Here’s a simple DIY project to create perfect backdrop for a Fourth of July party, or a cool bit of Americana to hang in your den. It’s a DIY American flag–with a folk art feel–made from lumber. Following proper American flag etiquette, the union (the blue part with the stars) should always be in the upper left corner. The instructions here show a flag meant to be displayed horizontally. You’ll have to adjust where you paint the union if you plan to display this vertically.
How to build an American flag wall hanging:
This piece measures 4 feet by 28 inches and takes about 4 hours to complete (with paint drying time). This can be a wonderful wall hanging on a giant wall and can also be hung outside.
Things you will need:
- 4 — 1 in. x 4 in. x 8 ft. pieces of wood cut in half *
- 1 — 2 in. x 4 in. x 8 ft. piece of wood cut into 3– 28-in. pieces (you will have some wood left over)*
- Sample size of red, white and blue paint (if you are planning on hanging this outside, make sure to use Behr Ultra samples)
- Paint brush
- Angled paint brush
- Painters’ tape
- Star stencil (made from a paper plate)
- Steel wool (optional)
*An associate at your local Home Depot store will be glad to cut the wood for you on request.
The first thing you should do is lay out your three 28-in. pieces of wood and place one of your 1-in. x 4-in. pieces on top of them. Make sure everything is straight and square and nail down the first piece. Then lay the 1-in. x 4-in. pieces side-by-side and nail them down until you have used them all.
Next, using your painters tape, tape off a corner that measures the height of four boards and a foot-and-a-half in width, and paint this area blue. Remove the tape as soon as you are done painting.
From here you can choose which color to do next. I just happened to choose white. Figure out which boards will be white, and paint all of them at the same time. Make sure to put tape on the boards that will not be painted at this time. After you are done painting, remove the tape immediately. Do not put tape on your newly painted blue because the tape will cause the paint to come off. Instead, use an angled paint brush and carefully cut-in.
After it is dry to the touch, you will need to paint the other color for the stripes. Do not put tape on the newly painted areas, instead, like before, cut-in with an angled brush.
Last, but not least, it’s time to paint on the stars. You can use a ready-made stencil, or you can make one yourself. I made one out of a paper plate. Place the stencil where you would like your star, and dab on white paint on with your paint brush. I didn’t worry too much about lining the stars up precisely, in keeping with the folk art look to this. And, as you can see, I didn’t worry too much if the paint smudged a bit.
Here is the finished product!
Step 6 (optional)
The finished product looked great, but then we decided to push it a bit more and give it some personality by distressing the paint. Distressing will keep your piece from looking “too” new and is a fun technique that’s almost impossible to mess up. In fact mistakes and being rough are encouraged!
For this process you will need your hammer, nails, and a course steel wool.
To begin we took the steel wool and used it to thin out the paint in some areas by using it to scrub the paint on the flag. The nails were repeatedly poured onto the flag to create pits and scratches. Be careful when pouring the nails to pick up as many as possible after each pour and to also wear closed shoes. Lastly the hammer was dragged across the surface to simulate the wear and tear that a wood hanging might suffer after years of weathering. There are a million other ways to go about distressing paint so feel free to experiment with chain, other tools, and washes of paint stain.
If you’d like to display this in your yard, you can bolt a couple of stakes on the back to push into the ground. Or add a couple of hook-eyes to the back to display this on a wall.