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This step-by-step balloon arch tutorial will show you how easy (and cheap!) it is to make a free-standing balloon arch for your next party.
Be sure to check out the FAQ at the end of the post for more specific details, plus a free printable shopping list and tutorial!
MAKING A DIY BALLOON ARCH IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK!
On the 4th of July, we hosted a neighborhood breakfast and children’s bike parade. My husband and I wanted to make a balloon arch that the children could ride their bikes through. But we couldn’t find any great tutorials for a free-standing balloon arch.
So we got to work figuring out how to make one and now years later, our balloon arches are the talk of the town (or at least neighborhood.)
This step-by-step balloon arch tutorial will show you how you can make a 20-foot or 30-foot self-standing arch.
BALLOON ARCHES ARE GREAT FOR:
- Children’s bike parades
- Family reunions
- School parties
- Birthday parties
MAKE AN EASY BALLOON ARCH IN 3 STEPS:
Making a balloon arch is not hard. Sure, it will take you some time, but I promise it will be worth it. There are 3 steps to creating a balloon arch:
- Setting up your balloon arch stand (framework)
- Filling balloons (no helium required)
- Attaching balloons to the balloon arch
Save TONS of Time!
I bought this electric balloon pump for under $20 that we have used for years to blow up balloons super fast!
STEP 1: CREATE A BALLOON ARCH STAND
Before you shop for supplies, you need to decide where you will put your balloon arch and how big you want to make it.
20-FOOT BALLOON ARCH
Our first balloon arch we ever made was 20 feet. It was the perfect size to go across the sidewalk. This was our first attempt and we were pretty proud of it!
30-FOOT BALLOON ARCH
You can also create a 30-foot arch like this one that spanned our entire driveway: It was HUGE and so fun! This giant diy balloon arch really made a big statement for our neighborhood bike parade and breakfast.
STEP 2: PURCHASE SUPPLIES
With exception to balloons and balloon pump, you can find the balloon arch supplies at your favorite home improvement store in the sprinkler aisle. (Please note: all of the supplies and prices mentioned here are from Home Depot 2018)
Tip: Make sure you have a car big enough to transport the 10-feet PVC pipes. If you have a short car, you can open up the passenger window and slide the PVC pipe out. If you do this, make sure you have an extra person to help hold the pipe so it doesn’t slide out onto the road!
FOR A 20-FOOT ARCH, YOU’LL NEED:
FOR A 30-FOOT ARCH, YOU’LL NEED:
- 3, 10-feet PVC pipes, 3/4″ wide (they need to be bendable)
- 2, 3/4″ couplings
- release tool and pipe bevel
- 2 pieces rebar at least 2 feet long
- 120-130 balloons
- balloon pump
- heavy-duty nylon thread to secure the arch
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO MAKE?
The cost to make the a balloon arch will depend on the size you choose. This is what we spent:
(Prices are from July 2018 at Home Depot)
- 2,10- foot PVC Pipe = $5.42 ($2.71 each)
- 1, 3/4″ coupling = $.59
- 2, 24″ rebar= $5.20
- 80-100 balloons = about $7 (plan on at least 70, but if you want a really full arch, do closer to 100)
- Total: Under $20!
*For a 30-foot arch, you’ll just need 1 extra piece of PVC pipe, 1 more coupling and about 30-40 more balloons)
I highly recommend investing in this electric balloon pump so you don’t have to blow up all the balloons by mouth. You’ll save so much time!
The great news is that once you have the stand supplies, you’ll only need to buy new balloons each time you use it.
- You can save a little money by purchasing 1, 20-foot piece, but it’s much harder to store transport.
- We bought a coupling tool to remove the PVC pipe once we were done so that we could reuse the parts. This set cost us $5, but you could maybe do without depending on the type of coupling (connector you use).
STEP 3. BUILD YOUR ARCH
Now you can build your arch! Make sure you have 2 people helping with this process.
1. Connect the pieces of PVC pipe together with a coupling. Set aside. You shouldn’t need any glue if you get a connector that the PVC pipe can snap in.
2. Find the place you want to build your arch. Ideally, you should choose to place it over a sidewalk, driveway or path.
3. Place the 2 pieces of rebar on either side of the path or driveway. You’ll need a hammer to pound it firmly into the ground.
*Make sure there is at least 12″ of rebar outside of the ground to keep the arch in place like this:
4. Slide the PVC onto one side of the rebar. Repeat with the other side.
The PVC pipe will slide ride over the rebar like this:
HOW TO SECURE THE ARCH
You’ll notice in the photo below that the arch is tilted a bit. We intentionally slanted the rebar into the ground that way. But you’ll also notice a heavy duty nylon strong that is attached to the arch. It is connected to our fence gate to reinforce the arch.
Update: We have also had success without using nylon string to secure the arch.
If you are doing a 20-foot arch, at this point, you can start attaching the balloons to the arch. You will not need an additional support.
If you are making a 30-foot arch, you’ll want to reinforce the middle of the arch to a house, tree, etc so that the weight of the balloons doesn’t pull the arch down.
Tip: This step can be done days ahead of your event.
STEP 4: INFLATE & ATTACH THE BALLOONS
You will not need helium for your balloons–just lots of air!
The next year, I got smart and bought this electric balloon pump for under $20. I had 100+ balloons inflated and tied in about 20 minutes.
Tip: Inflate the balloons on your balloon arch site so you don’t have to transport all the filled balloons.
HOW TO GET THE BALLOONS TO STAY ON THE ARCH
Once all the balloons are filled up and tied, take two balloon and wrap the ties together, creating a bundle like this:
Repeat until all your balloons are in bunches of 2.
Then, you’ll take two sets of balloons and wrap them around the arch and each other until they are secure. If you do this well, you won’t need any tape to hold the balloons in place.
HOW LONG WILL THE BALLOON ARCH LAST?
The actual arch will stay up for a while (given there’s no heavy wind), it’s the balloons you’ll need to be careful about. Heat from the sun can cause the balloons to pop after a few hours. So just keep that in mind.
I’ve only made a balloon arch on the 4th of July when it’s really hot, so if you make it in cooler temps, leave a comment and let us know how long it lasts. I’m betting that inside or cooler temps will help the balloons to stay in place much longer without direct sun on them.
YOU CAN MAKE A BALLOON ARCH ANYWHERE!
The greatest thing about this DIY Balloon Arch (besides that it’s so inexpensive to make) is that you can literally set this up anywhere! We set our 30-foot balloon arch in our yard, but check out the balloon arch my sister made right in the middle of Central Park in New York City for their bike parade:
Don’t let your location stop you! A Balloon Arch can be set up nearly anywhere!
HOW EARLY CAN I SET UP MY ARCH?
Your arch can be set up as early as you want, but the balloons should not be put on the arch until a few hours ahead of your event, especially if you are going to put it up on a warm day.
DO THE BALLOONS NEED HELIUM?
No! You do not need helium in your balloons. The arch will hold the shape alone, so the balloons are merely for looks! Plus, you’ll save a lot of money by not getting helium-filled balloons.
HOW MANY BALLOONS WILL I NEED?
For a 20-foot arch, you’ll need 70-100 balloons. You can get away with around 70, but if you want the arch really full, you’ll want closer to 100.
For a 30-foot arch, you’ll need about 120.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO MAKE?
A balloon arch will cost you around $20, including balloons.
I WON’T HAVE TIME TO MAKE AN ARCH. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you don’t have time to grab the supplies or energy to create your own balloon arch, no problem? You can always grab this balloon arch kit from Amazon right here.
- You’ll need 3/4″ PVC pipe, couplings, rebar, and balloons.
- Secure the rebar into the ground and slide the arch onto the rebar.
- Attach the balloons to the arch using groups of 2 tied around the arch and each other.
- Take a lot of photos of your cheap, DIY balloon arch!