A balloon arch can last for a few hours up to a few weeks depending on temperature, heat, humidity and the quality of the balloon decor. Under ideal circumstances, latex balloons can last several days outdoors or even several weeks indoors. Foil balloons have even been used to decorate for up to a few years!
As balloon arches can be made with helium or air, the answers can vary quite drastically. Helium decor can vary based on a ton of factors that we will not dive into too much here. You can read more about helium in this article. For the purpose of this discussion, we will specifically be speaking about air-filled arches, with a frame. The use of a frame takes out the need of helium and makes answering this question much easier and definitely more straight-forward.
The longer answer has more to cover. So, we will touch base on a few of those items below. If you want the short answer, stick to the answer above. Otherwise, here is some more information on how to increase the longevity of your balloon decor. Specifically talking about arches, this information mostly holds true for balloon decor in general. Enjoy!
The first question one might ask is why balloons don’t last in the first place. Short of being popped, wouldn’t they be just fine? That would be great, but that is not exactly how things work. Even in ideal conditions, balloons will immediately begin losing teeny-tiny bits of air through the unseen pores in the latex. Even at room temperature, there are little air molecules bouncing around inside the balloon. These molecules bouncing around are the reason the balloon is inflated to the size it appears. It is the same reason a balloon dipped in liquid nitrogen will shrink to its almost uninflated size, only to “re-inflate” when it warms up again. Physics and Chemistry can be cool!
All science talk aside, there are things working against the longevity of the balloon. Firstly, balloons are a natural and biodegradable latex made from the sap of a rubber tree. Since they are latex and not plastic, they naturally want to decompose as they become in contact with the environment. Lucky for the party goers, this is usually a slow process. It can be sped up, however, and leads to the top reasons balloons deflate or pop prematurely.
Heat and humidity begin the process of breaking down balloons and are the first obstacle to their longevity. The introduction of heat and humidity can cause balloons to oxidize (this is a fancy word for rust). Yes, balloons can rust just like a piece of iron. There are different elements involved, but it works the same way. When a balloon is exposed to heat and humidity, it will lose its bright shiny coat and slowly be covered by a velvet sheen or even the appearance of a powder. This is the visual element of this process and the easiest way for a professional balloon decorator to determine the age of a balloon arch.
There are also other elements that can cause a balloon to pop. Some of the top things we’ve seen are static pulling particulates of sand or glass to the balloons, actual melting from intense heat of the sun, and then there is the wind. Wind does not do much damage on its own, but can add to any of these other items to make things happen faster. Wind speeds up oxidization, can move particulates from the ground up to where static can pull them to the balloons to pop, and can even cause melted balloons to pop by adding extra stress to them.
Balloons love cool, dark places. We store our balloons in almost air-tight containers, away from the light, and in an air-conditioned room. That helps them last as long as possible and we have been able to use balloons that are a year old with absolutely no problems.
At an event, there are many things to consider. Just because a balloon arch might last the longest in a dark room that isn’t being used, it will not have the greatest impact on the event. So, balloon professionals are here to work with you to find the absolute best location for your balloon arch, based on your specific needs. If you only need an arch to last for a single day, then there are many options to choose from. If you need it to last for a week or more, then we have to start getting creative with different ways we can extend the life of the balloon.
In short, there are only a few ways to extend the life of the balloon. You either slow down oxidation, work to eliminate popping factors, or a combination of the two. YTE Events and Balloon Decor has been building balloon decor for years and has learned nearly every trick in the book to help with this. So, let us know what you are trying to accomplish and we will do what we can to help mitigate any popping and to make sure you have the best event experience possible.
The most long-lasting way to build balloon decor is to build an arch that will be inside an air-conditioned environment and which has a frame to help support it when the balloons slowly begin to deflate. A standard balloon arch made with properly inflated latex balloons will last anywhere from 12 hours to 2 days without any significant issues. The lower number represents an arch closer to a doorway where outside heat and humidity are being introduced regularly. The longer timeframe is representative of an arch which does not have the same environmental pressures.
A balloon professional can extend this time even more! By treating the balloons ahead of time, the time can be extended up to 25 days or more. Balloons can be treated from the inside and also from the outside to reduce the speed of oxidization. They can also be treated to eliminate some of the static which can draw in possible particles to the balloons that could pop the balloons.
The biggest concern with lasting balloon decorations in a corporate location or a venue is the possibility of chemicals and solvents being used in cleaning that can also eat away at the balloons and cause them to break down more quickly.
We safely feel that an indoor arch can be guaranteed (in most cases) for 2-5 days without any issues. When we feel that there may be some concern and if it is important to last longer, we can also offer a “refresh” option that allows us to come out to your venue and touch up any deflated balloons and to make sure the balloon arch looks brand new and fresh for whatever event is happening.
When putting a balloon arch outside, there are many different things to consider. Often weather is a big factor. A hot, humid area without any overhead shadows can mean that an arch only lasts for a few hours at most. When an arch is put up the night before, or even really early the same morning, there can be an element of condensation added to the balloons. This can make them slightly sticky and, when heated by the sun, can meld a few of the balloons together. When this happens, a slight wind can cause a whole line of balloons to pop all at the same time.
Color plays a part in outdoor decor as well. A balloon arch made with dark colored balloons collect more of the sun’s heat and energy and can cause them to melt or pop more easily. White is the absolute best color to use for outdoor decor as it has the longest chance of lasting in the elements.
Outside, there are also more things that can be blown towards the balloons that can act to pop the balloons before the sun gets a chance to. Things like sand, pieces of glass, brick dust, and even more direct items like push pins can be blown in the wind toward balloon arches and can cause them to pop.
In some areas, even the blades of grass or other plant life can secrete oils that can cause the balloons to pop earlier than normal. Because of this, some balloon decorators will even put down fabric or base plates to help keep the balloons from directly touching the balloons.
In our climate (Central Florida), a balloon arch can typically last for one night and most of the next day when placed outside. The first day it is typically okay. Then the dew and condensation gather on it the next day. After that and the heat of the second day, the arch is susceptible to popping with the introduction of any significant burst of wind or with direct shining of the sun during the heat of the day. If it has not popped the second day, the third day is typically the limit in our hot and humid climate. There are exceptions and it can be extended when there is some shade present or if it were a particularly cloudy day. That said, we have also seen balloon decor set up in the direct sun during the heat of summer and only last for a few hours. So, it certainly can vary. On the same note, we have had outdoor decor last for up to a week in optimal conditions.
We spoke about this more above, but it very much depends on the type of arch and where it is located. A helium arch might last a few hours. An outdoor air filled balloon arch may last a couple days. An indoor latex arch may last a few weeks. An indoor foil air-filled balloon arch may last as much as a few months.
We recommend putting an arch where it makes the most sense for your event. If it doesn’t matter, then we would recommend placing it out of direct sun, ideally indoors, with a minimal amount of possible popping factors. You can read the article above for more information about the specifics on what can pop items as well.
In most cases, it is absolutely fine to set up a balloon arch the night before. However, if you are using helium, it should be set up on the day of the event.
In most cases, you can make the balloon arch the day before and be absolutely fine. The biggest exception would be a helium arch, which we would recommend having set up the day of the event.
Professional balloon artists have tips and tricks to allow them to inflate and prepare a number of items WAY ahead of time. Most professionals inflate and build balloon decor up to a week before your event. This is also true with arches. In the proper environment, a balloon arch can last weeks without any problems. Professionals will typically inflate balloons at least a day ahead of time so that they can catch any “slow leaks” and correct them before delivering the balloon arch to your event.
A helium arch can last a few hours indoors and may or may not last for any significant amount of time outside. If a helium arch is blown over outdoors and hits grass, concrete, or anything sharp or hot it can cause the balloons to burst. Indoors, a helium arch can last up to 8 or 12 hours in most cases. When the balloons are treated properly and the conditions are correct, a helium arch can last up to 3 or 5 days.
The air-filled balloon arch will last longer in all scenarios. It is by far the absolute best option for longevity.
You certainly can! Typically we would only suggest treating an arch in this manner if it will be indoors and if you are looking to have it last for a month or more. The treatments can help slow the leaking of air from the inside, but will not completely stop oxidization. So, keeping it out of the elements will help do the bulk of the work. The longer-lasting treatments are great for extending the life of a balloon arch, but it will not stop balloons from bursting due to other factors.
Give us a call! We are more than happy to help answer questions, offer a quote, or talk you through some suggestions for arch placement to increase the longevity of your balloon decor.
You can also fill out an event contact form.
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