How To: Upholster a Headboard

Inspired by many outrageously priced upholstered headboards with nailhead trim, I set out to DIY my own for our master bedroom.  The headboard ended up making a HUGE impact and was so easy and inexpensive!  Here is the inspiration… Ballard Designs wanted $607 for this thing! (Are you kidding me???)

Follow along to see how I created a similar look and saved over $500…


– plywood cut to the size you desire (they can cut it at the hardware store for you)

– batting (twin size should be enough, but check your dimensions, mine is a queen)

– fabric (enough to cover the size of your plywood plus about 4″-6″ in both directions)

– nail head trim (if desired)

– cleat hanger

– rubber mallet (or hammer if you’re careful)

– staple gun

Note:  All of these items should cost you around $40-$60, depending on the fabric you choose (not including the staple gun which would be an additional $10-$20 if you don’t already have one to use).  I used burlap which is on the cheaper end as far as fabrics go, so mine was under $40.


1.  Lay out the batting on a large flat surface.  Place the plywood on top.

2.  Borrow your sister to cut the batting a few inches larger than the plywood on each side.

3. Fold the batting over the plywood and staple it so that it’s taut on the front face of the plywood.  Tip: Start with one staple in each corner, then one in the middle of each side, then evenly spaced throughout, making sure to keep it tight on the good side.

4. Iron the batting gently on a low setting to get out any major wrinkles.

5. Repeat the same process (stapling and ironing) with your fabric.

6.  Borrow extremely photogenic sister to be the rubber mallet pounder while you line up the nail head trim a few inches from the edge of headboard.  (You only have to hammer every fourth nail with this trim, not every nail, thank goodness.)

7.  Hang the headboard on the wall.  There are many possible methods to do this, but for a piece this heavy, I recommend a cleat hanger, as pictured below.  You attach the lower part to some studs in the wall, and the upper part to the headboard.  Then, just slide the headboard bracket in in top of the wall bracket and it’s locked in place.  Keep in mind that you will have a little room from side to side, but no room vertically, so measure how tall you want your headboard hung before you drill!  Also, your cleat hanger should be longer than the one shown below and have more screws; this is simply the best picture I found to illustrate it.

8.  Admire your work!

I have since added bedside tables and sconces…

Lots of impact for $40 buckaroos, no?  Let me see yours if you use this tutorial! 🙂

I’m linking up to the Ballard Designs Inspired challenge at:

This entry was posted in Before and After, Decor, DIY, Tutorials. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to How To: Upholster a Headboard

  1. Janimal says:

    Oh my Gosh that looks terrific.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the kind words. Well done on this headboard.

  2. Kristen says:

    extremely photogenic sister….THANKS

  3. Lori says:

    Stunning! You did a great job. I love the color of the paint on your bedroom walls, as seen in the photo. Would you be willing to tell me what brand and shade it is? I’m going to be painting my bedroom in a few months and I really like this particular shade. Thanks!

  4. Wow, this turned out so well! Love it!

  5. Wow what a great look and for only 40.00 dollars. How are your knees doing? I love the great DIY shot of you cutting the batting.

  6. Winklepots says:

    I was just talking to my friend today who wanted me to help her make a fabric headboard. I went to the CSI Ballard inspired design projects and there was your tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing; looking forward to trying it out.

  7. Katie says:

    Great tutorial and love how it turned out! You did a great job, and more kuddos to you for doing it by yourself!

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