Types Of Balloons – Everything You Need To Know And More

Balloons come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Balloons also can be used for many different uses, from individual such as parties, weddings, and birthdays balloons are even used in commercial settings. Balloons are often used commercially as a marketing tool or to get people’s attention. Some balloons are biodegradable and some balloons are not biodegradable. Despite their seemingly endless selection to choose from, there are only a few different types of balloons used in the balloon industry or in the commercial industry.

Four of the most common balloon types include latex, foil, vinyl, and plastic balloons. While each of these balloons is similar, they are also very different in uses and application.

There are other types of balloons for specific applications but we will focus on the most used balloons in parties, decorating, and commercially. While each of these balloons is similar in that they are all balloons they are also used very differently. Let us take a look.

Latex Balloons

Latex balloons have been around for many years. Balloons are thought to have originally been made out of dried animal bladders. Then in 1824, an English scientist named Michael Faraday, made the first rubber balloons to capture hydrogen in his experiments. Michael Faraday cut two balloon shapes out of sheets of rubber, pressing the edges together and coating the inside of the balloon with flour to prevent the balloon from sticking.

The next year after Michael Faraday began using his balloons, a toy manufacturer began using the same design to sell as a toy, the balloon. Thus, making way for the balloon as we know it today, even though balloons weren’t manufactured in the United States until 1907.

Latex balloons are made from rubber from a rubber tree. A high-quality latex brand will use only 100% biodegradable latex, they won’t use any fillers or substitutes in the manufacturing process to ensure the best helium retention. Latex balloons come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and colors. You can get latex balloons as small as 5” or as big as 5’, maybe even bigger.

Latex balloons can be filled with air or helium depending on what you need. When filled with helium a latex balloon must be 9” or bigger to float. Although keep in mind a 9” balloon may not float for very long. A typical latex balloon is about 11” or 12” depending on the manufacturer.

Entertainer / Modeling Balloons

Sometimes you will see long skinny latex balloons referred to as a 160 or a 260. These are also frequently called entertainer balloons or modeling balloons. They are most typically used to be twisted into animals or beautiful hats or a sword.

To better understand these numbers let us look at why they name the balloons this. The first number refers to the diameter of the balloon fully inflated and the second number refers to the length of the balloon fully inflated. For example, a 260, would be 2” in diameter and 60” long when fully inflated.

Other Shapes Of Latex Balloons


Heart shaped latex balloons are perfect for Valentine’s Day, Weddings, or just telling someone how you feel.

Geo Donuts

Geo Donuts are donut shaped latex balloons. Geo Donuts come in 16″ and Qualatex makes them. Check out my post on Top Balloon Brands here.

Geo Blossom

Geo Blossoms are geometric shaped flower latex balloons. Geo Blossom balloons are made in 16″ and Qualatex makes them. Check out my post on Top Balloon Brands here.

Linking Balloons

Linking balloons are balloons with little tails on the drip end of the balloon. If you would like to learn more about the Anatomy Of A Balloon – Latex Balloons, check out my post here.

Qualatex makes some called QuickLink and Sempertex makes some called Link-O-Loons. Check out my post Top Balloon Brands, for more information about the different balloon brands.

Squiggly Balloons

Squiggly balloons or wavy balloons are latex balloons made with little squiggles or waves in them.

Lots Of Different Shapes

As I mentioned before, latex balloons come in so many different shapes and sizes.

Foil Balloons

Foil balloons were invented in the 1970s. Sometimes foil balloons are mistakenly called Mylar balloons but this is incorrect. Mylar is actually a registered trademark name referring to a brand name for a thin plastic polyester film, known as BoPET.

“Mylar(R) is the registered trademark owned by the E.I. DuPont Corporation for bi-axially oriented polyester film (BOPET).”


Foil balloons are made of nylon that is covered with a thin layer of aluminum, then they are specially coated to give the balloon their foil-like appearance. Because foil balloons are made from a nylon substance they are less porous and can last much longer than latex balloons.

“Many people also mistakenly call the shiny silver material that are often used for balloons, Mylar, but that in fact is a nylon based material that we do not stock.”


Foil balloons also come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, colors, and prints. You can get foil balloons as small as 5” or as big as 5’, maybe even bigger.

How To Seal A Foil Balloon?

Foil balloons 9″ or smaller must be sealed with a heat sealer. Lay the neck of the balloon flat across the bar, to ensure a proper seal make sure there are no creases in the neck of the balloon. Then press the handle down for 3-5 seconds. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific heat sealer.

Foil balloons larger than 9″ come equipped with a self-sealing valve. Inflate the foil balloon to the desired inflation, remove the neck of the balloon from the nozzle and press the valve flat to seal.

Can I Re-Fill A Foil Balloon?

Foil balloons with self-sealing valves can be refilled about 2-3 times before their valve becomes unreliable. Heat-sealed balloons can not be refilled.

Foil balloons can be filled with air or helium depending on size. When filled with helium a foil balloon must be 18” or bigger to float. Fun fact: it takes more helium to make a foil balloon float than it does a latex balloon.

Plastic Balloons

Plastic balloons, are made of stretchy clear plastic and are shaped like a big beach ball.

Qualatex makes these plastic balloons called Bubble balloons. Bubble balloons come in 20” – 24” and a variety of different colors and printed designs. Bubble balloons can be filled with air or helium.

You will want to fill a Bubble Balloon until it is perfectly round and no wrinkles are visible along the seams.

Bobo balloons are another type of plastic balloon. Bobo balloons are clear plastic balloons that are often filled with confetti, small balloons, flowers, and stuffed animals. Bobo balloons come in a variety of sizes from 8″ – 24″.

Bobo balloons require stretching prior to use. Bobo balloons can be cut to insert large objects and then heat sealed, inflated, and tied off.

Vinyl Balloons

Last on my list, but certainly not least are Vinyl Balloons. What are vinyl balloons made of you might be asking? Vinyl balloons are made of a special type of UV-resistant PVC plastic and stretchy vinyl material. Vinyl balloons are not your typical balloons. Vinyl balloons are more durable and thicker than regular latex balloons. Vinyl balloons can be reused multiple times or they can be inflated and left for a long period of time.

So how long do vinyl balloons last anyways? Vinyl balloons can last up to 90 days or more and some vinyl balloons (depending on brand and manufacturer) are actually guaranteed to last at least 90 days.

With all the other balloon types I have mentioned so far they are typically thought of as a one-time use balloon. Generally speaking, they are inflated and used for one event, for one day, and then discarded, however Vinyl Balloons are different. Vinyl Balloons are used commercially, or to be displayed for weeks on end.

Cloud Busters (shown in the picture) is a brand of vinyl balloons often times seen at car dealerships, open houses, or other events to get people’s attention. Vinyl balloons are better for outdoor use than latex balloons, foil balloons, or plastic balloons because they allow for more expansion (think hot weather) and they are puncture resistant. 

Vinyl balloons can be filled with both helium and air. Vinyl balloons are often filled with air and attached to a sturdy fiberglass stem allowing them to be used without helium. Or Vinyle balloons can be filled with helium to reach high up into the sky to catch people’s attention.

Some other posts you might enjoy are Parts of A Balloon, How To Tie A Balloon, and How To Tie A Ribbon And Balloon.

I hope this post brought value to your day. If it did, please consider sharing with a friend or on your favorite social media. Thanks For Reading Fun With Balloons!

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