Nylon vs. Polyester Flags: A Complete Guide to American Flag Selection

Finding the best flag for your intended display is no easy task. The flag material you use depends on your flag's function, location, and where it will be displayed. When picking a flag, think about its purpose to find the right material for your investment. 

Indoor flag displays at home or in public have many materials and flagpole options. Outdoor displays have fewer choices. Additionally, the region where you live determines the types of flags you should buy. Certain flag fabrics cannot survive in harsh or windy climates, while others perform poorly in wet weather.  

You may even need to upgrade your flagpole to match the safety guidelines within your location.  

Moreover, flag size and pole height are intrinsically linked since the height of your pole will determine the dimensions of flags it can safely fly. Picking the right materials for your display might feel overwhelming, but this guide can help you decide which flag fabric is best for you. 

Things to Consider Before Purchasing Your American Flag 

When choosing between a nylon vs. polyester flag, there are a few things you must consider. The type of fabric used for your American flag determines its durability and strength. Therefore, it is crucial to select appropriate materials for each specific area. Before purchasing, consider the following. 

Indoor American flag Indoor American flag
Indoor American flag with pole sleeve

Do you plan to display your flag indoors or outdoors? 

Selecting where your flag will fly is the first step when choosing a nylon vs. polyester flag. Flags for indoor and outdoor use have different materials, even though they may look similar from a distance. What's the difference between indoor and outdoor flags?  

To start, indoor flags are generally finished with a lined pole sleeve, a reinforced channel that runs along the hoist side of the flag. Pole sleeves are often made of the same material as the flag itself and include a lining for added durability. Their internal tabs, made of either leather or velcro, make them easy to attach to any indoor flagpole.  

Outdoor flags are constructed with canvas headings and brass grommets (or roped headings above a certain size). Grommets are small holes usually lined in brass on the hoist end that are used to attach the flag to the pole. Since the grommets receive the bulk of the pulling while the flag flies, it's essential to ensure they are properly reinforced. 

Grommets are commonly used to attach the flag to the flagpole. You can connect them with a rope or porch flag collars. Porch flag fasteners are ring-like attachments that screw into the grommets.  

Do you live in an area with harsh weather? 

The flag material you choose depends on the weather conditions in your area. For high-wind regions, you want to choose a durable material that resists fraying, as strong winds can wreak havoc on many fabrics. Wetter regions should opt for a weather-resistant material that is fast-drying. 

You should also consider the amount of sun you receive. Brighter areas require a colorfast material to resist fading and maintain the flag's vibrant colors. 

What type of flagpole do you use? 

Along with the durability aspect of your flag materials, you should also consider the type of flagpole you're using when choosing between a nylon vs. polyester flag. While nylon flags can fly on virtually all flagpoles, polyester may be too heavy for certain models. Be sure to check with your flagpole manufacturer for specific flag-flying specifications. 

The Most Common American Flag Fabrics 

Nylon and polyester are the most popular flag materials due to their durability and beauty. When choosing a flag for your flag display, it's important to understand the differences between each American flag fabric and where they are best suited for flying. 

Nylon American flags 

Nylon flags are an excellent multi-purpose option since they work well on both indoor and outdoor displays. When choosing a flag, pay attention to the denier count in the nylon material. 

Denier is a unit of measurement expressing the material's thickness. Ideally, you should select 200-denier nylon; anything less, and the flag will be fragile and less durable. There are many high-quality nylons available that are wrinkle-resistant, long-lasting and work well in outdoor and indoor displays. 

Pros of nylon fabric 

  • Flexibile
  • Lightweight
  • Mildew resistant
  • Fast drying
  • Heat and cold-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • UV resistant
  • Durable 

Cons of nylon fabric

  • Not suitable for high-wind regions
  • Not a natural material 

At AmericanFlags.com, we proudly offer our popular Beacon® Nylon U.S. flags. Each flag is specially treated to resist fading, shredding, and tearing. Along with using a 200-denier material, these flags feature reinforced brass grommets, double-row stitching, and more for added durability. As always, our nylon flags are made in the USA. 

Polyester American flags 

Polyester flags are the most durable option and work well in a variety of harsh weather conditions. As the most durable flag fabric on the market, they can withstand fierce winds that leave lighter-weight fabrics in tatters.  

They are made from two-ply, heavy-duty polyester fabric, a synthetic material chosen for its impressive durability. At AmericanFlags.com, we offer two high-quality polyester flags: spun polyester and Tough-Ply Poly. Both flags contain an open weave design that allows them to fly beautifully while maintaining their vibrancy. 

Pros of polyester fabric 

  • Unmatched durability
  • Fast drying
  • Longer color retention
  • Longer lifespan 

Cons of polyester fabric 

  • Heavier flag fabric
  • Not ideal for lighter winds
  • May appear less vibrant than nylon 

Our Patriarch® Polyester American Flag is crafted from 100% two-ply spun-woven polyester for exceptional sun and wind protection. The open weave design is built to last with solid brass grommets, intricate embroidery, and double-stitched seams for unmatched durability. They make the ideal addition to your outdoor flag display. 

Cotton American flags 

Cotton flags are crafted from natural materials. They are often used for ceremonies or military honors due to their traditional appearance. While cotton flags work for short-term outdoor use, we do not recommend them for permanent outdoor displays. Their natural fibers are prone to mildew, sun damage, and rot. 

Pros of cotton fabric 

  • Traditional look and feel
  • Perfect for a display case
  • Drapes beautifully
  • Long-lasting when used indoors
  • Generally less expensive 

Cons of cotton fabric 

  • Not recommended for outdoor use
  • Susceptible to the elements
  • Frays easily in strong winds 

Discover the beauty of our cotton American flag, available in eight size options. Double-inspected to comply with all U.S. Government specifications, they are the perfect addition to any memorial or indoor flag display. 

What Size American Flag Should I Purchase? 

The size of your flagpole determines the size of the flag you should purchase. For in-ground flagpoles, your flag should measure between 1/4 and 1/3 the pole's total length on the longest side. For example, a 20 ft pole, the most commonly used size, should use either a 3 x 5 ft or 4 x6 ft flag.  

For wall-mounted flagpoles, the pole should be twice the flag's width. For instance, a 6 ft flagpole should use a 3 x 5 ft flag. For more information on choosing the perfect flag size for your display, check out our blog post, How to Choose the Right American Flag Size for Your House

Shop AmericanFlags.com Today 

When deciding between a nylon vs. polyester flag, check out the wide range of indoor and outdoor flags at AmericanFlags.com. Every flag is crafted by an expert flagmaker and always made in the USA.