Inflatable toys, chairs and beds, kids castles, pools, stuff like that.

I understand and seen people use ordinary polypropylene? trashbag sheets or tablecloths for inflatables where the pieces can be joined by putting a paper between a hot iron and the sheets.


But from my experience that material is not thick enough or durable enough, it's very easy to get holes on it. Not that commercial kiddie pools or chairs are bulletproof but there's no denying they are more durable.

I'm interested what the real big inflatables are made of. enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

One chinese supplier said "PVC Tarpaulin" or "600D Polyester Oxford Fabric" is used for their large inflatable pools but I don't know if it's too much, too fragile and cheap or there are easier sourceable or better alternatives at the same price range. By the way tarpaulin pieces can be welded with ordinary heatgun and a roller.

Wikipedia page on inflatable castles mentions "PVC or vinyl and nylon" but those are loose terms describing many kinds of materials containing one of the above materials. For example PVC can be used to describe a rigid pvc plastic sheet, flexible pvc foam or pvc tarpaulin.

  • Each fabric/material has several charactristics, one of them is thickness, one is strength. In each case you will have to test the material or go by the manufaturers files. PVC is a kind of plastic, Vinyl can be an other name for the same material. Nylon is a different material and there are several more that will be suitable if thick enough and made to the right requirements.
    – Willeke
    Nov 10, 2017 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


PVC and vinyl are both abreviations for PolyVinylChloride. Inflatable float toys and furniture were normally made of plasticised PVC film. In the past the plasticiser tended to leach out giving an intense odour when the item was new and resulting in toys losing their "bounce" after 1 season of use. Modern toys seem to be made of better quality materials.

PVC can be joined using heat but it is difficult and most commercial production is done using HF (radio frequency electric) welding. For hobby purposes solvent welding (glue) may be considered. It is slow though and requires constant pressure while it sets.

It is possible that other polymers may replace PVC, there has been a push to reduce chlorine use in plastics.

The large inflatables like "bouncy castles" are almost certainly made from polyurethane reinforced with a cloth typically nylon. Since these are usually supplied with air constantly they need not be airtight, and may be joined by stitching. Polyurethane can also be joined by HF welding where airtight joins are needed.

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