Air compressors are becoming increasingly more popular in home or garage workshops. In fact, there are several pneumatic tools that you’ll most likely have if you’re a hardcore DIY-er. Pneumatic tools such as impact wrenches, airbrushes, and angle grinders all require that you have a sufficiently powerful air compressor to give it enough force to deliver.

What are the top rated air compressors?

However, what if you have power tools that don’t need tremendous amounts of airDo you still have to invest in large air compressors just to operate a single nail gun or airbrushThankfully, no.

There are several compact air compressors to choose from, but many of these models may be overkill when it comes to running a single tool. For these cases, you may need a trim compressor.

What is a trim compressor?

Basically, a trim compressor is a miniature air compressor which provides enough power for running one low-pressure tool at a time. If you need a compact air compressor for light-duty jobs, a trim compressor could be exactly what you’re looking for.

In your search for an air compressor, you may have come across the term “portable air compressor.”

Trim compressors and portable air compressors are similar in many ways. First, they’re both compact and lightweight, so taking them from place to place is a breeze. Second, they provide enough compressed air to power many light pneumatic tools. Third, they’re both budget-friendly options if you don’t want to have thousands of dollars tied to a large air compressor.

What's the best small air compressor?

However, there is a key difference when it comes to trim compressor and air compressors. What really makes a trim compressor different from a compact air compressor is how much power it provides. Regular compact compressors oftentimes come with enough power to supply multiple tools with air at once. A trim compressor, on the other hand, only has the capacity to power a single tool at any given time.

What CAN’T a trim compressor do?

No trim compressors are built to power air-hungry tools. This means your impact wrench, sander, and certain paint sprayers would be no good if you’re relying on a trim compressor for air support. For these tools, you might need to get a bulkier air compressor with a more powerful motor.

What is the best air compressor for nail guns?

Trim Compressor Buying Guide

If you’ve decided that you need a trim compressor for your workshop for your airbrush or nail gun, then you’ll want to check out our trim compress buying guide. The following list will show you what points you need to consider in order to get the appropriate model.


The CFM rating should be your number one concern when looking at trim compressors or any compressor for that matter. CFM (cubic-feet-per-minute) measures how much air can be moved every 60 seconds. The greater the CFM, the more air can be moved, meaning that it can supply power to more air-hungry pneumatic tools.

Realistically speaking, a trim compressor will provide a limited amount of air-moving capacity – less than 1 CFM in many models – so don’t expect them to supply copious amounts of air. However, for small pneumatic tools like airbrushes and nail guns, a trim compressor should provide enough air to get the job done.

The general rule of thumb is to get a compressor that delivers at least 1.25 times more CFM at the recommended PSI (more on this later) of your pneumatic tool.

What size air compressor do I need to run air tools?


The PSI rating (pounds-per-square-inch) shows how much force of compressed air can be shot out of the compressor. You’ll need to check your pneumatic tools’ manuals in order to gauge how much PSI you’ll need. Many trim compressors provide between 90 and 130 PSI with variable pressure so you can adjust the PSI as you see fit.

Tank Size

Although the size of the tank in a trim compressor isn’t very large, it’s still an important factor to consider. The tank’s size should be seen as an indicator for determining how long it’ll take for the machine to produce a full tank of pressurized air. Larger tanks, of course, hold more amount of air, allowing users to work for longer. The drawback to a large tank is that unless the motors are extremely efficient, it’ll take longer to fill back up. This won’t be a large issue in trim compressors since they have miniature tanks and great recycle times.

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Recycle Time

Recycle time refers to how long it takes for an air compressor to fill the tank back up with compressed air. Trim compressors usually have small tanks and extremely efficient motors. Some models we’ve seen take as little as 20 seconds to fill back up to maximum capacity. You’ll want a unit with a short recycle time to reduce downtime between sessions.


Portability doesn’t only refer to the weight of a trim compressor since they’re all virtually weightless, but it also considers the shape and size of the unit. It won’t be difficult finding a model that’s easy to handle and lift, but there are certain trim compressor models out there that are just simply oddly designed, reducing its portability.


Since trim compressors are small and come with a variety of sensitive components, they need to be housed in a shock-absorbing case. Since you’ll most likely be operating a trim compressor in a non-padded room, it’s a good idea to find a model that has a solid build. Better yet, try finding one that’s housed in a metal “cage” and/or comes with rubber feet or stands.

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Final Remarks

Basically, a trim compressor is a smaller version of the traditional portable compressor. Due to its miniature size, it won’t be able to run multiple pneumatic tools simultaneously or air-demanding tools like grinders or impact wrenches, but for light-duty tools like airbrushes or brad nail guns, a trim compressor could be a reliable friend to have in your workshop.

Finding the right trim compressor requires taking into account a wide range of different specs. The most important ones to consider are how much airflow and pressure the unit can deliver, the size of the tank, how long it takes for the tank to fill back up with compressed air, how portable the unit is, and whether it’s built like a tank to withstand drops and dust.

It actually won’t be very difficult to find the right trim compressor since many of them are built with very similar specs. However, if you’re having trouble selecting a trim compressor, you can refer to the list we’ve provided.

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