Balloon Sizes and Guidelines

Balloon Sizes

Are you planning on throwing a party in the near future? There’s no such thing as a part if you don’t have several balloons decorating your walls and furniture. However, something you might not have considered is the size of balloons.

Balloon Size Chart

Balloons come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and materials. The most common balloon type is the latex balloon. In this article, I will talk about latex balloons, mylar/foil balloons, and vinyl balloons.

Latex Balloons

Latex Balloon Sizes Floating Period (in hours)
Inches Centimeters
5 12 5-7
9 23 8-12
11 28
16 41 10-18
24 61
30 76
36 91

When it comes to balloon materials, latex is the one you’re probably most familiar with. Its stretchy texture and rubbery taste are what many people will be able to immediately identify from latex balloons.

While latex balloons are a classic for parties, they’re not designed to last for very long. Latex is naturally porous, and as such, air or helium will constantly leak out. That is why latex balloons will droop closer and closer to the ground over time.

As great as latex balloons are, they’re not ideal as serious decorative items. After prolonged exposure to air, the latex will begin to oxidize. This will lead to a dull look and chalky feel. Plus, direct sunshine can cause the latex to become thin and lose air at a quicker rate.

Foil Balloon Size Chart

Foil Balloon Sizes Floating Period (in hours)
Inches Centimeters
18 46 1-3
30 76 1-7
40 102
50 127

If you’ve seen someone holding balloons in the shape of numbers or letters, then you know what a mylar/foil balloon is. In contrast to traditional latex balloons, foil balloons are comprised of different materials instead of just one.

First of all, it contains mylar, which is a type of nylon, that serves as the balloon’s base. Any helium that is pumped into a mylar/foil balloon will end up inside of the inner mylar “bladder,” so to speak. Mylar can retain all sorts of shapes a lot better than latex can, which is why manufacturers use mylar to construct balloons in the shape of letters, numbers, and even animals.

Encasing the mylar bladder is a thin layer of aluminum foil, which is what gives foil balloons their name.

What sets foil balloons apart from latex balloons, apart from their appearance, is their durability. Mylar, while still porous, does not release air or gas as quickly as latex. So, they can remain floating in the air for several hours or even days longer than the typical latex balloon.

However, foil balloons aren’t perfect. Disposing of a foil balloon can be tricky since the materials are nonrecyclable. In addition, mylar is not as stretchy as latex, and the foil casing is not designed to expand. So, you will need to pay close attention to how much air you pump into the foil balloon to prevent it from exploding.

Vinyl Balloons

Have you ever seen large floating balloons in front of car dealerships or new businesses? If so, then you’ve seen a vinyl balloon.

Vinyl balloons typically come in two forms: standalone and coated latex.

A standalone vinyl balloon consists of a fiberglass stem. You simply need to pump air into the balloon, and the stem will keep the balloon upright. The thick vinyl walls will keep air inside the balloon for much longer than other balloon types. That is what makes them ideal for outdoor use, even during hot summer days.

A vinyl-coated latex balloon is exactly what its name suggests. It is comprised of a latex balloon that is covered in a vinyl coating, giving it a glossier look. As such, vinyl balloons can be as large or as small as you want, depending on the size of the latex balloon you have on hand.

The vinyl coating is resistant to ultraviolet, which allows standard latex balloons to retain their shape and size for months or even years while being exposed to the elements.

Vinyl balloons can be costly, depending on the size you get. However, if your goal is to throw a long-term celebration—say, the opening of a new business—then the costs might be worth it. Plus, you might end up saving on balloon costs over the course of a few months.

Why Aren’t My Balloons Floating?

First of all, you should know that when inflating a balloon with air from your lungs, it’s impossible for the balloon to float. This is because the air we breathe into a balloon is similar or heavier than the weight of air. If you want your balloon to float, you will need to pump it up with helium.

However, after using helium, if your balloon is still not floating, the main reason might be that you didn’t fill it with enough helium. You should check for the maximum dimensions of your balloon to determine how much or how little helium to add.

For instance, a 36-inch latex balloon will not float if it’s only filled with enough helium to get it to around 5 or 10 inches in circumference. So, continue filling the balloon with helium until you’ve reached the maximum size or close to it.

Can I Use Hydrogen to Inflate Balloons?

Technically, you can if you want your balloons to float. Like helium, hydrogen is lighter than the ambient air, and a balloon filled with the gas will shoot straight up toward the ceiling or sky.

However, filling balloons with hydrogen is not recommended. Unlike helium, hydrogen is not a noble gas. If it is exposed to the slightest spark, it could combust and cause serious damage to everything and everyone in the area.

If you wish to learn more about the dangers of using hydrogen to keep things afloat, I suggest you read up on the Hindenburg Disaster.

Why Do Balloons Spontaneously Pop?

Why Do Balloons Spontaneously Pop

This is mainly an issue with latex balloons. If you can imagine, the air inside of a latex balloon will stretch the latex membrane to create a thin layer. The longer it retains its shape, the more prone it is to pop.

Over time, an inflated latex balloon’s membrane will begin to become thinner and thinner, creating weak points all over the balloon. Exposure to sunlight or even the slightest physical disturbance (someone running into the balloon) can cause any of those weak points to give up and the balloon to spontaneously pop.


Baron Cooke has been writing and editing for 7 years. He grew up with an aptitude for geometry, statistics, and dimensions. He has a BA in construction management and also has studied civil infrastructure, engineering, and measurements. He is the head writer of

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