Are double-sided flags right for you?

Debbie O'Keefe
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A “Double-Sided” Flag: 

Is this the right choice for you?

Many people ask for double-sided flags when they purchase a custom flag.  Is double-sided the best choice?  Is double-sided the right description for what you want?

First, is “double-sided” the right description for what you want?

There are:

  • Single-sided flags
  • Single-reverse flags
  • Double-sided flags

A “single-sided” flag is generally either an appliqued flag with letters or images sewn onto the fabric.  The letters or images are sewn on to the “front” of the flag.  There is no image on the “back side” of the flag, but you will see the stitching from the sewing on the front.  Or, the “flag” is a sublimated, printed or thermoflexed flag on a material that does not allow the image to be viewed on the back.  An example would be for a flag being hung on a wall.

Most flags are “single-reverse” flags.   The U.S. Flag is a single-reverse.  You see the image on both sides, but the “back-side” of the U.S. Flag is a reverse image or mirror image of the “front-side”.

Double-sided flags have the “correct” image on both sides (not a reverse image on one side).

Second, is a “double-sided” flag the best choice for you?

There are several factors that will assist you in determining if a double-sided flag is the best choice.  These factors are cost, visibility and wear.  Each factor is discussed below.

  • Cost

The only way a flag can be made to read “correctly” on both sides is to make 2 flags and then sew them back to back.

Also, a liner must be inserted between the 2 flags to eliminate “flash through”.

Because the finished “double-sided” flag is actually 2 flags plus an extra piece of material (3 pieces of material), the cost is more than twice the cost of a “single-reverse” flag.

  • Visibility

The “visibility” of the flag is dictated by its weight!  Because the “double-sided” flag is made of 3 pieces of material (see above), it is much heavier than a “single-reverse” flag and takes more wind to fly the flag.  The weight defeats the purpose of it being “double-sided” because it will not fly easily and, therefore, cannot be read as often as a single-reverse flag.  If the purpose of a double-sided flag is to be read on both sides, isn’t that purpose defeated if it doesn’t fly?

The image below is 2 single-reverse flags and 1 double-sided flag.  Notice which ones are flying and which one is “drooping”.


In general, the purpose of a flag is not to be “a business card”.  When a flag is waving in the wind, it is virtually impossible to read any words printed on the flag (whether a single-reverse flag or a double-sided flag).  The purpose of a flag is to communicate a concept through the use of symbolism.  When you see the “Golden Arches”, you do not need to see the word “McDonald’s”?  When you see a POW/MIA flag, you do not need to see the words printed on it.

  • Wear

As stated above, a double-sided flag is heavier; it takes more wind to fly the flag.  The combination of weight and stronger winds causes more stress on the stitching and the material.  In some cases, the 3 pieces of material may rub together.

Also, because the 3 pieces of material are sewn only along the edges, the flag may “pillow” or “balloon” out.  This also causes more stress on the stitching in the flag.

These factors may cause the flag to wear more quickly.  Therefore, the cost per month of flying the flag (delivering your message) may increase significantly.

The experts at Flags International® can answer your questions about custom flags, “stock” flags or flagpoles.

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