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The Definitive Guide to Choosing the Right Flag Size for Your Flagpole

The Definitive Guide to Choosing the Right Flag Size for Your Flagpole

Eagle carries American Flag drawing

It is the most common question when buying a flag -- what size flag do I need?

Whether purchasing a flag to hang on the outside of your home or a flagpole making a statement for your business or organization, this decision is vital to that investment.

Too often we hear of customers who say I purchased my flag six months ago and it is already tearing apart or fraying at the ends. Flying a torn or damaged flag can be seen as careless, embarrassing and disrespectful. Those customers thought they had done their due diligence in determining the right size and quality of their flag.

Where did they come up with the size? Did they use a reputable flag size chart? Did they just look at the flagpole specifications and wing it?

We researched available information from dozens of flag manufacturers and industry experts to determine what they constitute as standard flag sizes.

We found that most experts use similar flag-to-flagpole ratios, but that they focus too much on what the minimum size recommendations are. That’s how we formulated the following flag size chart with minimum and recommended sizes.

Flag Size Chart

Here is how we came up with recommendations on the chart.

What is the standard flag size for your flagpole?

Flagpole height

Before purchasing your flag, you need to determine how you are going to display it. If using a flagpole, will it be mounted on the side of the house or a flagpole?

Standard flagpole sizes for a house mount are from five-to-eight feet with six being the most popular.

If using a flagpole in the front yard of your home, we recommend not exceeding 20 or 25 feet like these poles. 

In a commercial setting, if flying from the ground, a minimum of 25 feet. However, depending on the size of your commercial property -- and abiding by municipal ordinances -- there are flagpole sizes that reach well above 100 feet.

Flag Size Ratio graphic

Flag Size Calculator

Industry standards generally advise a flagpole ratio by determining the length of the flag, horizontally from the flagpole outward, as roughly one-quarter the height of your flagpole.

So for a 20-foot flagpole, you should use a 3-feet wide by 5-feet long flag. For a 25-foot flagpole, use a flag that is 4-feet wide by 6-feet long.

3-foot by 5-foot American Flag

We found that this calculation can sometimes leave you with a flag below the minimum recommendation, which is why we default to the next larger size.

American flag sizes

According to Executive Order 10834, the standard American flag size ratio should be 1.0 fly (width) to 1.9 hoist (length).

Using this ratio is appropriate for United States executive agencies, but using what most manufacturers produce for U.S. Flag sizes should be fine for personal or commercial conventions.

Indoor vs. House Mount vs. Residential Flagpole vs. Commercial Flagpole

When applying our chart to determine the size of your flag for home or business purposes, we say that the minimum standard is fine for home use.

Two wall mount flags

Residential poles tend to be less sturdy -- not flimsy -- and thus handle sizes closer to the 1/4 ratio.

Commercial poles are larger and buyers should err on the side of caution and use the recommended 1/3 ratio size as opposed to the minimum.

Garden flag size

Unless you are using more durable poles, use minimum sizes when it comes to garden flags.

Often, garden flagpoles are much less sturdy by design, so even dropping to a 1/5 ratio or lower won’t hurt your flag.

Many gardeners who use garden flags are known to use many flags throughout the year to reflect seasonal changes. Durability is less concerning.

Casket flag size

A standard-issue military burial American flag is 5-feet wide by 9.5-feet long, which conforms to the flag code of the 1 to 1.9 ratio.

American Flag draped on casket

The Veterans Administration offers these flags free for the burial of veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Flag Quality

When deciding between using the minimum size of the flag as opposed to the recommended size, the use of high-quality flags should be a major factor.

Nylon vs. Polyester Flag

The type of fabric and the way that fabric is sewn should weigh heavily in the choice between nylon and polyester, the two most popular materials to consider in your flag purchase.

Nylon flags are generally good for indoor use and wall-mounted poles outside. Polyester, especially two-ply, embroidered styles are good for outdoor and flagpole use.

Nylon Pros

  • Mostly durable except in winds stronger than a breeze.
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to clean
  • Waves easily in slight breezes
  • Dries quickly

Nylon Cons

  • Colors generally have a shiny glean
  • Colors tend to fade quickly when exposed to sunlight unless specially treated

Polyester Pros

  • Stronger than nylon
  • Two-ply polyester flags tend to last longer than nylon
  • Wind resistant, so it tends to withstand higher winds
  • Retain color quality over time

Polyester Cons

Heavier weight takes more breeze to wave properly

Heavier weight also makes it difficult to wave when it gets wet, which can wear on the material if flown in wet weather too long

Cotton Flags

If well-maintained, cotton flags are good for ceremonial purposes -- for indoor displays, parades and limited outdoor usage.

Cotton American flags may look good and give an authentic feel during events like war re-enactments, but please limit their exposure to weather and try to avoid letting it get wet.

When it gets wet, Cotton absorbs an exorbitant amount of water. This can lead to stretching of the fabric and the material takes a long time to dry.

Flag etiquette

American Flag Etiquette

Following proper U.S. Flag etiquette, as worded by the American Legion, when caring for any flag will not only honor the usage, it will go a long way to preserving the life of the flag.

This includes:

  • Displaying flags from sunrise to sunset (unless properly lit during darkness)
  • Flags should not be displayed in inclement weather unless it is a proper all-weather flag
  • It should never touch ground or water or another substance
  • It shouldn’t be used for apparel, bedding, drapery, etc.

Flag Etiquette Weather Guide

Home use

The previous code mentioned for American Flags are standards for institutions, government or otherwise and not required for private use in a residential or commercial capacity.

Adherence to the code in private use still is recommended to the best of your ability for proper respect and longevity.

Flag care tips

According to the Flag Manufacturers Association of America, here are some guidelines on caring for your flag:

  • Clean and inspect your flag regularly
  • Avoid having the flag whip against anything
  • Avoid bad weather -- high winds, rainstorms or snowstorms
  • Trim and re-hem torn ends
  • Hand or machine wash with cold water and mild detergent
  • Lay wet flags on a flat service -- Never fold wet flags
  • Use dry cleaning services when possible; many will do it for free

Flag retirement

When your U.S. Flag has seen better days, before replacing it, please make sure to go through proper steps for disposal.

The best advice on how to retire a flag is to contact your local American Legion post who hold flag retirement ceremonies. There are also organizations such as Honor Your Flag which can handle the disposal as well.

Conclusion

There are so many factors to consider when choosing the right size flag.

We recommend using the minimum size for your flagpole for home-usage. We then take it a step further for bigger commercial and government institutions that tend to use stronger poles and displays.

In these cases, investing in a larger flag will contribute to the longevity and the level of display.

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