If you have a project you are working on that requires paint-filled balloons, then you might be wondering how to fill balloons with paint. It’s actually not as straight forward as you might think!
I have three boys and I like to find fun and creative ways to entertain them. I’m not afraid of a little mess, so I came up with an idea that involved paint-filled balloons.
I began to brainstorm all of the different ways that I might fill a balloon with paint and also what paint and balloon type was best. Then, I began to experiment!
Read on to discover what I learned on my journey to figure out how to fill balloons with paint. Keep in mind, that how you choose to fill your balloons will be based solely on what you intend to use them for.
Also, check out some fun, bonus projects at the end!
The Best Types of Paint for Filling Balloons
If you’re an artist, then you’re probably already well versed in the different types of paints and you know what medium will work best for your project. If you’re not, you might be wondering what paint is best for filling balloons.
Whether you’re throwing them, making a craft project out of them, using them for a game, or creating an artistic masterpiece, I would recommend using water based paints. This means: Acrylic and Tempera paint.
Water based paints are generally non-toxic and easier to clean up. Because of this, they’re typically used for crafts and for use by children.
Both are thicker, creamier paints and fast drying. And, because they are water based, you are able to thin them down with water.
Oil based paints have higher levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can produce harsh, potentially unsafe fumes. They are slow to dry, and you cannot thin them with water, because water does not mix with oil.
So, which of the water-based paints is best? Well, it comes down to one basic characteristic: its permanence.
Tempera paint is not made to be permanent, while acrylic is. If you need easy cleanup and less mess, then tempera is the right choice.
If you need something that’s more permanent, then acrylic is the right choice. Tempera is washable, and while acrylic can be cleaned up, it is much harder to do so.
Once acrylic paint is dry, it becomes significantly harder to clean up. If you need to clean it, you need to do it immediately.
This makes tempera paint a much safer and cleaner option.
Types of Balloons
Any type of latex balloon can be filled with paint. Which one you pick will be based on the size, shape, and durability required for your project.
Some common sizes of latex balloons are small water balloons, 9 inch balloons, and 12 inch balloons. Latex balloons also come in different shapes, as well.
The Best Type of Balloon for Paint
In my experience, I found water balloons to be the easiest to work with. This is because they are thinner and smaller, making it easier to expand and fill.
They are also easier to handle and despite their small size, they can be filled with a decent amount of paint (or any liquid for that matter).
Yes, you can technically fit more paint in a larger balloon. But, it’s not exactly feasible to fill a 9 or 12 inch balloon up to its full size with paint, unless you have an incredibly large apparatus or machine that can continually squeeze the paint in.
Why is this the case? Read on to find out.
How It Works
Unfortunately, filling balloons with paint is not as easy as sticking a funnel in the balloon and pouring in the paint. It’s a nice thought, but it doesn’t actually work!
The reason a balloon fills up with any substance, whether it be water, paint, or gas, is because the latex material expands. Latex is a stretchy material; it will shrink back down as fast as it expands.
But, in order to get the latex to expand, sufficient force needs to be applied and concentrated within the balloon. This is why simply pouring paint in to the balloon won’t work; there isn’t enough concentrated force.
You need to use an apparatus that will hold liquid and will apply the force needed to expand and fill the balloon.
What Doesn’t Work
Based on extensive experimentation, here are a few ways that aren’t worth trying:
- Any kind of funnel or makeshift funnel.
- Soap pump or anything that pumps liquid in a similar fashion.
- Using a straw to pour the paint through.
The balloon does not inflate any further than its uninflated form without significant pressure.
Tips & Tricks
Before filling the balloons with paint, here are a few tips and tricks that will help make it an easier process.
Dilute the Paint with Water
Like I mentioned earlier, water-based paints are a great option for filling balloons. But, they are on the thicker side.
Even just a little water will help thin the paint. If the paint is thinner, then it can be pushed into the balloon more easily and much faster.
You can add as much water as you desire. Tempera and acrylic paints are quite vibrant in color, so even with equal ratios of paint to water, you’ll still get great colors.
Use your discretion and do what is best for your project!
Use a Friend
If possible, make it a two person job!
One person can use both of their hands to squeeze the paint out, while the other one holds the balloon in place. A stronger, two-hand squeeze will make the paint come out faster and with more force.
Blow the Balloon Up First
Stretch out the latex by blowing up the balloon (without tying it) in advance. It will help loosen the elastic a bit.
Additionally, you can actually squeeze paint into a balloon after it’s been inflated, if you’re careful. I had success with this when I was filling my balloons.
If a balloon is inflated, it becomes a vessel. You don’t need as much force, because it’s already blown up.
However, the air inside will need to escape as it is being replaced with paint. So, it’s still important to use the right device that will push the paint in as the air slowly escapes.
You can see in the picture below the paint being squeezed into an already inflated balloon.
Continue reading to learn about the different types of devices you can use.
Use Squeeze Bottles to Fill Balloons With Paint
One sure way to exert enough pressure to expand the balloon while filling it with paint – squeeze it in!
It is important to note that not just any squeeze bottle will work; it needs to have the right nozzle. You want to be able to wrap the balloon around the nozzle so that all of the pressure is exerted into the balloon and nowhere else.
See a comparison below. A balloon could not wrap easily around the top of the paint bottle, but can be inserted easily over the bottle with the pointy tip.
Refillable Condiment Squeeze Bottles
A refillable condiment squeeze bottle worked very well. It held a good amount of paint, had the right pointy nozzle, and was easy to handle.
The bottle I used held about 16 ounces of liquid. But there are larger, 32 ounce sizes available in this style of squeeze bottle, if you have a bigger project, or want to cut down on time.
The regular paint came out slower and required a stronger squeeze, while the diluted paint filled more quickly.
There’s nothing better than being able to use something you already have. So dig into those recycling bins!
Empty Condiment Bottles
Remember to find a bottle with the right nozzle. A lot of condiment bottles are squeeze bottles, but they may not all have the right tops.
Some examples of bottles that might work (depending on type and brand) include: mustard bottles, sriracha bottles, and miscellaneous sauce bottles.
Dish Soap Bottles
If you have an empty dish soap bottle with the right squeeze top, this is a great option! Dish soap bottles are a larger size and can hold a lot of paint.
Wrap the balloon around the nozzle and give it a big squeeze!
Use a Spray Pump to Fill Balloons With Paint
This technique is best used with paint that has been diluted with water. A sprayer is meant to spray liquid, and because paints tend to be thicker, it needs to be thinned in order to run through the tubes and out the nozzle.
So, what do I mean by using a sprayer? You need a bottle that comes equipped with a pump.
A simple sprayer won’t work. You need something that will build pressure inside the bottle in order to propel the paint out into the balloon.
There are a couple of different options for this kind of bottle.
(1) A generic pump sprayer, usually designed for gardening or cleaning purposes (see picture below). Or, (2) a water balloon pump.
Both bottles are designed and used in the same way. You pump the pump on top to pressurize the bottle, stick the balloon on the nozzle, and push the button or lever to propel the diluted paint into the balloon.
If you happen to have one of these sprayer pumps on hand and don’t mind diluting your paint, then this is a great option!
Tip: I had to unscrew the tip of my pump sprayer nozzle to take it from a fine mist to a faster, pressurized spray. However, you do not have to do this with a water balloon pump as it’s not designed to spray mist.
Fun BONUS Project With Paint-Filled Balloons
When I thought of paint filled balloons, I instantly thought: darts!
Not only is this project fun and easy, it’s cheap! I bought most of the items needed for this project at the dollar store.
- Sturdy Poster Board
- Duct Tape
- Small Balloons (I used water balloons)
- Squeeze Bottle
How to Assemble:
- Fill balloons with paint with assorted colors.
- Duct tape balloons securely onto the poster board. Use as many as you like.
- Lay down tarps or tablecloths and set up board.
- Throw darts and have fun!
Note: If you dilute your paint, be prepared for a little bit of a splash!
You can do this project using anything you might have on hand. For example, if you have a scrap piece of wood and some nails – that would work great, as well!
I set my poster board on a table, but an easel or on the ground are other options. Do what works best for you, and have a little bit of messy fun!
Fun Alternative to Paint-Filled Balloons
If I learned anything from filling balloons with paint, it’s that it’s a messy business. So, I began to consider alternatives to paint.
You can still add a bit of color to the inside of your balloons without the paint! Simply fill balloons with water and a bit of food dye.
There are two ways of doing this:
- Fill your pump with water and add several drops of dye to the container. Then, fill the balloons.
- Put 2 to 3 drops of dye directly into the uninflated balloon, then fill them with water.
For filling your balloons with water, use a hose, or check out How to Fill Water Balloons Without a Hose for more ideas.
Water Balloon “Paint Ball”
Looking for a fun way to use these balloons? Get your family or friends together and try a fun game of water balloon paint ball, which is exactly as it sounds – paint ball, but with water balloons!
Here’s how it works:
Have everybody wear white and split up into teams. Each teams gets water balloons dyed with their team color.
Commence the water balloon fight! Just like paintball, the last team left standing and unscathed – wins!
It can be a little bit of a tricky process, and maybe a little messy, but there are certainly ways to fill balloons with paint.
Based on your projects’ needs, find the best way for you, and get to filling those balloons with paint!