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What Is a Commercial Grade Inflatable, Anyway?

Did you know the first inflatable structure was invented in Louisiana in 1959?

Since the first inflatable, the model used has been improved countless times. The ones we see and use today look nothing like those that spawned their humble beginnings.

Since day one, however, inflatables have been wildly popular. Many businesses buy them for use at events. Others make a business founded entirely on renting out inflatables.

Want to make a great purchasing decision for your business? Then it’s vital to know the differences in available inflatable options.

This article gives you all the information you need about commercial grade inflatables. This includes how they compare to their residential counterparts.

What is a Commercial Grade Inflatable?

Most people know commercial grade inflatables by the term “bouncy house.” It is an inflatable object meant to be played on or in.

The widely-used term “bouncy house” isn’t entirely accurate. Why?

“Bouncy house” isn’t inclusive. An inflatable can be a bounce house. But it can also be a giant slide, splash zone, or game.

If you saw any of these inflatables, you’d instantly recognize them. You’ve likely played on them (usually as a child). You might have gotten them for your children’s birthday party or another celebration.

One thing most people don’t know? There are big differences between residential and commercial grade inflatables.

Residential Vs Commercial Grade Inflatable

The term “residential” means for home use, whereas “commercial” means for business use. The inflatables falling into these categories can often appear exactly the same. But they are different in a few distinct ways.

The primary differences in commercial-grade inflatables are the materials, size, and capacity. The “extras” commercial inflatables can have are also different.


The inflatables bought for personal use inflatables are made from one of two common materials. These include heavy-duty nylon or polyester oxford. Polyester oxford is sometimes referred to as Oxford cloth.

The cheapest residential inflatables are made of polyester oxford. Although this material isn’t as strong, it has some benefit over nylon. Polyester is lighter, traps less moisture, and is easier to pack up for storage.

Better residential models are made with nylon. This is a thicker, stronger material. The downside is it’s harder to pack up, and it traps more moisture.

Neither of these materials would suit commercial grade inflatables. Commercial models are typically made with heavy-duty PVC vinyl.

PVC vinyl is a much stronger material. This strength allows a commercial inflatable to be larger or support more “extras.”


Residential inflatables are meant for personal use. They tend to be much smaller and focus on a single feature.

For example, a residential inflatable might be only a bouncy house or a slide. It might only be a small splash center.

It won’t likely be two or more of these. Unless, of course, homeowners are purchasing commercial models for home use.

The extra strength of commercial-grade inflatables allows them to be larger. They might have several features. Some of the largest commercial inflatables have many sections sporting many features.

This extra size is great for entertaining large numbers of people at once. The downside is it makes these inflatables harder to put away. It takes two or more people to fold and store larger inflatables.

That is why they’re perfect for commercial use but not so perfect for residential use. Businesses have the extra manpower (and usually know-how) to work with industrial-sized inflatables.


Capacity refers to how many people can use an inflatable at the same time. Some models represent this as an actual number figure. Others represent their capacity with a weight limit.

Residential inflatables have a significantly smaller capacity than commercial models. A residential inflatable might be for one to six children. Going over the capacity can pose serious safety risks.

The weight limits on residential inflatables might be too small for a single adult to take part in. It might go up to two hundred or even three hundred pounds for the most expensive models.

A commercial-grade inflatable can have a capacity ten times higher than that. They might be able to support up to or exceeding a thousand pounds in certain circumstances. Commercial inflatables are almost always okay for at least one to two adults to use, too.


There is a big benefit to commercial inflatables being stronger.
It allows them to support “extras” their residential counterparts cannot.

As mentioned above, a residential inflatable likely focuses on a single feature. It might be a bouncy house, a slide, or splash zone but it isn’t going to be all three.

A commercial-grade inflatable can support a lot of extras. This does cost extra money. But businesses are often willing to pay more for the ability to entertain more people at a time.

Commercial inflatables don’t only have more than one primary feature. They can also support things a residential inflatable simply can’t. A few of these include:

  • obstacle courses
  • climbing walls
  • more than one slide
  • extra sections or partitions

Tips For Choosing A Commercial Grade Inflatable

Looking to choose a commercial grade inflatables for your business? There are several considerations you need to make.

Your budget is one of the biggest considerations. How much money do you have available to invest in a commercial inflatable? Larger inflatables or those with a lot of extras will cost more.

Consider how many people your bouncy house will need to support. Will you use it for small local business gatherings? Or is it going to be used for something larger like a fair or state-wide celebration?

How often will your inflatable be used? To see a return on investment, your budget should be aligned with the use your inflatable will get. Those used once a year shouldn’t be as expensive as though used many times.

Still Have Questions?

The information above should have answered all your questions on what a commercial grade inflatable is. Still have questions? Let us know in the comments section!

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