Super Easy DIY Headboard

I have been on a huge DIY kick lately. I have no clue why, but I’m rolling with it. I’ve had my eyes set on trying to build a DIY headboard for a few months now, but during the baseball season it’s not really an option.

I’ve spent all of the month of July visiting my family in Wisconsin and doing some TV hosting work. My parents live on about 1 zillion acres in the middle of a really rural area in central Wisconsin so there is always tons of space, tools, and scrap wood for me to play around with.

My parents have a cabin a little ways from their home in Central Wisconsin. No one lives there full time, but it’s a fun place for our family to getaway to and from time to time we have cousins and other family that like to come for little weekend getaways in the country.

Because it’s a second home, it’s furnished almost completely with second hand furniture, and spending a lot of money on fancy (heck, even matching!) furniture was – understandably – not really something they wanted to do.

Several of the beds just sit on plain basic bed frames. I told my parents if they bought me the lumber, I could make them some awesome headboards for a fraction of the price they would pay at the store. They were all about it and happily bought me a few boards and screws. The best part is it was uber cheap compared to what it would have been to buy three headboards.

I’ll be honest, my first headboard was pretty awful. For some reason, I used nails instead of screws (idiot) and I also figured I’d use a combination of the cheapest wood at the store and any ole’ scrap wood we had laying around (again, idiot). Luckily, I learned from my mistakes and my second and third headboards both turned out amazing.

lumber needed (full-sized bed)

  • 4 – 6 : 1 x 6’s at 57″ (this will depend on how tall you want your headboard to be. I liked 4.)
  • 2 : 1×4’s at 43″ (vertical supports)
  • 1 : 1×3 (horizontal base support) length will depend based on how far apart you set your vertical support boards
  • 1 : 1×3 (small middle vertical support) length will depend based on how many boards you use.

Step 1 — Cut your wood to size

There are several home improvement stores that will cut your wood for you free of charge. If the store you get your lumber from doesn’t cut wood for you, I recommend using a miter saw to do so. If not a hand saw will work just fine, but will require a little bit more elbow grease.

Step 2 — set your wood in place

Set your headboard up and make sure the supports are in the spots you want them to be. Pay close attention to the two vertical supports, because if those are screwed in crooked your headboard will stand crooked. I measured so both of my vertical supports were 3 inches from the top board.

Step 3 — screw the boards into place

Once you have all of your wood set up, I would start with securing the middle support. I used one screw for each board on the middle support board. When I got to the wider end support boards, I used two screws per board. This is totally up to you, but honestly the more screws you use the more sturdy it’s going to be.

Step 4 — Stain

Once it’s all secure it’s time to stain your headboard! I went with an oil based stained called dark walnut.

TA-DAH! It’s done!



Use good wood

Seriously, just do it. Most home improvement stores have different grades of wood. This is simply a determining factor of how good the wood is. I got my wood at Menards and they have 3 different wood grades (standard, quality, and select). For my first headboard I bought the lowest grade of wood (standard). I was trying to be cheap and honestly, I liked the knots and imperfections the lower grade had. The problem? Three of the six boards I bought were warped just the slightest amount where it made it hard to work with.

Also, the lower grade wood was much tougher to drill into. For my second and third headboards, I went up one wood grade (quality) and the difference was night and day. The boards were perfectly flat, easy to work with, and I could drill into them like a butter.

Adjust the measurements according to your liking

I used some measurements I found online for my first headboard. The problem was the headboard ended up going up much higher than I wanted it to. My first headboard called for 6 boards and it was soooo tall. Once I got it up to the room I realized it was so tall I wasn’t going to be able to fit the art I was planning to hang above it.

I was going to just leave it, but I couldn’t. I ended up unscrewing the top 3 boards, cutting down the two end support beams and the middle support beam, and then re-screwing in one board to make the headboard a total of 4 boards tall. Annoying, but it looks so much better now.

Let the stain sit at least over night

The smell of stain is no joke. I was super excited (and proud of myself) after I built my headboard. I stained it and the second it was dry I brought it into the house to see how it looked. My entire house smelled like oil-based wood stain. It was straight up fowl. My advice is to wait at least 24-48 hours after staining before you bring your headboard into your house.

My parents LOVE the finished product! This was definitely a DIY success.


Why thank you! Like I said, my first attempt was a little brutal, but by the third one I had it down, haha.

thanks sarah! I was also pretty impressed with myself. LOL.

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