You should know what air compressor to use when doing sandblasting work or using a sandblaster. A beginner will naturally have no idea what to look for. It can get quite confusing for him to choose in light of the tremendous library of information available on the subject. Abrasive blasting is the act of using the airflow of a compressor along with sand to power a sandblasting gun for air compressor use.
It makes the air as abrasive as sandpaper in order to smoothen out the surface you want by sandblasting it, whether it’s wood, tiles, or steel that’s in need of paint-stripping. For this reason, sandblasting is particularly popular in the textile industry.
PRODUCT SPECS COMPARISON
Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor
4 / 5
17 x 17 x 19.2 inches
2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI
Cub Cadet LT46
4 / 5
35 x 32 x 79 inches
18 SCFM at 90 PSI
Cub Cadet LT46
4 / 5
20 x 18 x 18.8 inches
4.2 SCFM at 90 PSI
Top 3 Best Air Compressor For Sandblasting in the Market Today
Here are the top 3 recommended air compressor for sandblasting available on Amazon:
1. Bostitch BTFP02012 6 Gallon 150 PSI Oil-Free Compressor (best air compressor for sandblasting cabinet)
- Capable of delivering 2.6 standard cubic feet per minute at a 90 PSI pump
- Maintenance-free for the most part
This compressor has a 6-gallon tank and a 150 maximum pressure per square inch. It’s also capable of delivering 2.6 standard cubic feet per minute at a 90 PSI pump. It further gets high points among those who’ve purchased it because its high-efficiency motor is capable of starting even when faced with dire weather. Furthermore, its relative portability at 29 pounds (the lightest compressor on this list) makes it the best air compressor for sandblasting cabinet and table furniture. It’s easier to move it around than, say, the 400+ pound DeWalt DXCMV5048055.
It’s a standalone type of oil-free, 1-1.5 HP compressor, which means that you’re only buying the compressor itself when getting this instead of a more robust air compressor sandblasting kit. The sandblaster is sold separately. The tool does come with a maintenance-free pump, high-flow regulator and couplers, and a long-life oil-free tank that hand-in-hand maximizes its performance. Its size also further aids its quietness, such that its operational noise level is at a tolerable 78.5 dBA. It’s an excellent and worthwhile pancake compressor despite its faults.
- A good balance of high max pressure and SCFM for a relatively small compressor
- Includes couplers, regulators, pump, and nozzle although it lacks the sandblaster
- The lightest compressor on this list, which aids in portability and on-site textile work
- Weaker than DeWalt and Makita in terms of SCFM performance
2. DeWalt DXCMV5048055 Two-Stage Cast Iron Industrial Air Compressor, 80-Gallon
- The best in terms of performance
- Capable of running a ½-inch big-gun impact line
This is a DeWalt so of course you can only expect the best in terms of its performance. This monster of a two-stage cast iron industrial-grade compressor weighs 470 pounds and runs about 18 SCFM at 90 PSI and 17 SCFM at 175 PSI, which is unheard of on other, much smaller air compressors. Then again, you’re comparing an 80-gallon compressor with something like the much smaller 6-gallon Bostitch BTFP02012. No other unit can compare with its ability to have 3 separate air lines connected at the same time while delivering more than enough PSI at every line.
This unit is capable of running a ½-inch big-gun impact line, a ⅜-inch impact line, and a ¼-inch air line. An internal knob regulates the smaller lines on the front of unit while the regular line could be further optimized with an air dryer and additional regulator. Because it’s a larger capacity unit in need of a hand truck or box cart to move around, you can use it to rotate a set of tires with 20 lug nuts spread across them easily with an impact wrench or blast rusty surfaces to oblivion and metal smoothness. Just watch out for its loud running noise also due to its size.
- Bigger is better in terms of superior SCFM and max PSI rates
- Larger capacity allows for longer operation and more powerful sandblasts
- Unique capability to have 3 separate air lines connected simultaneously
- Cumbersome size makes it much heavier by 400+ pounds
- No replacement parts
3. Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
- Faster recovery time care of big bore cylinder and piston
- Best of both worlds in terms of portability and raw power
The Makita MAC2400 seems like a good balance between the Bostitch BTFP02012 compressor’s portability and the DeWalt DXCMV5048055 compressor’s raw power. Using that point of view, the MAC2400 air compressor offers the best of both worlds by weighing about 81 pounds yet having a big enough capacity to deliver 4.2 SCFM at 90 PSI and a max operating pressure of 130 PSI. It even offers 4.8 SCFM at 40 PSI to boot. It’s not as extreme as the monstrous DeWalt specs-wise but it certainly gives the smaller Bostitch a run for its money save for its weaker max PSI.
It has enough pressure for two nailers or one sandblaster unit. The Makita also comes with the air compressor prerequisites of having a cast iron pump, this time with a big bore cylinder and piston that’s precision-engineered for improved performance care of faster recovery time. It’s also a good sandblaster compressor because of its ability to sustain the pressure at maximum settings. It’s not an oil-free compressor so its pump is oil-lubricated for reduced wear-and-tear and cooler running temperatures when push comes to shove. Additional motor protection is also handled by its built-in thermal overload.
- Low AMP draw decreased tripped breaker incidents at startup
- Quality control issues with some units having inconsistent pressure
- Two buyers reported of discomfort upon prolonged wear
Compressed Air Factors for At-Home Sandblasting
When sandblasting using a sandblaster that’s powered by an air compressor, there are many parts to take into consideration. For example, you should make sure that your sandblaster is compatible with your nozzle. This nozzle should be tough enough to take the pressure from your sandblaster of choice. The SCFM and PSI of the sandblaster should be compatible to the capabilities of your compressor for good measure.
SCFM Requirements For Sandblasting
If you’re asking yourself, “What size air compressor do I need to run a sandblaster?” here’s the answer. Increase the size of the compressor in line with the size of your sandblasting equipment. The recommended sizes are as follows based on the 90-100 PSI base value:
- 20 SCFM for a ⅛-inch nozzle
- 45 SCFM for a 3/16-inch nozzle
- 81 SCFM for a ¼-inch nozzle
- 137 SCFM for a 5/16-inch nozzle
- 196 SCFM for a ⅜-inch nozzle
- 254 SCFM for a 7/16-inch nozzle
- 338 SCFM for a ½-inch nozzle
Look at the manufacturer guidelines for your sandblaster if you’re in doubt about the right nozzle size and compressor capacity for it.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Is a Compressor and What Is a Sandblaster?
An air compressor is a tool that continuously sucks the surrounding air in order to mechanically squeeze it through internally moving components. This air suction then creates a usable force by which all sorts of tools can be powered, including impact wrenches, pneumatic drills, nail guns, paint sprayers, and (of course) sandblasters.
In turn, a sandblaster is a power tool used to clean difficult substances like paint or runs from solid surfaces like metal as well as smoothen rough hardwood fast before fine-tuning the smoothening process manually with sandpaper and elbow grease. The right power of compressor should be used to optimize the performance of your sandblaster.
2. What Kind Of Air Compressor For Sandblasting Should You Get?
Obviously, if you want to get powerful sandblasting action out of your sandblaster it should be powered by air compressor models that have higher SCFM. The more SCFM at 90-100 PSI the better. The ideal compressor for smaller sandblasting tasks would be those capable of producing 10-20 SCFM. If you wish for more power, you can avail of compressors with 18-35 SCFM instead.
You also have the industrial-power compressors with 50-100 or more SCFM that can do sandblasting for entire rusty tanks or a whole line of rusted down car frames. For most at-home or residential-grade sandblasting, the SCFM needed there is of lower output. Expect to stop and wait for the compressor to catch-up and refill its tanks with the air around you every so often when working with a weaker unit that has a lower SCFM.
3. What Kind Of PSI Do I Need?
The ideal PSI for sandblasting is 90 PSI to 100 PSI. The chart above is based on 90-100 PSI for that reason. The minimum SCFM of the air compressor can be adjusted for sandblasting purposes accordingly with the use of the right nozzle size. If your compressor offers about 20 SCFM it should use a small ⅛-inch nozzle to get the job done.
The more SCFM you’re dealing with at 90 PSI the bigger your nozzle should be so that it doesn’t pressurize the airflow so much that it’s practically cutting through the surface that you’re working on. It’s like how even water at higher pressures can be powerful enough to cut through metal when passed through a small enough nozzle. It can practically cut like a laser so check your sandblaster for the appropriate SCFM for your compressor.
You almost always expect the DeWalt product to win over everything else, including the category best air compressors for sandblasting. Therefore, we were surprised to see the DeWALT DXCMV5048055 get the lowest Amazon user ratings among the three products, especially in light of its superb specs that you’d expect out of the DeWalt like the superior 18 SCFM at 90 PSI or the monstrous 175 PSI maximum pressure. However, upon closer inspection, you figure out why the other two is rated better, particularly when it comes to sandblasting.
DeWalt weighs 400+ pounds, which is unacceptable when it comes to on-site sandblasting of gates or wooden floors. Furthermore, it has quality control issues and no replacement parts. Meanwhile, both the Bostitch BTFP02012 and Makita MAC2400 have the same rating and roughly the same size, SFCM, and max PSI although Bostitch has the better max PSI and Makita has the better SFCM. When all is said and done though, it’s Bostitch that wins because it got fewer quality control complaints and more customers rated it so highly. For a change, it’s DeWalt that has to play catch up with the more superior and lightweight offerings of Bostitch and Makita.