How to Choose the Most Durable Flag Material: Nylon, Polyester, or Cotton?

Lyneè Urban
American flag in autumn

So, you want to buy an American flag. And, of course, you want one that’s durable and adds curb appeal. You may find yourself wondering: what's the most durable flag material?

Many retailers give you a choice of one: nylon. However, that’s like a car dealership that only sells sedans. No SUVs. No trucks. While a sedan may work well for most people, some situations require something more heavy-duty. The same principle applies to flags. They come in various materials, each designed for specific uses. Here’s how to decide which one is best for you. 

The importance of fabric

A flag is only as good as its fabric. A flag’s material will determine whether it glistens in the sun or appears dull and lifeless. In addition, fabric choices will impact how a flag responds to the wind and its durability. The same flag that flutters in the gentlest breeze may become tatter in high winds. A beautiful flag starts with choosing a well-made fabric suitable for your flying conditions.

Expert sewing, embroidery, and printing all factor into a high-quality flag, but none of these will compensate for sub-par fabric. At Flags USA, we work to ensure your flag looks its best by only using high-quality, American-made fabric. Only by selecting domestically manufactured material can we ensure it meets our standards. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.

Flags USA values 100% made-in-the-USA

Imagine sitting down at a restaurant for a meal. The ambiance is lovely, and the menu sends all the right messages — “the taste of home cooking,” “fresh,” and “homemade.” You order soup, eagerly anticipating an exceptional culinary experience, but what you’re served proves disappointing. On further inquiry, you discover that the chef simply added a few herbs to canned soup. How do you feel?

Is canned soup really homemade? 

The same principle applies to flags. Many flags are assembled in the United States using materials imported from overseas. Does that fit your definition of "American-made"?

Like many people, we at Flags USA strongly believe that American flags should be 100% American-made: not just assembled, but manufactured. From raw fiber to finished product ready to ship to your door. As a result, we ensure our flags are FMAA certified so we can confidently say that we only sell flags 100% Made in the USA!

Choosing the right fabric for your flag

We take care of the first requirement for a beautiful flag — high-quality, durable flag material — so you don’t have to. However, the second factor — choosing a suitable material for your flying conditions — is your responsibility. 

If you’ve explored our website, you may feel overwhelmed by the selection of United States flags available. What type of fabric should you choose? Nylon, polyester, cotton, and something else? Do you need a flag with grommets, a fringe or a pole sleeve? Should it be reinforced? 

Ask the following questions to help you decide which type of flag to purchase: 

  • Will it be used outside or inside?
  • If outdoors: What weather conditions will it have to withstand?
  • If indoors: what aesthetic do you want?

Outdoor Flags

If you’ve decided to display your Stars and Stripes outdoors, the next step is determining which material is best for your flying conditions. We recommend two types of fabric for outside displays: nylon and polyester. Nylon is by far the most popular fabric choice — it is the only choice at many retail outlets. Nylon flags can be flown from either a house-mounted or in-ground pole. However, while they work in most situations, they can deteriorate quickly under windy conditions. In those cases, polyester flags wear better. 


Ideal for most flag displays, all our nylon flags are constructed of 200 denier, tightly woven material. (The denier count is a measurement of the thickness of each thread.) A high denier count creates a strong fabric that is enough for most weather conditions, while the tight weave allows the flag to respond to the slightest breeze. As a result, nylon flags are lightweight, dry quickly, and have a rich, lustrous appearance.

Although the Standard Nylon flag is the most economical choice, we also carry specialty nylon flags: Nyl-Glo and our Signature American flags. These have all the characteristics of nylon flags, with added benefits. 

Nyl-Glo Nylon flags are treated with a SolarGuard® product that prevents the colors from changing. While the treatment doesn’t prevent fading, it does keep the blue from turning purple and the red from becoming pink or orange. This makes Nyl-Glo an excellent choice for flags subjected to intense sun.

Signature American flags feature stars embroidered with uniquely dense stitching. As a result, the stars are approximately 25% bigger than those on most flags, making this flag a visual standout.


Nylon is ideal for flags, except when it’s not. When battered by high winds or harsh weather conditions, nylon flags deteriorate very quickly. In these situations, flags made from polyester are the best choice. 

Our Standard Polyester flags are made from a heavy-duty fabric designed to withstand strong winds. The loosely woven, two-ply polyester thread forms a porous material that allows wind to pass through it instead of constantly beating it. As a result, a polyester flag will wear exceptionally well and maintain its appearance. In addition, this durable fabric has a matte finish that resembles a vintage cotton flag. 

Please note polyester flags are heavier than nylon ones, making them unsuitable for flying from a house-mounted pole. The weight of the flag may damage or even break the staff, especially under windy conditions. Generally, it’s best to take down your house-mounted pole and flag if you expect severe weather. 

In addition to our Standard Polyester flag, customers can purchase the American flag in several specialty polyester fabrics: the Tough-Tex flag and our Reinforced Polyester flag. So how do you decide which one is best for you?  

Tough-Tex flags are the polyester version of the Nyl-Glo nylon flags. Both are treated with the same SolarGuard® product that keeps your flag’s reds red and blues blue, even if it fades over time. No Orange, White, and Purple for you!

Reinforced Polyester flags include additional features designed to maximize the life of large flags — 8 by 12 feet and up. Enormous flags are expensive and must be flown at heights where the wind can be brutal, causing them to wear quickly (sometimes less than 30 days). The reinforcement of large flags helps maximize wear in high wind circumstances, sometimes increasing its life by 20% or more. Combined with our repair service, reinforcing your large polyester flag may give your two to three times the life out of your original purchase.

Indoor Flags

Planning a flag display indoors opens up a couple of additional options. While there is no reason not to use a standard nylon flag, other options may complement your decor better. 


If you love the look of natural fibers, cotton is your go-to. Since our country’s earliest days, flag makers have been stitching flags out of cotton. Unfortunately, this beautiful fabric fell out of favor for outside flag displays because the natural fibers deteriorated in the elements fairly quickly. Nylon and polyester lasted longer. 

However, you don’t have that problem inside. Our high-quality cotton flags, featuring sewn stripes and beautifully embroidered stars, create a classic, timeless look. That makes it perfect for your home, as well as parades and other ceremonial displays, 


Fringed flags are the most widely used in indoor displays. The lustrous gold fringe complements the luxurious sheen of the nylon flag, making it perfect for adding pomp and formality to ceremonies, parades, offices, and courtrooms.  

In addition, a wide variety of flags are available with fringed edging, making it easier to create an attractive multi-flag display. For example, you can fly your state flag and Old Glory with matching fringe for a cohesive look. 

Fringed flags come with a pole sleeve that slides over an indoor pole for easy mounting. In addition, our Made in the USA Fringed American flags feature sewn stripes and embroidered stars, which gives your indoor display a little something special.

Your source for 100% made-in-the-USA American flags

Purchasing the Red, White, and Blue is not a one-size-fits-all activity. Choosing a suitable material for your flying conditions is important the ensure your flag looks its best and doesn’t wear out prematurely. Flags USA is your source for the perfect American flag, regardless of where you’re flying it. Plus, you can shop knowing your American flag and the materials it’s made from are 100% made in the USA.

Tough-tex durable flag material

The final word: our recommendations on durable flag materials 

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