Balloons Basics and Balloon Types

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Balloons basics and balloon types you need to know before you purchase or handle balloons. Balloons are the most fantastic gift to wow anyone of all ages. No matter what the occasion, a balloon bouquet or a 36-inch jumbo customize balloon will definitely make the party highlight. With so many types and ways to use them, choosing the right balloons can be daunting. Fear not – this guide will cover the balloon basics and balloon types you need to get started!

Selecting Balloons

The balloons you choose are typically influenced by a birthday celebration, theme party, or special event. Knowing what and who you’re celebrating will help you determine the types and colors of balloons necessary for your creation. Not all balloons are created equal and there’s a lot more to consider than you may think.

Balloon Types

In general, there are 2 main types of balloon material Latex and Mylar foil. Latex balloons come in sizes of 5″ – 36″ and have a lower floating time compared to foil balloons. Hence it is always recommended to only fill latex balloons with helium on the day of the event as they will shrink gradually until they drop.

Mylar Foil balloons come in varies sizes and depending on the sizes some will not float even when filled with helium. The least size for a floating foil balloon is 18inch.

Recently we have a 3rd type Bubble Balloons that are very different from latex balloons. They are made from clear stretchy plastic (not latex) and once inflated are perfectly clear (even Diamond Clear Latex Balloons don’t have the same transparency). They are also a lovely round beach ball shape. Many love stuffing mini balloons into these balloons.

Heres to you beer foil balloon
18 inch Mylar Foil Balloon
Ceiling balloons macaron
12 inch latex balloons
Crystal Clearz Bubble Balloon

The balloons you choose are dependent on a specific theme, birthday celebration, or occasion. Factors like the gender, preference and age of who you’re celebrating will help you determine the types and colours of balloons.

Balloon Colors Solid /Pearl

18 Foil Balloon STAR Colour chart
Funlah Solid balloon chart
Solid colour balloon
Funlah Pearl balloon chart
Pearl colour

Balloon Types

Both types of balloons are great options that can be used in a variety of ways. Sometimes, using one type all together looks stunning. Other times a combination of sizes, colors, and textures is needed to make balloon decor really pop. Here’s how they differ:  

Latex Balloons

  • 100% biodegradable 
  • Made from 100% pure natural latex
  • Range in size from 5 – 36 inches 
  • Available in a variety of colors, finishes, and shapes
  • Compatible with air and helium 

Foil Balloons

  • Reusable
  • Made from a mix of nylon, aluminum, and laminated polyethylene materials
  • Range in size from 4 – 32 inches 
  • Available in a variety of colors, finishes, and shapes
  • Compatible with air and helium
balloon range

Balloon Arrangements

Before you dive in, gather some inspiration. This will help you determine what’s needed to build your balloon creation. Below are four popular balloon decorations that will take your party to new heights. 

1. Balloon Bouquets

Balloon bouquets are the easiest to take it to a new level. The simplicity of a 2 colour or 3 colour arrangement brightens up your party area. These bouquets are instant decorations as centerpieces, party decor, or as part of a gift. Mix and match latex and specialty foil balloons in your arrangement. There are many different design options depending on the space you are decorating. The chart below shows 5 to 12-piece balloon arrangements you can create but the options are limitless. 

balloon bouquet arrangement

Balloon Tip: Use two 15-count latex balloon packs to create six stacked or cascaded balloon arrangements.

2. Balloon Arches

Create an impressive balloon arch to welcome guests as they arrive to your party or guest hall. These arches are very do-able and can be prepped the night before your event. Add flowers to your arc and take to a whole new level.

carnival balloons
Balloon Arch

3. Balloon Columns

Balloon columns are like the pillars of a grand statue entrance. Having these balloon columns fill your party space with a strong adaptation of your theme. Display these columns at entryways or position alongside walls and hallways in large venues.

Star Standing Balloon Column

4. Balloon Garlands

Balloon garlands are the must-have of the party highlight. Garlands can be hung along the wall to create a decorative backdrop or displayed down the center of a table. Balloon garlands can be done with even shape balloons or uneven shape balloons to form like the one below. There is no right or wrong way for this.

balloon arch backdrop-min

Balloon Tip: Save time building balloon arches, columns, and garlands by inflating balloons with air and assembling the day before.

Inflation Basics 

Helium

For latex and foil balloons to float, they need to be inflated with helium. Helium is colorless, non-toxic, odorless, tasteless and doesn’t burn. To fill balloons with helium, you can use a helium tank or go to your local balloon store to have balloons inflated. Save time by ordering balloons online and picking up inflated balloons in-store. Pick up balloons close to your party start time on the same day to ensure they are fully inflated and look their best. For best results using helium, view specifications below.

Latex Balloons

  • A standard 12-inch balloon is considered under inflated when it is round and over inflated when it is pear-shaped (where the balloon begins to bulb out at the bottom).
  • Float time of a helium inflated latex balloon can be increased with the use of a product called Ultra Hi-Float™.

Changes in temperature will cause the gas inside the balloons to expand or contract. Use the following tips for best results:

  • In warmer conditions, slightly under inflate balloons.
  • In cooler conditions, slightly over inflate balloons.
  • Latex balloons will float longer in cooler conditions and shorter in warmer.
  • Light and humidity, combined with warmth, will cause the balloons to oxidize more quickly than cool, dry conditions. This is visible as a cloudy / dusty coating on the balloons and is more visible on clear balloons.

Foil Balloons

  • Standard 17-inch balloons are self-sealing and last up to a week when properly inflated.
  • 17 inches is the minimum size required for a foil balloon to float.
  • Do not overinflate balloons. Leave creases in the outer edge around the seam to allow for the expansion.

Changes in temperature will cause the gas inside the balloons to expand or contract. Use the following tips for best results:

  • Do not expose foil balloons to extreme heat such as being left in a car on a hot day. They are likely to burst.
  • Balloons may appear to shrivel if filled in a warm room then taken outside into the cold. This will correct itself when the balloons are returned to a warmer environment or outdoors when it’s sunny.

Ultra Hi-Float™

To increase float time for latex balloons you can use Ultra Hi-Float™. This water-based solution contains a special soluble plastic which helps hold in helium. It is nontoxic, non-irritating, non-corrosive, nonflammable, and biodegradable. With Ultra Hi-Float™, latex and foil balloons can last up to 24 additional hours. 

helium float times for latex balloons
helium float time for foil balloon

Disclaimer: Although helium is not poisonous, it is an asphyxiant. If inhaled to completely fill your lungs, this can be fatal. Never inhale helium yourself or allow others to inhale it. Please note, the above figures are very general. The chart below gives details of approximate float times / inflation times based on the balloons being correctly sized and in constant conditions. Changes in temperature and altitude will affect the life of the balloon. 

Air-Filled

Latex and foil balloons can be inflated with air; however, they will not float. If you’re inflating balloons yourself please using a handheld balloon pump or an electric balloon pump. Do not use your mouth to inflate any form or balloon. In general, most air-filled balloons will last for 6-8 weeks or more. Balloons will start to shrink and oxidise giving it the matte look after a day or so. For best results, view specifications below.

Latex Balloons

  • Air inflation is advised for balloons inflated to less than 9 inches round.
  • A standard 12-inch balloon is considered under inflated when it is round and over inflated when it is pear-shaped (where the balloon begins to bulb out at the bottom).

Changes in temperature will cause the gas inside the balloons to expand or contract. Use the following tips for best results:

  • In warmer conditions, slightly under inflate balloons.
  • In cooler conditions, slightly over inflate balloons.
  • Latex balloons will float longer in cooler conditions and shorter in warmer.
  • Light and humidity, combined with warmth, will cause the balloons to oxidize more quickly than cool, dry conditions. This is visible as a cloudy / dusty coating on the balloons and is more visible on clear balloons.

Foil Balloons

  • 4-inch and 9-inch foil balloons are only designed for air inflation.
  • The gas inside the balloon will expand and contract with temperature.

Changes in temperature will cause the gas inside the balloons to expand or contract. Use the following tips for best results:

  • Do not expose foil balloons to extreme heat such as being left in a car on a hot day. They are likely to burst.
  • Balloons may appear to shrivel if filled in a warm room then taken outside into the cold. This will correct itself when the balloons are returned to a warmer environment.

Tying Latex Balloons

There are many ways to tie a balloon and the method you use may depend on how you’re using them. View the tutorial below to learn how to tie balloon quickly and efficiently without hurting your fingers. 

Balloon Accessories 

Elevate your balloon design with accessories. No matter how big or small your balloon decoration, you can always add some extras ribbon, balloon weights, tails, tassels, and lights. 

curling ribbon rose gold 2
Rose gold curling ribbon

Curling Ribbon

Use curling ribbon to complete helium-filled party balloons or use to hang balloon decorations from ceilings and walls. This classic accessory can also be used to create decorative elements like bows for balloons.

balloon weight blue

Balloon Weights

Spruce up party balloons and keep them secure with balloon weights. Choose from a variety of colors, shapes, themes, and characters that tie into your theme.

Funlah Unicorn Bubble Balloon 2

Tails & Tassels

Upgrade plain balloons with balloon tails and tassels. These decorative enhancements feature colourful fringe and themed cardstock cutout attachments that can be added to the ends of balloons.

Purchasing Balloons

This guide should have a good summary of the basics of balloons, balloon types, balloon colours, balloon arrangement, floating time and accessories. Do remember to dispose of your balloons after the event and always keep children under supervision. Have a fun party!

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