How to Make a Homemade Headboard

DIY Headboard

Another DIY project this weekend! This one is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and just couldn’t take looking at another Pinterest post about headboards without trying it myself.

Having just downsized to a new, much smaller house, with a much smaller bedroom, I decided there must be something I can do to it to put my stamp on it, from a decorating standpoint. There is really not much room for a piece of furniture, so this fabric headboard was just the thing – and especially rewarding, because I made it myself for just around $30!


headboard project materials

1/4″ plywood or MDF (generally, widths for beds will be 39″ for a twin, 54″ for full or double,  60″ for a queen,  76″ for a king, and 72″ for a cal-king. You’ll choose your own height based on your preference)

(2) 1″ x 4″ pieces of wood for posts (or you can use the rest of the plywood and cut to the size you need)



4 bolts/nuts

6-8 wood screws


staple gun

socket wrench


I used a piece of plywood I already had, but you can pick one up from your local home store and they will even cut it for you for cheap.

My project was a queen bed 60″ wide and I wanted the headboard to be 24″ high. Plywood comes in either a 4 ft or an 8 ft sheet, so you’ll definitely have some left for another project (or, as I figured out too late, you can use some of the leftovers for your posts).

Cost: $1.12 for two cuts on my wood piece, and about $3 for the nuts and bolts. I had screws in my tool box at home so didn’t need to buy those.

target shower curtainI bought a package of polyester batting from Wal-Mart for about $9. For the fabric, I searched many stores for a nice solid color since I like to change out my duvet cover a lot and didn’t want to have problems with “dueling patterns”. This search took the longest time of all the steps of this project.

Problems finding something to my liking in any fabric department led me to the shower curtain isle at Target. Sure enough, I found a blue/green/white ombre colored (cloth) shower curtain for $12. It was actually $17, but they had a special that day on school supplies where if you bought two binders you got a $5 gift card. I can always use binders, so you bet I bought them!

Frugal Side Story: I stood in line with my two binders and my shower curtain. The salesperson rang up the binders, then went to get my gift card. When she came back, I asked her if I could pay for the binders only, and then ring up a separate sale (for my shower curtain –  duh, I wanted the $5 off, remember). She looked at me kind of funny and then left for a few minutes, presumably to go confer with someone. Upon her return I got rejected. She said, “The gift card thing is really meant for your NEXT shopping trip”. I knew that no where in the advertisement was this stated, and I could have argued my point, but I just said, “OK”, and told her that I would just take the binders. I left the store with my binders and my new gift card, loaded my car, and then turned around and went back in to buy my new ombre shower curtain. $12. 

batting under board

OK, back to the instructions.

Once I got my materials together, its was time for the assembly. I cut my batting 2″ wider than the dimensions of the wood (I just eyeballed it).

Some sites I visited called for using a foam layer over the batting, but I didn’t want it that “puffy”. Just make sure you do have enough of whatever you’re using to go around the edges.

Option: You can sand the edges of the wood a bit first to eliminate snagging the batting on any rough spots.

Pull it snug and staple every couple of inches. Don’t pull too hard – it rips easily!

iron the fabric

Next step: Lay out your fabric and place wrong-side-up, then place the board on top of the fabric, batting side down, so you can wrap the wood and staple. It’s just like wrapping a Christmas present! Easy!

Another note: I washed my shower curtain first because I wanted it to smell fresh and clean. Trouble with that idea? Since it was close to 100% cotton, I was forced to iron it! UGH. That step took quite a while.

Once I had it ironed, I had to decide which part of the ombre I wanted to show when I flipped it over (i.e. light on the bottom or top?). Also, because I had a horizontal line to work with, I had to keep it looking as straight as possible. Once all that was settled, I placed the fabric around the board and padding, pulled tight, and stapled the same way I did the batting.

Next came the posts. I measured and marked where I wanted to place the bolts (2 on each side), and drew pencil lines where the top and bottom of the board would lie. The bolts would attach through the existing holes in my metal bed frame.

I drilled holes for my bolts and for the screws (different sized bits, depending on your bolt and screw sizes). I lined up the post and the board sides and drilled my pilot holes while the two pieces were together, so the bit would go right through both pieces at the same time (two holes for the price of one, with no measuring needed).

connect legs to headboard

One thing I realized is the drill bit doesn’t really do too well going through batting and/or fabric (understatement). I really should have planned that better, but all hope was not lost. I just cut notches out where I needed the screws to go. Who cares? No one would ever see that part.

notches to fit screws in

headboard after pic

Once the board was attached to the posts and the posts attached to the frame, I just had to be sure to level it and align it. I know, leveling it might have been a little anal, but I level everything. :)

Now, I would be lying if I said I was done after this picture was taken. In my experience in has never worked out that way (i.e. finish the “25 minute project” in 25 minutes). Rather, it took a little adjusting. For some reason, I had drilled my holes for the posts wrong and had to “slide them over” a bit in order to center the posts into the existing holes on the frame (this step is a little easier with another person helping you line up the headboard so you can take a pencil and trace exactly where you should drill).

So I went back and drilled my second set of holes, and THEN it worked. All nice and centered!

My phone camera doesn’t really do the color justice, but it came out really nice!

DIY Fabric Headboard

So that’s basically it. As a single mom trying to live on less than I make, I set out to finally get a headboard for less than I could ever purchase one at retail (or even on Craigslist). I’m happy with how it turned out and I love it because I designed it, and MADE IT, myself!

Hmmm… all this extra plywood… what should I make next?

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