What Size Air Compressor for Framing Nailer? [With CFM Chart]

When working with pneumatic equipment such as framing nailers, do you know What size air compressor for framing nailer is best for you?

A handy guide with CFM chart the explains the right size compressor for brad, Roofing, Finish, and Framing Nailers.

Framing nailers are one of the handyman’s favorite air tools for heavyweight chores. By definition, they require compressed air power to do what they’re supposed to do.

But, while getting the right compressor for your framing nailer, might be troublesome.

Why? Because, there are so many options of compressors out there that can flood your mind and eventually, lead to wrong purchases.

The key to not ending up like this is to know- what size air compressor for framing nailer you need?

What size air compressor for framing nailer

And this article talks about it all the way. Grab a cup of coffee and prepare yourself for the best guide in the topic you’re about to see-

Related Reads: Do you know which Framing tool belt is better?

Understanding 4 Air Compressor Size Factors

Before we go technical and talk about air compressors that suit different framing nailers, there’s some myth-busting to do. And it’s about the size of air compressors.

So, what does it mean by the ‘size’ of an air compressor? Is it how big the air tank is? Or the size of the overall compressor? Or the CFM?

The answer is- it’s a blend of all.

To learn the perfect ‘size’ of a compressor, you get to figure out all of the CFM, Tank Size, Power, and PSI.

If you’re a veteran handyman and acknowledge all of them already, lucky you. Otherwise, we’ve got them explained for you below-

Understanding 4 Air Compressor Size Factors

Size Factor 1: The Tank Size

The first size that you’ve to deal with is- the ‘size’ of the tank of a compressor.

The ‘tank’ is the part of an air compressor that stores the compressed air for use. Most portable and static compressors do have it. For some, it’s cylindrical, where others have pancakes, vertical-cylindrical, etc.

Size-wise, tanks can be anything within 1 to 6 gallons. The bigger its size is, the longer it can keep supplying compressed air to your framing nailer. Also, the weight and footprint will go up.

Size Factor 2: The CFM(Cubic Feet Per Minute)

CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute, which practically means how fast it can flow the air at any given time. This is, however, another important aspect of determining air compressor sizes.

For example, if an air compressor is rated as 6 CFM, that means it can fill up an area of 6 Cubic Feet of volume with compressed air within 1 minute. If it was 7 or 5, they’d fill larger or smaller sizes of spaces within the same time.

Size Factor 3: The Power in HP or CV

The power indicates the capacity of an air compressor to undergo heavier or lighter chores. Usually, the unit of power is HP(Horse Power) or CV(Steam Horses).

With less power in HP or CV, you’ll be able to do usual domestic tasks like painting, cleaning, varnishing, etc. With higher power, you’ll be able to make stronger uses of the compressed air via your framing nailer.

Size Factor 4: The PSI (Pounds Per Square Inches)

The third size factor is the PSI- which is a pressure indicator of the device. Compared to the other two, this is a rather less important factor.

Because- There is a specific standard of PSI ranges that air tools like framing nailer, brad nailer, etc accepted. Therefore, all of the manufacturers ensure that the compressor does lie within that acceptable range of PSI. For example- 60-150 PSI is the range we’re talking about.

Hence, regardless of the size of the compressor, PSI is kind of the same and acceptable for any framing nailer.

Understanding Framing Nailer’s Compressed Air Demands

Dealing with air tools has two sides of the coin. One is the air compressor, and the other is the air tool. In our case, the second one is a framing nailer.

So, we’ll understand the compressed air requirements of framing nailers at this part of the article.

What Kind of Framing Nailers Need Compressed Air?

An important question, right? Well, there are three types of framing nailers in the market-
Pneumatic Framing Nailers
• Cordless Framing Nailers
• Brushless Framing Nailers

The first one needs a supply of compressed air by default. These nailers are meant to undergo heavy tasks that you’d need in a garage.

Moving on, cordless framing nailers operate on battery power. To fuel them up, you’d need fuel cartridges instead of compressed air.

The third kind of nailers, which are brushless nailers, also don’t indeed compress air.

What’s The Power Rating of Framing Nailers?

As we’ve known that pneumatic nailers are the only one that needs compressed air, now it’s time to know what matters in terms of performance of these nailers.

The fact is- each of the pneumatic nailers has its own range of PSI acceptable, known otherwise as to the PSI range. Usually, it can be 60-80 PSI, 80-100PSI, 80-120PSI, etc.

No matter whatever the range is, your air compressor has to be able to deliver that pressure of air. Otherwise, going below or above the range will result in a troublesome situation. In the worst case, it can malfunction or disfunction your framing nailer. We’re sure you won’t expect them anyway.

How Long You Want Your Framing Nailer to Operate?

Let’s say, you’re working on a remote site with a portable air compressor and the framing nailer in hand. Now, if you’re dealing with works that would take at least 60 minutes of operating from the nailer, you have to make sure the compressor is able to cater to that.

What we mean is- the duration of works is not a property of the nailer or the compressor. It’s a demand for work that you’re going to do with the duo.

For example- if a framing nailer can get a supply of 30 minutes from a 4-gallon compressor, it might need a 7-gallon compressor to run for 45 minutes or higher.

Otherwise, you might run here and there to get a refill for your compressor. And in remote sites, that can be a nightmare in the worst case.

What Size Air Compressor for Framing Nailers?

various size air compressor for framing nailer

Now it’s the core of this article where we’ll get to know how to find out the right air compressor for your graming antlers.

Before we begin, let us give you a reminder that framing nailers are a bit power-hungry air tool. Especially, when compared to other kinds of nailers such as finishing nailers or brad nailers.

And to know the exact compressor you need, you need to determine two factors- CFM and Tank Size.

Type of NailerCompressor TypeCFM Required
Upholstery staplerPortable2.0 CFM, 1 Gallon
Brad NailerPortable/Pancake2.0 CFM, 2 Gallon
Finish NailerPortable/Pancake2.0 CFM, 2 – 3 Gallon
Sheathing nailerPortable4.0 CFM, 4 – 6 Gallon
Framing NailerPortable4.0 CFM, 4 – 6 Gallon
Roofing NailerPortable4.0 CFM, 6 Gallon
2-4 nailers at the same timeWheelbarrow6.0+ CFM, 6 gallon

We’ll go one by one and explain the demands-

Calculating CFM Requirements of Framing Nailers

As said before, CFM is how fast an air compressor can deliver compressed air for the nailer. Now, if you pair up a compressor with low CFM with a nailer that needs a much faster air supply, it won’t match up and maybe call in some disaster.

Therefore, go through these steps to find out the required CFM-

Step 1: Figure Out The Highest CFM Rating of Your Framing Nailer

At first, you should find the highest CFM that a framing nailer can run with. This is the higher end of the range, and there should be a lower range as well.

You’ll have both of them printed either on the product label or the manual. You can look for it on the manufacturer’s website as well.

In the next step, we’ll find the optimal CFM rating for working.

Step 2: Find the Optimal CFM Rating for The Nailer

Now, we’ll divide the higher CFM rating of the nailer by 1.5. This will provide us with the most suitable CFM rating of the nailer to work with it.

For example, if it’s 4.0 CFM’s highest-rated nailer, 2.6CFM(4.0/1.5) should be the average requirement for it. So, the first thing that you’ll look for in your air compressor is the compatibility of this CFM value in it.

Calculating Tank Size of Framing Nailers

The tank size is a rather subjective factor when it comes to determining the right one. Usually, people use tank sizes from 1-10 lbs. And this can be any of these 4 types of air compressor tanks available-

Pancake Tank: Flat and round. Stays at the bottom of the compressor.
Hot Dog Tanks: This is just a single tank of cylindrical shape. The orientation is horizontal.
Twin Stack Tank: As the name sounds, there are two horizontal tanks side by side. The air capacity is about double of the previous two kinds.
Wheelbarrow Compressor: This is even a bigger one in size. Comes with a handle and wheels for ease of transport.

Alright, so what’s the right size of air compressor tanks for framing nailers?

Now, you can run a framing nailer with any size of compressors, as long as the other ratings are fine. The longer you want to run the nailer, the larger the air compressor tank size you should go for. Usually, tanks of 2-6 lbs are fine for most domestic and semi-professional nailing purposes.

Acknowledging the various aspects of calculation, some of you might look for a straightforward recommendation of air compressor sizes. Hence, keeping the usual and most popular framing nailer uses in mind, here goes our stake-

The best air compressor you can get for most framing nailers uses is- 4.00 CFM Air Compressor that has a 4-6 Gallon Tank with it. The tank type can be pancake or Hot Dog type, as they ensure easier transport and weight.

Other Checklist for An Air Compressor for Framing Nailer

As you know, the two most important ‘size’ factors are- the CFM and the Size of the tank in a compressor. But for getting the best fit, here are some other things that you need to look for-

Checklist for air compression for nailer

Look for A Good Cooling System

When you’ll be using the compressor, it’ll get hotter. Therefore, there are built-in cooling systems in them, that make sure it doesn’t cross the limit.

The Noise Level

The noise level in dB indicates how much sound a compressor would make. If you’re using a framing nailer around the neighborhood and keep making chattering noises, you’ll get questioned for sure. This is harmful to your hearing capability as well. So, look for low-dB compressors and use noise-canceling handyman headphones.


If it’s a pretty small compressor that can be carried by hand, you barely have to think about the portability. But if you’ve got a dual-stack or wheelbarrow compressor, you must consider the portability factors. Usually, it’s good to have wheels, handles, and other means to make the transportable easier.

People also ask about what size air compressor for framing nailer


Is PSI an Important aspect of calculating air compressor size for framing nailers?

It is. But most of the framing nailers usually operate fine at 90 PSI, which is the most usual rating for most air compressors.

How long does an air compressor last with a framing nailer?

If maintained well and drained down on a regular basis, air compressors can easily last 10 years or more.

Can I use a framing nailer’s air compressor with other air tools?

Yes, of course, as long as the air compression requirements fit, you can go for it without any doubt.

Bottom Line

So, that’s the end of today’s discussion. Hope you’ve had a good grip on how to calculate the right size of air compressor for framing nailers. Understanding the labels of both the compressor and the nailer is quite important in this process. Remember this is just a tip.

Happy handyman-ship!


My name is Michael M. Militello, and I want to help you find the right tools and the best products for your next project! As a professional tool expert here in Houston, TX, With my vast tool experience, I can help you choose the right brand, model, and size for the job. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. You can reach me here on my blog and also on Facebook, Twitter , and Pinterest. I look forward to hearing from you!

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