I loved making a headboard. It was just the right amount of effort (I got to use a staple gun), and at no point did I ever think "this will never end" (I'm looking at you, stenciled wall).
Probably because a homemade headboard is such a great weekend warrior project, there are lots and lots of online tutorials from others who have tackled the project. The problem for me was that I felt a lot of them looked a little too homemade.
After examining the difference between the storebought headboards I liked and some of the handmade versions, I determined that the biggest "tell" was the plushness of the headboard. The pro headboards were plump and cushy, whereas lots of the diy versions looked more like a fabric-covered frame hung at bed height.
I suspected the culprit was the batting, guessing that most people used quilting batting, which is available at any craft store (I've used it in oodles of projects, from homemade stuffed animals to the felt "daddy" items I put in the pillows I made from my husband's shirts). I like my headboards to have at least as much padding in the middle as I do.
Here's What You'll Need:
- MDF cut to size (for my queen bed, I had my friends at Home Depot cut a 22"x 64" piece out of 1/2" MDF. While I was at it, I had them rip a full sized headboard out of the remaining MDF board for a future headboard for the guest room. I'm a sucker for buy one get one free.) If you're not sure how big standard headboards are, here's a list of standard mattress measurements to get you started. From there, you can pretty much "eye" the dimensions for your headboard as far the width and height. Try using painter's tape to create the desired headboard size on your wall first.
- desired fabric (I needed 2 yards, which ran me $19.30 total from onlinefabricstore.net) in ample yardage for your sized headboard
- upholstery batting (which I purchased for $34.50 from onlinefabricstore.net) in ample yardage for your sized headboard
- staple gun and staples (I already owned, but you can pick up a staple gun for $10. Staples sold separately)
- drop cloth/bed sheet to lay on the floor/work surface
- hanging hardware (I bought two 2-packs of heavy duty D-rings from the photo hanging section)
Here's What You'll Do:
1. First lay down your drop cloth on your work surface (I did mine on the deck).
2. Get a feel (literally) for your upholstery batting.
Putting my batting hypothesis to the test, I decided to spring for upholstery batting. Unlike quilt batting, this stuff is fluffy, like wooly cotton candy.
3. Create a layer of batting on your work surface that will extend over the edges of your MDF board. As you can see in the photo above, I also put an extra layer in the middle, just to up the fluff factor.
4. Put on your ridiculously good-looking safety goggles.
Yes, you're right. It is a miracle I have children.
5. Begin stapling the batting to the back of your MDF, completing each side.
I'm not going to lie. This took a little finesse. Even with all those staples (about 1.5 - 2" apart), it's still a pretty delicate hold, but I knew that my fabric, once stapled, would serve to hold my batting in place, just like a good pair of spanx.
6. Once the batting is stapled, lay out your fabric right side down and place MDF board (batting side down, staple side up) on top of your fabric. Ensure fabric is smooth.
7. Starting in the center, staple fabric to the board.
I was able to work one side entirely first because my fabric has no pattern. If you're trying to keep a pattern horizontal, go ahead and staple in the center of the top and bottom panels to serve as an anchor.
As you see above, you have to pull pretty taut in order to prevent any droop. Then, working from the center outwards, smooth the fabric into place and staple.
* A few notes: once I was ready to staple my fabric in place, sometimes I would pull some of the batting away to get clearer stapling access to the MDF. I know this sounds counterintuitive, given that we just stapled the stuff into place, but getting a secure grip between the fabric and the MDF is actually more important, since that's what will permanently hold the batting in place.
* Take your time with the corners. Sometimes a simple "bedsheet" fold around the corner will do, which is what I was able to do. I suggest having someone help you hold up the headboard on its side while you work the corners so that you can be sure it looks polished from the front.
Hanging the headboard:
Apologies in advance that I'm a little stingy with the photos here. I did this one night after work with the kids by myself, so between finding non-obtrusive ways for the duckling to "help" in that helpful way two-year-olds have of helping and making sure I didn't step on the baby, well, I just didn't snap any pics. I'm sorry.
Here's a set of D-rings I actually bought to hang something else, but for illustration's sake I'm showing them here. I used four that were a little more heavy duty.
1. Find the center of where your headboard will hang.
2. Find the studs on the wall where your headboard will hang. Mark them, and then measure the distance from center to the studs.
3. Repeat the same measurements on your headboard (center of the headboard, and distance to the studs from the center). Mark on the back of your headboard.
4. Being sure to level, drill pilot holes for two d-rings on the back of your MDF in the place where you marked the studs.
5. Given that wall studs are on average 16" apart, you should be able to find a place for two more D-rings on the back of your board on the same line with your existing two. Ideally you'd like them all evenly spaced or at least with two on each side of center. If you aren't hanging this on a wall with studs, be sure to use anchors with your screws (I did this for the two non-stud screws. Trust me, it's necessary.)
6. Attach your D-rings to your board.
7. Using distances that match the D-rings on the back of your board (on level) and being sure to hit the studs, drill your screws into place (don't forget your anchors).
8. Hang your headboard.