Have You Ever Wanted To Know How To Make a Headboard?
I’m going to teach you.
I’m going to show you how to make a headboard. Not just any headboard but one a fancy, upholstered headboard. An upholstered headboard is never a thing of the past. It makes a statement and as style changes, we see Design staples revolve on a regular basis. While Upholstered Headboards are in right now, I want to share this experience with you. I’m going to show you the behind-the-scenes effort to make these headboard panels:
or this headboard which is comprised of the six panels with a frame around it.
What you’ll need to make the headboard.
To begin, we need to figure out the size of the headboard. The size of our bed will dictate the size of each square panel. Take a measuring tape and measure the back end or foot of the bed you are planning to make the headboard for. This one was a queen so it was a standard 60 inches across. Tip: Usually, this style looks best with panels that are a perfect square. So a 60 inch wide bed will require six 20×20 inch panels. For the look in the first image, the one without a frame, all you need is one Homasote Board measuring 48×96 inches. Homosoate is recycled paper compressed into a flat panel. It is also used as insulation for soundproofing. It is the cost-effective alternative for theater soundproofing. Instead of $120 per board, you pay 1/4 the price. Why do we use this board? Nailheads. You will be using hundreds of nailheads in this project. You’ll thank me later! Trust me!
Homasote – 1 or 2 panels depending on the headboard size.
Straight yard stick.
Inner Lining or Interlining. Same amount as face fabric.
Fabric for the front of the headboard (face fabric).
Six decorative cabinet knobs with nuts and washers.
Dacron or Carpenter’s Wrap.
Headboard cleats or bars.
1 and 3/4 inch self drilling screws.
Drill Bit set.
Foam hole cutter.
Upholstery Tack Hammer.
Pneumatic (air-powered) stapler with air hose and compressor.
Pneumatic (air-powered) nailer with 1 and 1/4 inch wire nails.
Let’s Get Started!
So I’ve cut the six boards at 20×20. Brushing off the dust left by the saw while you were cutting the boards, use a marker to make a cross out of two lines from opposing corners, like this:
We purchased 1 and 1/2 inch thick firm foam. We cut the foam just 1 inch larger than the boards and used spray adhesive to secure them onto the Homasote. For the 20×20 inch boards, the foam was cut at 21×21. We centered the board onto the foam so we would have a 1/2 inch overlap of foam along the four edges. Tip: Make sure you secure the foam to the side of the board that does not have the cross on it. Like this:
Next, we drew a line on each of the four edges of the foam just 2 inches in from the edge. This image only shows two lines but continue on to the other two edges…
Next, holding your foam cutter ( I used an electric carving knife because of the angle) follow the line you previously drew using the edge of the board as a guide. Don’t worry about the mitered corners, they will fall in line perfectly as you go through each line.
This is what it will look like when you are done cutting the foam on all the boards. See the beveled edges?
Next, take your drill and drill through the back of the boards. Be cautious with the foam. It will stick to the drill bit as it heats up going through the boards.
Flip the board over and draw an X like this one on the top, from opposing corner to opposing corner, just like you did before on the back of each board.
Next, remove the drill bit and attach your foam hole cutting attachment. Tip: If you can find one of these, be aware that it is made of surgical grade steel. The edge of this cutter is very sharp so be careful when you cut. Cut in the center of the X and while the drill is still spinning, slowly draw it up and away from the foam. The cutter will be HOT so give it a few seconds to cool and use a pin or an awl to pry the foam out of the shaft if you must, just don’t use your fingers!
Okay, I didn’t take a snapshot of the next (missing) step but I will do my best to describe it. The boards each have a decorative knob in the center which creates the tufting effect and it is also the reason why we removed a piece of foam with the foam hole cutter. I went to a store and purchased jeweled cabinet knobs. I found these at Hobby Lobby at $5.99 each but waited until they were 50% off so that was a win! Each knob came with a washer and a nut as well as a backplate stem. I removed the washer and nut and left set it aside. Using a spare yard of lining, I centered the fabric over the hole and pushed the fabric into the hole with my finger. I then marked the edges of the fabric with a pencil just 3 inches on each side past the lowest point of the foam’s beveled edge. Remember that you still need to tuck the fabric around the back of each board for a clean finish along the edges. This 20×20 board required a 27×27 inch piece of fabric. Once I figured it out, I cut a layer of interlining and fabric in that size and diagonally folded the two layers into a triangle and then folded it again to locate the center of the 27×27 inch piece. Then I snipped the center to make a small hole big enough for the bolt on the back of the knob to go through without pulling through the entire knob itself.
Center the two layers of fabric over the hole on the foam, making sure your fabric is on top.
Once I applied the knob, I flipped the board and secured the washer then the nut, screwing it in to create the tuft lines in the center. Flip our board again, and gently manipulate the fabric to the edges. Tip: Shiny fabrics will show stress lines, flat fabrics don’t really show these lines unless you are up close. I recommend choosing a fabric that stretches on the bias from all directions. This feature minimizes the puckering of the fabric as you smooth and stretch the fabric over the edges of the board.
Here I used push pins to secure the fabric as I work the textile along the top of the foam. Notice the excess fabric along the edge of the boards. This is ideal since it is always better to have more than not enough.
Once you have smoothed the edges, begin applying the nailheads. This is where it is important to use Homasote as the board. It’s lightweight and easy to cut but it will save you dozens of twisted and damaged nailheads which can be very costly, depending on the size and style. Try to keep count and space them the same if you can. As fabricators, we have a template for perfect placement of the nailheads. Tip: Do not staple the fabric to the back of the boards until you have finished applying the nailheads. There is still smoothing of the loose edges you need to work on but only after you have finished placing your nailheads along the fours sides of the board.
When you choose the nailheads, take a scrap piece of the fabric to get a better view of what direction you are going in. We were working on two for different rooms that had to be different. These were the two nailheads we chose. The pearl gray for the gray headboard fabric and the antique french gold for the beige headboard.
Here is how the boards will look once they are finished. If you like the six panel look in the first picture of this blog, this is where you would stop and work on applying black cambric to the back of each board to then apply the mounting hardware. This is not where we stopped since the client specified they wanted it to be all one board. Tip: If you opt to not build a frame around these, be careful to cut the squares PERFECTLY and number them on the back to make sure they all line up perfectly once they are hung on the wall.
To build the frame, measure the new height of and width of the panels as they are laid out on the table. Add an extra 1/2 inch for allowance of the padding you will add to the upholstered frame. We added a 3 and 1/2 inch frame around the entire set of boards and then cut the size on a 3/4 inch finished plywood board. Tip: Don’t opt for saving money when you buy the main board you will be mounting the six boards to. If the board bends, it will warp upon installation. You won’t be happy. Trust me. as professionals, we don’t try to save or cut corners. We have to make sure our clients are happy and have no complaints.
See the Homasote on the frame edge?
Look closely and you’ll see the frame itself rises over the main rear panel. These pieces were made of 1x4x8 boards from the local hardware store, cut and nailed onto the rear main board. Then we applied Homasote (also nailed in ) to the top of the frame boards because we will also be applying nail heads to this area and don’t want to lose these costly little guys.
Apply a layer of Dacron or Carpenter’s wrap to the frame edge. We used our Pneumatic Upholstery stapler since it’s faster and honestly, it’s all we know. Air-powered tools: Yeah!!!!
Work the Dacron on all four sides before you apply the fabric to the frame. Tip: Staple the frame inside first. Don’t staple the fabric onto the inside of the actual frame but onto the rear board. You don’t want to see staples anywhere from the front. Don’t staple the fabric along the outer edge yet. Use push pins to help keep the outer edges in place while you apply the nailheads to the frame. We did one two rows on the frame because we thought it looked amazing.
When you’re done, put the six panels in the frame. You may need to tap them into place very carefully to make them fit. It should be a snug fit so be patient and work on it. If they just won’t snuggle together, you can tap the edge of the board that’s giving you grief with a hammer and the Homasote will compress a bit. Don’t overdo this step. You don’t want to crush the board or break it, nor do you want to crush a crisp edge. Again, have patience. This is a professional job that you are tackling. Nothing comes easily nor quickly.
Once you’ve applied the six boards into the frame, carefully screw them in from BEHIND the main board being careful to not drill close to the beveled edge as these are shallower than the areas closer to the center of each board.
Once you’ve finished this step for each board, you can cover the rear of the entire headboard which is now one piece with black cambric. Do not apply the mounting hardware as the mounting hardware required to hold these board on the wall are solid steel nesting bars that MUST be secured to the studs on the wall and then to the back of the headboard.
Violà! You’re Done!
This is the finished product. The six panels on one board. It weighs over 50 lbs once upholstered and requires a 2 person lift, not to mention two steel hardware bars to secure it onto the wall.