There are many different types of air compressors, and they vary in size depending on their purpose. If you’re going to do any type of air-based work with a nailer, including framing nailers, you’ll need an air compressor.

Keep in mind that understanding the differences between them will help you pick the right one for your needs.

In this blog post, I am going to share a detailed discussion on what size air compressor for framing nailer.

Besides, I will also try to give an overview of the following:

  • What Does a framing nailer demand from an air compressor?
  • Knowing the Requirements of Pneumatic Framing Nailer
  • Measuring the Framing Nail Gun Pressure Requirements
  • Chart of CFM Requirements of Various Pneumatic Nailing Tools
  • Measuring the Framing Nailer HP Requirement
  • Stationary or Portable: Which Compressor To Choose For Framing Nailers? 

On top of that, I will also share some Expert Tips For Using A Framing Nailer so you can get the most out of your framing nail gun.

So, without any further ado, let’s dive right in…

Let’s Start With The Basics 

Before moving on to the discussion about the best size air compressor for framing nailers, I think it is important to clarify some crucial terms like CFM, PSI, HP, and Tank Capacity.

If you have a precise idea about these terms, it will be a lot easier for you to choose the right air compressor for your framing nail gun.

So, here we go…


CFM stands for Cubic Feet Per Minute and is used in many different industries.  In a plumbing context, CFM represents the airflow output at 3 feet height above the lowest location of turbulence or variations in static pressure.

In an industrial context also referred to as Volts per cubic foot (V/CF) which means voltage divided by input volume of volume per minute (for example 10 V / 0.0002 = 400 volts).


PSI stands for Pounds per Square Inch and is another common term used in Air Compressors.

PSI is expressed as pounds applied to a square inch of nail surface (measured in INCH PER FOOT). For example, PSIs 0-25 and 50-100 pounder air compressors are ideal for finishing work with large quantities of nails and lag screws respectively.   On the other hand, PSIs 100 – 150, 150 – 200, and 300 + PSI air compressors are the best to finish framing work with nails, screws, and finish nails respectively.


Air Compressor HP in Framing Nailers basically denotes how powerful the compressor is or its ability to provide power (get it!?) To my friends who don’t know about this term… well no sorry for you…. that doesn’t help… next I guess… 🙂 …

Tank Capacity

Tank Capacity of air compressors directly governs how much time you can use the compressor within a single charge. The bigger & more capacity your air compressor is, the longer it can run (with fewer stops) with the same or even lesser pressure. And this makes the whole machine helpful for framing jobs and not only superficial nailers without any tank size.

What Does A Framing Nailer Demand From An Air Compressor? 

I must let you know that framing nailers are mostly used in jobs like deck building, sub-flooring, framing, and fencing. So, it can be easily assumed that tools like framing nail guns require a lot of POWER that is supplied by an air compressor tool.

Since there’re are varied types of framing nailers, so their demand can vary without any doubt.

Let me make this clearer to you:

Pneumatic Framing Nailers

This type of framing nailer needs assistance from a highly POWERFUL and PORTABLE air compressor so it can perform the job efficiently.

Cordless Framing Nailers

This framing nailer type basically gets the POWER from rechargeable batteries along with fuel cartridges. And, there’s no need for any air compressor for this case.

Brushless Framing Nailer

Almost the same features as those cordless framing nailers where you don’t need any air compressor.

So, this clearly confirms that you’ll need an air compressor when you have a pneumatic framing nailer for your framing job purposes.

Let’s proceed to the next section to get a precise idea about the pneumatic framing nailer –

Knowing the Requirements of Pneumatic Framing Nailer 

Before starting the discussion regarding varied air compressor sizes and their impacts, let’s get to know where you should make the start.

You should always keep in mind that HP and CFM are TWO of the most vital indicators when it comes to choosing the right air compressor for your framing nailer or any other type of nail gun.

If you want to get the BEST output, then you definitely have to make the RIGHT combination between the HP and CFM of both of these tools.

In the following sections, I will try to give you a clear idea about how to calculate the CFM and HP of these tools.

Measuring the Framing Nail Gun Pressure Requirements 

I can assume that you already do know that nail guns are the types of tools that are run by the POWER of compressed air. So, it is obvious that for any nail gun, there’s a minimum air pressure required for the specific tool – called CFM – Cubic Feet Per Minute.

You should keep in mind that a nail gun is a type of tool that usually doesn’t have high CFM.

And, the manufacturing company of every framing nail gun model recommends the RIGHT CFM requirement for the specific air tool.

However, here, I will give you a formula using which you can easily calculate the average CFM required for your pneumatic framing nail gun.

The formula is as follows:

  1. First, you have to find out the highest CFM rating of your framing nail gun.
  2. Then, divide the number by 1.5.
  3. And, the result is the average CFM your framing nail gun requires for framing jobs.

For your convenience, I am going to share a Chart of CFM requirements associated with different pneumatic nailing tools.

Chart of CFM Requirements of Various Pneumatic Nailing Tools

Air Nail Gun TypeCompressor TypeRequired CFM
Finish NailerPortable/Pancake2.0 CFM, 2 – 3 Gallon
Brad NailerPortable/Pancake2.0 CFM, 2 Gallon
Sheathing NailerPortable4.0 CFM, 4 – 6 Gallon
Upholstery StaplerPortable2.0 CFM, 1 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

From the above chart, it is clearly seen that the ideal CFM requirement for a framing nail gun is 4.0. So, note it down and read further to explore the right size air compressor for framing nailer.

Measuring the Framing Nailer HP Requirement

The next crucial point to discuss is measuring the HP requirement of air compressors. In this case, there’s a common misconception which is more horsepower means the more POWERFUL motor of the air compressor.

But, wait my friend, there’re a few loopholes –

It is essential to make you aware of the fact that the number of HP of an air compressor machine can be misleading!

You have to keep in mind that the HP is not the only factor that determines how fast an air compressor will do the job. For example, two cars having the same HP engine may vary a lot in terms of mileage and top speed.

Additionally, it is also important to know that not all manufacturers use the same technique or method for calculating the horsepower of their air compressors.

To be more precise, some manufacturers may consider the Peak HP for rating their air compressors, while others may consider the normal operating HP while rating their compressors.

It is to be noted that the peak horsepower is the max. output that can be supplied by the designated air compressor device.

Based on my experience and research, I would like to suggest you to choose in between 5HP to 10HP air compressors for framing nail guns because they usually provide you with the required CFM and PSIG.

Stationary or Portable: Which Compressor To Choose For Framing Nailers?

So, we have already discussed the POWER of the air compressor machine. Well, there’s another vital factor that you definitely need to keep in mind which is PORTABILITY.

At this moment in time, you’ll find mainly TWO types of air compressors available in the market which are as follows:

  • Stationary Compressors.
  • Portable Compressors.

Stationary Compressors

Stationary compressors are air compressor machines that tend to be heavier and bulky, for this reason, they generally can draw a high amount of power.

These kinds of most powerful tools that you will probably use quite often when working on your home or workplace mainly do their job in an enclosed area such as garage etc.

Henceforth, stationary compressors function really well while using them indoors. They have either wheels or casters attached along with handles for easy portability.

Portable Compressors

Portable Compressors, on the other hand, can be placed anywhere you like within your workplace or house.

Henceforth, they are much more power-efficient compared to their Stationary counterparts as they generally do not require any specific electric supply i.e., there’s no need for a generator, and space is required around the compressor to store additional components, etc.

For a framing nail gun, I would definitely recommend you to go for a portable air compressor as you don’t require such high POWER supplied by the stationary compressors for your framing jobs.

What Size Air Compressor For Framing Nailer?

Now that you know it is a better idea to opt for the portable air compressors, so the next thing that can come up in your mind is – “What size air compressor do I need for framing nailer?”

Well, at first, you must know the fact that portable air compressors come in varied sizes in terms of tank capacity – usually ranging from 2 to 20 gallons.

So, what tank size would be ideal for your framing job?

Well, here is your answer:

In the following, I will share a Tank Size recommendation list for air compressors to be used with portable pneumatic tools like framing nail guns in different scenarios:

  • Tank Size 2-4 gallon: This air compressor size is perfect for semi-professional and indoor framing jobs.
  • Tank Size 4-6 gallon: This air compressor size can be the most suitable if you generally use a single framing nail gun for outdoor framing jobs.
  • Tank Size 6-10 gallon: You should go for this air compressor size if you plan to use multiple framing nail guns at the same time.

Now, depending on your needs and requirements, you can choose the right size air compressor for framing nailer.

Expert Tips For Using A Framing Nailer

In the following, I will be describing some Expert Tips for using a framing nailer so you can make the most out of your framing tool.

So, here we go…

1 Setting the Air Compressor Selecting the Right Pressure

Now, if you are new to the idea of using a portable air compressor for your framing job needs then let me tell you right away that setting up pressure on an air compressor is very much important.

Actually, this applies even in the case of using “rigid” pneumatic equipment like nailers and drills. Since each type has its own requirement with regard to volume and force needed for working jobs, so make sure that after placing the tool you have selected the right pressure which is required for using it.

2 Selecting the Right Trigger

For a framing nailer, there’re basically TWO types of triggers which are as follows –

  • Bump fire trigger.
  • Single fire trigger.

When you need SPEED, you should select the Bump fire trigger because it can provide you with the desired speed, but it may lack precision and accuracy.

On the other hand, when you need to precision nailing job, at that time you should go for Single fire trigger.

3 Checking the Safety Concerns

When you use an air compressor with a framing nail gun, it is very important to keep your safety in mind.

This is why there’s such a thing as checking the safety of equipment before you begin using it for an intended purpose, like framing nailer.

You can do that by first taking note of what type of construction material the tool works with and how much air volume; I’ll give you a quick overview on this below…

There are several things that should be discussed before selecting your next power drive nailer:

Creating a Limited Air Volume

The main idea behind creating a limited air volume is that your gun must have enough airflow to suck in the required Nail and release it when fired. For this purpose, you should make sure that your framing nailers have a good venting system that can let out used Air so those unnecessary particles of Sand or Dirt won’t be created while using an Engraving-type tool.

Pneumatic Air Volume

To make it easier for you to know if your framing nailer has the required amount of air volume, I’d like to show you an example.

A 1-inch (25mm) Framing Nail is equivalent to roughly 0.05 cubic feet of general free cylinder pressure in terms of volume through calculations with the basic physics principles known as Bernoulli’s Principle and Newton’s definition that states ” action and reaction are proportional to the mass of the force going through a differential area”.

So, you can see how much air volume your framing nailer has with this formula: Number of Inches equals Volume after Pressure aka PSI.

The sump outlet is considered as one-half throat size from the other end which allows it to accept smaller Particulate Matter such as chips because if pressure increases (when pierced by Nails), gas then leaks out into the chamber is automatically formed to deliver greater thrust force.

For example, a 0.045″ (1/16″) throat can take a lot of Air quite enough in order for its operating status with any type of power nailer you might have at your disposal.

However, after the completion of its filling cycle and by bleeding out accumulated pressure through one thing!

The only thing you can do from this situation with your favorite framing nailer is by trying to squeeze small amounts of Air out on any cylinder at a time until fully exhausted or loosen up air pressure slightly (just enough for your fingers to touch).

Best Rated Air Compressors For Framing Nailers – My Recommendations

At this point, I can tell that you have got the answer to the question – “What size air compressor for framing nailer?”

However, if you are completely a beginner or newbie in this sector, then it is obvious that you will find it challenging to choose the perfect air compressor for your framing nail gun.

That’s why, in the following, I’m going to share my recommendations for the best-rated air compressors for framing nailers:

1. CRAFTSMAN 6 Gallon Air Compressor.

CRAFTSMAN 6 Gallon Air Compressor

  • Proudly made in the USA.
  •  Durable, oil-free pump. 
  • 150 Max PSI to ensure adequate cut-inch pressure.
  • Quick compressor recovery time.

2. Makita MAC2400 2.5 HP Big Bore Air Compressor.

3. BOSTITCH 6 Gallon Air Compressor.

4. Porter-Cable 6 Gallon Air Compressor.

5. DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor

FAQs About Best Size Air Compressor For Framing Nailer

What is a good air compressor for a framing nailer?

Answer: Currently, a lot of air compressors from different renowned brands are available in the market.
So, if you want to get the perfect air compressor for your framing nailer, you can study this detailed review discussion of top 5 air compressors for framing nail guns.

How much psi do you need for a framing nailer?

Answer: If you are going to use a framing nailer that can accommodate the need for an air compressor system, it will obviously work best with one between 20 and 100 psi.
Most adobe contractors run mini blasting nozzles every couple of feet instead of using just patching techniques so they also have several kit kits available depending on package size.
To get a detailed idea about this subject matter, you can check out this detailed post on PSI requirement for framing nailer.

What size air compressor do I need for a finish nailer? 

Answer: Again, as per the PSI need for framing nailer, you will find finish nozzles requiring anywhere from 2 to 20 psi.
Either way, this means that these two types of applications are indeed different from each other regardless of whether it is the fact about usage or simply based on the size needed including pneumatic compressor tank sizes.
I would like to suggest you to study this comprehensive discussion on the ideal size air compressor for a finish nailer to get an in-depth idea about this topic.

How many CFM do I need for framing nailer? 

Answer: Many will ask themselves asking how many CFM is required for framing nailer and everything else.
This should be worked out through the yield of air at different pressure throughout the frame points needing covering while supporting a nice finish level without any issues as well.
The answer here again would obviously depend on what sort of load you need to run the nail gun against, weather factors like wind speed among other household appliances whether direct blowing by which compressor was used in spray air-gun plaything or vehicle exhausts to get a quick idea.

What is a good air compressor for roofing nailer?

Answer: At this moment, you’ll find a wide range of air compressors from well-known brands in the market. So, it would be a better idea to study the reviews of the best-rated air compressors for roofing nailers so you can ultimately get the perfect one for your roofing jobs.


Now, I am pretty much sure that you have got EVERYTHING to know about what size air compressor for framing nailer.

In the above discussion, I mainly tried to discuss all the crucial points about air compressors and framing nail guns so you can choose the right size air compressor for your framing nailer.

Besides, I have also shared some Expert Tips so you can make the BEST use of your framing nailer with the air compressor.

Still, if you have any questions in mind, feel free to comment below or send me a direct message.

I would love to offer my assistance to help you out.

Lastly, if you want to get the latest tips and tricks associated with air compressors and nail guns, you can follow my Blog.

This is all I have for you this time.

See You Soon!