DIY Sea Inspired Patriotic Flags: Classic vs. Neutral

diy sea inspired patriotic flags

It’s that time of the year to get patriotic!  To celebrate our nation, I had a hankering to make a sea inspired wood flag to hang on our door or wall.  But do I want it to be a classic red-white-and-blue?  Or a more toned-down, neutral wood plank style?  I couldn’t decide, so I made both!

Which one do YOU like best?

If you’re up for making one (or both) of these, I included a ‘how-to” below.  For both flags, here’s the basic formula:

wood rectangle + painter’s tape + paint + starfish = flag!

Take your pick and I’ll walk you through making it.  With the painter’s tape, it’s pretty simple and no freehand required!

What you’ll need:

Classic Red-White-Blue Flag:

  • 11″ x 17″ piece of white beadboard (with hanging twine if possible; if not see the last step)
  • burgundy, dark navy, and off-white acrylic craft paint
  • faux starfish
  • pencil and ruler
  • painter’s tape
  • paint brush and water jar
  • lid or paint to put the paint on
  • hot glue gun
  • sand paper

(You may see there’s an extra bottle that’s in the picture but not listed – it’s a “crackle” solution that I thought would give it a vintage looking finish. Disappointingly, it wasn’t really all that noticeable, so I left it out of the steps.)

Neutral Wood Plank Flag:

  • 11″ x 17″ wood plank board (with hanging twine if possible; if not, see the last step)
  • gray chalky finish paint
  • dark brown acrylic craft paint (the darkest you can find)
  • faux starfish
  • white or cream craft rope
  • pencil and ruler
  • painter’s tape
  • paint brush and water jar
  • lid or paint to put the paint on
  • hot glue gun

How To (for both):

1. For the classic flag, lightly sand the beadboard to make sure the paint sticks to it.  I didn’t do this at the start and discovered the hard way that the paint wasn’t sticking well!  If you’re doing a wood plank style flag, you shouldn’t need to sand it.

2. Put the starfish in the upper left corner and pencil in lines on the right of and under the starfish so that the starfish is centered inside a corner square.

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3. Put painter’s tape on your pencil lines.

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4. If you’re making the neutral wood plank flag, you’ll need to thin out the brown paint with water so it’s more like a stain.  To do this, put a few drops of paint on a lid or dish, then dunk your brush in water and mix the paint with the water-filled brush to make watery paint.  (If you’re making the classic flag, just put some blue paint on the plate.)

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5. Paint the corner; I did a few coats to get the look I wanted.

**TIP**: If you’re making the wood plank flag, you will need to wait 15 minutes or so and come back to do another coat or two…it turns out, when the watery paint dries, it gets much lighter (of course, why didn’t I think of that beforehand?)! So I discovered I had to do more coats to make it stay the nice dark color I was going for.  You can also add less water to the paint.

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6. Once the paint dries, put the painter’s tape on the rest of the flag so that you can paint the stripes (see pictures below).

For the neutral flag, I made a gray-wash paint (I tried 1 teaspoon of gray chalky finish paint mixed in 1/4 cup of water and it was wayyyy too much so I would say do the same as you did with the brown paint: put a few drops of paint on a lid or plate and then mix with a brush-full of water.) Once you’ve done this, brush it over the planks that you want to be the light color.


For the classic flag, dispense out some red paint on the plate and paint the sections that you want red.  Go back over it a second time if needed to build more color if you want.

7. Remove the painter’s tape!

8. You can skip this step if you’re making the wood plank flag (just leave the other planks as-is) and also if you’re making the classic flag and prefer pure white stripes over cream (lucky you!).  I wanted cream stripes, so I painted over the existing white beadboard.  Yes, I was lazy and didn’t use painter’s tape — I just shied away from the red a bit and touched up any noticeable errors.


9. I did this step only for the wood plank flag, but you could certainly add it to the classic as well.  I noticed that the stains had blurred on the edges of the corner and bled into each other underneath the painter’s tape so I decided to cover it with some rope.

Leave a little length of rope hanging over the edge, wrap it over the back of the wood, and hot glue it to death.  (This way, you won’t risk it fraying or unraveling.)  Then hot glue it in a line to attach it to the corner border. Finish by gluing the other end over the back as you did the first.

10. Paint your starfish the color of the lightest stripes to tie it all together.  For the wood plank flag, I used non-diluted gray paint (straight from the container), and for the classic flag, I used the cream color of the stripes.

10. Attach the dry starfish to the corner with hot glue and press firmly to give it a good stick.

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11. Once the glue is set, it’s time to hang!

Both versions came with an already attached twine hanger, but the beadboard one hung vertically instead of horizontally like I wanted.  So, I used a sticky strip picture hanger to do the trick: 1)put two picture hangers on, 2)tie the ends of a piece of twine around each “nail” of the picture hanger, and 3)hot glue it for good measure.

I also decided to hang a pre-made bow that I found on sale at the craft store on the wreath holder along with the flag:

So to review, the formula for the sea inspired flags is:

wood rectangle + painter’s tape + paint + starfish = flag! 

Now just give me a formula to decide which one to put on which door and I’m set. 🙂

Have a happy patriotic season and live porpoisefully!

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