Airbrushing is a specialized method of painting that has a multitude of uses. Predating spray-painting, airbrushing has stood the test of time as a creative way to paint illustrations, murals, clothing, temporary tattoos, and even makeup (Source).
While artists will often spend a lot of time selecting airbrushes, the best airbrush compressors can help them use their airbrushes precisely and effectively. Airbrush compressors are motorized devices that flow pressurized air into airbrushes, allowing paint to hit the surface in a distinct style.
They often come with air hoses that you can attach to your airbrushes. Airbrush compressors might also come with a moisture trapper that can be emptied, as well as a pressure gauge (Source).
If you’re an artist looking to expand your craft into airbrushing, an airbrush compressor is a must-have. An airbrush compressor is also great for making temporary tattoos or clothing at parties, or creating designs on vehicle bodies.
Prior to purchasing an airbrush compressor, you’ll need to consider if it has an auto-off function. This turns the machine off when not in use, keeping the volume down. You’ll also need to consider its horsepower and PSI (pounds per square inch) which dictates its overall power.
Additionally, you’ll need to think about if you want an oil less airbrush compressor. While these are simpler to use, they may overheat and require maintenance. Finally, you’ll want to know if it’s portable and easy to clean.
Any of these top-rated airbrush compressors will be perfect for your next masterpiece.
What is an Airbrush Compressor?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is an Airbrush Compressor?
- 2 Comparing The Best Airbrush Compressors
- 3 1. Master Airbrush Multi-purpose Gravity Feed Dual-action Airbrush Kit – Best Overall
- 4 2. Iwata-Medea Studio Series Power Jet Pro Double Piston – Best Tanked Airbrush Compressor
- 5 3. Master Airbrush Model TC-848, High-Performance – Most Lightweight Air Compressor
- 6 4. ZENY Pro 1/5 HP Airbrush Air Compressor Kit – The Best Air-on-Demand Airbrush Compressor
- 7 5. Paasche H-100D Single Action Airbrush & Compressor Package – Best for Beginners
- 8 Can You Use Any Air Compressor For Airbrushing?
- 9 Does An Airbrush Compressor Need a Tank?
- 10 Most Common Issues People Have with Airbrush Compressors
- 11 Features of the Best Airbrush Compressors
- 12 Things You Need to Know Before Buying an Airbrush Compressor
- 13 Ready To Buy The Best Airbrush Compressor?
Airbrush compressors are a great tool to have in your arsenal if you like using acrylic paints and want to paint in an efficient manner. Airbrushes are great for creating real-looking artwork and can be used for many different types of art. An airbrush compressor pressurizes air, making it easy to shoot out paint from your airbrush very efficiently.
Besides airbrush compressor, are you looking for sprayers that can speed up the process of covering a particular surface with paint? Consider buying a latex paint sprayer. They are also more efficient than other methods of paint application. Clean up isn’t as simple with a roller or brush; it is also time-consuming. Latex paint sprayers are easier to clean.
Comparing The Best Airbrush Compressors
|Master Airbrush Multi-purpose Gravity Feed Dual-action Airbrush Kit|
|Iwata-Medea Studio Series Power Jet Pro Double Piston Air Compressor|
|Master Airbrush Model TC-848, High-Performance Four Cylinder Piston Air Compressor|
|ZENY Pro 1/5 HP Airbrush Air Compressor Kit|
|Paasche H-100D Single Action Airbrush & Compressor Package|
1. Master Airbrush Multi-purpose Gravity Feed Dual-action Airbrush Kit – Best Overall
To begin with, the powerful unit is designed to offer you 1/6 horsepower. This alone makes the product ideal for the more demanding airbrushing tasks. Despite being a powerful unit, you will love how quiet the model is in operation.
Solid Construction & Highly Durable
Again, this product is made of high quality materials. This strong construction enhances the durability of the unit in either indoor or outdoor applications. As compared to other compressors within this range, the Master Gravity feed is relatively lightweight and easy to move from one point to another.
Just as is the case with other high quality products in the market today, this compressor is backed by a 1-year manufacturer warranty. The compressor is equipped with an Air-on-Demand system that is designed to shut off air whenever the unit is not running. This feature goes a long way in improving the efficiency of this unit in the long run.
To make it easier to use, this compressor is packed with an array of convenience features. For instance, you will find the air adjustment control easier to access and precise to regulate. Additionally, the product is equipped with a water trap filter and a True diaphragm pressure regulator. All these are meant to make it easier for you to adjust the airflow more precisely.
2. Iwata-Medea Studio Series Power Jet Pro Double Piston – Best Tanked Airbrush Compressor
To help you regulate the air flow with ease, the product features two air pressure regulators. With such a capability, you will be able to regulate the airflow to two different airbrushing workstations at the same time. For safety purposes and enhanced durability, the manufacturer uses its renowned Smart Technology on this product.
With such technology, the compressor is able to detect when it is not being used and shut off automatically. With a 1/6 Hp motor and powerful twin-pump mechanism, power and performance will not be an issue for the users of this unit. This is further enhanced by the 2 litre reservoir tank used on this model.
Just like most of the leading compressor models, this unit comes complete with other accessories you will need. In this regard, you will get an adapter and an air hose along with your compressor.
3. Master Airbrush Model TC-848, High-Performance – Most Lightweight Air Compressor
As a matter of fact, the manufacturer is so confident about its quality and performance that they offering a 2-year warranty for the TC-848 compressor. You will also love the fact that the model features a compact and lightweight design. The unit delivers ¼ Horsepower, which is enough to deliver an air volume of about 2.6 CFM at a maximum pressure of 60 PSI.
4. ZENY Pro 1/5 HP Airbrush Air Compressor Kit – The Best Air-on-Demand Airbrush Compressor
The unit features an automatic On/Off Shutoff that is programmed to turn it off once a pressure of 57 psi is achieved. A drop of pressure below 43 psi will trigger the unit to come back on. These along with the large capacity reservoir tank will ensure that you have a consistent flow of compressed air on demand. As a safety measure, the unit is also equipped with thermal protection.
5. Paasche H-100D Single Action Airbrush & Compressor Package – Best for Beginners
Additionally, you will find the model relatively affordable and easy to use. In this regard, the product comes with an illustrative user manual that will make things a lot easier for you.
Though designed for beginners, the H-100D model features a 3-spray head. Additionally, the model will come with 7 brushes. All in all, you will realise that this airbrush compressor kit will offer you a great value for money and help you learn the art.
Can You Use Any Air Compressor For Airbrushing?
Airbrushing requires specific air compressors that come with portals made to connect to air hoses and airbrushes. These come with specific features like a moisture trapper, a pressure gauge, and an auto-off function that allows the airbrush compressor to save power when not in use.
Does An Airbrush Compressor Need a Tank?
While not every Airbrush Compressor requires a tank, ones that do have a tank tend to perform better by delivering a consistent stream of air to your airbrush. They also minimize moisture buildup and have an auto-off feature that prevents the compressor from overheating.
Most Common Issues People Have with Airbrush Compressors
- PSI and Air Volume: The total level of PSI and the air volume can quickly become a problem for people who don’t understand how these things work. If you don’t do enough research before making a purchase, it is common to encounter problems with these things.
- Too Loud: It is common for airbrush compressor users to complain about the noise of their model. Although it is possible to purchase a silent compressor, they are also usually a lot more expensive.
- No Moisture Trap: When using an airbrush compressor in humid climates, it’s important to add in a moisture trap. This is also a common thing for manufacturers to not include. Unless you live in one of the driest climates on Earth, getting a moisture trap is always a good way to keep water out of your airbrush.
Features of the Best Airbrush Compressors
In order to get the best airbrush compressor for your needs, you need to do a little bit of research. Especially so if this is your first ever airbrush compressor.
In order to help you make the best decision possible, we have compiled the most important features to check for during your search.
Plenty of PSI and Air Flow
The PSI and level of airflow help you get an idea of how efficient you will be able to paint, and how large of a task can be handled.
At the very minimum, you should find an airbrush compressor which comes with 30 PSI and 25L/minute airflow. However, some of the best airbrush compressors with reach up over 90 PSI and 75L/minute.
Relatively Quiet & Portable
The noise level isn’t always a problem for people who use airbrush compressors, but we all have our tolerance limits. Before purchasing an airbrush compressor, consider how loud it is. A great way to do this is to read through reviews from other people.
The portability of the device is another factor to keep in mind. Unless you have unlimited space at your disposal, it’s important to make sure that the model you choose will fit perfectly where you intend to use it. In the best-case scenario, it is also lightweight and easy to move around.
Included with a Moisture Trap
A moisture trap is something which just about everybody needs to consider. Especially if you live in a humid climate. If you don’t get a moisture trap, you are at a higher risk for mixing water into your paint.
As a general rule of thumb, and just to be safe, get an airbrush compressor that comes with a moisture trap. It will help you make the most out of each project and avoid any tragic errors.
Long Duty Cycle
While you are using your airbrush compressor, it will simultaneously be working to replenish the lost pressurized air that you are using. If you keep using the airbrush compressor long enough, it will turn off.
Typically, this is expressed in terms of a percentage in each hour. A 50% duty cycle will work for 30 minutes out of 60 minutes.
Tank Size Which Matches your Needs
You should have a general idea of how you intend to use your airbrush compressor. This alone should help you indicate what type of airbrush compressor that you need.
If you intend to do a large job, you may need a model with a large tank. If you only need your airbrush compressor for a small job, you may not ever use enough air to need a large tank and a small compressor would do just fine.
Things You Need to Know Before Buying an Airbrush Compressor
Now that you have a good airbrushing gun, you will need an equally good airbrush compressor. You probably are aware that these compressors are some of the most expensive airbrushing equipment.
Additionally, the proper functioning of your airbrushing gun will, to a large extend, depend on how good the compressor is.
If you have some airbrushing experience, you already know that different airbrushing guns have different requirements. As such, the right compressor for will mainly depend on the intended application.
Apart from an airbrush compressor, if you are looking for a sprayer that can add character and depth to a room without an extensive remodel, consider buying the best texture sprayer. It allows you to choose a variety of textures to your wall. It’s also a great way to mask imperfections and make space look brand new.
If you are shopping for a new airbrushing compressor, consider these factors:
1. Type of Airbrush Compressor
Airbrush compressors may be categorized into two main types depending on how they work; diaphragm and piston airbrush compressors. To a beginner, each of the two will do so long; as it is powerful enough.
Well, this may be true to some extent, but knowing the benefits and downsides of each of the types will help you make a more informed decision. Discussed below are the two main types of airbrush compressors available today:
Most of the airbrush compressors available today use pistons to compress air; hence are referred to as piston compressors. These compressors may be further dived into more categories, depending on the number of pistons they have. Some of the piston compressors available today are rather quiet in operation.
However, you will still need to choose the number of pistons suited for your application. If you are looking for a model that can compress a large volume of air, you should go for the twin piston ones. The twin piston compressors have two pistons, hence are capable of compressing more air than single piston models.
Again, piston compressors are preferred because pulsation free. This being the case, the compressors are able to supply a steady and continuous air flow. This makes piston airbrush compressors best suited for on-demand air supply applications, where a storage tank is not required.
If you are looking for an airbrush compressor that is best suited for a bleeding tool, the diaphragm compressors will be the best choice. As compared to piston compressors, diaphragm models are simpler in design. As such, the various diaphragm airbrush compressors available today are cheaper.
In their operation, these products use an oscillating flexible membrane to compress air. As such, they are not as powerful as some of the piston models available today. As a matter of fact, the optimal pressure you can get with a diaphragm model is about 40 PSI.
3. Intended Application
How will you be using your new compressor? Understanding this beforehand will also help you choose the right unit. For instance, the intended application will determine whether you will need a model with a tank or not.
If you will be using the unit to paint a small area, you may need a unit that has an air regulator. This is because you need to regulate the pressure and limit it to a relatively low output air pressure.
For fine art, illustration or just painting a relatively large area, you will definitely need a model that has a tank. This will allow you to paint continuously for a longer period as the compressor will give you a consistent airflow. Basically, you are going to need a model that has a tank for a 0.6 mm nozzle.
Will you be using your airbrush equipment to decorate cakes, paint body art? If so, you may not need a tanked compressor. As such, make-up artists are better off with a compressor that does not have a tank. This is because they will only need the unit to deliver comparatively low air pressure.
3. Compressor Duty Cycle
The duty cycle on airbrush compressors is an expression of how long the unit will be running continuously before stopping momentarily. This expression is usually expressed as a percentage. The right choice of compressor duty cycle should be influenced by the period you would like to be running continually.
Again, this will depend on the intended application of the compressor. A duty cycle of 50 percent, for example, means that the product will be running continually for 30 minutes before stopping for another 30 minutes.
Ready To Buy The Best Airbrush Compressor?
Basically, airbrushing needs differ from one artist to another. This being the case, not all the available airbrushing equipment will meet your needs.
This is particularly the case for airbrush compressor. To choose the right unit from the hundreds of airbrush compressors available today, you need to consider the aspects discussed in this guide.
Even with such considerations in mind, you still have many models to choose from. Having reviewed five top rated models, it should be easier for you to choose the best airbrush compressor.
Are you looking for spray guns that can deliver an enhanced quality finish? Consider buying a quality gravity feed spray gun. A gravity feed spray gun belongs to high volume – low-pressure tools.