Friday, April 12, 2013

DIY Headboard + Tutorial

Anyone with a large bed knows how difficult it can be to find a headboard or frame at a decent price. When we lived in California, we ended up buying a Cal King bed (go figure). Ever since then, I have been on the search for a beautiful headboard. I came across many but they all had one thing in common, they were way too expensive! I just couldn't justify spending between $500 and $1000+ on something that is mainly for looks. So three years later, I decided I was just going to make my own.
I watched and read a bunch of tutorials on youtube and finally made a trip to hobby lobby with my sweet angel baby. 
Side note here: Before this little outing, my child did not, I repeat, did not like staying in her car seat for long periods of time. When I arrived at my destination, I had already driven about 30 minutes so I knew what I was in for. I parked the car, popped the trunk, pulled out the stroller and placed her in it (still in her car seat of course). I decided to unbuckle her so she could at least move around a little more freely. I knew I had to zoom in and out as fast as I could to avoid a total meltdown in public. Through the doors I ventured, making a beeline straight for the fabric. I found what I wanted and got it cut to size; I needed three yards. Then I made my way to the polyfoam, followed by the spray adhesive and I even got to look around at the spring items that were on sale. Catching on yet? Yes, my daughter was a perfect little angel the whole time! I know, I was shocked too. Don't get me wrong, she is always usually a perfect angel at home but once you get her in that car seat and she is over it, she is a completely different child. I'm sure some of you can relate.
The weekend before that, my handsome hubby and I, made a trip to Lowes. I had so many different ideas for the headboard originally. I considered using large ceiling tiles, shutters, closet doors, plain wood with molding (keep in mind I would have painted it all and made it look fab, much like everything else I get my hands on :) ) But I ended up just deciding to get some wood and cover it with fabric. I wanted to do three or four panels of some kind and I wanted them to be relatively tall. I found some 3/4x24x36 inch Clear Kiln-Dried Aspen panels that you can find here.
I ended up only paying about $13 a panel which was a great deal. Now in many of the tutorials I saw that involved covering wood with fabric, they used the cheapest plywood they could find. I considered that at first, but by buying the finished wood I knew that every piece was exactly the same size and I wanted some weight to the headboard also, so it was totally worth the extra money in my opinion.

I also knew that I wanted the panels to hang flush against the wall rather than be an inch or so off it, so I picked up some picture cleats which are absolutely amazing! You can find those here.

I had planned on using leather to begin with but then I found this amazing damask fabric at a decent price point. I paid $25 for three yards.
Since I had all my supplies, it was time to get started on making my panels!

Here is what you need:

  • Wood- whatever size, kind and design you choose
  • Poly Foam- I used the 1 inch foam. Many of the tutorials I saw used the 2 inch but 1 inch was the perfect thickness for what I was looking for.
  • Spray adhesive 
  • Fabric- You will need to measure your wood beforehand to find out how much you need. Make sure you account for the thickness of the foam. In my opinion, you want at least a 3 inch overhang on the back of the board.
  • Staple gun
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
Now, the first thing you'll want to do is lay out your wood. Since I was making three panels, I figured it would be easiest to lay them all out at once instead of just working on one at a time and it turned out to be a good idea.
Next, you want to lay out your polyfoam and cut it to size. I wanted the sides of the board to be padded as well to give it an overall soft look so if you want the same, make sure you leave a margin all the way around the board as shown below. Now take your spray adhesive and spray the entire foam piece. Lay the board on top of the foam as close to center as you can get it. The spray adhesive dries very fast so you won't have to wait long. By the time I was done with the third board the first was completely dry.
While they finish drying, take out your fabric. If you are using a patterned fabric like I did, you need to decide which part of the pattern you want on the front of the board. I ended up laying the entire three yards of fabric over all three boards and decided that I wanted three full lines of the damask pattern centered on the front of the board. I then divided the fabric into the three sections I needed.
Then I cut.
Now comes the scary part, or at least what I thought was going to be scary. First you want to lay your fabric face down, followed by the board with your poly foam now glued to it. Don't forget that the foam should be between your board and your fabric. Next, you want to take your ruler and find the center of your board. Mark it with a pencil. 

This next step is probably the most important part of the entire process. Start from the middle and work your way out. Start at the top of your board. Find the center of your pattern and stretch it over the back side of the wood so that it lines up with your pencil mark. This will help ensure that your fabric is centered the way it should be. Make sure you pull it taught then staple it. Continue to do the same to the left and right until you have the top row complete. Make sure you are pulling straight and not a little off to the side. If you do that, your pattern will not be centered. Then repeat this process on the bottom of the panel. Again, find your center with the ruler, mark it, find the middle of your design, pull taught and staple. Your panel should now look like this:

Now, flip your board over and take a look. The pattern should be centered pretty close to perfectly. If it is off at all, now is your time to fix it. You want to do the sides of your panels the same exact way you did the top and bottom. Start from the middle and work your way out. If your pattern is slightly off center, pull the fabric on whichever side you need to compensate for even more taught, but be careful not to flatten out the foam on that side or you will end up with an unevenly padded panel. When you are done stapling all four sides, your board should look like this:
There will be a lot of extra fabric on the corners. This is easy to take care of. All you need to do is pull it towards the center of the board as shown below and staple it.
The back of your finished panel should look like this:
Not too pretty, I know. But who is going to see the back of it? If you are really concerned with it, you can just buy some cheap muslin or something of the sort to cover it up. 

Here is what one of the finished panels looks like:

Complete the rest of your panels and then attach the picture cleats. The cleats are awesome because they allow you to slide the panels to the left or right any time and you can change the look of your headboard whenever you want. You can place the panels together side by side or you can have them an inch or two apart. I decided I liked mine better together. 

Here is the finished project:

I love the way it came out and it was way easier than I thought it would be! It was also way cheaper than buying one elsewhere. If you decide to make one of your own, please share it with me!

Happy diy'ing! 


  1. Very good job on both the headboard and the tutorial. Thank you very much as many people will enjoy this

  2. I dropped by from "In The Studio" & am so impressed with your headboard! I'm wanting to do a little re-decorate my bedroom, and this looks like one thing I could do! Thanks for posting!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Amy! It was much easier than I thought it was going to be! You could even do something similar for wall art if you don't need a new headboard.