An air compressor isn't the first tool people notice when they come on site. If you're like me, you try to put it out of the way so you don't have to listen to it. I might not see my compressor all day long, yet it's one of the most important pieces of equipment I own. I work for a remodeling company and do everything from demolition to painting. Most of the work takes place in existing buildings so I only frame the occasional partition wall or shear panel. However, my compressor still gets a lot of use. It powers a finish gun, palm nailer, and framing gun. It drives the air hammer I use to chip out tile, an HVLP sprayer, and a gun and hopper for texturing drywall.

Some of these tasks will strain a small compressor, but it would be overkill to haul around the kind of unit a framing crew would use. A two to three horsepower four-gallon model is a reasonably good compromise; it's small enough to fit in a crowded truck bed and light enough to lift alone.

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