How to Paint a 40-Foot Flagpole

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Things You'll Need

  • Wire brush

  • Sandblaster

  • Fine-grit sandpaper

  • Rags

  • Paintbrush

  • Alkyd rust-inhibitor primer

  • Alkyd enamel paint

  • Bucket truck

Refinishing and repainting a flagpole is not for the faint of heart.

Flagpoles, usually made of metal and exposed to all types of weather, require refinishing and repainting when the flagpole begins to show signs of wear and possibly rust damage. Climbing a flagpole is not for those afraid of heights. Depending on the type of flagpole, there are two methods of gaining easy access to the parts that are out of reach of a paintbrush.

Pivot and Lock Pin

Step 1

Locate the pivot and lock pin, usually found near the base of the flagpole. A pivot and lock pin is a metal pin that secures the flagpole in a full upright position. Pressing or removing click by click, the pin allows the flagpole to lower at an angle toward the ground, allowing easy access to the entire pole at a comfortable height.

Step 2

Use a wire brush or sandblaster to remove all old paint and rust from the flagpole. Sand the flagpole with fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface.

Step 3

Wipe the flagpole with a damp rag to remove all traces of dirt and dust.

Step 4

Apply two coats of alkyd rust-inhibitor primer to the flagpole with a paintbrush, letting each coat dry fully in between applications, generally 3 to 4 hours.

Step 5

Apply two coats of alkyd enamel paint. Allow the paint to dry completely before applying the second coat, typically 5 to 6 hours.

Straight Pole

Step 1

Rent a bucket truck from a heavy equipment rental agency to gain access to the high points on the pole. A bucket truck is a piece of equipment with a hydraulic lifting arm and an enclosed area that resembles a large bucket. Interior controls allow the large arm to raise and lower.

Step 2

Brush away old paint and rust with a wire brush and then sand with fine-grit sandpaper to even out the surface.

Step 3

Remove dust and debris from the flagpole with a damp rag.

Step 4

Paint a coat of alkyd rust-inhibitor primer onto the flagpole, allow it to dry for 3 to 4 hours and follow with a second coat of alkyd rust-inhibitor primer.

Step 5

Apply two coats of alkyd enamel paint, permitting each coat to dry thoroughly between applications, usually 5 to 6 hours.


Secure the area around the flagpole with caution tape to maintain safety on the ground.


Wear safety goggles, a hardhat and a dust mask when stripping and painting. Wear a safety harness attached to the inside of the bucket when using a bucket truck.