve in the line before the gun but upstream from the regulator to throttle the flow to the correct levels for the paint gun.

If the compressor is oil lubed, you may want to look at the coalescent filter section on this site for information regarding removing oil from the air stream. This will be even more important if the compressor has been used for some time, as older reciprocating compressors often add more lubricating oil to the air stream than newer models.

You do want to look at the filter section on this website for sure. All compressors generate water, and you will want to remove water from the air stream to prevent fish eyes.

And then there is the noise. The non-airbrush compressor will likely be much louder than a typical air brush compressor, so you will have to deal with that issue as well.

Air brush question: Getting Started With Air Brushing? I want to get into air brushing models, 1:72 or 25mm scale. I use water colours, Tamiya, Citadel, Armoury, etc. I've been eyeballing the Badger 360 and the Renegade series air brushes but I'm unsure about the compressors. I'd like it quiet and oil-less and I'll only be using one or two airbrushes at a time. If I go with an oil lube compressor what will I need to keep the air clean going in and comming out of my tank?

So where do I start? Can we talk a little about airbrushing area set up, hoods and ventilation as well. What do you recomend?

My response:I don't air brush. I do use compressors, and have worked with compressed air for many years. Here are my thoughts on your questions.

You can use any air compressor that gives you the compressed air flow your air brush needs and the pressure level that air gun demands.

Some compressors are louder than others, and the differences in sound levels are immense. Usually, the quieter the air compressor, the more expensive it is.

All air compressors generate water, and that water, flowing out your air brush, will fish-eye your paint job, so you want to remove water from the air stream. Please read the page about compressed air filters on this site for more information on how to do that.

Oil lubricated compressors will ALWAYS put some lubricating oil into the air stream. Less if the compressor is newer and little used, more as the compressor wears in and seals start to let go. If you used an oil lubricated compressor then, I would strongly suggest that you consider a COALESCENT FILTER to remove oil from the air stream, as that oil will also "fish eye" your paint job. See the page on coalescent filters on this site for more information about them.

As to paint hoods and so on, that's well outside of the purview of this compressed air site. You would need to talk to the paint suppliers about how one protects oneself from negative issues with the paints they recommend.