DIY Guest Project: Frugal Upholstered Headboard

The following home DIY project is a guest blog post provided by Martin and Katie from the Our Everyday Earth Green Blog. Our Everyday Earth is a green blog with a difference. Martin and Katie are a regular family living in Texas writing about going green, recycling, composting, green education and other family friendly green tips. Be sure to check them out!

When Martin reached out to me, I immediately fell in love with the project. I’ve always wanted an upholstered headboard, but I really never thought I could do it on my own. So Martin, thanks for proving me wrong.



The project started as a weekend idea inspired by several online tutorials of how to create an upholstered headboard, and it grew into a bigger project with a reclaimed wooden bed frame and some reorganizing of the surrounding furniture!

The original metal framed bed is shown below, with some closeup shots of the cracked framework. The metal frame was uncomfortable to sit up against, and we had tried multiple times to fix the cracked metal but it kept on breaking in the same location.

Katie and I set out in separate directions; she went to the fabric store and I went to the home improvement store! I bought a large piece of 1/2 inch thick plywood for about $20, I bought the type which is only finished smooth on one side — this cut the cost down slightly. Katie bought some wonderful fabric, some quilt batting material and two pieces of 2 inch thick upholstery foam.

I cut out the headboard shape with a jigsaw (wish I had video’d that part), and below you can see my mad scientist template with dimensions…

As you can see, our king size bed was considerably wider than the template (77 inches wide versus 52 inches wide).

We laid the plywood headboard shape onto the 2 inch foam and marked around it with a permanent marker and then used a bread knife to cut the foam to shape.

We used Loctite spray adhesive to glue the foam to the plywood headboard. You should be able to find an equivalent at the local hardware store. Word of caution, only use these spray adhesives in a well ventilated area, and always wear a breathing mask.

Fixing the quilt batting to the foam and plywood headboard was easy, we just stretched the quilt batting over the back of the headboard and stapled it with a staple gun every couple of inches. The quilt batting was easy to stretch and the final product was very smooth.

We cut the excess batting off with scissors, and it was ready for the actual final upholstery fabric to be applied. This final stage was trickier. The fabric we used was fairly heavy weight and it took a lot of stretching and stapling to get it looking smooth over the headboard. We were very pleased with the finished headboard though and couldn’t wait to get the new bed assembled!

As mentioned previously, the new bed frame was made using reclaimed barn wood which we had stored in the loft above our garage. We cleaned it up with some soap and water, let it dry and then assembled a basic frame.

I used some large 5/16 inch diameter 2 inch length bolts with washers and captive type nuts to secure the new wooden frame to the old metal base. You can see the assembled bed frame below.

I used flat head bolts on the foot of the bed for a better visual finish.

Now that the frame was assembled and tightened up, we were finally ready to start putting the bed back together; we added the box springs first.

After performing a quick test fit of the headboard to make sure the frame and headboard looked correct, I moved on to the final positioning of the headboard. I quickly realized that the massive headboard was not going to be easy to hold with one hand and then screw into place with the other!

My solution was to use an artists easel to prop up the headboard, it worked great and the adjustable easel allowed me to position the headboard at the exact desired height.

Once we were happy with the vertical and horizontal positioning of the headboard, I fixed it in place with wood screws to the reclaimed wood frame. Finally the bed was starting to pull together!

Our DIY Master Bed Project Summary:

We spent just under $300 on materials, the upholstery fabric and foam were the most expensive coming in at just over $200! The rest of the materials were either very cheap, or completely free (reclaimed wood).

Materials and tools:

  • 1/2 inch thick plywood from Lowes
  • A jigsaw for cutting the headboard shape
  • 2 inch thick upholstery foam
  • Loctite spray adhesive
  • Standard quilt batting
  • Fabric of your choice (be bold!)
  • Bread Knife (for cutting foam)
  • Scissors
  • Staple Gun (and lots of staples!)
  • 8 x 5/16 inch dia, 2 inch length bolts for mounting the wooden frame to the base
  • 8 washers and 8 nuts
  • Lots of patience!

So there you have it, a frugal DIY master bed makeover with an upholstered headboard and reclaimed wood bed frame! We hope you enjoyed this project and would love to hear your feedback.

14 Comments on DIY Guest Project: Frugal Upholstered Headboard

  1. Martin
    March 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi Nicole,
    We are super excited to be featured on The Plunge Project, big thanks for getting our DIY project out there :-)

    • Nicole
      March 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank YOU for sharing it, Martin! One day I’m going to tackle this project myself :)

  2. howard johnsons reupholstery co
    May 30, 2011 at 6:38 pm (4 years ago)

    great project, just the way I have been doing it for 25 yrs. I teach classes at local community college. most students would love to make a headboard. PS. we charge upward of $2500.00 to custom build a bed. hojo

  3. Tracy
    November 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm (3 years ago)

    Hello — I’m researching upholstering headboards and came across yours. How did you get the fabric to go around all of your curves without puckering.

    Thanks!!! Tracy

  4. Marlene
    April 17, 2013 at 8:45 pm (2 years ago)

    Since this area is not visible to the eye, chances
    are that you can rip off the wooden bottom of the cushion and not worry
    about how it looks. Use a whole lot of paint- Nothing spells spring than redesigning your home with the newest cans of colors.
    Well, this begins to add up, and that means so do your options.

    April 19, 2013 at 4:32 am (2 years ago)

    After I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new
    comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I receive four
    emails with the exact same comment. There has to be a way you can remove
    me from that service? Thanks a lot!

    • Nicole
      April 28, 2013 at 4:27 am (2 years ago)

      I’m not sure I have the ability, as it’s setup through WordPress. You’ll likely have to sign into your own WordPress account and unsubscribe.

    October 13, 2013 at 4:22 am (2 years ago)

    Nice answers in return of this question with real arguments and explaining all regarding that.

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    November 26, 2013 at 8:58 pm (2 years ago)

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  10. Reema @ Uratex Hospital Bed
    July 22, 2014 at 8:43 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful headboard DIY idea, will definitely try this at my own bedroom.


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