Inspiration > Decor

Proud Pallet: Rustic Americana Flag

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It seems as if the standard hardware store pallet is the new Cinderella of materials available for your upcycling consideration. This grid of nailed-together scrap (formerly seen most often curbside on trash day) is now a widely used structure being transformed into something useful and beautiful by droves of creative DIY fairy godparents out there. In the spirit of our most celebrated summertime holidays, I am offering up my own reinterpretation of the pallet for under $20: a rustic Americana flag.

I’m not going to lie; there were parts of this project that weren’t always easy and required more elbow grease than I thought I was going to have to put in. The trick is tenacity when it comes to the more physical elements of this project.  But relax—the artistic portion is a piece of apple pie!

Step One: Rescue your pallet.

The pallet I used for this project was actually recycled from my last one! “Waste not, want not” is something my mother taught me, and when the materials for the last project were being delivered, I knew immediately that I was going to be using the leftover pallet for something else. Fear not, though; if you don’t happen to have an unused pallet lying around, you can call your local hardware store. Most of them just return their unused pallets back to the manufacturer. Why not offer to take one off their hands?

Pallet Flag - Raw Pallet

Step Two: Apply a little elbow grease.

I chose to cut my pallet in half to give myself a smaller flag to work with. However, you should feel free to leave the pallet large if you prefer. If you have the room for it, an oversized piece of artwork can be an incredible statement in your home. Use a saw to cut your pallet down to the size you like. Once you’re finished, begin removing the boards off the back or from the leftover piece and use them to fill in the gaps between your boards. This will give your pallet a more solid surface to paint on.

Pallet Flag - Cut to Size

Step Three: Draw out your flag.

The nice thing about paint is that if you make a mistake, you can just paint over the top of it! Because I was painting a flag and wanted to get the details right, I chose to draw in the lines of my flag to use as a guide. If you’re comfortable painting freehand, though, do it!

Pallet Flag - Draw Out Your Flag

Step Four: Paint, paint, paint!

Here comes the fun part. Using your red, white, and blue acrylic paints, begin painting in your flag. My preference is to use only one color at a time to keep the colors from bleeding together. I also like to work in one direction so that I don’t accidentally smudge paint with my arm. For this project, I started from the top and worked my way down. By the time I completed my bottom red stripe, the rest was already dry, and I was able to move on to the next color.

Pallet Flag - Time to Paint

Pallet Flag - Paint Blue

Step Five: Shoot for the stars.

Applying 50 stars to the flag was probably the most intimidating portion of this project, so to make it less stressful, I chose to create my own star template. Using the Powerpoint program on my computer, I copied and pasted the star shape until I had all 50 of them in the right configuration. I printed a few sheets of stars out onto cardstock and began cutting out my stars using a craft blade. Once I had my stencil completed, I used a painting sponge to apply the stars to my flag.

Pallet Flag - Star Template

Pallet Flag - Painting Stars

Step Six: Rough it up.

At this stage you should have your flag completely painted. You can certainly stop at this if you prefer a more saturated look. I, however, chose to go rustic. To do this, I used a sanding block purchased from my local Do-It Center to begin roughing up my paint job. There really is no strategy to this process aside from roughing it up until you like what you see.

Pallet Flag - Rough It Up

Step Seven: Make it rustic.

To bring this project home and to add some additional age and character, apply a layer stain over your newly roughed-up surface. A stain with a sealer built in is a great idea if you’re planning on hanging your flag outside. The wood you’ve left exposed will pick up your stain beautifully and the new stain will also muddy up your super-saturated paint job, giving it an aged look. Feel free to apply one coat of stain or as many as you need to get the look you love. The darker your stain, the more rustic it will look.

After your project has completely dried, it’s time to proudly display your new rustic Americana pallet that you created for less than $20!

Pallet Flag - Applying the Stain

Pallet Flag - Finished Americana Pallet

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Summer Baltzer
More about Summer Baltzer

Known for her role on HGTV’s “Design on a Dime” and “Unhinged” for TLC, Summer Baltzer has established herself as a woman not afraid to pick up a tool, paintbrush or sewing needle to create innovative and one-of-a-kind projects, inspiring women and men everywhere to grab hold of the reins and take chances with their own personal style. And now, as one of television's few female general contractors, she is taking empowerment to a whole new level! Summer’s philosophy is that all design rules are meant to be broken. Good design is about finding your own personal style and making it work to your advantage. Her main goal has always been to empower people everywhere to create designer- inspired looks in their own homes. On television, Summer specializes in creating distinctive, high-end interiors on strict budgets. She also loves helping people work with what they have, then teaches them how to add, revamp and revitalize to create stylish, low-cost and unique interiors that reflect the personality of the client. Summer’s clients not only have the benefit of her overall vision of a project, but they also get the hands-on skills and expertise to “pitch in” and get the job done. This personalized touch puts the final stamp on a project that makes a house a home.

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32 responses to “Proud Pallet: Rustic Americana Flag”

  1. Craig says:

    Great article, thanks. What acrylic paint do you recommend and what type of stain did you use?

    • Summer says:

      Hi Craig,

      I used “Rustic Oak” stain by Verathane and some $0.99 acrylic craft paints from the local hobby store. The paints were pretty bright to start out with, but the stain toned them down and made them look more rustic. Hope that helps!


  2. punjab says:

    sounds strange but I buried 4 huge pallets for about a year that was infested with termites. dug them up,and clean them, got rid of the termites. not only aged the wood quickly, but got some incredible character out of the slats with the grooves eaten out by the termites. came out great by using homemade paint, and sanding down the gloss to expose the age, and give it that rustic look. I made about ten flags that looked they been thru a battle. sizes 24×15 and 2 15×8. need to check out the stain thanks.

  3. Brooke says:

    I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing your star cut out in a digital form? I can’t seem to get the spacing right!

  4. KELLI BERRY says:

    Thank you for loving this country. Beautiful work!

  5. Jen says:

    I love this flag but I am going to dry-brush the paint on because I like the look of rustic like you do but when I way rustic I mean rustic—lol. I have found that dry brushing saves me a couple of steps in projects like this because I don’t want to the paint saturated so I can be a little more free with the lines; plus I don’t have to sand the paint down to get the right look. One other thing I will do a little differently will be to add just one metal star to the blue because I know I would not get the spacing right and it looks more country then. I love your idea of applying a stain at the end and plan to do that when I make this. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Toni says:

    Can you advise what kind of stain you used? It looks like its got some color to it. I would like to know what to look for when I’m ready for that step. Thanks!!

  7. Doug says:

    What size was your flag? I made a 2′ X 3′ but am trying to figure out the dimensions of the blue field.

  8. sharon smith says:

    could I please have a copy of the stencil. thank you

  9. Hi. Great article! Yes, I too would like to have a copy of the star stencil. I have made flags before and you are correct the stars are the hardest and no star stencils available.
    Thank you.
    : )

  10. Shelia Evans says:

    I would also love to have the star pattern. I have tried to make one but I can’t see the full picture of the one you did. Could you please email it to me?

    thank you so much!

  11. Jaymie says:

    I would also like the star stencil please!

  12. Ken Schoening says:

    I too would appreciate a copy of the “star stencil” if it’s still available.
    Thank you.

  13. I would also like a copy of the star stencil if it’s still available, please.
    Thank you so very much.

  14. Tammy says:

    What a beautiful flag. If possible I would also love to get the star stencil. Thanks so much for sharing your art.

  15. Pam Womack says:

    I am trying to get stars aligned on a project my son started, and to say the least, it has been a pain! I have sanded and re-painted several times.

    The area for my stars is an odd measurement, so I was wondering how you got the spacing right?

    Thanks for any ideas/help,


  16. Mary says:

    I would love the star stencil , also!! Thank you

  17. karen says:

    i also would appreciate the star stencil

  18. Kay O'Connor says:

    she never offered the star stencil stop asking and figure it out for yourself. you can google an American flag star stencil and find it easy

  19. Leslie says:

    You can also use a star stamp or make one from a potato. You may also find a star sponge in the summer beach aisle or bathtub toys aisle……. 😉 you’re welcome

  20. tom says:

    could i also get a copy of the stencil?

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