How to Make an Upholstered Headboard

Making your own upholstered headboard is easier – and more affordable than you think. In this post you’ll learn the easy steps to making a classic DIY upholstered headboard for any size bed with minimal tools and materials.

Not only is the process of making this headboard simple, you’ll also save money and be able to customize the shape of the headboard as well as choose the fabric color and style.

When it comes to decorating a bedroom and adding a headboard to accent the bed so it becomes the focal point of the room, there are many DIY Headboard Ideas that are quick and simple from Making a Headboard Using Old Doors to adding cushioning and fabric to an Existing Wood Headboard you may already own.

Looking into a green and white decorated guest room

A few months ago I got a new mattress and upholstered bed frame for one of the guest rooms in my house.

I wanted to add a matching upholstered headboard to the bed frame since the one that came with the frame I got had massive wings with a tufted look that I didn’t like. I knew I could make some sort of headboard on my own that I would like better.

I considered making a Simple DIY Fabric Headboard with fabric yardage placed over a curtain rod above the bed or a Reversible Padded Headboard Cover if I could find a queen size headboard at the thrift store to use as the base and even a No Sew Padded Headboard using foam and fabric. All of these would have worked, but none had the modern lines I was looking for.

So I decided to make my own DIY custom made headboard from scratch in the style I envisioned.

easy to make upholstered headboard

The hardest part of making the hardboard was trying to find a fabric that would match or coordinate with the fabric on the new bed frame. After looking at dozens of fabrics online and at a few local fabric stores, I ended up finding a very close match at Hobby Lobby.

How to Make an Upholstered Headboard the Easy Way

How To Make a DIY Upholstered Headboard

When making an upholstered headboard you can make the wood frame any shape you want and simply hang it on the wall above the bed.

Completed DIY upholstered headboard attached to an existing upholstered bed frame.

For a more secure and sturdy headboard, I added 2 legs to my headboard that were attached with screws to the back of the bed frame that holds the box spring and mattress.

As you consider what you would like your headboard to look like, ask yourself a few questions before beginning the project.

  • What size bed to you have? How high should the headboard be to look in proportion with the bed and furniture around it?
  • Do you want a plain or tufted headboard? One with nailhead trim or button tufting? Adding tufting makes the project more labor intensive.
  • Do you want extra padding? This can be added by first stapling thick upholstery foam over the wood frame.

It may also help to have a photo of a headboard you like as your inspiration or draw a sketch to help you figure out the best size for your bed and wood you will need to create it.

tools needed to make an upholstered headboard.

supplies needed:

All the supplies you will need to make an upholstered headboard can be purchased at your local hardware store or home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowes. Using an electric staple gun will make the process of attaching the fabric to the frame easier.

To get the best deals on fabric when making a custom headboard, fabric stores like JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby have a good selection of upholstery fabric that is often on sale.

  • 2 x 4’s – cut to size
  • Plywood – 1/8″ or 1/4″ thick, cut to size needed
  • Upholstery weight fabric
  • Batting – enough for 2 – 3 layers
  • Saw
  • Staple gun and staples (1/4″ and 5/16″)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Optional if Attaching the Headboard to the Bed Frame:
    • 2 metal braces with a hole on each end
    • Drill and drill bit to pre-drill screw holes
    • 2″ – 3″ long wood screws

Time needed: 4 hours

How To Make a DIY Upholstered Headboard: Step-By-Step Tutorial Instructions

  1. Determine Size of Headboard


    Using a measuring tape, figure out the dimensions of the bed. Measure how wide and high you would like the headboard to be.

    Queen size upholstered bed frame without a headboard in a bedroom.

  2. Cut the Wood


    Using your width and height measurements, cut the wood – 2 x 4’s and plywood to size.

    Use wood screws to attach the cut wood pieces as shown.

    Wood framework for base of DIY wood headboard that will be covered with fabric.

  3. Attach Plywood


    Using wood screws attach the plywood to the 2 x 4 frame.

    Finished wood frame to make a DIY upholstered headboard with legs.

  4. Cut Cushioning, Batting and Fabric


    When making a headboard padded, you need to cut the foam, batting and fabric large enough to wrap around to the back of the headboard.

    To determine how long to cut these so you have the right amount of excess fabric, foam and batting for wrapping the wood frame of the headboard, add the length of the entire headboard, plus the side depth x 2.

    Do the same calculation for the height of the headboard, including the amount needed if your adding upholstered legs to the headboard.

    Once You Have the Measurements – Add at least 4 inches for each side or enough extra that will wrap around the wood frame that will be secured on the back of the headboard.

  5. Layer the Materials on Top of Each Other


    Place fabric right side down on work surface or floor. On top of the fabric, place a few layers of batting depending on how padded you would like the headboard.

    If the fabric you are using has a pattern, make sure you place it on the worktable or floor so that the pattern is straight before cutting and then again when attaching the fabric to the wood frame.

    Using scissors, trim the fabric and batting to the shape of the headboard (as shown below) making sure to leave enough fabric all around to wrap around the back of the headboard frame.

    Lay fabric and batting on floor or worktable to cut them to wrap around a wood headboard frame.

  6. Optional: Cut Fabric on The Diagonal


    If your headboard has legs that you want to seamlessly upholster, then cut fabric at the corners of the bottom edge of the main headboard on the diagonal. This will make wrapping the frame as a whole without the need of seaming the legs and body of the headboard separately.

    Wood frame of headboard being wrapped in batting and fabric.

  7. Attach With Staples


    Starting on the top of the headboard, gather the fabric and batting and bring it to the back of the headboard. As you do this, check if using a patterned fabric that the pattern is staying straight as you pull the fabric taut.

    Use a staple gun to attach the fabric and batting to the back of the headboard.

    Continue pulling the fabric and batting taut to the back of the headboard to ensure there are no wrinkles in the fabric, then staple until you have the top section of the headboard covered and attached.

    An electric staple gun makes it easy to attach fabric, batting and foam to make an upholstered bed headboard.

  8. Wrap the Top Corners


    When wrapping the fabric and batting around the top corners, fold the excess fabric as you would gift wrap when wrapping a box.

    Carefully cut off excess batting so the fold over at the corners will not be thicker than the rest of the upholstered headboard once it is completely covered.

    Continue attaching the fabric and batting around the headboard and legs if your headboard design has legs that will be attached to the bed frame.

    how to wrap fabric and batting over corners when upholstering a headboard.

  9. Attach to Upholstered Headboard to Bed Frame


    If your headboard has no legs, attach it to wall as you would when you hang framed art on the wall.

    If your headboard has upholstered legs, use the bed frame hardware or wood screws and a flat metal brace mounted on the back of the headboard to attach the headboard to the bed frame.

    How to attach an upholstered headboard to an upholstered bed frame.

Helpful FAQ’s When Making a DIY Headboard

How Much Does It Cost to Upholster a Headboard?


The cost of making your own upholstered fabric headboard will be determined by the size of the bed and how much wood you will need as well as the cost of fabric yardage.

The cost of my headboard came to $54. This included the 2 x 4’s, plywood, batting and fabric yardage.

How Thick Should an Upholstered Headboard Be?


You can construct a headboard any thickness you want. The one I made is 4 inches.

How Much Wider Should a Headboard be than the Bed?


Ideally when making a headboard it should be the exact width of the bed frame or mattress.

Does an Upholstered Headboard Need to Have a Layer of Foam?


No, but if you want extra cushioning, you can wrap and attach a layer of foam in a thickness you want on to the headboard before attaching the fabric and batting.

Depending on the thickness of the foam, you may need to evenly pleat and fold the batting and fabric around the corner areas of the headboard to get a nice finished look.

Why Do You Need Batting When Upholstering a Headboard?


A few layers of soft batting bought at a fabric store will soften the edges of the wood frame making it look professionally done.

More Bedroom Decorating Ideas

Easy DIY upholstered headboard using any fabric to coordinate with bedding.

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10 Comments

  1. Beautiful! I have always wanted to try making a headboard and love your easy to follow tutorial. Did you make the green and white throw with the POMPom trim? It is so pretty with the matching shams. I love the green. It gives me an idea of how to reuse some quilts and matelasse coverlets along with all the fabric I have. I absolutely love to change my bedding, which can get expensive…..and take up lots of space. But, if I sew coordinating fabric to the quilt, like a duvet cover, but not stuffed, I can have new bedding without spending a dime! I also have enough to make shams as well. Thanks for the idea!!

  2. Love this! Just what I’ve been looking for! Thanks for the inspiration, Diane.

  3. Beautiful job on the headboard!

  4. The headboard and the frame definitely look well matched, great DIY job!

  5. Caye Cooper says:

    Such a FINE JOB! It is lovely, as usual. Many thanks for the great tutorial, Diane.

  6. Diane, You are one amazing talented cookie! An old saying my mom used. This is absolutely beautiful❤️

  7. Beverly Hayes says:

    Love this! I have made padded headboards in the past, but what I’ve done is buy thick foam (about three inches thick), cut the foam to match the shape of the headboard with an electric knife, lay it on the headboard, and finally wrap the whole thing with batting and fabric. One of my headboards was tall and curvy, but the other two that I made for my boys I could have made following your method. So much easier! Thanks for the inspiration!:)

    1. Beverly Hayes says:

      I forgot to mention I would cut the shape of the headboard on a large piece of plywood. Much heavier doing it this way too.

  8. Lisa Smith says:

    This looks great Diane! Beautiful!!

  9. Looks really good! I love those colors together. This is definitely one of those “if you don’t say you did it yourself, many will assume it came that way!” Job well done. Great how-to’s.