That’s a good question that has several good answers. The easiest answer is: I don’t know. Not quite the answer you were hoping for? Let me try to answer that question better.
Three variable contribute to the life of a flag. They are:
- Flag Type
- Climate Conditions
- Length of Exposure
How do each of these affect your flag?
The first variable to determine before buying a flag, is how you will use the flag. Will you display the flag inside your home or business? Will you fly the flag outdoors? If outdoors, is the flag on a small staff on the front of your house, or on a large flagpole? If on a flagpole, is it high enough to clear the buildings or is it somewhat protected from the wind or sun?
Flags are manufactured in a wide range of materials from polyester to nylon, and some with made-up names to indicate their strength. They also differ in material weight, being described as light, medium, and heavy-duty. Some have more stitching around the edges than others. These are important considerations when choosing a flag to best serve your needs. Choose a flag that meets this initial need.
The second variable is to determine the climate conditions where you intend to fly the flag. What are the average wind speeds? How many days of sunshine does your region average? Is it dry and sunny—overcast and rainy? What’s the land elevation where you will fly the flag?
I’ve lived in places where on a normal day, the wind just howled. When I moved to the coastal area, and heard the locals bemoan the wind, I would think, “This is just a little breeze.” Every area of the United States varies in the answers to these questions, and that makes a difference. A check with the weather service can help you decide about weight.
Length of Exposure
The third variable of the equation is time of daily exposure. Will you fly your flag in the daylight hours only (9-12 hours/day), or 24/7 on a lighted pole? Flying the flag non-stop will dramatically lessen the life of the flag in every way.
Let me relate my personal experience to this equation to help.
I had an inexpensive light-weight flag that was flown occasionally. It worked fine. Then I moved where I could fly the flag, weather permitting, every day during daylight hours. That flag didn’t last any time at all. Not really thinking about it, I bought another flag just like the first one and in three months it was worn out.
Then I chose a heavy-duty outdoor flag and eight months later, it is still flying and looking good. If you are planning to fly your flag every day, outside, I recommend a good outdoor rated flag with UV protection. This will help keep your flag looking good for its life.
- Repair any tears immediately
- Wash your flag
If the wind causes your flag to rip or tear and it’s repairable, make the repairs as quickly as possible to prevent further damage. This will greatly extend the life of your new flag.
If the flag gets dirty, wash it in cold water with a mild detergent to remove soils and pollutants. Just like cleaning your clothes, this will greatly increase your flag’s life. And yes, the picture is of my flag that flies outside daily, and it’s about to get a bath.