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Q. What are the most common flag sizes for outdoor use?

A. The most common outdoor U.S. flags are 3'x5', 4'x6' and 5'x8'. 

Q. How do I determine what size flag I should fly?
A. The length of the flag should be approximately 1/4- 1/3 of the pole height. A 25' pole, for example, should display a flag with a length between 6 and 8 feet. 
(1/4 x 25=6.25 1/3 x 25=8.33)

Q. What are the most common flag materials?
A. Nylon and polyester. Both materials look the same from a distance. A nylon flag will fly better in a gentle breeze, since the fabric is lighter and more tightly woven. Conversely, a polyester flag is recommended for use in windy areas since it is heavier and will not "trap" the wind as easily. This reduces the "snapping" effect that is common in strong winds and prolongs the flag's life.

P.O. BOX 1830
Lewiston, ME, 04240


Q. How long will a top quality flag last?

A. Because weather conditions and the treatment people give a flag varies, there is no exact answer. Remember, two flags will never receive identical wear. Continuous day and night display will shorten the life of any flag by at least half! Anyone who uses a flag this way should expect to replace the flag twice a year.

Q. What can be done to extend the life of a flag?
A. To keep its rich colors looking bright, periodic hand-washing in warm water will remove contaminants which lead to premature deterioration. (Note: Do not let the flag stand in wash water or you may experience some color "make-off" onto the white stripes). For larger flags, tests have shown that flag fibers actually benefit from periodic "rest", so having two flags and rotating them on a regular basis is helpful. Also, you will not be without a flag while one is being cleaned.

Q. Beside exposure to severe weather, what else could ruin a flag?
A. Never fold a wet or damp flag! If your flag becomes wet, it should be spread out and allowed to dry completely. Also, do not place the flag where the wind will whip it against rough surfaces, tree branches, eaves, etc. Even the flagpole itself, if in a state of disrepair, could snag the fibers in the flag.

Q. What is the difference between the flags you sell and the ones I can get at a local discount store for half the price?
A. The material in top quality flags is more durable and colorfast with embroidered stars and stripes that are sewn together with lockstitch (vs. chain stitch) seams and flyends that are quadrupled stitched and backstitched. Larger flags also have polyester headings with solid brass grommets. 

Q. When a second flag is flown on the same pole as a U.S. flag, how big should it be?
A. As long as the U.S. flag is on top, and the secondary flag is no larger, there is no rule. We feel two flags of similar size is the most pleasing to the eye.

Q. What is the most commonly ignored rule of flag etiquette?
A. When a flag is no longer of dignified appearance, it should be destroyed. Too many people fly faded and tattered flags and think nothing of it. 

Q. What rules of flag etiquette are people least aware of?
A. It is proper to fly your flag at night, but only if it is spotlighted. Also, no flag should be flown during weather that might damage it.


Q. What is the difference between residential and commercial flagpoles?

A. Structural integrity. Generally, a residential pole has a smaller diameter and a thinner wall. Some are made in sections, making it easier to ship and install.
Q. Why are commercial flagpole so different in price?
A. The difference is the wind load factor. There are ”economy” versions of commercial poles which sell for half the price of their ”architectural” counterparts. But like residential poles, they have lightweight dimensions. The butt diameter and wall thickness determines the pole’s structural characteristics. Always check these specifications when comparing prices.

Q. How would you describe the most common commercial flagpole?
A. The most common is 35’ tall and is manufactured as one seamless piece of tubing. It is designed to sleeve into a foundation tube which is set in a concrete base. It has a halyard (rope) which runs up to the truck (top pulley), and back down the outside of the pole to a cleat mounted about 5’ above the ground.

Q. What other factors contribute to the cost of a flagpole?
A. The halyard system. Internal style or ”concealed” halyards, which allow the rope or cable to pass up through the inside of the flagpole shaft, adds to the cost. The finish of the pole, whether anodized or powder paint will boost the price. Finally, tilting and shoe base poles are more expensive.

Q. Are wooden flagpoles still being manufactured?
A. Fiberglass has replaced wood for the most part, and has become the most popular choice in flagpoles. Since most are white, they have a traditional look, and like wood they are non-conductive.

Q. How do you determine the size of a concrete base needed to support a flagpole?
A. As a general rule, the width of the base should be 5 times the bottom diameter of the pole. 10% of the overall height of the pole should be below grade. The height of the base should be engineered for soil conditions and frost depth. A typical base ( in normal soil) for a 35’ pole with a 6” butt diameter is 2’-6” x 2’-6” x 4’-0”deep.

Q. How is the appropriate height of a flagpole determined?
A. Most often, the size of the flag will dictate the pole height. A properly engineered flagpole will accommodate a flag whose length is 1/3 the height of the pole. The proximity and scale of other objects will affect how tall the pole appears. A pole installed in an open area will appear much smaller than it would if positioned next to a low profile building.

Q. Are all internal halyards the same?
A. There are two types, cam cleat and winch. The cam cleat is less expensive and is a manual operation. The rope is raised and lowered by hand through a small opening in the pole. The rope is secured by means of a spring loaded cleat inside the pole behind a lockable access door. The more elaborate winch system is operable only with a removable crank handle. Some models have a gearless, self-locking direct drive winch, which provides rapid raising or lowering of the flag with little effort.

Q. External halyards form a continuous loop. How is this possible with an internal system?
A. Internal halyards use a ”sliding anchor” which consists of a sling fastened around the pole with a counterweight attached to it. This allows the halyard to be lowered to the ground and creates the downward tension on the bottom of the flag when it is raised into position.

Copyright ©2002 TriState Flag, Inc.  All Rights Reserved