Have you ever wanted to know how to make a balloon arch? Balloon arches are an inexpensive way to make a big decorating impact at any party of other occasion. All it takes is a little time and some planning and you'll be ready to impress kids and adults alike with these easy-to-follow instructions for making balloon arches. This article has balloon arch instructions as well as some tips for successfully making balloon arches.
There are many different ways to make balloon arches, but here I give instructions for two basic styles. One uses helium and the other uses air. Don't worry, the air needn't come from your lungs. A compressor or small pump used for inflating air mattresses works wonders.
Instructions For Easy Balloon Strip Arch With Helium Balloons
Helium is much more expensive to use, can be unwieldy, and balloons filled with helium also have a shorter life than balloons filled with air. That said, you can bust out a helium arch very fast using a balloon strip. This is a piece of plastic with holes in it. The balloons are put into the holes of this practically invisible clear strip and a standard one holds up to 12 balloons per foot. You should be able to get a strip at any party store. When you secure each end of the strip, the helium causes the balloons to form a natural arch.
Helium arches work well indoors or in outdoor setting with very little wind.
Instructions for Air Balloon Arch Using a Rigid Base
Air-filled balloon arches require a rigid frame. Plastic 1" PVC pipe is easy to work with and economical, but conduit or aluminum or plastic rods would work as well. For stability, you'll need to wire the arch to the wall or ceiling, or attach a sturdy base to anchor the frame.
A free-standing arch needs a fairly broad base, which can be accomplished by making a square out of the PVC. Or you can drill a hole into a heavy square of wood and insert the PVC pipe, aluminum or plastic rod into the hole. The wooden base can also be weighted with small sandbags if desired for extra stability. Bricks or gallon bottles filled with water also make great anchors that can be easily decorated and hidden from view. Another way to accomplish the same thing is to pound rebar directly into the ground (if possible) and slide the PVC over it.
Once you have the frame in place, it's time to add the balloons. This is the fun part!
- Inflate two latex balloons and tie the necks together.
- Repeat and cross the pairs of balloons in the middle and twist them together to make a cluster of four.
- Starting at one end of the arch, place the cluster against the frame. Wrap one balloon around the frame, then twist it around another balloon to lock the cluster on the frame.
- Repeat, adjusting subsequent cluster to fit snugly against the others.
How to Determine Size of a Balloon Arch:
To figure out the size of your balloon arch, measure the height and width of the area where it will be displayed. To estimate the approximate length of the arch, use the following calculations:
- For the same height and width: (1/2 x Height) + Width = Length
- For an arch that is wider than it is tall: Width + Height = Length
- For an arch that is taller than it is wide: (2 x Height) + Width = Length
The larger the arch, the bigger the balloons should be.
Tips for Success for All Balloon Arches
- Inflate all balloons to the same size. You can easily do this by making a template from cardboard. Cut a round hole to match the desired balloon size, and pass each one through when inflating them.
- Arches with one color are the easiest to make, but combining two or more colors in a spiral pattern is not that difficult. You just need to rotate the bunches as you attach them to the frame.
- In general, you will need 4-6 balloons per foot of frame.
- Keep in mind that helium will only float for about 6-12 hours, depending on the size and of the balloons, and the weather conditions.
jlynrayne on May 14, 2012:
Thank you for the instructions. I only have a couple of questions. How long of a PVC pipe do you need? Also, could you slide the PVC pipe into the balloon structure once you're done or do you have to attach the balloons around the pipe? Meaning, if you have an 5ft arch, would the PVC pipe be 5ft also? Probably a silly question but the only thing I can't figure out. :)
stessily on February 21, 2012:
Lela Davidson, These balloon arches are spectacular! Your instructions are clear. This is doable!
Thank you for sharing.
TheWeddingPlannin from Canada on September 25, 2011:
What a great idea. thanks for sharing.
sheetal kurup on April 21, 2011:
wow....how simple it seems now to make the balloon arch.. My daughters birthday is coming up in 2 weeks time and i am definitely going to try this out.
thanks so much
jade on April 09, 2010:
Your ballon arches are fantastic. I'm a teacher and I'm going to pass this information on.
kelly slachter on April 07, 2010:
We are planning a 50's dance for my daughter school and this info was a great help.
fiona_33 from UK on March 30, 2010:
Wow, I'm going to try this for my daughter's birthday. Thanks so much.
josephine on October 07, 2009:
Thanks for the tip on making balloon arches Iam good at fabric draping but could not figure out the balloon bit now I know.I am now in business
deeds on October 02, 2009:
savior of my life! will you marry me?
MRS OLAPOJU ABOSEDE IYABO on January 06, 2009:
i just want to say a big thank you for teaching me how balloon arches are made.Av been wondering and thinking on how it was made .Now i got it more perfectly.From NIGERIA,LAGOS-STATE.
Lela Davidson (author) from Bentonville, Arkansas on September 01, 2008:
I would tie it. However, if you're attaching it to a place you can staple to then try it. It mostly depends on the durability of the strip you're using.
onyai on September 01, 2008:
thanks for the information!i was just wondering how do u hold the strip in position?is it tied to an object or stapled?
RyanRE from Bellingham, WA on May 31, 2008:
You just don't see enough balloon arches these days. Really, I haven't actually seen one in years. Thanks for sharing the How To :D
Lis Sowerbutts on May 05, 2008:
What a very cool idea ;I have always been useless at flower arranging but I feel like Icould acutally make one of these Thanks!
Sakari from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 02, 2008:
Nice info! :D This gave me good ideas :)
MasonsMom from U.S.A. on May 01, 2008:
Loved the balloon arches at TAT! ;)
beachbum_gabby on May 01, 2008:
cool idea esp for parties! Thanks Lela.
Lela Davidson (author) from Bentonville, Arkansas on May 01, 2008:
anne0neemus - it's more like a strip with holes that the inflated and tied balloons are fitted into - the air doesn't actually go through the strip into the balloons. Hope that helps!
anne0neemus from San Pedro, Laguna, Philippines on May 01, 2008:
I've never thought there was such a thing as the clear strip. If I imagine it right, all balloons are attached to some protruding "tubes" so there will only be one hole for the air source and all balloons inflate. My imagination is running wild now. I've been holding Family Day activities every year for 5 years now and the decoration is also part of my assignment. Thanks for the crash course! :)
Destinee707 from California on April 30, 2008:
Wow, great information on the science of ballon arches. Now, I see how it is done. I've always wanted to learn the technique, this would be great for a festival, thanks so much.
Lela Davidson (author) from Bentonville, Arkansas on April 29, 2008:
Glad to be of service!
Mary K Weinhagen from Minnesota, usa, Planet Earth on April 29, 2008:
WOW - I have wanted to know how to make balloon arches for a long time and have simply never taken the time to search out the information.
Now here you are making it all easily available and well explained!!!
THANK YOU! ;-)~~Mary K
inkcarts from Louisiana on April 28, 2008:
My wife and I are going to build one of those for my son's birthday! Thanks for the tips!
Amy_Roberts on April 27, 2008:
Looks great! Thanks for the info!
MarcyL04 from MIdwest smack dead in the middle of corn country LOL on April 25, 2008:
Thanks, for sharing this. I am going to do this on the next grandkids birthday, so you know they will all want one on their birthdays. Then I will be known as the cool grandma :)
Lela Davidson (author) from Bentonville, Arkansas on April 24, 2008:
Yes, balloons give a lot of bang for your buck! Stayed tuned for more balloon decoration Hubs!
Minnie's Mom from Seattle, WA on April 24, 2008:
I agree, what a great way to decorate on a budget
donnaleemason from North Dakota, USA on April 23, 2008:
Looks like a great idea for the next b'day party. Thanks.
msms on April 23, 2008:
The art and science of making Balloon Arches is limited to the professionals so far you have made it available to all Hubbers.Great work Ms Lela Davidson. Your efforts are admirable.