American Flag on flagpole We celebrate Flag Day in the United States on June 14th every year to honor the flag of our country. People throughout the country proudly fly their flags to demonstrate their patriotism and love of country. If you have never flown a flag outdoors, start a family tradition this year and do so. Before you do, you need to decide what type of flag to fly and on what sort of flagpole you need to properly display it.

Types of Flag Fabrics

All outdoor flags are made of one of three materials: cotton, polyester, or nylon. Each of these materials has certain characteristics that may be more suitable for you depending on where you live. All of them are considered the only types of fabrics that should be used for American flags flown outside.


Cotton, a natural material, is considered very durable. From a chemical standpoint, cotton can remain intact. However, cotton does not come near the high degree of durability that is a characteristic of man-made fabrics such as nylon or polyester. Some other positive characteristics of cotton include a very low elasticity, which makes it a good flag-making material. You can treat cotton to make the cloth flame retardant, oil proof, and even more water resistant than normal. Cotton has a very high capacity to absorb water. This makes cotton an excellent fabric to use in very humid climates since it can absorb a considerable amount of water before becoming damp. Cotton does not do well outdoors for extended periods of time. Colors fade, and cotton will inevitably degrade and start to fray. People generally use cotton flags indoors. If you plan on flying your flag only a few times a year, cotton might be a good choice. However, if you live in a very sunny location, for example, you may have to replace your flag more frequently than you would if you bought one made of a more durable material.


British scientists invented polyester in the early 1940s. It became a household word during the 1970s with the rise of polyester suits. A synthetic fabric, manufacturers use the same polymer to make polyester that they do to make plastic drinking bottles. You can blend polyester with cotton or wool, which helps strengthen the fabric. Polyester is extremely strong and heavier compared to cotton and nylon. It will not shrink or stretch, and it is very resistant to mildew. Items made of polyester dry quickly. Since polyester retains its shape so well and is so resistant to extremes of heat and cold, it is a good choice for an outdoor flag. If you live in a windy locale, polyester flags will retain their shape and will not fray.


Sample of first Dupont nylon Most flags throughout the world are made of a type of nylon material. Nylon is much lighter than most other materials, including cotton and polyester. This allows the flag to fly even in very light windy conditions. Mold does not grow on nylon fabric. Nylon flags can be used in virtually all weather conditions. Nylon sheds water very well, so nylon flags hold up very well in rainy climates. There are many types of nylon, but DuPont SolarMax(TM) nylon is the only type used in commercial American flag manufacturing. DuPont SolarMax has an exceptionally strong resistance to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The colors of a nylon flag remain crisp and clear much longer than flags made of other materials.


Front yard containing outdoor flagpole There are several different types of flagpoles you’ll want to consider, depending on what sort of outdoor location you choose to fly your flag. For most residents, purchasing a residential flag pole kit probably makes the most sense. These kits come in different sizes and shapes and have easy to follow instructions. Residential flagpoles vary in size from six feet to as high as 35 feet. You can have a flagpole that has a fixed flag or one that uses a lanyard so you can raise and lower it. If you have a fixed flag, remember: You must illuminate the flag at night. Commercial flagpoles are often sturdier than standard residential poles. They come in one, two, or sometimes three sections and are relatively thick and heavy, and, when properly installed, can withstand hurricane-force winds.


Most homeowners place their flagpole either in their front yard or garden or at one end of their driveway. However, there is no firm rule, and you should try to fly your flag from a location where it will most likely be seen.

Final Thoughts

Whatever type of outdoor flag you decide on for Flag Day this year, remember your flag etiquette. Fly it proudly. Make flying it outdoors a family tradition that you and your loved ones will pass on for generations to come.