How to Install an In-Ground Flagpole
Let your patriotic spirit fly from your front lawn with this weekend project
Long before fiberglass or extruded aluminum, craftsmen working in spar yards used lathes to turn wooden flagpoles—masts with landlubber destinies. Honoring this tradition, flagpole terminology still twists nautical: Flags are raised by sheaves (pulleys) and halyards (ropes) that are secured on cleats. Some poles even have double or step masts, yardarms (crossbars) and gaffs (extra spars perpendicular to the yardarms).
Although wood is the most historically authentic material for a flagpole, it is also the most expensive. Here are some less costly options:
Fiberglass: The best fiberglass poles have a UV-resistant finish and are constructed with the majority of fibers running vertically; fibers that run horizontally make the pole weaker and can cause failure. Fiberglass poles are available in various colors and are light, easy to install and maintenance-free. The rigging can be run inside the pole to eliminate the sound of slapping halyards. Most models do not make lowering easy, however.
Standard Aluminum: Although light, easy to install and available with internal rigging—no halyards to clang against metal—some painted aluminum poles chip, leaving uncoated spots that may stain. The most durable finish is clear-coated brushed metal, which often looks incongruous against a white clapboard house.
Telescoping Aluminum: The sight of retracting buttons and joints may not enhance the elegance of a pole's silhouette, but telescoping models are easily portable. Putting them up or taking them down requires only a few minutes.
How to Install an In-Ground Flagpole Overview
To install a flagpole, the first step is deciding where in the yard to put it. You can do this by assembling a mock-up with PVC pipe and couplers. One person should hold up the pole in various spots so a second person can judge the effect from afar. A grassy spot in a prominent place by the front door of the house is ideal.
To choose a pole's height, consider the height of the house or building: 18 to 25 feet for single story building, 25 to 30 feet for two stories, and 30 to 40 feet for three stories.
For this project, This Old House master carpenter Norm Abram installed a pole with a linchpin assembly, which allows the pole to be lowered easily for painting or major storms.