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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38 responses to “Proud Pallet: Rustic Americana Flag”

  1. Tammy says:

    I was wondering if I could get your star pattern.
    Or tell me the size of your stars?
    Please and thanks

  2. Sandy Yuskoff says:

    I made a pallet flag and have painted it with acrylic paint and now want to antique it like you did–what stain/sealer did you use? I asked around here and no one seems to think I can use a regular wood stain over the paint. Thank you

    • Cindy Shaw says:

      I use a regular wood stain on the flags I’ve made and seal them with Polycrylic spray from Minwax.

  3. Holly says:

    I just made my version of the US flag shown and used this webpage for the size of the pallet, stripes and stars.

  4. Kari says:

    What was the names and brand of the blue and red acrylic paint you used? I can’t seem to find colors I like.

    • Mark says:

      Gliddon GLR 30- Red Delicious and GLR 25- Rich navy for blue…..White is white

      I used a flat but you can use semi or gloss finish

  5. Theresa says:

    I am making the old glory charred version.its colonial red navy blue and high gloss.i have looked at standard chart for correct demensions for the placement of the do i figure this? My flag is 24/43

  6. masonoutward says:

    I am pretty sure you can still buy handbook with all details you need on woodprix.

  7. Cindy Shaw says:

    I have been making flags just like this for about 5 years after I saw the one in Pottery Barn and wasn’t going to pay their exorbitant price. But I use old fence wood, instead of pallets, pallets are $%^&* to take apart. I also apply plain old stain to “age” them. I do stencil the stars with a single stencil and would like to know how you get all the stars on one piece of paper in the proper places? I’ve never used Power Point.

  8. J Billings says:

    For stars and stripe sizes I’ve used

  9. framed game says:

    This rustic Americana flag is a wonderful way to show pride in the United States. It features the familiar red, white, and blue colors among us and an American flag made of reclaimed pallets. The flag is a great way to show American pride while also being a beautiful piece of art in your home. This flag can be used for indoor or outdoor uses such as hanging on the wall of your home or using it as a tablecloth. It is sure to bring a smile to everyone who sees it.

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