The Best Fabrics for U.S. Flags

While the Grand Ol’ Flag is a revered symbol of our nation, there is no specific or set standard for the material with which it’s made. The exception to this is when flags are made specifically for the government. Flags are created with ranging variation in quality and durability due to differences in material and manufacturing. When displaying your national pride, there’s no wrong flag to choose; however, it does help to be informed about the differences in material and production means to make the best decision for your needs.

It also may come as a surprise to you, but many U.S. flags are not manufactured in the U.S. Not only does this mean your flag wasn’t made in the country it’s honoring, but it also means there’s less accountability in the production process.

At Independence Bunting, all of our products are made right here in the United States. Each fabric offers specific benefits, and we have the skill and know-how to match your needs with the right choice of the various flag styles and materials available.

Cotton

Cotton is a natural fabric and is the classic, historical choice for U.S. flags since they first started waving over the land of the free. As a clothing material, it is ideal for its comfort and breathability and as a flag material, it is a popular choice for its texture and appearance.

Cotton is a naturally soft, heavy material compared to other options, but it does not last as long when displayed outside. Outdoor exposure to wind, rain, and sun causes color fading, staining, and shrinking of cotton flags, which quickly become unattractive and lose their shape.

We recommend cotton flags for strictly indoor use only. They make a beautiful decoration for any classroom, hospital, office, or business and will stand the test of time in the proper setting.

Polyester

Polyester is a durable, non-shrinking family of fabrics that are lighter than cotton but heavier than nylon. Polyester comes in both synthetic forms and variations made with naturally-occurring chemicals such as the cutin in plant cuticles. The non-synthetic polyesters are biodegradable which makes them an environmentally sound option.

The 2-ply polyester flags are commonly chosen for long-term outdoor display at commercial businesses as well as residences. Our 2-ply polyester flags are twice the heaviness of cotton, and made with sewn stripes and embroidered stars. These flags can withstand strong winds better than most other flags, and they are great choices in areas where there are diverse weather conditions and frequent weather fluctuations. Polyester flags are manufactured for UV resistance and do not fade as much as cotton.

Polyester-Cotton Blends

Some U.S. flags are made using a blend of polyester and cotton. A poly-cotton blend combines the durability of polyester with the natural texture of cotton. This is a good flag fabric for those who want some authentic cotton feel in a flag that can also be displayed outdoors.

A poly-cotton flag is not as durable for outdoor use as a polyester or nylon flag, but is suitable for display in areas or seasons with mild climate patterns. If you live in an area that isn’t too hot, rainy or near salt-water, a poly-cotton blend is the perfect mix of polyester’s durability and cotton’s traditional appearance.

Nylon

Nylon is a durable, non-shrinking synthetic fabric that is lighter than polyester. Nylon was first produced February 28th, 1935. Nylon is often commonly known for its use during WWII as the primary material in parachutes, but it is one of the most versatile and commonly used fabrics in the world.

Like polyester, nylon flags are commonly chosen for long-term outdoor use, but nylon is not as durable as polyester. Although nylon flags generally have to be replaced sooner than polyester flags, nylon flags do not fade as much as polyester or cotton.

The nylon used in flags is typically treated for colorfastness and UV resistance using special products such as DuPont SolarMax. If you live in an area with high heat and sun exposure, but not a lot of rain or heavy winds, then we’d recommend one of our nylon flags made by Independence Bunting.

Other Flag Factors

Flags are created using different fabrics as well as different techniques for flag designs. Designs are often printed on fabrics, but many U.S. flags have stars and stripes that are embroidered or sewn. Regardless of the material used, high-quality flags will have the design and color scheme sewn, not printed.

What this means is that the color of the stripes is dyed into the fabric and then stitched together. Cheaper manufacturers will print the imagery onto the flag as if it were a blank canvas. Creating the color at the thread level does more to prevent fading. However if budget is a concern and you need to buy a flag with the imagery printed on, polyester flags do lend themselves to this technique better than cotton flags.

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Independence Bunting offers a variety of high-quality flags in different fabrics and styles all made right here in the U.S.A. We even do custom flags for any occasion! To learn more or see our full selection, explore our website or contact us with any questions.