What You Need to Build Your Own Headboard

Hands holding tool against wood headboard

When it comes to building your own DIY headboard, the trickiest part can be figuring out exactly what you need to succeed. The right parts can be the difference between a gorgeous, homemade centerpiece for your bedroom and a sad story that you don’t want to tell your friends.  

While there are a variety of headboards that you can try and make, there are a few basic materials and parts that can serve as the basis for your next adventure. Here’s a quick rundown of the parts you’ll need for your DIY headboard project. 

Parts to Make Headboard 

Before you can start collecting the right parts and materials for your headboard, you need to decide exactly what kind of headboard you want to make. There are plenty of different materials you can use, from upholstery to metal, but the most popular for the DIY crowd is wood, so we’ll focus on that. Select the style that will fit your room décor, from the traditional sleigh to the modern chevron. Along with the headboard, you may want to make a matching footboard and maybe even include side rails!  

Once you pick out what you’re going to make, you’ll also need to figure out how to attach you everything to your bed frame. Make sure to see if your bed frame includes headboard or footboard brackets, and if so, what kind they are. Yep, there are different ways to attach a headboard, so you’ll need to see if your bed frame is a bolt-on or hook-on style. 

Now, arm yourself with a hammer, some sandpaper, and the following materials. 

  • Wood: The type of wood you choose depends on your headboard. For a rustic headboard that will show off the wood, doityourself.com suggests using an attractive, quality wood like pine. Depending on the headboard, you’ll likely need different size cuts of wood (or be willing to cut it down yourself). 
  • Nails: Two-inch finish nails will work nicely. You’ll be using these all over to piece your headboard together, so make sure you have plenty for the project. DIYnetwork.com suggests 100 nails for a king-sized headboard, whereas 50 should do for a twin headboard. 
  • Carpenter’s Glue: This will work in tandem with the nails to hold all your different slats of wood together, because nobody wants a headboard to fall apart on them while they’re sleeping. 
  • Wood Filler: Nails create holes. Wood filler helps you get rid of them. You can use wood filler to cover up any unsightly nails to make your DIY headboard look as good as possible. 
  • Wood Stain or Paint: There are more stain options out there than we can count. Take some time to research what will match your room, and what will work best for the wood you chose. Hardwood stain will allow you to show off the natural imperfections of the wood, resulting in a more traditional, rustic headboard. Paint lets you pick out whatever color you want. The choice is up to you – but you may want to try them out on a spare piece of your wood before you apply to the whole thing! 

Once you have all your parts in place, you’re ready to get started. There are plenty of step-by-step guides online, including this one for a DIY rustic headboard. Just find one that appeals to you and go to town. 

Parts to Attach Headboard to Bed Frame

But wait, you’re not quite done. A beautiful new headboard is nice and all, but it’s not too functional until it’s attached to a bed frame. 

If your bed frame comes with headboard brackets, and your headboard is a standard size, then all you need to do is attach your headboard through the holes in the bracket using bolts. But what happens if your headboard is a little different from the standard? If your headboard isn’t quite the right size to line up to your frame, you can order bed frame to headboard adapter plates that attach to your frame and then adjust to the right size for your homemade headboard. Or what if you made the legs to hook on to the frame, but your bed frame is made to bolt on? There are also bolt-on to hook-on conversion brackets to make sure you can hook right in. 

Many bed frames do not include footboard brackets, so if you decided to make one of those, you may need to get hardware to attach it to your bed. They make footboard extension brackets too! If you don't want to add-on, or just need a sturdy new frame, you can get support that include both. So no matter what you make, there should be hardware to support it. 

Not sure you have the right support? Check out our bed frames to make sure you have a good place to lay down when you’re ready to admire your handiwork.

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