What You Should Know About Flag Materials

There are five main type of flag cloths/materials used in the flag industry worldwide.

Understanding the difference in materials will assist in you choosing the right type of flag for your needs, ensuring you get the best value for money and life out of your flag.

The following guide will help you get best value and satisfaction in your flag purchase.

Top of the Line: Woven Polyester (aka Woven Flag Bunting)

Many years ago this material was referred to as flag bunting or woven bunting, however is typically known now as Woven Polyester as that is what it is made from.  In the industry it is still referred to as flag bunting, however a general consumer will know this now as woven polyester.

 Examined closely you will see the threads run at right angles and if there is back light, the cloth is semi transparent. The tough weave of flag bunting or woven polyester stands up well to wear when the flag whips in the wind, particularly at the outside edge, yet the semi open weave is light enough to lift in a light breeze.

Wear in a Woven Flag:

As the flag whips in the wind the fibres rub against each other like a garment in a laundry tumble dryer, where wear is evident by the lint filter. Wear is first apparent in the outside (fly) edge of the flag and the outside corners where the cloth gets thinner and thinner until it breaks through in the corners. Next the hem breaks through at the corners, and from there wear progresses steadily inwards. As soon as wear is visible in the outside corners, the worn end can be cut off, the flag re-hemmed, and the flag’s life extended.

The Frayless Fly:

We offer to sew on a sacrificial strip of light flag cloth to the fly edge of our flags. As the flag wears in the normal way, this sacrificial strip wears out first, thus extending the life of the flag. After the first sacrificial strip wears out, another can be sewn on. However, wear in a flag extends progressively all the way back to the header, with greatest wear at the fly edge, so a Frayless Fly is useful once or twice, until the outermost areas become too thin to be saved any more . Cost of a Frayless Fly is quite nominal and would be worth your while asking about it when you order.

How Long Will it Last?

Wind is the enemy of a flag, not the rain. Flag life will depend on how windy it is.  In an elevated location with constant wind, it will wear faster. There are many variables here, and it is not possible for us to make a firm statement on flag life - it is also possible for flags to be destroyed in a single storm if they are left out to endure the brunt of it, so we always recommend to take them down during storms or strong winds. However woven polyester (flag bunting) is the most durable cloth out of all options.

Knitted Polyester

Also called Trilobal, or Poly Knit. This material is not the same as a woven polyester.  Examined closely the cloth is not a weave. It is noticeably smoother on one side than the other, and also slightly shinier on one side than the other. It is a lighter fabric than bunting/woven polyester and flies well in light breezes, but does not have comparable durability.

Wear in a Knitted Polyester Flag:

The most common evidence of wear looks like a piece of cord hanging from the fly edge of the flag. As the flag whips in the wind, wear occurs in its weakest place – where the sewing needle punctured the cloth as the fly hem was sewn. After a while the hem peels off along this perforation, producing the “hanging cord” effect. From there, wear is rapid. A Frayless Fly is not recommended for trilobal because of this “peeling off” effect.

How Long Will it Last?

No hard and fast rules apply here, but generally less than half the life of a woven polyester/bunting flag. It is also possible for flags to be destroyed in a single storm if they are left out to endure the brunt of it, so we always recommend to take them down during storms or strong winds, especially with the lighter knitted polyester flags.

200 Denier Nylon

This American flag cloth has similar characteristics to woven polyester. It has a closer weave than bunting, weighs about the same, has a similar length of life, and costs about twice that of poly bunting. It is available to us in a wider range of colours than bunting, so we use it for special purpose flags.

Acetate Satin and Polyester Satin

The preferred cloth for ceremonial flags, with a good shine on ONE side. The reverse side is the same colour with an attractive matte finish. Being a “one-sided” cloth, some customers order a two sided flag with the shiny surfaces outermost, thus the banner image is sewn on two pieces of satin and these are then sewn back to back, which effectively approximately doubles the cost, but the result is an absolutely superb ceremonial banner. Satin has no durability for outside use, and the banner is usually fitted with a sleeve for use on a flagstaff or pike and paraded. Good examples of two-sided banners are the Air Force Cadet banners in the Gallery. With “one-sided” satin banners, the back of the banner is lined with the same colour satin as the front, with the shiny side outermost.

Budget Polyester Flags

Budget flags are often available discount stores, souvenir shops, and offered at low cost on the Internet. These flags are printed on very thin material, these have a life of very few weeks up a flagpole. Ideally, these flags are best for patriotically waving at a sporting event, or as a memento. Most of the time these flags are also not in the correct proportions, and so should not be used for official events.