Headboard Tutorial

In CategoryNavel Gazing

I was positively inundated with requests to give more details about making my padded headboard, so for those who have not watched four thousand hours of HGTV, here it is.

Fine. I got one request. Haven’t you ever heard of artistic license?

First, I found a piece of 1/2″ Medium Density Fiberboard in the garage and asked my husband to cut it down for me. Cost = $0.

We have a king bed, and the space between the mattress and the window sill was 21″. We cut the MDF to 76″x20″. If you want to make fabric covered buttons for a tufted look (super easy), you need to drill holes in the MDF now, before you attach the foam. Find the center of the wood by making an X from corner to corner and work your way out from there.

Then I went to an upholstery store and bought 2″ thick high-density foam. You can also get a big roll of this at Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s. I went to the upholstery shop because I knew she would cut it to the exact right size and charge me by the square foot. I didn’t have to try to cut it myself (which is a huge pain in the butt. HUGE) and it cost a little less. Still, the foam was $40, which was more than I remembered.

Get some spray glue and glue your foam to your board. Do this part outside. Seriously.

At this point, you can cover your headboard with some quilt batting to soften the edges; then top that with plain muslin (or an old sheet – whatever). This helps keep all your foam in place, and you can shape the edges by pulling on the muslin instead of stretching out your nice fabric. This is a bit tricky, since you are working blind. You have to lay your muslin down, then your batting, THEN the headboard (foam side down). You pull all this around to the back and staple it. I always staple at the half point, then the quarter points, then the eighths, and so on (does that make sense?) This way you are not pulling it at some weird angle that you will only notice when you are done and have stapled a bazillion staples and the thought of pulling them all out makes you want to cry. After it’s all wrapped, you staple on your pretty fabric.

Since I elected to use a pre-made coverlet which already consists of fabric and batting, I skipped that part. I was indecisive about this, but when I went shopping for fabric and added in the cost of the batting, it worked out to be roughly the same price as hacking up a $60 store-bought quilt. You need a sturdy fabric, nothing too stretchy or sheer. Or, hack up a quilt you already own. Depending on the direction of the pattern, you can easily use a twin sized coverlet, and those are pretty inexpensive.

Speaking of pattern, try to avoid stripes. Just trust me on that.

The corners can be tricky, too. I had to redo mine because I wanted nice square corners. I had too much fabric when I folded it over and it looked misshapen. I had to take out all my corner staples (a teeny slotted-head screwdriver inserted under the fabric AND staple works great to pry them out), and trim it. Mistakes happen – it’s all part of the adventure.


Now – mounting it to the wall. There are several options here – you can get a piece of hardware called a Z Hanger, which looks like it works great; or if you have a table saw, you can rip a 1x 4 at an angle and make something similar. 

If you’re too lazy to go to Home Depot and also too cheap (hypothetically speaking), you can do what we did. We found a 1×4 in the garage and decided to make legs. First, I found the wall studs, figured out where that was on the headboard, measured some other stuff, did some thinking, and screwed the leg on with very short screws that were too short to go into the foam.


Then we tipped the whole thing up, hoped we had the legs in the right spot, and screwed the legs into the studs.

Scooted the bed back into place, and voila! One modern, padded headboard for $100.

If any of these directions are confusing, let me know and I can walk you through the stud finding/leg measuring part.

Or you could look on one of the ten-thousand other websites out there that describes this better than I did. Either way.

If anyone makes one of these, let me know!