My husband has been bemoaning our lack of a headboard for what feels like years, and I certainly don’t disagree with him. Sans headboard, our pillows left our cheaply painted wall with a lovely… stain? Some of the color from our pillowcases had rubbed off on the chalk-white walls. Not to mention: Flat, white paint looks unfinished/like primer. This weekend we decided to tackle both problems. We actually bought a can of paint for the bedroom when we bought the house… two and a half years ago. Unfortunately, we tackled such a large painting project in the kitchen and dining room prior to moving in that we just didn’t have it in us to paint yet another room. So into the basement went the bedroom paint and there it sat.
I’d been perusing Pinterest for some DIY headboards and I found a lot of decent tutorials, but they were all missing steps, didn’t have good pictures, or were too vague. So I pieced together what I needed and formulated my own plan. Throughout this entire process I was terrified that this would be yet another Pinterest fail, but I’m quite pleased with how everything turned out. Without further ado, here’s my DIY headboard walkthrough.
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I opted for a headboard with legs to cut down on weight and materials. I measured from the floor to where I wanted the headboard to hit on the wall. I went with 4.5′ (54″). I measured how wide our bed frame is (62″). Then I measured how tall the bed frame is, how tall the mattress/box spring combo is, and figured out how much clearance I needed to miss an outlet we use on the wall. I’ll save you the math, but I determined that I wanted the headboard to be 62″ by 32″. Fortunately for me, Lowe’s will cut any wood you buy in the store, so I didn’t have to invest in saws.
I went shopping and bought:
- 1 piece of 1/2″ plywood measuring 62″ by 32″ ($20)
- 3 1×6 boards, 1 measuring 51″ and 2 measuring 54″ long ($20)
- 14 boxes (25 count, so 350 total but a lot of them were subsequently bent or broken thanks to the fact that I turn into Thor when I get a hammer in my hand) of bronze upholstery nails ($18)
- screws ($2)
- 4 each: bolts, nuts, and washers ($2)
- spray adhesive ($8)
- fabric remnant ($6)
- 2 rolls of 24″ by 72″ foam ($40)
In addition to what I bought, I already had the following items on hand that I ended up needing:
- a hammer
- a pair of needle-nose pliers (for removing wonky tacks)
- a drill
- a Phillips screwdriver
- a manual staple gun (with staples, obviously)
- wood glue
- an old sheet (I’ll get to this later)
My first obstacle was figuring out how to incorporate legs onto my headboard as none of the tutorials I read had legs–they were all just one big headboard. I determined that laying the plywood down on top of the fabric (with the nice side of the fabric down) and stapling an inch or so to the bottom back of it would help me get to where I wanted to be.
Next I attached the top frame piece and the side frame pieces/legs. I laid all three boards on the back of the plywood first because the boards were a bit wider than the plywood and I wanted to make sure I had everything centered so the overlap was even. I applied a bit of wood glue before screwing the boards to the plywood. (In the below photo I pulled the fabric down so as to not accidentally screw through it in case the screws poked through, which they did.)
I flipped the whole thing over onto its back to attach the foam. At my husband’s insistence, I applied a GENEROUS amount of spray adhesive to the plywood before laying the foam on top of it and trimming the excess. I left myself a solid 4″ to wrap around and staple to the back of the board. Once the adhesive dried, my husband stood the headboard up and held it (padded side toward him) while I pulled and stapled the foam around the back. (You can see the stapled fabric is just hanging out below; we’ll deal with it soon.)
I was concerned there would be a big, horizontal seam on my headboard because I had to use two rolls of foam so I added a support layer in the form of an old sheet prior to attaching the other three sides of the fabric. Your mileage may vary here, but I figured it was better safe than sorry. If the seam showed through, I’d have to rip out a ton of staples to fix it. After the sheet, I pulled up the fabric and made sure all the sides (including the bottom, where it was already stapled) were smooth. It was incredibly helpful to have my husband on the front side for this part, telling me where to pull more fabric and what was wrinkled versus smooth as I stapled the fabric to the back of the plywood. I started stapling at the center top and worked my way out to each side. Then I stapled from top to bottom on each side, saving the two top corners for last so I could pleat and tuck them how I liked before stapling them down. Truthfully, you could easily have this as a headboard. Of course, I have champagne taste on a beer budget, so I had to go the extra mile and hammer in 285 bronze tacks, but that picture comes later…
All the tutorials I read said to draw out your tack lines with pen, and I wish I’d listened. Being neurotic, I was terrified that I’d make a mistake and have visible pen marks on the headboard forever, so I taped mine out with painter’s tape and it was inconvenient and inefficient to say the least. The tape kept shifting as the fabric was depressed by each tack. My lines are not as straight as I would have liked because the tape shifted so much.
After struggling to get about half the tacks in I figured out that it was remarkably easier to shove the tack through the fabric and foam, press down on the puffy foam to the left or right of the previously nailed-in tack, and hammer away. I ended up redoing most of my previously hammered tacks to get straighter lines. I also bent or busted the heads clean off of at least 50 tacks during the tacking stage (thank God we went to two different Lowe’s and bought all the tacks they had!). Lastly, I set the headboard up against the wall and scooched the frame up to it so it was centered with the bolt slots on the frame. I marked holes where I thought they’d work well in the frame slots, and my husband drilled through with the biggest drill bit we own (the bolts are slightly thinner than the diameter of a pen, for whatever that’s worth to you). We attached the headboard with four bolts and their accompanying washers and nuts. Many tutorials I read just shoved the headboard between the bed and the wall, but I’m not that laid back–I wanted it to be attached to the bed.
The original headboard I looked to for inspiration was somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,300. I spent a little under $120, and I’m not mad at it. So here we are–the highly anticipated before and after. Behold:
While I despise painting, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that two coats of paint made a huge difference in how the room feels. The headboard just adds an extra layer of “luxury.” Not bad for a day’s work.