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Sandblasting has been used to clean tough surfaces for hundreds of years. Whether it be wood, metal, glass, stone or plastic, you can use the abrasive quality of sand particles to effectively and efficiently remove dirt and residue.
Sandblasting can even alter the finish of tough surfaces if so desired, by removing scratches or casting marks.
A rusty garage door can be tackled in no time with the help of a home sandblaster.
However, buy the wrong air compressor to power your machine and you could end up with a new sandpit on your front lawn, but still have as rusty a garage door as ever!
The force that an air compressor creates is what gives the sandblaster its blast! There are plenty of great options out there but it is difficult to know which one to buy.
That’s why we have put together this list of the 10 best air compressors for sandblasting, as well as a buyer’s guide to help you know what elements to look out for when making your choice.
Table of Contents
The 10 Best Air Compressors for Sandblasting
- DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor
- PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor
- Makita Mac24 Big Bore
- CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor
- DEWALT Industrial Air Compressor
- Quincy QT-54 Splash Lubricated Reciprocating Air Compressor
- Dewalt Two-Stage 80-Gallon Compressor
- HPDAVV 219 CFM
- Northstar Portable Electric Air Compressor
- California Air Tools CAT 4620 Air Compressor
- Buyer’s Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
The 10 Best Air Compressors for Sandblasting
|Top||DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||Makita Mac24 Big Bore||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||CRAFTSMAN Air Compressor||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||DEWALT Industrial Air Compressor||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||Quincy QT-54 Splash Lubricated Reciprocating Air Compressor||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||Dewalt Two-Stage 80-Gallon Compressor||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||HPDAVV 219 CFM||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||Northstar Portable Electric Air Compressor||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||California Air Tools CAT 4620 Air Compressor||Prime||Buy Now|
First up is the pancake-style air compressor made by Dewalt, one of the most reliable power tool brands out there.
Despite its small size this air compressor has an output volume of 2.6 CFM when delivering 90 psi, which is ideal for small sandblasting tasks.
It allows for a smaller nozzle so you can optimize the pressure and volume, and has a maximum psi of 165, so for intensive sandblasting you can switch to the high-flow regulator option and enjoy a speedier performance.
What’s more, this machine has noise-reducing ability with a noise level of 75.5 dBA, making it a much quieter machine than most, so you won’t get complaints from the neighbors!
It is a low maintenance product with no need for oiling, and even comes with a console cover to prevent damage. All in all this is a great choice if you want to do gentle sandblasting tasks on smaller items.
- Good output volume for small jobs – 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
- Quiet machine – only 75.5 dBA
- High flow regulator switch – for more power if needed
- Low maintenance – no oiling necessary
- Not suitable for larger sandblasting jobs
Next up is another pancake-style compressor, this time by Porter-Cable. It is compact and convenient, so easy to store without taking up too much precious space in the garage, but it’s slightness does not mean that it has compromised on power.
It has a maximum of 150 psi, with 2.6 CFM at 90 psi, which is perfect for light sandblasting projects, and the 6-gallon tank is ideal for small jobs.
The low Amp 120V motor starts easily, no matter how cold the weather, and the whole thing weighs only 30 lbs so it is light and liftable.
The design makes it nice and stable so it won’t tip over during use, and also features rubber feet to add to the stability.
Really, if you have small sandblasting jobs then this is the air compressor for you.
- 150 psi – so great for longevity and recovery time
- Small convenient size – easy to store
- Only 30 lbs – easy to lift and move
- Stable pancake design – so won’t fall over during use
- Not suitable for heavy-duty sandblasting jobs
For quality and reliability there are few power tool brands better than Makita, although their products do often come with a handsome price tag.
This 2.4 HP air compressor is ideal for long projects and regular use.
The strong motor means that it is an effective and powerful compressor, which is able to tackle small to medium sized sandblasting tasks like stripping a surface of rust and grease.
Although it isn’t the quietest product on our list, the Makita Big Bore isn’t as loud as other engines of its strength due to its low RPM.
What’s more, an air compressor of this strength and durability will come in handy for many jobs around the house, not just sandblasting, so it really is worth spending that little bit extra.
- Powerful 2.5 HP motor – useful for many power tools
- 4.2 CFM at 90 psi – so can tackle simple sandblasting jobs
- Reduced noise – especially when kept oiled!
- Pricier than some
Next up we have the best selling pancake-style air compressor from Craftsman, which is a favorite with customers due to its lightweight, convenience and high psi.
Craftsman have reduced the time it takes for this air compressor to recover, meaning that you won’t have to wait in between blasts to get the job done.
Even if you have to stop to top up with air during longer jobs, this machine will allow you to get straight back to work once you’re done.
At 6 gallons of capacity you would usually be restricted to small jobs, but the high psi of 150 means that this product is actually capable of taking on tough surfaces too.
The whole compressor is made to a high quality – the motor and pump are durable and reliable, and you don’t even have to oil the pump, so it is very low maintenance.
Craftsman are a top brand for good reason and their air compressor is a top choice even if you live in a pretty chilly region, since it has quick start setting for winter time too.
- High psi – for fast and effective cleaning
- Doesn’t need oiling – so no mess or maintenance
- Quick start setting – great for winter months
- Compact size – for easy transportation
- Not suitable for hefty sandblasting jobs
Having covered some great options for small sandblasting tasks, we now move on to the Dewalt Industrial Air Compressor which is designed to take on much more heavy-duty jobs.
If you are looking to perform professional sandblasting at an automotive repair shop or the like, this could be the product for you.
With 17 CFM at 175 psi, it can take on medium sized sandblasting jobs with no problem at all.
It can take both size 3 and 4 nozzles, depending on what you need your sandblaster to do, and has a whopping 80 gallons of capacity – enough to complete most medium tasks in one go.
You can run multiple other tools off it at the same time and it won’t cut-out due to its inbuilt thermal overload protection system.
However, this compressor is not suitable for amateurs. It has some serious power, and it comes with a hefty price tag.
The compressor runs on 230 Voltage which will also really ramp up your energy bill if you use it at home – but, as an industrial machine it is great.
- Very powerful – 5 HP motor
- 80 gallons capacity – so great for long jobs
- 17 CFM at 175 psi – so can take on tough tasks
- Can power multiple tools at once
- Overload protection system – for safety
- Uses a lot of energy to run
The Quincy QT-54 is made in the US and is a favorite for heavy duty sandblasting.
It really is a long-lasting, durable and reliable machine, so you will find that you get more than enough use and longevity to make it worth the initial cost, and that it has relatively low running costs going forward.
The product has an RPM of 1310, so it manages to stay pretty cool and quiet whilst running. What’s more, the pump life of this air compressor is approximately 50,000 hours, one of the longest out there, so this really is a great investment.
Ideal for lengthy, heavy-duty use, this machine can pump a maximum psi of 145-175, which is impressive.
The Quincy QT-54 can do it all, be it stripping rust, paint or grease, and it gives you a wide range of settings so that you can apply the right pressure for the right usage.
At 475 lbs, it isn’t terribly portable and is designed for stationary use, but its inbuilt overload detection and capacity start motor make this a top choice for hefty sandblasting jobs.
- 1310 RPM – so stays quiet and cool
- Up to 175 psi – for very efficient sandblasting
- 50,000 hours of pumplife – so durable and long-lasting
- Powerful 5 HP motor
- Heavyweight – so not easily portable
With a huge 80 gallons of capacity, the Dewalt Two-Stage Cast Iron Compressor will last the length of most sandblasting jobs however hefty they may be!
This product makes the list as a great industrial option. It can deliver 17 CFM at 175 psi, so this is definitely a machine for professional use rather than the odd job at home.
It delivers so much air that it is capable of running multiple tools at the same time, and its internal thermal overload protection system makes it safe to use.
The 5 HP motor has reduced noise and a long life, and the cast iron design means it is durable and long-lasting. For tradesmen and industrial users, this product is an excellent choice.
- 80 gallon capacity!
- 175 psi – for excellent performance strength
- 5 HP motor
- Can run multiple tools simultaneously
- Heavy – so only for stationary use.
The HPDAVV air compressor is a beast! It delivers an air volume of 81-71 CFM with a maximum air pressure of 150 psi, making it the most powerful product on our list.
This really is one for those of you running an automotive repair shop or any business that requires heavy-duty and regular sandblasting.
The 20 HP unit is actually pretty easy to install and use, and has an inbuilt oil separator which offers a simple and quick replacing alternative to the often laborious maintenance of air compressors.
A powerful, safe and long lasting option for industrial sandblasting.
- 20 HP motor for excellent performance
- 71-81 CFM at 150 psi – for considerable power
- Easy to install and use
- Oil separator system – to reduce messy maintenance
- Not for everyday, domestic use
The Northstar portable air compressor has 20 gallons of capacity, which is more than enough for most sandblasting jobs but is small enough to keep this product portable.
It comes with a portability kit including smooth-rolling steel wheels and no-flat tires, so you can position the compressor right beside your workbench or sandblasting area with minimal effort.
It’s vertical design is space-saving, and the whole thing runs quietly and effectively for minimum fuss.
The 2 HP motor has plenty of power, and with 5 CFM at 90 psi, and a maximum psi of 135, this air compressor will provide enough pressurized air to complete most medium sandblasting jobs.
The belt does need oiling to keep the machine running quietly, but overall this is a great portable option for bigger jobs.
- 20 gallon capacity – enough to last most sandblasting
- Portability kit – so you can set up wherever you want
- 5 CFM at 90 psi – a good strength for medium sandblasting jobs
- Not suitable for very large industrial work
- Needs oiling to stay well maintained
Last up we have the California Air Tools Compressor, for those looking to perform small sandblasting tasks at home.
The main benefit of this machine is that it really is very quiet – with only 70 decibels of noise – so very neighborhood friendly!
The reduced noise is due to its low RPM, but this compressor still carries power. It has an air volume output of 5.3CFM at 90 psi, enough to complete small sandblasting tasks satisfactorily.
The 2 HP motor has a large dual piston pump, which is oil-free so requires very little maintenance, and has an average lifespan of 3000 hours so you’ll get your money’s worth.
Best of all, this product is easy to transport and connect to electricity outlets. Though it won’t be much use for extensive sandblasting, it is great for small tasks here and there.
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Very quiet – only 70 decibels
- Oil-free – so little maintenance
- Won’t cope with large sandblasting tasks
We hope that you found our selection of the 10 best air compressors for sandblasting helpful, but if you still want to shop around here is a buyer’s guide that will show you all the key components to look out for when making your pick.
CFM (for those of you who don’t already know) stands for Cubic Feet per Minute and refers to air volume and flow.
For small sandblasting jobs on delicate surfaces and small areas you can get away with around 2-4 CFM of volume from your air compressor. However, for more intensive jobs and tougher surfaces you are better off looking for 6-9 CFM.
And for most hefty sandblasting work, or anything on an industrial scale, you will need an air compressor with at least 10 CFM. Ideally you would want one that goes up to 20 CFM.
The larger the nozzle hole on your sandblaster, the greater the CFM your air compressor will require.
For this reason you should be sure to measure the diameter of your nozzle hole and select an air compressor with the appropriate CFM for its size.
Electric or Gas
As with any power tools, there are pros and cons to both gas and electric air compressors and the final decision really depends on what you are using it for.
Electric models are generally cheaper and easier to use, since you don’t need to worry about as many maintenance costs, fumes, or running out of gas.
However, for big sandblasting projects gas air compressors are arguably the better option.
Although they are pricier, they tend to have more power in the form of higher CFM, psi and horsepower, so you will be able to blast more quickly and effectively.
What’s more, gas models offer greater portability as you aren’t restricted by a power cord – however their tank capacity can be smaller as a result.
On that subject… Much like painting, sandblasting tends to be quite a time consuming task.
And as you are likely to be at it for some time, you need a tank capacity on your air compressor that can keep going until the job is done and not cut out while you are only halfway through!
There is nothing worse than having to halt a job time and again to refill the tank, so look for 6+ gallon tanks for small tasks, 20+ for medium tasks, and anything over 60 for hefty tasks. Industrial sandblasting may require 120 gallons or over.
There are always risks when using an air compressor and for that reason you should always read the safety information thoroughly before getting started. When using an air compressor for sandblasting you should try to do it in as wide and open a space as possible, and always wear safety goggles. Plus, try to clear up dust shavings and debris as you work or else they can really build up and cause issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
For most small to medium sandblasting tasks at home look for any air compressor with 2-6 CFM and 6-10 gallons of capacity.
For medium to large sandblasting projects you will need an air compressor with 6-10 CFM and 10-60 gallons of capacity.
For large scale and industrial sandblasting jobs you will need an air compressor with 10-20 CFM and 60+ gallons of capacity.
For a more detailed guide on calculating what size air compressor you need for sandblasting, check out our guide here.