Are you looking for an easy way to impress your party guests with bold and colorful decor? Using balloons is an affordable and beloved party tradition that’s valued for the fun aspect they bring to the event while allowing you to stay on budget!
Kids’ birthday parties, weddings, graduations, and baby showers are all perfect occasions to decorate with balloons. They can be fun and vibrant or elegantly enchanting depending on which balloon design you opt for. From classic balloon filled ceilings to modern DIY balloon centerpieces, balloon garlands, and balloon arches, when it comes to party decor you can’t go wrong with balloons. Fun and affordable, balloon party decor can be easy when you know all the basics!
When you start your balloon decorating journey, you may be surprised at how many different options you have. From sizes to sheen, and everything in between, you will need to know the difference between each option to ensure you have the right balloon-type for your party. In this article, we’ll explain all the basics you need to know about latex balloons.
This basic balloon info is sure to come in handy whether you’re planning to decorate a birthday bash or a formal wedding reception!
The Difference Between Latex and Mylar Balloon
When you hear the word “balloons” you may think of latex helium balloons while others may think of mylar balloons. Although both options can be used to create beautiful party decor, the material of the balloon will determine its look, shape, inflation time, and much more! Allow us to explain the differences between mylar and latex balloons.
Latex balloons, also known as rubber balloons are the most common and versatile type of balloons for event decorating. Made of naturally occurring rubber, latex balloons are biodegradable which makes them environmentally friendly. Although they're not available in character shapes like mylar balloons, latex balloons are available in many assorted shapes, colors, finishes, sizes, and printed options.
A bonus of latex balloons is their flexibility to adapt to your decor needs and their ability to be filled with air or helium. Latex balloons are by far the preferred choice for DIY balloon decor such as stunning balloon garlands, balloon columns, balloon bouquets, balloon backdrops, and much more. The styling possibilities with latex balloons are endless like using custom latex balloons!
Mylar balloons are most commonly known as "foil balloons". They have a shiny metallic finish resembling foil which is where they get their nickname from. These types of balloons can be filled with air or helium and can be reusable if not damaged. Foil balloons are available in shapes such as stars, hearts, flowers, and a variety of character silhouettes.
Mylar balloons are also available in metallic colors with printed images and phrases such as happy birthday or congratulations. They are also sold in individual letters and numbers to create custom balloon messages like letter balloons of happy birthday.
Because they are non-porous, mylar balloons will hold helium and air longer than latex balloons making them a splurge item since they’re less budget-friendly. Still, mylar balloons are a great accent for a pop of color and texture for latex balloon decor!
Latex Balloon Sizes Explained
While there are numerous ways you can incorporate foil and latex balloons into your event decor than non latex balloons, for latex balloon decor you’ll want to determine how and where you will use the balloons before you start decorating. This will help you determine the balloon size needed to complete the theme and design of your event.
Latex balloon sizes are determined by their approximate inflation diameter and range from mini 5” balloons to giant 8 ft balloons! While 8ft balloons can certainly make a huge impact, the most common balloon sizes for decorating include 5", 10", 12", and 18" balloons that can also make a grand statement!
5” Latex Balloons
Mini or tiny, 5-inch balloons are the ideal filler balloon! You can use them to fill in gaps on balloon walls and balloon garlands and are great for filling acrylic stands. The small size is also perfect for creating small table centerpieces like balloon table runners, mini hot air balloons, or topiary trees.
Due to their small size, it’s only recommended to fill them with air as the small amount of helium it can hold will limit their floating time.
10” Latex Balloons
10-inch balloons are by far the most popular and economical balloon size and they can be filled up with air or helium. This is a great size for elaborate decors such as balloon garlands, arches, columns, and their size allows them to be used almost anywhere!
12” Latex Balloons
Offering the same decor possibilities as the 10 in balloons, the slightly bigger 12-inch latex balloons are more commonly used for larger decor options such as balloon walls, bouquets and balloon drops. Due to the slight size difference, when filled the 12” balloons will remain inflated longer.
18” Latex Balloons
Referred to as jumbo or giant balloons, 18 in latex balloons make excellent decorations and are best suited for big displays. With their large size, it doesn't take many to make a big impact on your special day! Clear or light-colored 18” balloons are perfect for being filled with 5” mini balloons or paired with 12” balloons for a double-bubble balloon.
The large volume of helium these oversize balloons can hold is perfect for adding tassels, streamers, or tulle as balloon ties for additional pizzas!
Common Latex Balloon Finishes
In general, all latex balloons will have a glossy and shiny finish, however, some styles may have a brighter shine than others. The three most common types of balloon finishes are opaque, translucent, and pearlized balloons each style will provide a unique style to your party decor.
Similar to organza linens, translucent balloons offer the most transparency. The transparency of crystal balloons makes them super crafty and versatile because they can be filled with fun charms like smaller balloons or confetti! Even without the fun additions, the high shine of clear balloons will make them shine like jewels for mesmerizing decor!
The most popular and budget-friendly balloons are known as standard or opaque. Even though they are opaque, they have high shine and the colors are rich and luxurious which are less likely to show the oxidation when used outdoors. This makes opaque balloons timeless perfect for occasions like children's birthday parties, and baby showers and provide incredible versatility.
When you hear metallic balloons the first thing that may come to mind is a foil or mylar balloon. However, the term refers to the metallic sheen of the balloons versus the material itself. Metallic balloons are also opaque and have a reflective pigment mixed in, giving them chrome or pearlized shimmering quality which is why they are also referred to as pearl or chrome balloons. The reflexive finish are an eye-popping and glamorous addition for any event or backdrop!
Inflating Balloons With Helium Vs. Air
There are many ways to set up stunning balloon decorations, but what type of inflation method is best for your decor? Helium and air are both simple to use, yet each has distinct aspects you want to pay attention to when deciding if your balloon decor will hang, float, or take a specific shape.
Helium Filled Balloons
If your decor includes floating decor, using helium is the best option. Since latex balloons are slightly porous, helium can escape quicker than with mylar or foil balloons. By using a nontoxic and biodegradable Hi-Float Coating on your latex party balloons, your decorations can be prepared a day ahead of time. The solution is quick and easy to apply and keeps your balloon decor pieces soaring like new without the last-minute prep. While NOT helium or a helium tank itself, this balloon treatment is a smart added step to use on your balloons, allowing them to float up to 25 times longer!
Air Filled Balloons
Due to the recent helium shortage, inflating balloons with helium gas tanks has become more expensive making air-filled balloons a more economic and popular choice. While helium will certainly get you the leverage you desire when it comes to floating balloon centerpieces, balloon tape and glue dots help create wonderful air-filled balloons garlands of any desired height.
If you are using air in place of helium, double-balloon pumps are the smartest way to go about this process. Balloon pumps are a practical and time-saving device to inflate the large number of balloons required for balloon arches and backdrop walls in a short amount of time!
Proper Balloon Inflation
Whether using air or helium balloon types, it's important to make sure balloons are properly inflated. Properly inflated balloons will be aesthetically pleasing with a lower risk of popping or deflating faster. Over-inflating or under inflating balloons will also alter the intended shape, color, and finish of the balloon. So how do you know when balloons are properly inflated?
Round latex balloons are properly inflated when they achieve a soft pear or teardrop shape. When a balloon is overinflated the air goes into the neck of the balloon resulting in a lightbulb shape. This reduces the material around the neck of the balloon making it harder to tie the balloons. This can easily be fixed by gently pressing the balloon against any surface and letting air out slowly until the balloon is perfectly filled!
Under-inflated balloons have a rounded ball-like shape that can be solved by adding slightly more air or helium. Under Inflating, balloons will result in a loss of color and shine. For example, if clear balloons are under-inflated they will have a cloudy and dull appearance instead of a shiny crystal clear finish. Under-inflated balloons will also look much darker than their intended color.
While properly inflated balloons allow balloons to display the gorgeous intended color and finish, you should know that naturally occurring balloon oxidation can alter their color and shine overtime. So let’s find out what balloon oxidation is and how it can be prevented!
What Is Balloon Oxidation?
Since balloons are made of natural occurring rubber, when balloons are exposed to direct sunlight, high temperature, and humidity, this causes the balloons to start breaking down and biodegrade. This results in a thin white chalky coating forming on the surface of balloons. This chalky coating will be more visible in clear or metallic balloons but not as much on standard balloons.
How to Prevent Balloon Oxidation
Since oxidation is more prone to occur in outdoor conditions, the best way to deter oxidation is to keep balloons indoors until right before the event. You can also coat the outside of the balloon with a product such as Balloon Shine to prevent oxidation as well as to add more shine to the balloons. When setting up for the event, it's also best to opt for an area that is shaded to prevent as much direct sunlight on the balloons as possible.