How to Build a Headboard

how to build a headboard

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to build a headboard. I’ll list all of the tools and materials you’ll need for the project, and give you detailed instructions for each step. But first, a little background on this DIY headboard I built for my daughter. She found a headboard for her college bedroom that she really liked. Naturally, she asked me if I could build it for her. And of course, I couldn’t say no. It’s a simple design that is very easy to build, and in this tutorial, I’m going to show you exactly how to do it!

Before we get started, if you’re looking for a bigger project, you may want to check out the full DIY bed I built.

Now let’s get started and learn how to build a headboard!

Materials and Tools for DIY Headboard

  • Finish Nailer
  • Miter Saw
  • Tape Measurer
  • Wood Glue
  • Wood Stain
  • Sand Paper
  • Wood Filler
  • 1 1/4″ Finish Nails


  • 5 pieces of 1″ x 6″ x 6′ Poplar
  • 3 pieces of 1″ x 3″ x 6′ Poplar
  • 3 pieces of 1″ x 2″ x 6′ Poplar
  • 2 pieces of 1″ x 12″ x 8′ Poplar (or any other type of wood)

Step 1: Determine the Height

My daughter gave me short notice on this project, which meant I didn’t have much time to get it done. So I decided to keep it very simple with a limited amount of cuts. I let the boards and spacing determine the overall height of the headboard.

I laid out all of the boards and used two quarters (as in the coins) as spacers between each one. Then I measured the total height of all the boards with the spacers (quarters) in place, which came out to be 30 5/16″.

Step 2: Add the Back Pieces

For the back of the headboard, you can use pretty much any kind of wood since it won’t be seen. It just needs to be 3/4″ thick. I used some scrap pieces of 1×12 cedar I had left over from our build.

I cut all of the cedar pieces to 30 5/16″, which was the headboard height I measured in step 1.

Then I cut two pieces of the 1×6 Poplar to 53″ in length.

I positioned these two boards at the top and bottom. Then glued and nailed two of the Cedar boards to the back, as shown above, making sure all of the corners were flush.

Then I added the rest of the cedar boards. When I got to the last board, it was too wide. So I measured how wide it needed to be and used a table saw to cut it to the right width.

Step 3: Add the Front Pieces to the DIY Headboard

Once I had all of the back pieces nailed and glued in place, I flipped the headboard over to add the remaining Poplar boards to the front. I cut three more pieces of 1×6 and five pieces of 1×3, all 53″ long.

how to build a headboard

Using the 2 quarters as spacers, I glued and nailed the front boards in place alternating between the 1x6s and the 1x3s. I nailed them from the bottom so there wouldn’t be any nail holes on the front of the headboard.

Step 4: Add the Edge Pieces

After I finished up with all of the front pieces, it was time to add 1x2s around the edge of the headboard. I cut two pieces of the 1×2 Poplar 31 13/16″ long, and two pieces 54″ long, all with a 45 degree angle on each end.

Then I glued and nailed them in place.

Step 5: Fill Nail Holes and Sand the Headboard

After I nailed on the last piece of wood, I filled all of the nail holes with wood putty. The only holes I filled were the ones in the edge pieces. All of the other holes were in the back of the headboard. Since the back won’t be seen, I didn’t worry about those.

diy headboard sanding

I let the wood putty dry, then I sanded the entire headboard with fine sandpaper.

Step 6: Stain the Headboard

My daughter wanted a light and airy look for her bedroom, so we decided to keep the color of the headboard very close to its light natural tone. I applied one coat of a light gray stain.

Hanging the Headboard

I hung the headboard on the wall behind her bed just like a picture. First, I located the studs in the wall, and attached metal hangers on the back of the headboard in locations that corresponded to the stud locations.

Then I drove a couple of screws into the studs, making sure they were level. And finally, I lifted the headboard onto the screws.

Now that you know how to build a headboard, hopefully, you can put this tutorial to use and create one for yourself or someone you know!

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  • Reply Sandra Dee

    Beautiful! Simple instructions, too! I will be making a headboard like this; will whitewash as will be using in a modern-farmhouse themed bedroom. I really like that you hung it versus attaching to a bed frame. Thank you so much for the instructions.

    June 19, 2021 at 9:48 pm
  • Reply Kaeleigh

    This is beautiful! I’m looking for a similar design. I’m curious about why you used so much cedar for the back of the headboard vs. framing it? Did this make it sturdier? I’m worried about the extra weight the back-of-headboard wood would add to it.

    October 8, 2021 at 5:32 pm
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