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Whether you're planning a children's party or just want something fun to occupy your little ones, you can't go wrong with a bounce house.
A quality bounce house might be a bit of an investment, but if you pick the right one, your children will play on it for years to come, and you just might win the Parent of the Year award.
But how can you tell a good bounce house from a shoddy one, and how do you pick the right one for your family?
At BestReviews, we strive to help you find the perfect products for your needs. We researched the consumer market and analyzed owner feedback to determine which are the best bounce houses on the market. Next, we created this guide to help lighten your load.
You can read about our top five bounce house recommendations in the matrix above, and you can learn more about bounce houses in the shopping guide below.
Some bounce houses are designed for home use, whether inside your house or in the yard. Others are designed for commercial use. The latter are the huge kind of bounce house you might see at a fairground or other event.
Residential bounce houses are designed for just a handful of kids to use at one time. And although they're quite durable for this purpose, they're not designed to withstand the rigorous life of a commercial bounce house.
Most private citizens choose to buy a residential-grade bounce house rather than a commercial-grade one.
Commercial bounce houses are typically purchased by people who want to rent them out or take them to events as a business venture. They tend to be much larger than residential bounce houses, and the material is more durable in order to withstand daily use from hundreds of bouncers, big and small.
Most private citizens shopping for a bounce house will choose a residential one.
There's no rule against buying a commercial bounce house for home use, but they're large (even when deflated) and consume lots of storage space. Plus, they tend to cost far more than the residential bounce houses seen on this page.
Scott completed his first woodworking project in the 5th grade, and he’s been an avid woodworker ever since. For the past 46 years, Scott has enjoyed remodeling homes, building custom cabinets and mantels, installing hardwood floors/trim work, and many other unique projects.
Since you could probably rent a bounce house for several hundred dollars, why would you want to buy one?
Here’s a look at several reasons why you might want to own your own bounce house:
You and your family can use the bounce house any time you wish.
Bouncing provides great exercise for kids, and it can keep them entertained for countless hours.
They're great fun at parties or when your children have friends over.
If you think your children would frequently use and enjoy their own bounce house, it makes financial sense to buy one instead of just renting it.
You’ll face a variety of feature choices when shopping for a bounce house, including the following:
Many residential bounce houses are made from woven Oxford cloth. Not only is it durable, it's lightweight, too — an ideal material for bounce houses designed for in-home use. High-density vinyl and nylon are also fairly common materials.
Commercial bounce houses tend to be crafted from PVC tarpaulin. While it's not completely unheard of for residential bounce houses to be made of this material, it's relatively rare, as PVC tarpaulin is particularly heavy and unwieldy.
Some bounce houses are suitable for children up to 12 years of age. If you buy one when your child is young, he or she could get many great years of use out of it.
The term "bounce floor" refers to the area of the bounce house in which it's possible to bounce.
The larger the bounce floor, the more room your kids will have to jump.
But don’t assume that a bigger bounce house will have a larger bounce floor. A bounce house with large external dimensions might still have a smaller bounce floor if the walls are thick or the layout makes it so.
Floor size isn’t based solely on a bounce house’s external dimensions. The layout and thickness of the walls also determine how much floor space kids will have to jump.
A bounce house’s capacity relates directly to its floor space. And while some manufacturers don’t provide precise floor space dimensions, they do tell you how many children can bounce in the house at once and/or how much passenger weight it can withstand. (Note: a unit’s floor space dimensions may be different from its overall dimensions.)
The capacity you select depends on your individual needs. Think about how many children, and of what age and approximate weight, will regularly use your bounce house.
You might be satisfied with a compact house that holds a maximum of two children or 120 lbs at once. Or, you might prefer a house that can hold a maximum of five children with a combined weight of up to 500 lbs.
Here we're talking about the external dimensions of the bounce house. Bigger doesn't necessarily mean better, but it's important to know the dimensions if you're planning to fit your bounce house into a particular space.
For example, if you know you want to be able to inflate your house in your living room, you'll need to compare the unit’s external dimensions to the size of your home’s free space.
You can find a bounce house’s external dimensions (height, width, and depth) in the product specs.
The best residential bounce houses are inflated with a continuous flow of air from an air blower, just like you'd find with commercial models.
Small pinprick holes around the seams let the air escape so that the house doesn't burst, yet it remains constantly full of air.
However, some budget bounce houses are inflated with a regular air pump. The inflation of these units work in a similar manner to that of an air mattress.
A residential bounce house that inflates with an air blower is more akin to a commercial model than a bounce house that inflates with an air pump.
If you don't think your kids would be content with plain old bouncing, consider a bounce house with “extras” for added fun. Some houses include inflatable slides, basketball hoops, tunnels, and other challenging obstacles.
Some bounce houses center around a theme; others exude a more neutral appearance. You may prefer a bounce house that looks like a castle with turrets and flags, or you may be drawn to a simple house with primarily colors and no discernable theme.
Should you buy a themed bounce house? The choice is yours, but keep in mind that kids' likes can change in the blink of an eye. They can go wild over a sports theme today and prefer a pirate theme on another day.
While bounce houses can provide hours of fun, you should follow these safety tips to keep everyone free from harm:
Always supervise children when they're using the bounce house.
Don't exceed the maximum weight or capacity recommendations from the manufacturer.
Don't let anyone wear shoes or take sharp/hard objects into the bounce house, as a puncture could cause it to deflate, posing a potential suffocation risk.
Don't inflate or deflate a bounce house with anyone in it.
Bounce houses are safe when used sensibly and when the jumpers and supervising adults exercise common sense. If it doesn't seem like a great idea, don't do it!
You could spend under $50 for a basic “air pump” bounce house for toddlers. Likewise, you could spend several thousand dollars for a large, commercial house.
However, if you want a residential air blower model of a reasonable size, you're looking at anything between $200 and $500. On the higher end of that spectrum, you'll find larger bounce houses suitable for kids up to age 12 or so.
On the lower end, you'll find smaller bounce houses best suited for children under eight years old.
Think “futuristically” when deciding what bounce floor size you want to buy. Sure, a bounce house with a compact floor might be fine for your three-year-old. But that three-year-old will require a lot more space in just a few short years.
Are you hoping to entertain multiple children at once with your bounce house? If so, the bigger the bounce floor, the better. For example, a house with a 12’ x 12’ floor space could be ideal.
Bounce houses that are powered by a continuous-flow blower need to release some air so the unit won’t burst. Often, the manufacturer includes tiny “pin prick” holes at the seams for a small amount of air to escape.
Q. How should I store my bounce house?
A. To avoid mold, it's important that your bounce house is completely dry when you put it away. Once deflated, the bounce house can be folded or rolled up and packed away. Most bounce houses come with a storage bag, but if you plan to store it in a shed or garage, we recommend investing in a hard plastic storage box to protect it from damage.
Q. Air is escaping from the seams of my bounce house. Is this normal?
A. Some people grow concerned when they notice air escaping from the seams of their bounce house. Assuming that you have a house powered by an air blower, this is completely normal. The air blower continuously pumps the bounce house with air to keep it at an optimum level. Tiny holes at the seams allow a bit of that air to escape so it doesn’t become over-inflated and burst.
Q. Where can I set up a bounce house?
A. Bounce houses can be inflated either indoors or outdoors. However, if you're setting it up outdoors, it will need to be properly secured.
Most bounce houses come with stakes. If you set yours up on the lawn, use the stakes to secure the bounce house to prevent it from blowing around (or even away) in strong wind.
You could also set up a bounce house on hard ground, but you'd need to use sandbags as weights, and that process gets more complicated. If possible, we recommend setting up your bounce house on grass.