Poles for Prayer Flags
“You sell dozens of designs of prayer flags for poles, so why don’t you sell flag poles? “
That’s a good question. We tried selling flagpoles, but it wasn’t cost effective for us or for our customers. We researched all types of poles: bamboo, wooden, metal and plastic, that we could buy wholesale. The primary problems were cost, inventory storage and shipping. In order to ship individual poles they need to be less than 5 ft tall. We carried some bamboo poles that were cut and jointed in manageable lengths (they were actually Taiwanese fishing poles), but they weren’t strong enough to carry the weight of wet prayer flags. For a while we sold metal poles that were cut to 5 ft lengths, using couplings to assemble them back together. They were hard to pack and heavy to ship.
Maybe some day we’ll find the right poles at the right prices, but for now the best we can do is to recommend how and where you can get poles for yourself.
Length of Poles
The recommended height of a flagpole depends on the height of the flag. It should be as least the height of the flag + 4 feet. This allows for 1 ft to anchor into the ground plus 3 feet from the ground to the bottom of the flag. 4ft or 5 ft to the bottom of the flag is even better, so a 6 foot tall flag should be on a pole at least 10 ft tall.
Commercial Flag Poles
The poles we found on the Internet were pretty expensive and many were too tall, thick or heavy, requiring a poured concrete footing. Our prayer flags don’t require such expensive big poles.
Here are two nice poles that we found:
- 15ft. telescoping fiberglass pole for $78 (plus shipping) http://www.flagpolesetc.com/flagpoles/fiberglass-telescoping-flagpoles.html
- 16 ft. telescoping aluminum pole (2” diameter) for $55
Metal pipe is the main choice seen in Asia. I use ½ inch diameter steel electrical conduit (intermediate weight). It can be purchased from most hardware stores. They come in 10 foot lengths for less than $5 each. It can be painted (usually sky blue or green). A 5 ft length can be added to a 10 ft length with a coupling that’s made for electrical conduit.
3/4" galvanized pipe will also work, but it's heavy so the hole in the ground should be deeper. If the ends are threaded, a coupling can be used to make longer lengths. Thick-walled copper pipe will also work for a pole although it’s more expensive than steel or aluminum.
The grace and strength of bamboo makes it a good choice for prayer flag poles. If you can get bamboo where you live - that is probably the cheapest for you. Garden supply stores often carry bamboo poles. If you live in an area where bamboo grows, neighbors are often delighted to get rid of some of theirs. Try to get something around 1 inch diameter. Our pole flags come with both a sleeve and ties on them. An advantage of bamboo is that the nodes prevent the flag from sliding down the pole (tie the top of the flag just above one of the nodes near the top). If you harvest your own bamboo leave a few branches and leaves on the top – that’s traditional.
2+” diameter wood poles are a possibility if you live in an area where saplings are available. The bottom end should be painted with wood preservative before being placed in the ground. Drainage around the bottom of the pole is advised – by using rocks or gravel in the hole surrounding the pole.
Some of our customers tell us they use 1” diameter schedule 40 rigid poly pipe with good results. They flex a little but are strong enough. A coupling can be used to split or add to the length. Some customers have used a larger diameter pipe on the bottom and a reducing coupler. This gives the appearance of a tapered pole.
Placing the Poles
For bamboo, metal or plastic poles merely driving a stake or pipe in the ground about a foot and then removing it leaves a sufficient hole into which the pole can be inserted. Once the pole is in place compact the dirt around the pole.
Placing a plastic or metal sleeve in the hole with a slightly larger inside diameter than the outside diameter of your pole is a nice addition. This allows the pole to rotate as the wind direction changes thus keeping the flag from wrapping around the pole. A sleeve can also be cast into a concrete base. This makes changing the flags and poles a simple procedure. I put drain holes in my concrete bases to allow any water to escape from the sleeve.
Questions and Comments
We appreciate any other suggestions you might have concerning flag poles or the design of our prayer flags. If you have and questions we would be happy to try to answer them. Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org