Upholstering a Headboard

Upholstering a HeadboardThe bedroom should be the one place in your home where you can find peace and tranquility. A messy bedroom can quickly turn that relaxed feeling into stress. You should always keep your work out of the bedroom so this can truly be a place to rest. Having a well designed space can help you find that peace you so desire. A great bed is a fantastic starting point for the décor of your room. Upholstered headboards add a thoughtful and classic design to the space and can completely change the look and feeling of any bedroom, even a guest room. If you’ve ever bought a custom upholstered headboard you know that they can be pricey, but making one on your own doesn’t cost a lot of money and is super easy to tackle in a surprisingly short amount of time. This time of year when guests are expected, why not create a truly beautiful and inviting space to help make them feel right at home?

The first step is to decide the size that your headboard is going to be and cut the plywood to those dimensions. A basic rectangle is the easiest shape for a first time upholstery project. As you create more rounded edges or a curvy detail on the top edge, it can become more difficult to neatly attach the fabric. It’s not impossible--a bit more time-consuming, but still totally doable. The shape and size of the headboard are completely up to your design style.

Once you’ve got your plywood cut, place a piece of 3” high density foam cut to the headboard dimensions on top of the plywood and secure with some foam adhesive. Wrap the headboard with the batting and staple to the backside about 2” from the edges. 

Place your fabric face down on the work surface. Place the headboard on top of the fabric, making sure to properly align the headboard to the pattern placement you are looking to create. Wrap the fabric over the edge of the headboard starting on the side that is farthest from you. This will allow you to pull the fabric toward you, which will help the fabric lay smoothly. Fold the edge of the fabric over ½” so you have a nice and non-frayed edge to staple into. Pull the fabric up and onto the backside, then staple in the center. Work your way out to ends and leave the corners for later. Stop about 2” before reaching the corner. Do this for all four sides. 

To staple the fabric at the corners, gently pull the fabric up and over the corner so you have a smooth and clean face at the corner and place a staple just inside of the corner. Next, gather the fabric that extends from the corner to the area on the side that has already been stapled. Neatly gather the fabric so you have a smooth edge on the side.

To attach the headboard to your wall, you are going to create a cleat system that will securely hold the headboard to the wall. First cut a 2x4 in half at a 45 degree angle along the 4’ side, you will end up with two long right triangle boards. It is best to do this on a table saw if you have one. Set your blade at 45 degrees and run the board down the saw. If you do not have one you can ask the lumber yard to do this for you. They will charge you but it is totally worth it. Attach one half of the 2x4 to the backside of the headboard 6” from the top edge. Mark a level line on the backside where this part of the cleat will go to keep it straight. Place the cleat against the backside so the long side faces out to the wall and the shorter edge is against the backside of the headboard. Keep the point of the triangle facing down. Secure the cleat in place with wood glue and your Arrow EBN 320 and 2” brads. Add a few 2” wood screws for extra strength. Mark a line on the wall where your cleat is going to line up when the headboard is attached to the wall. Along the line find out where the studs are located and mark their location. Hold the remaining half of the cleat to the wall so the longer edge faces into the room, the shorter edge is against the wall and the point of the triangle faces up just above the line on the wall. Drive 3” screws into the cleat at the stud points. Screwing the cleat into the studs will ensure a proper hold for the headboard on the wall. Attaching an additional 2x4 along the bottom edge will keep your headboard from dipping back against the wall.

Hang your headboard on the wall by sliding the cleat on the back of the headboard onto the cleat secured to the wall. The pieces will lock into one another and hold the headboard in place. The cleat system is one of the cleverest ways to attach large items to a wall. Next time you’re in a hotel with an upholstered headboard, take a peek behind it. I guarantee you they attached it to the wall the exact same way.