How to Build a Headboard In One Day

Y’all ready to build a headboard for the sole purpose of making other people say “daaaaaaaaaamn, girl”?! Then you’ve come to the right place!

Hahaha, but really. Hi friends! Last week was one full of rest, doodling, and crafts while I recouped myself from a bout of heightened anxiety and a panic attack that came (completely uninvited) to our anniversary dinner. Prior to last weekend, I hadn’t had a panic attack in a few years and I was sort of out of practice when it comes to dealing with anxiety, so I just took it very, very easy.

Things kept looking up though, and by the end of the week I was feeling much more like the “normal” version of myself. List-making, dreaming, and planning came back to my brain full-force once I let it rest a *little* less. I was able to create a new set of prints for my living room from my marathon doodling session. They are now available on my Etsy (FOUR prints for $10)!

So anyway. The biggest thing on my list was “build a headboard.” Simple goals, amirite?! But really: building this headboard is easy! I wouldn’t lie to you.

I’ve shopped around for a modern, minimal headboard made of a light raw wood for MONTHS. Maybe even encroaching on a year. And guess what? I found nothing. I did find similar headboards, but they all had too rustic or farmhouse-y of a vibe for my space (our bedroom is pretty modern and minimal: black walls, wooden pendant, white curtains) and they all cost well over $250 for the most basic king beds. The closest thing I found to my dream was the Andice Platform Bed from AllModern. But it was not the one.

So I designed The One. And then I built The One. And you can build your own version of The One! It was really easy, not very expensive, and is easily-customizable.

What You Need:

  • Wood for top and bottom horizontal frame pieces — I used two 7 ft, 1×2 poplar boards that I cut down to 80″
  • ~18 6 ft 1×2 poplar boards for the vertical slats that I cut into 36″ (giving me 36 pieces total)
  • Paint, stain, polyurethane, or wax to finish (optional)
  • Chop saw, table saw, etc for cutting pieces if cutting at home
  • Finishing nailer and brad nails (I used 2 1/4″)
  • Palm sander, 220 grit (finishing) sandpaper
  • Quick-adjust clamp (2) — mine are the cheap ones from Harbor Freight, but these ones seem to be about the same

    **PRO TIP: when you cut down your pieces to size, save 2 scrap blocks to help you space out your vertical slats**

First Things First: Design

I think every time I take on a project, I start with a design. For this specific project, I envisioned a minimal, modern headboard with vertical lines that was slightly wider than my bed. Sometimes I will draw a design out, and sometimes I don’t. This time, I just thought it up and it was simple enough to be able to recall from memory.

Your next logical step would be to take down some initial measurements for your desired shape and size of your headboard to use as a reference throughout this process. I have a king-sized bed and 9-foot ceilings and I used the following measurements: 80″W x 36″H. I had to sand a little bit of a nub off of the horizontal pieces in the end, but c’est la vie, yanno?

If you refer back to a few paragraphs ago, you’ll see that I purchased eighteen 6 ft boards and two 7 ft boards. The total cost for the materials was $120.

Design, Pt II: Materials!

You could do so many things with this part. As for wood, you could pick oak if you wanted a more golden tone or were looking to stain, poplar for a more white vibe (also good for staining), walnut for a deeper color, or pine if you like that color or plan to paint or stain it. Speaking of paint, you can do SO MANY things here too: a gradient of rainbow colors, colored slats and raw wood frame pieces, an ombre, wrap them in wallpaper, or leave it raw. For me, personally, I left all of it it raw and untreated. I do have a finishing wax I may apply, but for now I wanted it to have that natural, white-blonde look.

This part is so fun. Once you figure out how much wood you will need to execute your project, you get to pick the type of wood and the stain or paint (if any).

Frame, Space, and Build the Damn Thing

Cut all of your pieces to spec, sand them down with a palm sander and fine finishing sandpaper (220 grit). This will ensure that your headboard is free of potential snags and feels smooth. No one wants to get a splinter in their sleep.

At this point, you’ve purchased all of your materials, cut them down to size, have a plan, and you have your measurements! Hurrah! Yay you! You are so organized. This is where you will pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for being undeniably, 100% on top of your sh*t. Good job.

Lay your two 80″ structural frame pieces down on the wide (2″) side to begin framing, laying parallel to each other about 3′ apart (side note here: I absolutely love spelling the world parallel).

Now take your first vertical slat and lay it on its narrower (1″) side underneath the two horizontal pieces, lining up the ends of the vertical slats with the outside edge of the horizontal pieces. This will ensure that any nail holes are hidden on the back of the headboard. Square the edges or else you will see any height discrepancy in the final product. Put two finishing nails through the top of the vertical slats and into the top horizontal frame piece and repeat the process into the bottom horizontal frame piece. Space your nails so that they aren’t super close to each other — this will ensure that it’s as structurally sound as possible.

Here, it’s probably wise to take one of vertical slats and do this same process on the far end to hold it in place. This will help keep the structural pieces from bowing during the build process. I did this, and I only used 1 nail in each end so that I could easily remove it later. You can see where I did it in this photo on the left.

After this, you will take your two scrap blocks and place them vertically, end-down next to the vertical slat you just nailed to the frame. Take another vertical slat and lay it on the other side of the scrap block, underneath the horizontal frame pieces like the first one we nailed in. The scrap block will create the proper spacing between the vertical slats. Again, square your edges, only this time, use your clamp to clamp together the two vertical slats and the block between them to make sure they stay in place so your spacing is uniform. You can see what I mean in the photo above. Nail the second piece down.

That’s it!

Mounting Your Headboard

We attached our headboard to our wall behind our bed, about 14″ below its surface. For mounting, use a stud finder to find some studs to mount the headboard to — this is imperative. We mounted ours using five 2.5″ screws. I would also recommend drilling a pilot hole so you don’t split the wood, though this isn’t entirely necessary.

Final Thoughts

I’m not lying when I say anyone can do this. It’s a fairly simple DIY with a lot of payoff. I mean, it’s only been up for about 24 hours as I am writing this, but I can’t stop looking at it, geeking out about it, and talking about how proud I am of myself for building it. It feels so good!

As with all of the DIYs I post here, please share them with me if you try any of them!

One thought on “How to Build a Headboard In One Day

  1. Like you I have searched for a long long time! I finally bought one bc well I needed to seem somewhat adultish. But I love this one even more. Thanks for the DIY!!

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