Pneumatic tools need a correctly sized air compressor for the tool to work properly. Each nailer has different air compression requirements, so what size air compressor is needed for a roofing nailer? The best-size air compressor for a roofing nailer has a flow rate of 4.0 CFM and can generate up to 120 PSI with a 6-gallon storage cylinder.


What Size Compressor Does a Roofing Nailer Need?

An air compressor rated at 4.0CFM, 120PSI, and with a 6-gallon pressure cylinder should be suitable for most roofing nailers, but you must check the specifications on your particular roofing nailer to ensure these parameters are suitable for your tool.

Another consideration is whether you intend to run multiple pneumatic tools from the same compressor simultaneously. In that case, it is advisable to select an air compressor with greater capacity and throughput than the manufacturer’s minimum recommendations.

A black and yellow Stanley air compressor with an orange hose near the green grass

How to Tell What Size Air Compressor Your Roofing Nailer Needs

Several factors should be considered when purchasing an air compressor for a roofing nailer or any other pneumatic tool.

  • What flow air flow rate does the tool need?
  • What air pressure does the tool require?
  • How large should the pressurized cylinder be?
  • The best motor size for the compressor.
  • How many tools will you run off the compressor simultaneously?

Some of these details can be found on the manufacturer’s specifications on the roofing nailer itself, while others require knowledge of your operational requirements.

Air Flow and Pressure Requirements for a Roofing Nailer

The two metrics the tool manufacturer supply are the minimum flow rate, usually stipulated in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) or Standard Cubic Feet per Minute (SCFM), and the Pounds per Square Inch or PSI.

These numbers represent the minimum air flow rate and pressure for the roofing nailer’s mechanism to cycle correctly.

If your air compressor is underpowered, the roofing nailer may not drive the nails deep enough into the wood, the nail feeding mechanism won’t work properly, and the nailer will experience frequent jamming.

All roofing nailers do not have the same minimum CFM and PSI requirement, but they are usually in a similar ballpark.

Most roofing nailers will give a range of PSI requirements because the pressure can be adjusted to alter the depth to which the nail will be driven. The lower PSI in the range is generally the minimum PSI required for the nailer to function correctly.

Here is a sample of some popular roofing nailers and their requirements.

MakeCFM RequirementPSI Requirement
Metabo HPT Roofing Nailer3.4 CFM70 – 120 PSI
Bostitch Coil Roofing Nailer3.9 CFM70 – 120 PSI
Makita AN454 Roofing Nailer2.2 SCFM70 – 120 PSI
DEWALT DW45RN Roofing Nailer3.7 CFM70 – 120 PSI

While the PSI requirement range is the same across all the roofing nailers listed in the table, the CFM can differ significantly in some cases. This shows the importance of checking your roofing nailer’s specifications to determine your tool’s operating requirements.

A person wearing denim pants is using a black and orange roofing nailer on gray roof shingles

Air Storage Cylinder Size for a Roofing Nailer

The size of the storage cylinder on the compressor has less influence on the performance of the nailer and more to do with the compressor’s performance.

An air compressor with a larger volume storage cylinder will be able to operate the roofing nailer at the required pressure level for longer. The value of this is that the compressor motor will not need to run continuously to maintain the right pressure in a larger tank than would be necessary with a smaller tank.

It is possible to run a roofing nailer with a 4-gallon air compressor, but the motor will need to engage more frequently to maintain the required pressure in the tank. The more frequent running of the motor adds wear and tear to the compressor, resulting in a shorter lifespan.

A compressor with a 6-gallon tank will require the less frequent running of the motor to keep the tank pressurized to a level to deliver the needed air to the nailer.

A 6-gallon cylinder air compressor is also a must if you are running more than one nailer or another pneumatic tool simultaneously on the same compressor. 

Running multiple tools on the air compressor will also require a higher CFM rating. Generally, a CFM rating of 6.0 CFM or above is needed to run multiple tools on the compressor.

Compressor Horsepower Requirements for a Roofing Nailer

A specification of the air compressor that is often overlooked is the power of the compressor motor, measured in horsepower or HP.

The HP rating of the air compressor motor will determine how quickly it will be able to pressurize the storage cylinder. Generally, the larger the CFM rating and cylinder size on the air compressor, the higher the HP of the motor needed to make the unit work efficiently.

Some 6-gallon air compressors operate with a 1 HP motor, but a 2 HP or 3 HP motor would be preferable, especially if you run multiple nailers.

A person wearing a yellow reflective vest and white gloves is holding an orange and black roof nailer on a roof

Frequently Asked Questions

We have included some compressor-related questions below that you may find useful.

How Much Air Does a Roofing Nailer Need?

Most roofing nailers require a compressor that can deliver between 70 and 120 PSI. This gives the ability to adjust the air pressure to the tool to drive the nail to the required depth in the wood.

The compressor’s flow rate or CFM rating should be at least 4.0 CFM, which should be sufficient for most roofing nailers.

How Do I Know What Size Air Compressor I Need?

The best way to check the minimum size air compressor required is to check the specifications of your pneumatic tool. The manufacturer will give the operating PSI and CFM ratings for the tool.

As long as your compressor ratings exceed these requirements, it can power the tool correctly.

Is 100 Psi Enough for Air Tools?

Is 100 PSI enough for air tools? This depends on the air tool being used. Each air tool or pneumatic tool will have its own minimum PSI rating that the compressor must be able to supply.

In the case of a roofing nailer, 100 PSI would be a little low. An air compressor with a rating of 120 PSI would be more appropriate.

What size air compressor do I need?


It is important to size your compressor correctly for your pneumatic roofing nailer. This will make the compressor last longer and ensure the nailer works properly.

The best way to determine the right size air compressor needed is to check the manufacturer specifications for the roofing nailer you are using and get a compressor that exceeds these requirements.

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