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How Do I Attach a Headboard to My Bed?

How Do I Attach a Headboard to My Bed?

If you’ve got a regular bed frame in your bedroom, it doesn’t come with a headboard attached. And chances are, you’ll want to spruce up your look by adding one! So what do you need to do?  Read on to get tips on how to take the hassle out of adding the perfect headboard to your bed.

Check your bed frame

First thing to do is to take a look at your bed frame. Most frames come with brackets as part of their structure. Not everyone realizes that’s what these are for, though, so make sure the brackets are both on the head side of the bed.

There are also two types of brackets usually found on bed frame, which are compatible with the two most common types of headboards: bolt-on or hook-on. Bolt-on is the most common. A bed frame meant to be bolted on will have slots in the bracket, while you’ll see hooks at the end of a hook-on frame. You’ll need to make sure that your bracket style matches your headboard style, and vice versa. If your dream headboard doesn’t match, though, no problem! You’ll just need to adapt the bracket on the bed frame to make it fit the other style, which you can do by using some additional parts.

A bolt-on and hook-on bed frame bracket.

Check your headboard

Get the headboard out of any packaging and give it a once-over for any damage. Then, if you didn’t already, check your headboard to make sure it will fit with the bed frame. You can look at the legs. A headboard meant to be bolted on will usually have holes for the bolts drilled into the legs, while a hook-on leg will have slits where the hooks attach. The headboard should also have all the parts you need to connect the two pieces. If not, you’ll need to find out what’s missing and see if it can be replaced.

Attaching a bolt-on headboard

These steps will get you through most basic bolt-on headboard and bed frame combinations. However, each piece is different, so be sure to read the instructions first!

  1. Move the headboard and the bed frame out from the wall to give yourself room to work. You may want to put something down on your floor to protect it from damage, and keep away from walls to prevent scuffs and scratches.
  2. Stand the headboard in position against the bed frame (you may want an extra pair of hands here). Align the bottom screw holes in the legs of the headboard with the slots in the bed frame brackets.
  3. Slide a washer onto a bolt from the included parts. Insert the bolt through a slot in the bed frame bracket and into the respective headboard leg hole. Slide a washer onto the bolt if it’s sticking out on the other side of the headboard leg. Screw a nut onto the bolt until it is just finger-tight.
  4. Repeat on the other side. It’s usually easier to get both sides secure before you add the remaining bolts. Then go ahead and attach the other bolts to each leg the same way.
  5. Check that the headboard is still centered, side-to-side, by measuring the distance from the edge of each headboard bracket to the edge of the headboard legs. Use a carpenter’s level on top of the bed frame to make sure it sits even.
  6. Now that the headboard is in the right place, tighten all the bolts using pliers or a wrench to keep it secure.
  7. Check the bolts on the back of your headboard legs. If they protrude through, you may want to cover them to make sure they don’t damage your walls (or anything else).

This cottage-style headboard includes holes for bolts. The holes are long so that frames of different heights can be attached.

Attaching a hook-on headboard

Here are some basic steps for attaching a headboard meant for hooks to your bed frame. The first step is the same as for a bolt-on version, where you prepare your space to have enough room and prevent damage. After that:

  1. Stand the headboard in position against the bed frame so that the slots in the headboard leg face the bed frame. Again, this is easier with a little help. Align the slots in the leg with the hooks in the brackets.
  2. Insert one end of the hooks on one side of the bed frame into the slots in the leg.
  3. Repeat attaching the hook into the leg on the other side.
  4. After you’ve connected all the hooks, push down firmly on the bed frame rails to lock the brackets into place.

Because there aren’t any bolts that can poke through on the other side, you don’t have to worry about the hook-on version scratching up your walls.

Abbotsford hook-on headboard

The Abbotsford headboard is made for hook-on bed frames or side rails.

What about a footboard?

Once you start looking at at matching footboards, they are usually sold together with a headboard and side rails. If you’ve got one of these headboard/footboard/side rail systems, then you should put that together first. Sometimes you won’t need to attach it to the bed frame, and some of them come with a platform or slats so you don’t need a bed frame (or box spring) at all! It all depends on the style of the piece.

If you do need to attach a footboard to your bed frame, it’s almost the same process as attaching a headboard. However, most bed frames don’t include footboard brackets. So the first thing you’ll need to do is pick up some footboard brackets to add to your frame. They’re usually pretty easy to attach, but make sure this added piece is secure before you add anything to it. Then just follow the same steps above!

Haven’t found the right headboard? Need a sturdy bed frame, or accessories? Check out our selection the next time you’re looking to upgrade your bedroom style.