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Learning to sandblast as a beginner can be like learning to make a furniture:
To get started, you need more equipment than you might have thought.
Like an air compressor.
Fortunately, there are a ton of good resources out there to help you get started (like this one!)
Here's five of the best air compressors for sandblasting that we’ve found.
Then you’ll be ready to blast that rust or paint right off any surface.
Air Capacity (Gallon)
Best for the money
Best for industrial sandblasting
Best for hobbyist
What do I have to know before buying an air compressor for sandblasting?
If you want to sandblast anything, you need an air compressor, period!
The air compressor provides the force necessary to push your sandblasting media out of a hose and onto your workpiece.
There are a few things to know about them, but the first and most important is the CFM.
CFM or SCFM stands for Standard Cubic Feet per Minute.
It’s a measure of how much air the compressor can put out per minute. This leads us to our first key:
Make sure your compressor will meet the needs of your sandblaster.
If you get this right, you’ve won half the battle. If your compressor is too weak for your sandblaster, then it simply will not push the media out of the blaster.
Here’s an example: this portable sandblaster requires a “minimum of 3.5 CFM at 50PSI”.
That means the compressor needs to put out at least 3.5 Cubic Feet per Minute when it’s working at 50PSI--PSI being the measure for the pressure in the tank (Pounds per Square Inch)
Nozzles affect CFM:
Your sandblasting nozzle will affect how much CFM you need to produce.
Basically, the bigger the nozzle, the more CFM and PSI you’ll need.
Bigger nozzles are generally used with coarser media for bigger jobs and vice versa.
For the most part, the air compressors we recommend will be for more casual users, working on smaller-scale projects.
The rest is up to you...
Once you’ve figured out what CFM you need for your specific sandblasting job, the rest is really up to preference.
Compressors come in all shapes and sizes.
For bigger jobs, you’ll probably want a compressor with a bigger tank.
The bigger the tank, the longer the compressor can output air before cycling.
We’ve got compressors on this list that range from 1 gallon tanks to 60 gallon tanks.
But enough of the boring stuff--let’s see the compressors!
Also check out:
5 BEST AIR COMPRESSOR FOR SANDBLASTING - REVIEWS
1. Makita MAC2400 - Best Overall
Right of the bat we have Makita MAC2400.
Balance is key in all things...
...and the Makita has it. It’s got a full 4.2 gallon tank, 2.5 horsepower, and can put out just over 4 CFM and up to 130 PSI.
That’s a good all around balance on all counts.
For most casual sandblasting, I don’t think I would need much more than this.
Especially when using a smaller nozzle in a cabinet, for instance.
Oil lubricated pump is a double edged sword...
Personally, I like oil-lubricated pumps.
It means more maintenance and moving parts on the whole, but lubrication increases pump life and reduces wear.
That’s not all:
Oil lubrication means that the pump can run at a lower RPM, making the machine less noisy.
This particular Makita is usually around 79dB. Not the quietest on the list, but definitely not the loudest.
Check for leaks:
A few people reported that this compressor came to them leaking oil, or that the tank was damaged in some way.
This seems to be a rare thing, but be wary either way.
If the box is stained from the outside and it looks like oil, you’ll have to send it back.
A perfect combination of power, cost, and size:
The Makita hits all the “just right” boxes for the casual user. It is powerful but not industrial, big enough to get the job done without taking up too much space.
2. Bostitch BTFP02012 - Best For The Money
We think Bostitch BTFP02012 will be a good fit for the people who are looking best bang for their buck. Let's see what it got...
PSI/CFM, Horsepower, tank size:
This Bostitch comes with a little bit more tank than the Makita: 6 gallons as opposed to 4.2.
That being said, it only delivers 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI, substantially less than the Makita.
When it comes to compressors, CFM or SCFM (cubic feet per minute or standard cubic feet per minute) tends to be one of the more important factors.
It dictates how much air is actually being pushed through the machine. Generally with sandblasting, more CFM is better.
Light as a feather...
We love that the Bostitch weighs in at just 29lbs.
That’s almost a third the weight of the Makita, and makes this machine great for hauling out to job sites.
...means that this compressor does require a bit less maintenance than the Makita.
But, longevity will suffer a bit here.
Slow to fill:
This Bostitch, while cheap, will require you to put in the time. It doesn’t build a whole lot of air pressure very quickly.
Some people reported leaks in their units as well.
As far as budget picks go...
...this Bostitch doesn’t bring too much to the table. Being lightweight is a nice factor, but an air compressor’s job is to blow pressurized air.
The Bostitch isn’t so great at this, unfortunately
3. DEWALT D55146 - Best Portable
The Dewalt is like a good high-school student--gets good grades, plays sports, there’s really nothing to complain about on the surface.
But like all highschool students, there are some things you just can’t fully trust...
A good all-rounder:
The Dewalt D55146 rocks some great base specs. 5.0 SCFM at 90 PSI with a max potential of 225 PSI makes this a heavyweight contender.
Rock n roll:
We love the wheels on this little compressor. It makes it a cinch to move to and from job sites. At 80 pounds, you wouldn’t want to have to pick this up and lug it around by yourself.
Low on oil...
This unit is oil-free like the Bostitch. This isn’t a total drawback--it depends on what you’re looking for in an air compressor.
If you prefer a more hands-off machine, then oil-free will probably be a good option.
It does reduce the overall longevity of the machine, but for casual users that won’t matter all that much.
Dealing with oil can be messy as well, I definitely like to avoid it sometimes if possible!
All in all, a good looking unit--on paper...
The Dewalt’s got some shiny specs, that’s for sure. 5.0CFM @ 90PSI should turn out to be a powerful compressor.
We love the wheels, which are both unique and pragmatic.
Some things in life do turn out too good to be true. Be wary of this unit, as the construction and materials may not be quite up to snuff.
4.PUMA PK6060V - Best for industrial sandblasting
Now we’re getting into the big leagues:
This PUMA compressor pulls no punches and is for the serious or industrial user.
A whopping 60gal tank...
...the stats on this thing are off the charts. It can do 12 CFM at 90PSI and 13.5CFM at 120PSI.
It’s a 3hp machine, and manages to run relatively quietly. It also manages to fill the 60gal tank quickly as well.
Oil-lubricated, single stage cast iron pump:
This machine can be a mess, but that only means that it’ll keep on chugging for the long run.
If you’re going to sandblast with the PUMA, make sure you’ve got some plans for dehumidification in place. The air produced by this unit gets very moist after a while.
You get what you pay for...
...and this machine is expensive. Well, at least compared to the other compressors on this list. It’s also large at 71” by 29”, and weighs a whopping 300+ pounds.
You’ll be sandblasting like a pro--if you can shell out.
The heavyweight champ...
The PUMA has got all the ferocity of a big cat. It’s a great option if you’ve got the space and the money. We recommend a dehumidification system, and a pressure regulator as well.
5.Senco PC1010 - Best for home/garage use
If the PUMA is the daddy, the Senco is the baby:
This compressor is in many ways the opposite of the PUMA: small, lightweight, and affordable (but also weak).
1/2 horsepower and a 1 gallon tank...
...look, I get that convenience and portability will be a concern for people, especially those of us with small garages.
You could argue that Senco cares too much about portability with this model. That they sacrifice quality and usefulness...
And you could be right. It depends on what you want to use it for.
That being said, this thing is portable:
I really like that this compressor is smaller than my dog. 14” by 10” footprint and 20 pounds. Tucking this unit under the workbench or in the basement when not in use is easy as can be.
Very light duty...
The small tank size and weak motor cause this compressor to cycle about every 45 seconds. 1 gallon simply isn’t enough to keep the thing pumping air for long periods of time.
In all honesty...
...for most sandblasting, this probably isn’t going to be your best friend. If you’re working on a very small scale, like with an airbrush or similarly sized accessory, then it might be okay.
What this compressor does have is adorability. As far as this list is concerned, the Senco is second to none on cuteness.
A winner rises up...
For us, the Makita MAC2400 comes out on top:
The stats: 4.2 gallon tank, 4.2CFM at 90PSI, 2.5hp, 77lbs. This compressor is made to suit a wide variety of needs.
It’s true that the PUMA tends to have better stats when it comes to CFM, tank size, and horsepower.
But we’ve got the casual user in mind here, and think that the PUMA is just a bit too big and too expensive.
But if you’ve got the money and the space, give it some serious consideration.
The honorable mentions:
The Dewalt also gives the Makita a run for its money, and would surely be a contender.
On paper, the two are pretty darn similar.
That being said, the Dewalt’s construction and materials seem a bit sketchier than the Makita, and we’re not sure if that’s a gamble we want to make.
Unfortunately, the Bostitch and Senco compressors don’t really offer anything better than their competitors.
The Senco does win on lightweight, portability, and cuteness, but is weak in other areas.
Icon credit: Air Compressor by Smalllike from the Noun Project