How to set up a compressor for car painting

Written by russell wood
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Painting a car can be an expensive process, particularly if you take the vehicle to a professional. You can achieve quality results at home if your air compressor is set up properly. The keys are to keep the air clean and dry, and to make sure that the air compressor always has enough power.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 2-stage air compressor
  • Teflon tape
  • Adjustable wrench
  • 1/2-inch air hose, 3 feet long
  • 1/2-inch air hose, 25 feet long
  • Air pressure regulator
  • Water trap
  • Desiccant system
  • Drill
  • Sheet rock anchors
  • Disposable air filters
  • HVLP spray gun

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  1. 1

    Place the air compressor in a corner of the room, or outside the area where you'll be painting if possible. The space must have 240-volt wiring access and room to run your lines and hoses.

  2. 2

    Wrap the Teflon tape around both ends of the three-foot hose, making sure that the tape goes around the fitting on the end twice, and is nice and tight.

  3. 3

    Connect one end of the three-foot hose to the air compressor using the adjustable wrench.

  4. 4

    Mount the air filter, desiccant system and pressure regulator to the wall using the drill and sheet rock screws. The pressure regulator should be first in line, then the water trap, followed by the desiccant system. This set up will keep the air going out of the gun dry and oil-free.

  5. 5

    Attach the other end of the three-foot hose to the pressure regulator using the adjustable wrench.

  6. 6

    Connect the 25-foot air hose to the end of the desiccant system using the Teflon tape and the adjustable wrench.

  7. 7

    Connect the disposable air filter to the end of the HVLP gun using an adjustable wrench and connect the gun to the airline.

Tips and warnings

  • You need a 2-stage air compressor because an oil-free compressor has Teflon seals on the piston that creates the air. Most automotive paints will degrade the Teflon seal and cause the compressor to be ineffective after a short period of time. A 2-stage, oiled air compressor will solve this problem.

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