Investing in a Flag:

Depending on your circumstances, determining what flag to invest in will depend on flying conditions.  Generally, it is better to invest in a durable "sewn" flag rather than a screen print, especially for extended outdoor use. 
Look for a known reputable flag company, like Annin Flags and ensure your flag was made in the U.S.A. 
The  FMAA (Flag Manufacturers Association of America) has a certification program to ensure that your flag was made of materials domestic in origin and manufactured in the U.S.A with U.S.A labor.

Be sure to review the U.S. Flag Code when flying the U.S. Flag.
 
What Size Flag:
Most flagpoles will recommend what size of flag is suitable to fly on that particular pole. A 3x5 or 4x6 flag are the most common sizes for residential poles. A 4x6 flag is much stronger in presence, but may compromise your pole if it is meant to fly a 3x5 flag.
 
Common Flag Damage:
Tearing at the "fly end":
The majority of flags eventually suffer from wind damage and develop a tear at the top corner.  The best chance to avoid having to replace your flag early is to catch the tear before it becomes unrepairable.  Most dry cleaners can repair your flag for a nominal charge.
 
Color Fading:
Flying conditions and the type of flag you purchase will determine how much of a risk there is for fading.
flags that are made of durable, colorfast materials will last longer; especially if you only fly your flag for holidays and special occasions.  If you fly your flag 24hrs a day, you will have to expect to replace your flag more often.  Both rain and sun will contribute to fading.
Stretching:
After prolonged weathering and wind you may notice that the fabric around the grommets (holes in which to attach the flag) are starting to stretch out.  This is usually an extreme condition and will likely out last any tearing or color fading.  Again, if you fly your flag 24hrs a day, you will more than likely need to replace your flag more often.

Flying at Night:
The flag must be illuminated with a dedicated light when flown at night.  Street lamps, porch lights etc do not serve as a sufficient or proper source of light.
Lighting must be dedicated to your flag.
When choosing a lamp for your light, be sure to follow the UL limits of maximum wattage.  Also, spotlights provide better lighting that can easily reach the height of the flag as opposed to floodlamps which generally do not carry a strong enough beam.  Keep additional lights on hand for quick replacement.

Flagpole Hardware:
Your flagpole hardware is just as important to monitor.  Hardware should be cleaned and inspected monthly to ensure it stays in good repair.  Lower and raise your flag each month to ensure it is in proper working order.  This will also ensure your flag is flying at Full Mast.  (Full Mast refers to the total height of your pole)  Over time the lanyard (rope in which to raise and lower the flag) may stretch, causing the flag to fly below Full Mast.  Be sure not to over tighten the lanyard as it may cause damage to the other hardware.  Poles that can be removed from the ground periodically should be, so that the hardware at the top of the pole can be inspected, and the bottom of the pole can be checked for rust.  Be sure to follow your flagpoles installation instruction for a secure installation and proper water displacement at the base of the pole.
 
Cleaning The Flag:
Your flag is an investment.  Be sure to follow your flags cleaning instructions.  Check with your local dry cleaner to see if they can service your flag.

Storing The Flag:
When not in use, your flag must be folded and stores properly.   Storage is important to maintaining the integrity and life of your flag. 
Please refer to our "Folding The U.S. Flag" reference below.
 
Disposing Of The Flag:
When it is time for a new flag, proper disposal of your old flag is a must.  Check with your local VFW Post or Boy Scouts for places where you can take your flag for proper removal from service.