A bed hardly seems complete without a headboard. Large or small, simple or ornate, the headboard can really set the tone for the entire bedroom. If you’re ready for a change in headboard, or if you’ve lived without one altogether for far too long, this is a pretty straightforward DIY project that you can have done in an afternoon.
The best part about how to make a headboard is the fact that you can customize it to fit your space and your style perfectly. Let’s do it.
How to make a headboard Level project: Beginner to Intermediate.
Materials you’ll need to make a headboard:
- Plywood cut to size (example is for a twin bed, so it is 40” wide x 30” tall)
- Two strips of 3/4” plywood (about 1-1/2” wide by 24” long)
- Two strips of 5/8” board (about 3-1/2” wide by 24” long)
- High density foam cut to size of large plywood (in this example, 40” x 30”)
- Thin foam or batting (6”-8” longer and 6”-8” wider than the high density foam)
- Home decor fabric of your choice, cut 8”-12” longer and 8”-12” wider than large plywood)
- Screws, drill, level, staples, staple gun
How to make a headboard: step by step guide
Step 1: Create hanging apparatuses.
Your headboard will mount on the wall almost like a puzzle, with one L-shaped “bracket” (attached to the back of the headboard) fitting into another L-shaped “bracket” (mounted on the wall). So you’ll begin everything by creating these brackets. Screw one thin strip of 3/4″ plywood onto the edge of one 5/8” board. Make sure your screws don’t penetrate the bottom of the 5/8” board.
Repeat for the other 3/4” strip and 5/8” board so you end up with two L-shaped brackets.
See how they’ll fit together on the wall? (Except, on the wall, they’ll be upright, rotated 90 degrees.)
Step 2: Mark wall for bracket mounting.
Find two studs on the wall behind where your headboard will go. Use the studs closest to headboard center as possible; center it if you can, although there is a little wiggle room.
Step 3: Measure how high to mount your wall bracket in each stud space.
This example shows a headboard mounted two-thirds of the way up the headboard (at 20” above the top of the mattress; remember, this headboard is 30” tall). The top of a chair rail can provide a nice, level measuring point.
Step 4: Attach ONE screw into the stud to hold it in place.
Make sure the bracket is facing upward; in other words, you’ll want the 3/4″ plywood part on the bottom of the bracket, and the “open space” of the bracket at the top. I predrilled a second screw prior to mounting the first screw but didn’t penetrate to the wall at this point.
This next move is a minor, yet highly critical, step if you want your headboard to hang straight. Use a level to swivel your bracket to be exactly level on the wall, then screw in your second screw into the second stud on the wall. Complete drilling your secondary/support screws. This example incorporated four support screws total – two in each stud.
Step 5: Test the fit of the two brackets.
Slide the now-free bracket into the open space of the wall-mounted bracket. (The free bracket in this example is shown by the plywood and green stripe in the photo above.) Measure from the top of the mattress up to the top of this free bracket. In this case, my measurement is 24”. Remember this number.
Step 6: Measure where the free bracket will go onto the back of the headboard.
Taking your just-measured number (in this case, 24”), measure that distance from the bottom of the back of your headboard plywood. Mark this and draw a line at that height. Center your line on your headboard. (To do this easily, simply take the total width of your large plywood, in this case 40”, and subtract the total width of your bracket, in this case 24”. I end up with 16”. Divide that number in half, which is 8”, then measure that half-number, in this case 8”, from both edges of your large plywood along the line to mark horizontal center.)
Step 7: Mount the free bracket onto the back of the headboard.
To keep things precise and simple, I loosely but carefully screwed two stabilizing screws from the free bracket down into the large plywood to hold the bracket in place. Flip the large plywood over, then screw from the large plywood into the bracket. I used four or five screws to hold it in place. This helps to make sure that no screw points will accidentally poke through the headboard. Then remove your two original holding screws, if necessary.
Step 8: Test out hanging the headboard.
The goal is to have the brackets fit together snugly, for safety, but to have them, indeed, fit together. That’s why there is a 1/8” difference between the bracket pieces themselves, because this allows for slight wiggle room.
Step 9: How to upholster a headboard
Lay your high density foam carefully on top of the large plywood piece and angle the edges of the foam all the way around the perimeter. Don’t worry about being exact. This will help with the lay of the upholstery at the end.
Step 10: Add thin foam or batting.
The point of this step is to soften the edges of the large plywood where the high density foam may not cover it. Staple the thin foam or batting to fit smoothly but don’t worry about pulling it super taut yet.
When upholstering anything, always work from the middle outward toward the corners.
Keep the corners as trimmed of excess thin foam/batting as possible. You still have your upholstery fabric to wok on top of this, and you want plenty of room for a snug, professional fabric fit.
Complete all sides and corners of attaching the thin foam/batting. You don’t need a ton of staples for this; you just want enough to prevent movement. You’ll add more security when you staple the fabric in the next step.
Step 11: Attach the fabric to all four sides.
This, in my opinion, is the fun part. Where it all starts to come together. I was almost too short on fabric, but I ended up having just enough to wrap around. Start by stapling 6”-8” apart from center, then pull the fabric taut and fill in that section with staples before moving on to the next 6”-8” section, always heading toward the corner. Staple right up to the corner but don’t do the corners until all the sides are completely secure. Make sure you’re pulling the fabric taut before every staple.
Step 12: Secure the corners.
The key to professional upholstered corners is keeping the bunching and pleating to a minimum, if not making them nonexistent wherever possible. You’ll want to staple all the way to the corner, then pinch the corner fabric into a line.
Fold the corner fabric into a small pleat, making sure there are no bunching areas on either side, then staple to secure it.
Congrats! You have a professional-looking upholstered corner! No repeat for the other three corners. Tip: If you’re a beginner upholsterer, you might want to practice doing corners on the headboard’s two bottom corners first, just to get a feel for it since these are more forgiving visually.
Step 13: Trim all excess fabric, then mount the completed headboard to the wall.
If you’ve measured carefully and stapled corners and edges carefully, you’ll have an awesome and professional-looking headboard. Optional: You can add nailhead trim around the edge of the headboard if you want. This example headboard turned out a little puffy around the edges for my taste, so I opted to do that.
Step 14: Stage the bed to make your headboard shine.
This photo is a poor representation of that advice, because my toddler wanted to go to bed immediately. But she loves her headboard, and I’m sure she’ll have sweet dreams resting the top of her head against a second pillow.
Good luck! Please don’t be intimidated by this DIY project. You really can build your dream headboard in a snap. Just take your time, measure carefully, and enjoy the finished product!
More DIY Project Ideas To Take in Consideration
DIY Wooden Headboard With Built-in Lights
If an upholstered headboard is not really your style, there’s plenty of other designs and ideas that you can try in order to make something that suits you and your bedroom. For instance, you could make a simple wooden headboard out of some pine boards and you can stain or paint it in a nuance that matches your décor. You could also add some built-in reading lights to it which would free up space on your nightstands and would make the headboard more useful and convenient. Check out our tutorial to see how it can all be built from scratch.
DIY HEADBOARD TUTORIAL – How to make velvet headboard
Everybody likes the soft touch of velvet and the cozy feel that it can add to a space like the bedroom. With that in mind, making a velvet-upholstered headboard can end being a really cool idea. You can of course choose any color you want for the fabric so pick something that makes your bedroom feel welcoming and soothing. It could also be cool to match the color of the headboard to the bed’s frame. In any case, making a padded headboard like this one is actually easier than you think and this tutorial shared by the Fashion Attack channel can give you some guidelines and useful tips to help along the way.
How to Make Your Own Tufted Headboard
Do you know what else could make your bedroom look super inviting and cozy? A tufted headboard. These are actually really common and versatile so it’s safe to say you can add this headboard to any bedroom no matter what style it’s decorated in. The supplies that you’re going to need for this project include a sheet of plywood, two foam mattress toppers, quilt batting, fabric, a staple gun, washers and nails, clear industrial-strength adhesive and a few other supplies. You can find the full list along with instructions in the tutorial offered by Checking in with Chelsea.
Another DIY Tufted Headboard
Channel-tufted headboard are super elegant and beautiful as well and, just like button-tufted headboards, they’re really versatile. If you want to make one from scratch you’re going to need plenty of fabric for all the panels as well as for the back, some polyester batting, medium-density foam, some pine lumber, spray adhesive, wood glue, wood screws and a staple gun. Check out all the measurements and the instructions on the Life’s Ahmazing! channel.
Upholstered Headboard Tutorial
This tutorial shared by ALO Upholstery will also show you how to make a channel-upholstered headboard from scratch and this time you get to see how it looks like when done sing leather instead of fabric. The process is basically the same and this tutorial will guide you through all the steps and explain the entire building process from start to finish.
EASY DIY Plywood Headboard
On the other hand, if you’re a fan of super simple or minimalist design, you may not want any upholstery at all on your headboard. Sometimes it’s nice to keep things basic and in this case the design shows the natural beauty of the wood and its unique pattern. It’s a very simple and easy headboard design, something that you can pull of in a weekend. You can make this out just a sheet of plywood and a few 2×4 wood pieces which you can easily find at any hardware store. Check out Anika’s DIY Life for more details.
Cheap 25$ DIY headboard
One of the big advantages of DIY headboards, apart from the fact that you get to choose exactly how it looks, is also the low cost of the entire project. For instance, you can build a simple but beautiful wooden headboard for only $25 which is super convenient. This design featured on the May Nunez channel is really simple which makes it easy to build so you shouldn’t have any issues pulling this off.
DIY Geometric Headboard
There’s obviously plenty of details that you can add to a headboard in order to give it more character and to make it look more interesting. For example, this wooden headboard has a really cool design with a geometric pattern on it. You can potentially add such a detail to a plain headboard and really change its aesthetic. Check out instructables for a full tutorial on this.
Easy DIY Decorative Headboard
Some headboards are purely decorative meaning they’re not meant to be used as a support structure and don’t really offer anything besides an aesthetic improvement for the room. An example for such a headboard can be found on instructables. This is basically just a hollow wooden frame with a fabric shower curtain stretched onto it.
DIY Wall Hanging Headboard
Here’s another really cool-looking decorative headboard. This one is mounted onto the wall behind the bed using a curtain rod. It’s really easy to make as long as you have access to a sewing machine. To simplify it, think of it as a couple of pillows hanging from a rod. All you need to make something like this is some fabric in a color or pattern that you like, filling and a curtain rod with the appropriate hanging hardware. Check out the full tutorial for this project on instructables.
DIY Headboard From Reclaimed Door
When it comes to DIY projects it’s always fun and interesting to use repurposed items and supplies. On that note, check out this headboard made from a reclaimed door. It’s a really creative idea and a great use for an old wooden door. The transformation can be done in a few easy steps. First you cut the door to size if needed, then you clean it, you add a piece of wood with some molding to create a ledge at the top of the headboard, you sand it, fill any holes if any and finally you paint the whole thing and you hang it on the wall. Check out instructables for more details if you’re interested in making something like this for yourself.
Introduction: Queen Bed Wood Headboard
For a more traditional or classic look, a wooden headboard such as this one could be a nice option. This right here is a queen-bed headboard made out of some boards and 4’x4’ posts. It’s been stained and it has a really nice finish which highlights the natural beauty of the wood with all the knots and everything. You can head over to instructables to find out exactly how this was made and to see a list of all the materials and supplies that were used.