Make Your Own Upholstered Headboard

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Estimated Time: 
2 to 4 hours


Whether it's Valentine's Day or the middle of the year, adding a little romance to your bedroom is something that is worth doing all year round. One easy project that will add ambiance is to make your own upholstered headboard. And, it's easier than you might think!

One of the many reasons we absolutely love this project is that for each and every bedroom in your home you get to choose the fabric, color and style that fits the room and the mood you are looking to create. All fabrics work like cotton, linen, velvet, even silk! If you're in the mood to get creative you can even try something different like fake fur, leather, denim or even vinyl!

JANE TIP: When choosing the fabric remember that while matching your drapes is a good idea, the headboard will sit right up against the wallpaper and your bed linens so make sure that the patterns or colors don't fight each other.

The best part is that this project is fun, simple and easy to complete in a single afternoon. You could have more romance in your bedroom by tonight, so let's get started!

Step 1

Get Inspired!


Take a look at many different sources to get an idea of what style and shape headboard you think you would like to do in your own room. Everything from architectural books to decorating and do-it-yourself magazines, anything that might show you an idea you never thought of and that you love. Remember that you can create any shape or size you want with a piece or plywood, a pencil and a jigsaw. Don't be afraid to dream big!

Here are a few other shape and style ideas:



Step 2

Sizing Up Your Project



If you're a beginner DIYer, you can stick with a basic rectangular shape that is easy to cut (you can even have your local home improvement store cut the wood for you).


In order to create the ideal headboard for your room, the first thing you'll need to do is determine the size and shape it will be. You can either:

  1. Use a headboard you currently own
  2. Go to any local thrift store and find one to upholster that fits your bed and your style
  3. The other option you have is to build your own headboard from scratch with a bit of plywood and a jigsaw

We personally prefer the third option because it allows you to create the exact shape and size you need for your particular room.


If you're creating your own, you can stick to a basic rectangular shape but if you're up for creating something that reflects you, think outside the box and create any shape you want! For more romance why not add curves? If modern is more your style you could even try a triangle, notched side or sleek tall rectangle.


While a rectangle will be the easiest and quickest to complete, remember any shortcuts you take in choosing your shape will be one you have to live with. This really isn't rocket science so why not create a shape and style you love?!

So, to start you'll need to know a few things about your bed:

  1. Width of your bed: The headboard should be slightly wider than your mattress. Don't forget - the padding and foam will add slightly to the width also (usually less than 1").
  2. Height of your headboard: This is up to you; first you'll want to figure out the purpose of your headboard. Are you creating it only for décor purposes, or is it also for functional purposes such as for resting against it to read a book or watch TV? If it's for function, be sure you make it tall enough so you can comfortably lean against it without your head hitting the wall!

Step 3

Go Shopping!


If you're going to build your own headboard continue on. If you've found a headboard you're ready to reupholster, you can skip down to Step 5.


Store #1: Home Improvement Retailer or Lumber Yard.


For the wood, you can use basic ¼" plywood. Any home improvement retailer will carry this. It is relatively thin and lighter than solid wood. It also comes in large sheets. Make sure you have a trunk or back seat wide enough to handle it too! If you don't most home improvement centers will make 1-2 cuts for free. Hopefully that will help it fit in your car, but make sure you don't cut it any smaller than your basic measurements. If you are going for a basic rectangular shape, the retailer should be able to cut it for you. (if there's no way you can fit the wood in your car, many home improvement retailers rent trucks hourly for a nominal fee so you can get your purchase home)

JANE TIP: Many people get plywood and particle board confused but it's important to make sure you use plywood. The reason for this is particle board is made with a great deal of adhesive that typically releases fumes until it's fully dry. If you choose to use particle board or find your plywood is giving off odors, you may want to seal both sides with a coat of polyurethane and let it dry fully before getting started. You will need at least 24-36 hours of drying time before getting started on your headboard.


Store #2: Fabric, Foam, Craft or Upholstery Store


  1. TIMESAVER: Call the store ahead of time to see what types of foam and batting they carry. You will want the foam to be at least 2" thick to make it comfortable. Have them cut the foam to the exact size of your board. If you are opting for a more decorative shape, you will need to cut the foam at home to the shape you desire.
  2. Batting or Fiberfill comes in large rolls and is a thin, white gauze-like substance. The store will cut off what you need. Be sure to add at least 12 inches of batting to the length and width as you will use it to wrap around the foam and board.
  3. Decide on your fabric. Keep in mind durability - it's always best to opt for a slightly thicker upholstery type fabric (for strength and you also don't want to be able to see through to the foam). Otherwise, your options are wide open! Just like with the batting, be sure to add at least 12 inches to the length and width of the fabric.


Step 4

Beyond the Box

If you are looking to cut your own personalized shape, here are a few extra steps to doing it right the first time:


  • Come up with your design and make a template: For a decorative or curved headboard, you may want to make a template out of paper (like brown Kraft paper) first. Draw and cut out your headboard, tape it to the wall and see what you think. (Remember it will look different covered with foam and fabric, you are just looking for the shape) If you love it, then trace the template on the plywood using your pencil.
  • Create your shape: After tracing the template, cut the plywood. For straight cuts use a circular saw or a handsaw; for curves use a portable jigsaw. While you're at it, remember that you can leave the bottom as a rectangle or cut out a pair of legs. hbs4

    Cool Tool: If you don't currently own a jigsaw, one of our favorites is SKIL's 14.4 volt, Cordless, Orbital Jigsaw. We love the fact that it's light-weight, easy to use and cordless. It also has a great feature that allows you to cut at a slower speed which will help to create a smoother edge which means less sanding once you've finished!

  • Sand the Edges: Once the wood is cut, use sandpaper or a sanding sponge on the edges to remove all splinters and round over the corners. Though if you've used the slower speed on your Skil jigsaw you may not have much sanding to do!


    SAFETY TIP: When cutting or sanding be sure to always use safety goggles and a sanding mask. Sawdust and eyes don't go well together and sawdust isn't exactly great for the lungs either! To keep risk of splinters at a minimum, be sure to wear leather work gloves while handling your plywood as well.


Step 5

Cut Your Foam

Lay the foam on the ground and place the cut plywood or your "recycled" headboard on top of it. Then trace the shape using a black marker onto the foam. Go ahead and cut the shape out using a utility knife. If you are using a 2-3" foam or greater you may want to use an electric carving knife to cut it.

Step 6

Cut your Fiberfill

Whether you opted for a basic rectangle or a decorative shape, you'll want to cut the fiberfill with at least 5 to 6 inches of batting to wrap around the foam and plywood.

Step 7


Where it all comes together

To put your new headboard together you'll need a large, clean, flat work surface (the floor works fine). Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Place the fabric on your work surface front side down.
    JANE TIP: It's a good idea to iron your fabric prior to completing this portion of the project to remove any wrinkles or creases creating a more professional looking headboard.
  2. Place the batting on top of the fabric.(This should be the same size as the fabric.) Lay the foam on top of the batting. Now place the plywood on top of all of it. You should now have all 4 layers sandwiched together. Be sure to line up the foam and plywood, and have plenty of fabric and fiberfill around the edges to be able to pull the two up and around the back of the plywood.
  3. Begin attaching the fabric and batting over the back of the plywood and using a staple gun, begin stapling it with 1/4-inch staples every 2 inches.
    JANE TIP: Begin by stapling 2 staples into the center of two opposing sides; then do the same in the top and bottom. Now flip the entire headboard, foam and fabric around to see if it is sitting where you would like it to be. If so, flip it back over and staple your way out from the center, alternating from side to side and top to bottom. If not, then just pull the few staples out that you've done and start over. If you are using a patterned fabric, be careful not pull too hard while stapling as it can throw the design off-center
  4. Trim excess material and batting with scissors.


Step 8

Putting it in its Place

hbs8The best hardware to secure your headboard to the wall is actually a very simple design. Flush mounts are attached to the back of your headboard and to the wall and simply slide together to create an interlocking and stable mount. After all, you don't want the headboard banging against the wall every time you move!

To install these mounts, first locate the studs on your wall behind where the headboard will be located. Attach the bottom part of the flush mounts to the wall and into the studs as wide as possible within the width of the headboard. Lean the headboard against the wall to mark the location of the receiving mount on the headboard. Take the headboard away and drill the holes for the mounts and attach facing down. Then just lift the headboard onto the wall mounts to secure (you might need a friend to help you). Finally, move your mattress and frame back against the wall and your new headboard to complete the look.

Finally a bed that says "Wow!"

Whatever choices you make, the addition of a personalized upholstered headboard adds so much more to any bedroom in your house. In fact, you may be surprised to find a new found comfort, elegance and even a sense of romance! So, now that you have the reasons, get started on making your new headboard this weekend!

Click here to see us demonstrate this project on The Today Show 12/28/2006.

Related articles:
The Color of Love
Get a Bedroom for Romance
Add Romance with a New Light Fixture

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some of the head boards have butons on them, how and when do you make it like that.Do you drill holes before cover it or are the hammered on?

I've seen it done where after the fabric is put on you staple where you want the buttons and then glue them on after.

While you can glue them on, I really wouldn't reccommend it. The reason why is part of what makes the buttons look so special is really about the tufting, meaning the pulling in on the fabric and foam which allows for a place for the button to sit. See my instructions above on how to achieve the look you really want.

is it possible for me to make my own tufted headboard without the plywood...using only the foam as a base. if so can I still use a nail in the back to help tuft the buttons or will it eventually pull through. It is my very first time making a headboard on my own, but I am trying to go as cheap as possible.

I dont see the instructions "above" can someone help?

I would like to make one of the headboards shown above. It the second one in the second row. I have tried to enlarge the picture so that I can see it better. Could you please forward the instructions of how to make it? I was so excited to see that one. I think really think it would be a good choice for my 1st project. Born2decor8 " You know it when you see it." {thumbnail name:'/home/45146/fsimageattach/271_article_headboard2.jpg'}

I am currently working on the headboard project. The last button cap broke off during the tufting process. Frustrated, I did what I had done on a on another project. I got a screw and a washer, screwed them into button position and than hot glued the button on. It worked like a charm. Don't do this at home! I mistakingly got 3/4" plywood very heavy and had to use french cleats. It looks outstanding, chocolate brown (pleather). The flush mounts and french cleats were purchased at Rockler, an outstanding woodworkers store. I haven't mounted it yet, and if it does'nt fall on me and my husband I will post another comment. I loveeeeeeee this website. My 84 year old mother is a Jane and I'm a Jane with ADD.

Sorry, it took so long to send a picture. This is before it was hung on the wall. After I completely decorate my bedroom I will send more pictures. {thumbnail name:'/home/38548/fsimageattach/7486_HPIM0160.JPG'}

Beautiful job- what size is this, I need to make a King and was wondering if anyone had measurements for that.

It's 48" by 81" made for my king size bed. My bed is 78" by 80", so the headboard is 1-1/2" wider on each side. A standard king is 76" by 80". I suggest you measure your mattress and add 1-1/2" to 2" extra or you can cut it to the exact size. It's really up to you. I wanted to make a big statement, so I took a 4' by 8' 3/4" piece of plywood and had 15" cut off. Also use 1/2" plywood much lighter.

I am making this same headboard and am wondering about your buttons. Did you cover them on your own or did you buy them like this? I need to find some or make some, but not quite sure about the tufting thing! Any help would be great! Thanks!

Sorry for the late reply, I don't have a lot of time to check the site. Anyway I just bought The 2 cover buttons-kit by Prym Sewing at Walmart. It contains two 1 1/2" buttons that you must cover yourself, and the directions are very easy to follow. Also they are less than two dollars a pkg. But check Hancocks Fabrics they have an even larger size. Working with vinyl is tricky but very doable. Good Luck!

Hi, I went to Joann's today to purchase the foam, but they said what they had would not work for me and had no suggestions. They had the 2"x24"x76" green foam. My measurement for a twin headboard are 40"W x 50"L. Do I have to piece foam together? Or where can I find this size? Or I am completely missing something? Thanks!

I wondered the same thing as someone else that had posted a question.......if you are trying to make a tufted headboard, meaning, sewing buttons on the headboard, at what point do you do that and how do you do that? Also, I have drawn something on graph paper....It's going to cost almost $25 for Kinkos to copy something the size I need.....5' x 5'. Another website suggested I could buy a pattern but I have looked for one and can't find where anyone has a pattern you can buy. Does anyone know of a place, online maybe? I'm not trusting my own drawing. I'm making it curved on top.

When I need a large piece of paper for a template I use a large roll of wrapping paper. If it needs to be larger I tape it together with packaging tape. Cut your paper to an est. size, fold the paper in half and consider this the midline. Draw your arch for the top, measure for the correct height and correct bottom width. Unfold the paper and you will have an exact even template that is equal on both sides.


I work for an upholsterer and we make custom head boards all the time. I was amazed to learn how tufting is done. All it is really is literally drilling small holes in the wood and then getting buttons with "eyes" to thread the buttons with heavy thread(there is actually tufting thread you can purchase!). Make sure to mark with chalk where the holes are so dont make many holes in the fabric. Thread the button, feed the thread thru the fabric, batting, foam. Locate hole and pull it thru the back to the desired amount of tuft. Tie it off like you would tie a shoe and then knot it tight. There you go...Tufting done! Double tufing, like on both sides done the same only your threading the other side with another button and tying it off the same way except with the left over thread your going to go around the button several times to end it off.

Love your comments and I have a question for you. When they do the tufting that actually has the piping to grid off the squares do they do that like putting together a quilt? then add the buttons after the fact? I think I will do this and pre-drill the holes in the plywood at the corresponding joints of the fabric. Would that be correct or is there an easier way? TIA

is it possible for me to make my own tufted headboard without the plywood...using only the foam as a base. if so can I still use a nail in the back to help tuft the buttons or will it eventually pull through. It is my very first time making a headboard on my own, but I am trying to go as cheap as possible Jess

You really do spell everything out! I've wanted to do this project for three years now after seeing an aquaintance's head board, but was always scared to try. Thank you for the patience it took to put these directions together, because this will be my very next project!!!!! Gratefully yours, Heather from Covington, GA

I have yet to see an answer to the Tufted Headboard inquiry. How and when do you attach the buttons to the fabric.

The way that you create a tufted headboard is the same way you create an upholstered headboard but with a few additions. Once you've finished creating the plywood base for the headboard, then create holes in it (using a 1/2" drill bit and drill) in the places where you would like to have the buttons. Then once you've upholstered the headboard, you will need to cover the number of buttons you will need with fabric (if you plan on using fabric covered buttons-you can get these at your local fabric store or Michaels). Using upholstery thread and an upholstery needle, go ahead and stitch the button on but leave both ends loose on the back side of the headboard. Pull the thread through at least 3 times then once you've done this, it's time to tuft. The way you do this is with either a brad (headless nail) or a few toothpicks. What you'll need to do is to lay the nail or tooth picks across the opening and pull the thread taught, tying it in a knot over nail. Just make sure you take a look at how taught it is on the face of the headboard before you tie the knot as it's really a pain to have to untie it. Then just repeat the process as many times as the number of buttons you have. Good luck!

Hey....I got a great idea when shopping for my comforter. I found a great price on a discounted KING comforter set, so I purchased a TWIN sized matching comforter (same pattern) to use for the headboard fabric. My dilema is the puffiness of the comforter, and the fact that I would like to alter the design. For the puffiness, I am wondering if I should use less dense foam. For the design alter, I would like to make it wall mounted but framed to have a insert (hence the matching comforter) to be able to POP out when I change the bedding. Almost like a gigantic shadow box. I figure I will have at least 1/2- 1 inch to play with because of the room wall moulding and my current wooden platform bed so it isn't flush to the wall.... Any Ideas?!?!?! Thanks!!!

I can't mount the headboard on the wall (rental), so I was wondering if there were any easy ways to make the headboard free standing or maybe attach it to a frame? Any suggestions??

Hi there, you can actually make a frame with legs using 2x3s or something similar, and then have your headboard plywood on the top part, upholster that, and then you can screw/bolt your bedframe into the legs. Just make sure your legs are not out at the edge of hte headboard - ie, make headboard a few inches wider than the bed itself so the legs are sort of hidden from view.
Nov their headboard has a frame that you can screw your bedframe into. and actual photographs which are sometimes more useful to look at than diagrams! good luck!

That's just what I was thinking but wasn't sure how to go about it. That website is very helpful! Thanks so much! When I get it done I'll post a couple pictures..

You can use styrofoam instead of plywood and duct tape instead of staples. And you and attach it to the wall with industrial strength velcro.

If you only have a piece of plywood as the main base of your headboard, I'm not quite sure how to go about attaching the flush mount to it... do you know what I mean? If I use screws, they'd have to be mighty short screws to penetrate just the plywood and not poke thru into the foam. As nice and thick as the foam is, if there's a bit of screw in it, it can be felt! It's only 1/4" thick plywood so it's not like there's much for a screw to hang on to...

i would like to try this project on my daughters headboard, but you dont say if you should staple the foam to the headboard before putting on the batting and material, if the foam isnt stapled, wouldnt it give it some wiggle room after time?


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