How to Make a Simple Upholstered Headboard

My youngest daughter is an opinionated little lady so it was no surprise that when it came time to decide on a headboard for her tween room makeover, she knew exactly what she wanted. And since the closest store-bought version of her dream headboard was $700+, it was time for me (a gal who’s never upholstered a thing in her life) to figure out how to DIY one. Making the headboard took some time and patience but it wasn’t very difficult – if I can do this, you can do this!


Supplies
1/2″ MDF or plywood sheet 
Jigsaw 
Mending plates, wood glue, and a 2 x 4 (optional)
2″ foam (enough to cover the surface of your headboard)
Adhesive spray
Fabric and 2-3 layers of batting (enough to cover the headboard + several inches on each side)
Staple gun
French cleat picture hanger
1. Cut a 1/2″ sheet of MDF or plywood (I used MDF) to the desired width of your headboard. 

2. Draw a line down the center of your MDF/plywood sheet and sketch out the shape of your headboard. 

3. Use a jigsaw to cut out half of the headboard shape. Then use the cutoff piece as a template to trace the design on the other half of the sheet and cut it out too, ensuring that you have a symmetrical design.
4. (Optional) If you love tall headboards, there’s an easy way to make one that’s taller than your MDF sheet. Simply take the scrap piece of MDF/plywood that was first cut off of your sheet and cut off pieces in the sizes needed to add some extra inches to the bottom. Secure these pieces to the main part of the headboard with glue and mending plates on both the front and the back:
I added 6″ to the bottom of my headboard and didn’t have one scrap piece long enough to span the entire bottom of the headboard so I patched together two pieces. It will all be covered up with the foam, batting, and fabric so don’t worry about how it looks.
5. (Optional) Most of you can skip this step but I wanted to mention it because I haven’t seen it addressed before. My daughter’s headboard has windows flanking it on either side and I plan on adding drapes to them. Instead of hanging the headboard flush to the wall, I wanted there to be a few inches of space between the headboard and the wall so that the window drapes can fall behind the ends of the headboard. My solution was to attach two 2′ boards (one about 1/3 from the top of the headboard and about 8-10″ from the bottom) to the back of the headboard and hang the headboard on the wall from the top board.

6. Congrats! Your MDF/plywood sheet is officially prepped and ready to rock! Now’s the time to install the hardware for hanging it on the wall. Take your soon-to-be-a-headboard up to your room and figure out the height that you want to hang it (I liked the bottom of my headboard even with the top of the box spring). 

Based on my smart friend Lisa‘s recommendation, I used a french cleat hanger to mount the headboard on the wall. There are two different parts to the cleat hanger – one part is screwed into the wall. There are multiple screw hole options along the length of the cleat so you can screw it into the wall where you’ll hit studs.
It even comes with it’s own little level to make sure it’s mounted straight.
The other part of the cleat gets screwed onto the back of the headboard and the two pieces lock into place together to mount the headboard on the wall.  You can buy french cleats at most hardware stores or {here} on Amazon.

7. It’s finally time to upholster, starting with the foam. You can buy foam in sheets or in rolls – the most reasonably priced foam that I found were {these} 2″ poly foam rolls – I needed two rolls to cover a full sized headboard. Roll out your foam, place your cut-out headboard on top of it, and trace the foam to the shape of your headboard.
Cut the foam along the lines that you traced.
Once the foam is cut out to the shape of your headboard, use spray adhesive (I used 3M’s 77 Super Adhesive Spray found {here}) to adhere the foam to your MDF or plywood. 
8. Now take 2-3 layers of batting and lay them over the foam attached to the front of the headboard. Flip the headboard over and staple the batting to the back, pulling it taut as you move around the headboard.
9. After stapling on the batting, it’s time for the fabric. If the fabric you’ve chosen isn’t large enough to cover the entire headboard you may first need to seam pieces of it together.  


Target Drapes found {here}
Just like you did with the batting, cover the front of the headboard with your fabric, flip it over and staple it securely to the back, being careful not to leave any fabric wrinkles on the front or sides of the headboard. Once I stapled the fabric all of the way around the headboard, there were several staples that I had to remove and restaple to get the fabric as taut as possible and eliminate wrinkles.
10. Your hanging hardware is already in place so simply lift your finished headboard into place on the wall so that the pieces of the french cleat lock together. Done!

One of the great things about this simple headboard without tufting or nailheads is that it will be easy and inexpensive to change out the fabric down the road if it gets stained or I just want to change things up. Perfect for my commitment-phobe self!

Comments

  1. says

    Kris this is amazing….i still think it might be hard for moi, but sometimes ya never know, when i’m determined! I’ll keep this in my DIY file b/c it’s a great shaped headboard and a great tutorial….

  2. says

    This is one of my favorite elements of your daughter’s room, Kris. I love the shape you created and the smart ideas for adding height and covering it with affordable fabric! Smarty. Looks beautiful!!

  3. says

    I love your practical tips! My favorite is to make sure you can get it through door before deciding to add any height :) The things you learn only by doing! It turned out great and you have the form, so you can always change up the fabric later!

    • says

      Hi Robyn – my total cost for the project was just under $150 including the lumber (sheet of MDF plus a 2 x 4), mending plates, foam and batting (both 40% off at Hobby Lobby), fabric, and cleat wall hanger. I already had the wood glue, spray adhesive, and staple gun so I didn’t need to buy those. Hope that helps!

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