Buying the Right Flagpole – 10 Things You Need to Know

If you are reading this, you are probably already considering purchasing a flagpole or replacing your old one. With so many styles, materials, features and prices available on the Internet, you may find yourself overwhelmed as you try to process it all. This article will boil it all down to 10 questions, which when answered, will make your flagpole shopping a breeze! Each paragraph is a checklist. Feel free to print this article out to help you with your purchase.

1.) Budget. Asking how much a flagpole costs is like asking how much a car costs. The answer is, “that depends.” Many details factor into the cost of a flagpole, such as the overall height, the diameter of the pole, the thickness of the tubing, where it was manufactured, how it is shipped and how far, and other considerations too numerous to mention. It is safe to say you can buy a flagpole from about $50 to about $2,500 on the Internet, it just depends on what you want to spend. For most homeowners, you will be able to buy a relatively good-quality flagpole kit for around $100 – $300. Don’t forget to allow extra for applicable taxes, shipping charges, and contractor fees for installation (or the cost of a steak on the grill if you have your brother-in-law install it for you!)

My budget for a flagpole is: $____________.

2.) Local Codes and Neighborhood Associations. Once you have decided on a budget, you need to check for any local ordinances, historic district restrictions or neighborhood regulations restricting the erection of a flagpole. The quickest way to find out if your proposed flagpole installation is in violation of any codes is to Google the name of your county plus “building codes.” Some locales have documentation available online. There is usually a phone number you can call during business hours to speak with someone who can answer that question for you. If you belong to a neighborhood association, that information should be in your agreement, or you can always call the association just to be safe. If you find out that an in-ground flagpole is not an option, you may still be able to consider a wall-mounted, or post-mounted flag set.

_____ There a restrictions on erecting a flagpole in my area.

_____ Flagpoles are limited to a height of _____ feet in my area.

_____ Flagpoles are prohibited where I live, but I can install a wall or post-mounted flag set.

3.) Construction. The next thing to think about is what kind of flagpole do you prefer. Back in the day, flagpoles were mostly one-piece construction, usually steel or aluminum. You can still find these today, but they have mostly been replaced by sectional flagpoles or telescoping flagpoles which can be shipped, transported, and erected easier and cheaper than their one-piece predecessors. Sectional flagpoles are usually tapered on one end to fit snugly into the section above it, leaving only a slight seam that is visible up close. Each section is typically 5 feet to 6 feet in length. Telescoping flagpoles have become increasingly popular due to their ease of raising and lowering the flag, their relative low cost, and their portability. When you purchase optional accessories like wheel stands, deck mounts and carrying cases, you can take your telescoping flagpole to tailgate parties, the RV park, or your boat dock. Perhaps the biggest advantage a telescoping pole has over a sectional or one-piece pole is that there are no clips to clatter in the wind, no ropes to tangle around the flag, and no pulley way up top to fail.

Whether you are looking at sectional aluminum flagpoles or telescoping aluminum flagpoles, when determining overall quality you want to look at 2 factors: diameter of the pole and thickness of the pipe wall. Generally, thicker gauge walls are stronger than wider tubing. The quality of the aluminum used in the construction of the poles matters a great deal as well. Rather than try to elaborate on the technical differences in strength and corrosion-resistance between different grades of aluminum, suffice it to say, if one flagpole costs more than another similar flagpole, there is probably a good reason for it.

_____ I prefer a sectional flagpole.

_____ I prefer a telescoping flagpole.

_____ I prefer a wall-mounted flagpole.

4.) Height. So you found out there are no restrictions on flagpoles where you live, and you decide to go big. Really big. You want to buy a 50-foot flagpole and fly a 10-foot by 12-foot flag from it. Wonderful. How big is your house? Try and visualize what that massive car dealership-sized flagpole will look like in proportion to your house. Conversely, if you have a massive house, a flagpole that is too small may look awkward. As a general rule, if your house is single-story, a 16-foot to 20-foot pole is fine. For tall single-story homes or average two-story homes, a 20-foot to 25-foot pole works well. Taller two-story homes can look good with a 25-foot or 30-foot flagpole.

_____ My home is single-story; I need a 16-foot to 20-foot flagpole.

_____ My home is a tall single-story or a story and a half; I need a 20 -foot to 25-foot flagpole.

_____ My home is a two-story home; I need a 25-foot to 30-foot flagpole.

5.) Ease of Installation. When deciding to tackle a project like installing a flagpole, it helps to know what all is involved before grabbing a shovel and jumping right in. Sometimes it is better to pay someone to do it right than to save a few bucks and have to live with the results for the next 20 years. Sectional flagpoles and telescoping flagpoles are inserted into a ground sleeve that is set in concrete which extends below the frost line. Depending on your region, the frost line will vary. The most critical part of flagpole installation is making sure the ground sleeve is set perfectly level in the concrete. One slight mistake here and you will have the “leaning tower of flagpole.” Installing a wall-mounted flagpole is much easier and can be tackled by nearly every homeowner with a few basic tools. Most brackets take 3 or 4 mounting screws.

_____ I have the tools and know-how to install an in-ground flagpole myself.

_____ I will hire a professional to install my flagpole for me.

_____ I will go with a wall-mounted flagpole that I can install myself.

6.) Wind and Weather Conditions. When evaluating a flagpole for purchase, consider the typical weather conditions where you live. Is your area prone to frequent high winds? Do you live on a hill or at an elevation where it is usually windy? Do you have a lot of wide-open fields around you with nothing to block the wind? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will want to consider paying a little more for a higher-quality flagpole. Ask the dealer for the wind rating on the pole you are considering. This is usually given as mph with and without a flag. You may also want to consider a telescoping flagpole that will allow you quickly lower the flag or remove the flag in the face of adverse conditions.

_____ Wind is a factor where I live; I will need a flagpole with a higher wind rating.

_____ I am surrounded by trees and/or neighbors; wind is not really an issue.

7.) 24-Hour Display. The United States Code of Federal Regulations states in Title4, Chapter 1, Part 6.1,

“It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”

If you plan on displaying your flag all the time, you will need to plan on installing some kind of lighting fixture.Low-voltage flagpole lights typically sell for around $100 and feature a photo cell that automatically comes on at night and goes off at dawn. Unless you are an experienced electrician, you should probably hire a professional to install this for you and factor that into the overall cost.

When planning on flying the Stars and Stripes 24 hours a day, you also need to ensure you have a flag that can withstand all types of weather. Just as displaying the flag is a sign of respect for America, displaying a tattered and faded flag is a statement of disrespect for our country. Most nylon flags have brass grommets and are suitable for all weather conditions; however, it is best to avoid screen-printed flags for all-weather displays as they tend to fray and fade more quickly than one that is stitched and embroidered.

_____ I want to display my flag 24/7 and will need to purchase a low-voltage flagpole light and an all-weather flag.

_____ I will be taking my flag down at dusk and during inclement weather, no lighting needed.

8.) Multiple Flags. Many homeowners install a flagpole with one purpose in mind: to fly the American flag. However, at some point down the road, the idea hits them that it would be nice to also fly their state flag below the U.S. flag, or a military flag, or a P.O.W. flag on the same pole. If you live in Ohio, for example, you may wish to fly a Cleveland Browns flag to display your undying loyalty to your not-winning team. Most flags today come with 3 clips that allow you to add a second flag if you wish; however, not all do. If you think there is a remote possibility that you may wish to do this down the road, make sure the flagpole you purchase will support two flags and is designed for that option. With telescoping flagpoles, the second set of clips also makes it possible to fly the flag at half-staff.

_____ I will be flying two flags at once and need a flagpole rated as such.

_____ I am certain I will never fly two flags at once, so this will not be an issue.

9.) Warranty. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” is so often true with the things we purchase, and a flagpole is no different. A well-made flagpole by a reputable manufacturer will always have some kind of limited warranty. Be sure to ask for details when considering one to purchase. Keep in mind also, when buying a flagpole, or any item online, a warranty is usually valid only if purchased brand new from and authorized dealer or retailer. Beware of items that are “open-box” or “customer returns” where you are not the original purchaser. While most of these items are perfectly good and safe to buy, the money you save may not be worth the loss of the warranty. Ask the dealer if you will be receiving a brand new flagpole in a factory-sealed box.

_____ Yes, the flagpole I am considering has a warranty.

_____ A warranty is not an issue for me; I am willing to take my chances in order to keep the cost down.

10.) Made in America. For many, this can be a deal-breaker. It seems natural that a flagpole that is displaying the American flag should be made in America. In 2011, ABC News began a “Made In America” campaign that has a lot of people asking the question, “where was it made?” Most items today that are made in America are proudly noted as such. If not, feel free to ask the dealer.

Assembled in America. If you learn that a flagpole you are considering is not made in America, don’t be too quick to cross it off your list. Many companies import the components from other countries and assemble and distribute them in the U.S. This allows American companies to offer products that are competitively-priced and affordable to most consumers. It also provides American jobs for those who own and work for such companies.

Whatever your persuasion on the issue, feel free to ask the dealer if it is not stated. Anyone who will not tell you where their products are made is not worthy of your business anyway.

_____ I want a flagpole that is 100% made and assembled in America.

_____ Country of origin is not a factor in my decision to purchase a flagpole.

Displaying the flag is a great way to show your patriotism while at the same time adding beauty and elegance to your home or garden. Hopefully you have a better understanding of everything that is involved in the selection and purchase of a flagpole. Any questions not addressed here can be answered by your dealer, or by contacting the author.