10 Surprising Uses for Air Compressors

Updated on April 5, 2016

Just the mention of air compressors probably doesn't instil you with many creative thoughts, however, after some research and thought, a list of uses for air compressors became apparent very quickly – and further research revealed that more people owned air compressors for both work purposes and for some more fun activities and hobbies.

Without realising it, many work tools function better with air compression than without. Many newer tools operate using just electricity, but can’t sustain the power long enough, or overheat.

Listed below are ten common uses for air compressors - you'll be surprised and may even be slightly tempted to buy your own when you realise how useful they are!

Airbrush painting

Probably one of the most creative reasons for buying an air compressor - finding an artist who can customise your vehicle by airbrushing a motorbike, scooter, car or even a motorbike helmet. These require the smaller size air compressors.

Snow Machine

If you didn't get a white Christmas last year, maybe you could have a go at making your own snow - and score points with your neighbours!


Paintball Guns

If you've been lucky enough (or unlucky depending on the outcome) to go paintballing, you'll appreciate the force when you were hit. Some homemade guns use small air compressors, such as bicycle pumps to apply the pressure, so be careful if you are making your own gun when experimenting - the guns may fracture and remember to wear safety goggles.


Compressed air is filtered into use for breathing gas for the diving cylinders, so usually there are two kinds - surface supplied diving (low pressure) and compressors used for scuba diving cylinders (high pressure). Specialist air compressors are used in this industry as there are many components to satisfy the safety of divers - e.g. gas blending, heat and the pressure required.

Inflating Tyres

For the safety of the vehicle, inflating tyres is a job that should be carried out regularly. To name a few - cars, bicycles, vans, motorbikes and so on. Although, in the UK some car manufacturers aren't supplying new cars with spare tyres because people simply can't or won't repair a tyre. Varying sizes and kinds of air compressors are used - obviously smaller ones (pumps) for bicycles.

Pressure Washer

Pressure washers are so much fun - you'll be asking your neighbours to clean their driveways and cars after you've finished yours! However, use with caution - don't point at people or pets, and avoid using when up a ladder - it can throw you off balance.

Nail/Staple Gun

The first nail gun using air pressure was introduced in 1950 to speed up housing construction. An operator could nail 40-60 nails a minute! Basically, the gas pressure pushes directly onto the nail to drive it in to the timber (direct drive), or the 'indirect drive' pushes a piston which drives the nail - both types can be used on stone, concrete and steelwork. However, nail guns can be dangerous and reports of injuries to hands and feet are extremely common. Staple guns work on the same principle.


Sandblasting is another fantastic tool which is used to prepare surfaces. It can remove paint, rust and other imperfections from metal or wood. However, you're best checking with the manufacturer on which material to use - sand, silica or water etc - and using cabinets for smaller items.

Air Blow Gun

Useful for cleaning dust off work benches or out of machinery. The pressure isn't as high as a pressure washer which would probably damage the item being cleaned - it merely is a tool for blowing out dust and dirt in a targeted fashion.

Air Sanders

Air sanders are used to sand an object smooth. The air sanders are preferred over the electric sander as they don't heat up, and can be used over an extended period of time.

So there we have it - a comprehensive list of ten reasons for buying an air compressor – not so dull after all!

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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