Painting an Old Cooler Like an American Flag

Jann Olson
by Jann Olson
1 Material
I love rust, but this old cooler was a bit too rusty for my taste. I decided to give it a fun makeover and stencil it like an American flag.

A fun and functional Americana cooler.

I picked up this old cooler at a yard sale a couple years ago. It was pretty rustic then, but after being outside it was in dire need of a makeover!

I love rust, but this was just a bit more than I like.

I painted the entire top white with some leftover latex paint. Then I taped it off with some 1 1/2 " wide painters tape.

I chose to stencil it because I knew it would be faster. I did go over it twice. Remove the tape as soon as you are done stenciling. That way, if any paint leaked underneath it can be removed before it dries.

I cut two stars out of a recipe card. They make great stencils.

When stenciling I always blot my brush onto paper towels. That keeps it drier and eliminates leakage.

I just stenciled them randomly for a primitive look.

Last of all I sanded it lightly so that it looked time worn. I started to brush it with a water base varnish for protection, but the red paint began to smear. I decided that I needed to let it dry better.

But it didn't stop us from taking it to the park for a 4th of July picnic.

My daughter made a yummy fruit pizza for dessert.
Suggested materials:
  • Old cooler, paint, stencil brush, painters tape, star punch   (Yard Sale)
Jann Olson
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 5 questions
  • Terry G Terry G on Jul 05, 2016
    Did you paint the bottom part red or did you leave it as it was?

  • Jackie Mitchell Jackie Mitchell on Jul 06, 2016
    Thanks, I just love it! I'll start looking. Do you remember the name of it by any chance?

  • Lisa Fortner Lisa Fortner on May 19, 2020

    Can you paint this on a plastic cooler?

Join the conversation
4 of 48 comments
  • Joanie Joanie on Oct 12, 2017
    If I comment on any DIY's today, I HAVE to comment on yours...........this is beautiful.......Not only did you do a great lookin' symbolizes' our great country. Patriotic is a great theme.....and you did it!!!

    • Jann Olson Jann Olson on Oct 12, 2017
      Thanks so very much!! Your sweet comment made my day. Love our country too!!

  • Joan Joan on Apr 08, 2019

    OMG I have this exact cooler and it's just as rusty! What a difference you've made!