I want to repaint my 2001 Lexus ES300. If I were to buy or rent an air compressor, what kind of specifications do I need for it? I.e. the minimum CFM, HP, etc.

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    It all depends on the spray equipment you have (or are contemplating on buying). Look at this page as it might help. Jul 26, 2015 at 21:25
  • Great page. The answer is in there. What's the rating in the gun, Twinbird? Jul 27, 2015 at 4:15
  • Thanks for that link! I have not considered the rating in the gun yet, but I'll look into it. Perhaps I will end up having someone do the job for me, I see now that it's a lot more complicated than I originally thought.
    – Attila
    Jul 28, 2015 at 16:08

1 Answer 1


I apologize for such a long answer. Your question is not simple.

Most higher quality coating for metal require a hardener, etc. This makes things more complicated. I would get someone more experience to do your paint job for you unless you plan to do a lot of painting in the future, then watch a lot of you tube videos or take some classes.

There are two type of paint spraying large amounts of coatings. There is airless paint sprayer or air sprayed paint.

Airless paint sprayers are basically the ones used to paint houses etc. They atomize the paint into tiny particles to fill every tiny gap and crevice. I would recommend using a small tip on the gun to get a nice slow flow of paint. if the paint comes out to fast you can get runs droplets from low pressure that will ruin your paint job. If you have never used a paint sprayer before I would practice on some other project before trying to paint metal.

If you are going to use the "classic movie" traditional body shop air compressed gun, You will need a massive tank that costs $800+. They need to be able to compress enough air to continuously work. The tanks at the store usually tell who what they are rated for. This method also requires you buy a special gun with a tank attacked to it where the paint is stored, it will come with a gravity fed reservoir (tank is above the gun) or a air displacing reservoir (tank is under the gun in front of trigger). The guns usually require 30-40 PSI. This needs to be continuous, if the pressure drops the guns does not atomize the coating like it should, causing larger (splatter) droplets to come out the tip which will ruin your paint job.

First you need to sand the car, then prime the car, then paint the car, then seal the car, last you need to polish the car. This is why paint jobs are so expensive. Some paints come with primer built in and can be purchased at auto parts stores. You will still need to spray a clear coat sealer and polish/ buff the car for hours.

There is a lot of skills that need to be learned to get a higher quality paint job. Also there is strict EPA regulations on capturing and filtering all the chemicals out to the air before being discharged to the exterior / public.

P.S. I recommend you search on craigslist for a body/paint guy who has the experience and is looking for extra work. They will usually do the same or similar quality work as a regular shop for a fraction of the price!

  • You forgot to mention High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) guns, which do not require near the pressure or the volume of air. These can be used in conjunction with smaller air compressors, which can more easily keep up with the demand of the HVLP guns. 20-30 gallon, 2-3hp compressors can handle the 9-15cfm needed to run these.See here for more details. Also, you neglected to mention having a filter on the air hose to remove moisture and contaminants. This is very important for any type of quality job. Jul 28, 2015 at 1:29
  • Thank you for the answer and for the comment as well, you've both really cleared things up for me!
    – Attila
    Jul 28, 2015 at 16:09
  • Your welcome. We are just trying to get the big picture in your direction without diving in to deep since it is a VERY specialized subject. To be honest neither of us have scraped the surface. Jul 28, 2015 at 22:55
  • Need to do further research but HVLP is the airless type right Paul High volume Liquid Projection... Jul 28, 2015 at 22:57
  • Everyone can do as they see fit, but I used a 8gal 2hp compressor with an HVLP gun. Sanded to bare metal, applied urethane primer, followed by single stage urethane paint. It's not a show stopper, but it turned out very well! The fault with it was definitely more a lack of experience on my part than bad equipment. A bigger compressor would have been great, but mine got the job done. Everyone loves to brag about their overkill, overpriced snap-on tools. What is "necessary"? Like I said, everyone should do as they see fit.
    – justinm410
    Aug 26, 2016 at 14:29

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