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Comparing Flag Fabrics
Nylon (Nyl-Glo, Perma Nylon)
Nylon fabric is 200 denier (denotes the weight of the thread) Dupont SolarMax nylon that has been specially treated to resist the damaging effects of UV rays.
When all things are considered, a nylon flag will give you the most bang for your buck. The nylon fabric may not be quite as durable as the 2-ply polyester, but only by a small margin, and in many areas of the country, it can out-perform the polyester. And, of course, nylon is significantly more durable than cotton.
One of the key ingredients that contributes to premature flag wear is water. When a flag is wet, it’s heavier, and that extra weight puts more stress on the fibers of the material as the wind whips the flag around. Because a nylon flag will not absorb a lot of moisture, and dries almost immediately following a rain event, it’s the ideal fabric for locations where moderate to heavy amounts of rain can be anticipated.
If your little corner of the world gets its fair share of rain, and if most of the wind is occurring simultaneously with the rain, then a nylon flag is your best choice. And besides, it’s the most economical choice too.
2-Ply Polyester (Koralex II, SpectraPro,)
Flags made from this material contain 2-ply (again, referring to the weight of the thread) polyester material that has been treated for UV resistance just like the nylon material. The polyester fiber is more durable than the nylon fiber, hence a 2-Ply flag will generally last longer under the abuse that strong winds can heap upon a flag.
We say generally because the 2-Ply Poly material is heavy and closely resembles a cotton flag both in appearance and in its ability to absorb a prodigious amount of water. When it’s wet, it becomes very heavy and if it’s wet and the winds a-blowin', it puts a lot of stress on the fibers as the wind tugs at them.
That being said, 2-Ply Poly is an excellent flag material for moderate to high wind locales, and particularly in drier climates. It costs a little more, but it will definitely live up to its name.
Cotton (Bulldog, Best*)
Bulldog is the trade name for a heavy-weight outdoor cotton flag material that belongs to Annin & Co. The Bulldog material is made with a special “open weave” that allows for less friction between threads as the material moves about in the breeze, which in turn, gives it a longer life.
The open weave also gives the material a somewhat gauze-like appearance, which is not always what some folks are expecting. If you’re considering a cotton flag because you love the traditional nature of the whole thing, it might help you to know that cotton flag fabric has been made in this way for many generations—long before nylon or polyester were even invented.
Besides being a favorite of traditionalists, the Bulldog fabric holds up amazingly well under extended outdoor use but it does require a little extra care, like taking your flag in when stormy weather threatens.