As anyone who has performed roofing work will know, there is nothing worse than being stuck on top of a building in the midday sun and finding that your tools won’t run.
Whether you are using framing or coil nailers, you need a strong and steady supply of pressurized air to power your tools so that you can get the job done effectively and efficiently.
There are lots of excellent air compressors on the market, however you need to consider the type of roofing work that you are doing, the environment in which you work, and the number of tools you use at one time, in order to pick the perfect air compressor for you.
We have put together this list of the 10 best air compressors for roofing, so that you can make an informed decision and find a solution to all your air compression needs.
Table of Contents
The 10 Best Air Compressors for Roofing
If there is electricity at your work site then this Bostitch Pancake Air Compressor is a great choice for you. It is electric and therefore needs to be connected to a power supply, but won’t run out of fuel as a gas model might.
The 6 gallon tank has enough air capacity to support a team of 2-3 roofers working simultaneously, and the 2.6 CFM means that this machine will recover quickly so you won’t waste any precious time.
This electric compressor is smaller and more lightweight than most gas alternatives, with the added advantage of being quiet, which is helpful if you are working on roofs in a sleepy neighborhood.
Plus, the oil-free pump is very low maintenance, so you won’t have to factor cleaning and refilling into your busy work schedule.
- 6 gallon tank – enough capacity to run multiple tools
- 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI – for quick recovery between tool runs
- Corded electric – so won’t run out of power
- Small, lightweight and quiet
- Needs a power supply to run
Next up we have a 4 gallon air compressor by Dewalt.
The 4 gallon tank will provide enough capacity to support 1-2 roofing nailers simultaneously, so if you work by yourself or with a partner then this could be a suitable choice for you.
What’s more, the 5.0 CFM at 90 PSI means this machine has an excellent recovery time after its initial charge has been exhausted. And with a maximum 225 PSI, this little machine can provide plenty of force.
It has a nifty design with a collapsible handle, wheels and a vertical standing position. These features make it easy to transport, stand and store, however it is on the heavy side at 80 lbs, so those wheels really are necessary.
It has an optional 78 decibel noise setting, great if you are working in a sensitive environment, and the 1 horsepower motor is efficient and powerful.
- 5 CFM at 90 PSI – so great recovery time
- 4 gallon tank – good capacity
- Wheels and collapsible handle – so portable
- Optional quiet setting
- 80lbs – heavy to lift
Now we come to an industry favorite, the Porter-Cable Pancake Air Compressor.
This 6 gallon machine will be able to keep at least 2-3 roofing nailers busy at once, and the maximum150 PSI allows more air in the tank for longer tool runs.
The pancake design means that this machine is compact and stable, and its rubber feet make it sturdier still. It contains a water drain valve, and the oil-free pump is low maintenance and long lasting.
The machine has a plastic console cover to protect the vital components, which comes in very handy on busy building sites where things can fall from a height.
What is more, it only weighs 30 lbs so is easily liftable and portable. The low amp 120-volt motor starts easily, no matter how cold the weather may get.
- Lightweight and compact – only 30 lbs
- 6 gallon capacity – enough to run multiple tools
- 150 PSI max – allows for long tool runs
- Low amp motor – starts in all weathers
- Oil-free – low maintenance
Next up we have a gas powered air compressor by Industrial Air Contractor. The advantage of the gas engine is that you will not be tethered to a power cord and can therefore take your machine anywhere.
If you are working on a site that does not yet have a power supply then this is a great choice for you.
Plus, this product has a 5 HP Honda engine, so you can be sure it will start easily, be very durable and will out-last its competitors.
The 4 gallon capacity is enough air for a small crew and is split over two 2 gallon tanks for convenient job-site portability.
With 5 CFM at 40 PSI this machine will recover very quickly between tool runs, and the max 150 PSI means you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck.
It weighs 70 lbs, which isn’t as hefty as many gas powered alternatives, and it is a great investment for roofing firms.
- 5 HP Honda engine – durable, reliable and long-lasting
- No electric cord – free from restrictions
- 150 PSI max – great for long tool runs
- 5 CFm at 40 PSI – quick recovery
- 2 x 2 gallon tanks – for extra portability
- Needs fuel refills
Now for another gas powered air compressor, this time from Ingersoll-Rand. It too has a reliable and effective Honda Engine with 5.5 HP.
What makes it different is that this machine has 8 gallons of air capacity, making it a great option if you have a team of 4 or more roofers.
It comes on handy back wheels for good work-site portability even across the roughest terrain, and has a very durable cast iron construction, which is essential in any industrial environment.
The Honda engine has easy starting features for all weathers and temperatures, and the pump-life is designed to last over 5000 hours, so you really will get your money’s worth.
The machine can run at 90 PSI continuously for excellent extended tool runs and no wasted recovery time. Overall, this is a really good bet for larger jobs in industrial settings.
- 8 gallon tank – enough capacity for 4 person team
- Honda Engine – reliable, durable and powerful
- No electricity supply necessary
- Wheels and handle – for portability
- 90 PSI continuously
- Needs refueling and maintenance
Now for the corded electric Big Bore air compressor by Makita. This machine is a real fan favorite and comes highly recommended.
It weighs 80 lbs, so is quite a hefty product, but the cast iron pump and solid design mean it is heavy-duty and can withstand tough work-site environments.
The pump is oil-lubricated for cooler running temperatures, which means you won’t have to halt work due to an overheated machine.
Plus, there is an oil sight glass so that you can monitor the oil level and make sure it doesn’t run out.
With 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI this machine recovers fast between tool runs, and the 4 gallon capacity is split over twin tanks for portability and flexibility.
The 2.5 HP motor is powerful, although a bit noisy, so you may want to factor this in depending on where you will be working.
- Heavy duty and durable
- Really quick recovery time
- Twin tanks for impressive capacity
- Powerful motor
- Noisy and heavy
- Must be near power supply
The Rolair Twin Stack Air Compressor is unique for its overload protection system and manual reset mechanism.
This machine has a 4.3 gallon tank capacity which is able to run multiple tools simultaneously, and the 2 HP motor is powerful and efficient.
This air compressor weighs 62lbs, so is pretty hefty and only designed for stationary use, but it is hardy and can withstand tough working environments, and the cast iron cylinders are long-lasting.
The pump on this machine requires splash lubrication which can cause more mess and maintenance than oil-free alternatives, however the advantage is that the pump has a longer lifespan and runs smoothly.
As it is electric you will need to be situated near an electrical outlet in order to run the machine, but there are no extra fuel costs as with a gas powered compressor and there is no risk of running out of fuel mid-job.
- 4.3 gallon capacity – for multiple tool runs simultaneously
- Strong, durable, long-lasting design
- 2 HP motor – powerful and efficient
- Long-life pump
- Electric – so no refueling necessary
- Need lubricating to run smoothly
This air compressor by Metabo is a best seller and comes with its own roofing nailer! You can be sure that this product has been designed specifically with roofing in mind and therefore the capacity, pressure and power are all ideal.
The compressor offers 200 PSI max which is a whooping 25% more than the average for a pancake compressor of its size.
With 4 CFM at 90 PSI it also delivers 30 % more air flow which allows it to be used on multiple nailers at the same time.
Its squat, pancake shape makes it easy to store and very steady. What’s more, at 41 lbs it is pretty lightweight, and the metal handle is very durable and can withstand even the hardest jobs.
This is a low maintenance product as the pump is oil-free and therefore you won’t need to clean it or keep refilling it.
- 25 % more pressure than average competitor
- 30% more airflow than average competitor
- Can run multiple tools simultaneously
- Roofing nailer included
- Portable, sturdy design
This Campbell Hausfeld air compressor is from their Quiet Air Compressor series and therefore is actually 50 % quieter than most other machines its size.At only 68 decibels it won’t cause too much disturbance to those living nearby.
It will also provide you with reliable power as it has a maximum PSI of 125 and can therefore support all your roofing and nailing needs.
Better still, this air compressor has an oil-free pump for convenience, meaning you won’t need to allocate time for cleaning and maintenance purposes.
It is pretty heavy, weighing 67lbs, but comes with in-built wheels and an easy-lift handle so you will be able to transport it to wherever you need with little hassle.
It has an impressive 8 gallon tank which means it has the air capacity to supply a whole crew of roofers at the same time, and it is a corded electric model, therefore you won’t incur any additional gas bills and messiness.
- Nice and quiet – only 68 decibels
- 8 gallon tank – lots of capacity
- Oil-free – so low maintenance
- Corded electric – no gas refill costs
- Wheels – for portability
Finally, we have a great offering from Craftsman, which has a 1.8 HP induction motor for plenty of power and a 10 gallon tank for lots of capacity.
It has 2 quick couplers so can support multiple roofing nailers at one time, and it has a handy upright standing position, so it won’t take up much room on site.
The 8 inch wheels and vertical handle make this machine portable despite its 64 lbs weight, so you can maneuver it to wherever is most convenient for you.
It is a fairly loud compressor compared to other products, but on an outdoor site this shouldn’t be a problem. It is a well-made, reliable and effective machine and a great choice for roofing.
- 10 gallon – great capacity
- 2 quick couplers – for multi-tool use
- Portable – due to wheels and handle
- 150 PSI for great pressure recovery time
- Pretty noisy
There are lots of things to consider when purchasing an air compressor for roofing purposes since roofing throws up many unique obstacles and requirements.
Here are a few of the key things you should look out for when making your pick, to ensure that you get the right air compressor for you.
Electric or Gas?
Whether you choose to go with a gas or electric air compressor really depends on where you will be working and what amenities will be available to you on site.
If you are working at a site with good electrical supplies and outlets then an electric air compressor will cost you less and be pretty lightweight and compact.
Electric corded machines will not run out of fuel, so you won’t have to go climbing down ladders in order to refill them, however there is a risk that the breakers can reset if you don’t follow the procedures properly.
Another advantage of electric models is that they tend to be quieter than gas powered alternatives.
Gas powered air compressors are generally more powerful than electric and often more bulky. If you are working on a new site which doesn’t have its own power supply yet, then gas is the way forward.
Plus, you will get greater flexibility with a gas machine as you will not be tethered by the electric cord while you work.
Oil-lubricated or Oil-free?
The advantages of an oil lubricated air compressor are that it runs smoothly, quietly, and keeps its running temperature low due to cooling.
However, if you are particularly busy at work and don’t want the hassle of having to clean and refill the pump oil then there are plenty of low maintenance oil-free options to choose from
Capacity Of Air Compressor
The size of the air compressor really depends on how many people you have in your roofing team.
If you want to be using 4 or more roofing nailers at once then you will want a machine with a capacity of around 8-10 gallons, and for 2 – 3 nailers you should look for around 6 gallons of capacity.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does CFM mean?
CFM refers to cubic feet per minute and indicates how much air a machine can output at speed. You want this number to be high for roofing purposes because it means your air compressor will recover fast between tool runs.
What does PSI mean?
PSI refers to pounds per square inch and indicates the maximum pressure that your air compressor can hold.
Again, you would like this rating to be as high as possible for roofing because it means that you will be able to use multiple tools at the same time and not lose pressure inside the tank.