making a wooden headboard for $60

We’ve been in our house for almost 3 years now, and our most-used guest room (the other serves mostly as my jewelry storage area for Stella & Dot) has been left unfinished this entire time. We have a great king-size bed in there, but the room is not much bigger than the bed…. so it doesn’t leave much space for a bed frame. I’ve been eyeing the DIY wooden headboards for some time now, so we finally had a weekend with time to spare recently and jumped on the chance to make the guest room more complete.

I’d found several inspiration photos on Pinterest, and thanks to my favorite bloggers Young House Love and their new DIY book, we had a great starting point. Also, Craig is quite handy and loves to build things, so I gave him my general idea and let him work his magic. Here’s an inspiration photo from YHL’s book. I love the weathered and worn look of the boards.

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First, we measured the width of the bed to determine how wide we wanted the headboard to stick out. We decided to keep it at the same width of the bed, given that there’s not more than a couple feet of wall space on each side. We also measured for height — it was sort of a guess, so we just measured to about where we wanted the headboard to hit on the wall and figured out how many 1×6 boards would be needed). 

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With measurements complete,  Craig drew up a sketch to plan out how many boards and other materials would be needed. We planned to have wooden braces along the back for support, as well as legs to stand the headboard up (vs. hanging it on the wall because it would be so heavy).

Materials purchased:
6 – 1×6 boards
3 – 1×4 boards 
stain –Dark Walnut Wood Finish by Minwax
paintbrush
(Craig had plenty of screws on hand)

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Next up, a trip to Home Depot!

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Craig examined every board to make sure they weren’t warped or cracked (see below). I supervised and approved boards for their general appearance. 
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Craig’s tailgate makes a great table for cutting wood. He trimmed each board to fit the determined width of the headboard, and I helped by standing on the them while he cut.

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Once cut, he lined them up between 2 levels to make sure everything was even before securing with the smaller wooden braces.

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He also added a brace connecting the 2 legs for more stability.

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Then he sanded… 
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Once it was smooth, we distressed the boards with bags of screws, a hammer, and anything else sharp we could find to bang against them. I’m sure our neighbors appreciated that.

And then we stained! I wanted a deep, dark stain, and this is the same one YHL used in their book (referenced above).

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This is after one coat of stain was applied. We waited about 10 minutes and then wiped the boards down with a cloth to remove any excess stain. I was worried that the distressing we did wasn’t going to show up, but once the stain seeped into all the little grooves and dents, the “worn” look magically appeared! I LOVE IT!!

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We left the headboard in the garage to dry for a solid week because it was raining so much that we weren’t sure how well it would dry. Last weekend, we hauled it upstairs (that sucker is heavy!) and when we set it down, realized that the top and bottom were still not completely dry. Drat!! 

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It was too much work to carry the headboard upstairs, so we just put it in place and pulled the mattress away from the wall until it’s completely dry. To make it extra secure, Craig attached metal rings on the backside (1 on each end) to loop over screws in the wall.

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And the finished product….
I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out — and it cost right at $60! I don’t think we would have ever found a sturdy, well-made (and not 1970s-ish) king-size headboard for anywhere close to that. I love the warmth is brings to the room, and the white/yellow/grey color scheme of the bedding really pops against it.

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And for reference, a little before and after shot::
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26 thoughts on “making a wooden headboard for $60

  1. That looks amazing! Definitely gonna attempt to ask my dad for help on this one! I have an idea of a pallet bed frame, which would eliminate the need for legs on the headboard. I’d just hang it. Thnanks for the idea

  2. Pingback: Bargain DIY Headboard, Part 1

  3. Looks so beautiful. I have been really excited to make one. Had a question though what Poly did you use (high gloss or semi gloss)? Also, how many coats of Poly do you use?? Thanks

  4. Pingback: Ideas para decorar una habitación: DIY - CeHome

  5. This is gorgeous! I have been looking for ideas on how to make my own and your post is perfect! What a great help! Did you put any sealer or wax on it after staining?

    • Thank you!! We didn’t put a sealer on it since it is inside and is rarely even touched (it’s in the guest room). But I wish we had decided to so it would have a little more shine to it!

  6. I absolutely love this!! Great job. I recently started staining wood and I think that when you have the time and if you want to you should put some polyurethane on it. I realized with my staining projects that the more coats of polyurethane are you just

  7. This is beautiful!! By far the simplest construction that I have seen, which for a family that doesn’t have a ton of experience I feel like we could do this! Question, what type of screws did you use?

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