2-HOUR DIY | Upholstered Headboard

Part of my Spring 2020 One Room Challenge was creating this upholstered headboard on a budget. Sure, you can buy one online or in a store, but the satisfaction of building something yourself far outweighs the convenience of buying something that anyone could have. With these materials, you can create your very own upholstered headboard and completely customize it to your needs. The dimensions I provide fit a standard queen size bed, but you can adjust accordingly to twin, double, and king sizes. Bonus: this headboard can mount directly to your wall- no support frame needed.

finished dimensions: 60"w x 30"h


  • (1) 4'x8' sheet of 1/2" fir plywood (for the base)

  • (3) 1"x2"x6' poplar board (for the frame)

  • (2) yards of fabric

  • (2) rolls of 1/2" thick foam

  • (1) roll of 46"x60" cotton quilt batting (for the upholstery liner)

  • wood glue

  • spray adhesive

  • nail gun and 1/2" brad nails

  • utility knife

  • heavy duty stapler and 1/4" staples

  • wood stain

  • flush mount hangers


Cut your plywood base to 1" less than your finished width and height dimensions. For our queen size headboard, our dimensions are 59"w x 29"h.

It's important to note that when lumber is labelled as 1x2, the actual dimensions are 3/4"x1-1/2". I still don't know why but that's the way it is. By taking off 1" from our total finished width and height, we allow the a little wiggle room for the fabric and batting, then attaching the frame.

Sean has a table and radial arm saw at home so we were able to cut our lumber to size here. If you don't have either one, you can have it cut at your local lumber supplier (Lowe's, Home Depot, etc).


Once you have your base cut, lay the 1/2" thick foam and cut to size with a utility knife. (Make sure you cut on a surface that won't get scratched)

With our queen size base, we needed two rolls of the 1/2" thick 24"x72" project foam. We used one full roll and just a small cut out of the second, unfortunately. When all of your pieces are cut, spray some adhesive to the back of the foam AND on the plywood base. Let it sit for about 30 seconds to get tacky, then lay your pieces of foam to the base and press down the set.


Roll your cotton batting across the plywood base, foam side up. You'll want to use your nail gun and 1/4" nails to attach the batting. Start by attaching the entire length of one long side on the face of the plywood base (foam side).

Sometimes the nails won't go all the way through, that's OK; simply hammer them down once you've complete stapling.

After the first side is attached, pull the batting firmly at the center on the opposite long side. Starting at the center, work your way out to the corners. It's important that you pull the batting smooth to avoid wrinkling under the finish fabric. Again, hammer down any longer nails.

Continue the same process on the two shorter sides.


My favorite part- adding the fabric! Working with a friend, lay the entire cut of fabric on a smooth, clean surface. Lay the plywood and foam base on the fabric, foam side DOWN. Starting at opposite corners, pull the fabric firmly and wrap around the corner of the plywood, attaching on the BACK with a couple of staples. Next, move to the other opposite corners and repeat.

By stapling the corners in place first, the fabric is less likely to wrinkle or warp the pattern as you secure the rest.

Just like you did with the batting, start at the center of the long side and firmly pull the fabric around to the back of the plywood and secure. Work your way out to the corners. Move on to the next long side, and finish on the short ends.

Periodically check the face of the fabric to make sure your pattern looks right and you aren't wrinkling anywhere.


At this point, you will begin to see the headboard take shape. Now you will work on your frame.

Based on your skill level and desired time investment, you have two options for the assembly of the frame: mitered joints OR butt joints.

Mitered joints are cuts made at a 45 degree angle, like you see on a picture frame. Butt joints are simply attaching the straight end of one piece of wood to the side of another. Butt joints are great for novice wood workers, like myself. Thankfully, Sean is a pro and mitered the corners for our project.

Mitered Joint Frame Dimensions:

Long outside length- 60"

Long inside length- 59-1/4"

Short outside length- 30"

Short inside length- 29-1/4

Butt Joint Frame Dimensions:

Long side- 60"

Short side- 28-1/2"

We're going to keep the long pieces at the desired finished width (60") so we have to cut our short sides to accommodate the width (3/4") of each piece of lumber. If we want our total finished height to be 30", we have to cut our wood subtracting the width of the lumber.

30 -- 3/4" -- 3/4" = 28-1/2"

Use this formula if you are adjusting your dimensions: (total desired height) - (width of top frame) - (width of bottom frame) = (butt joint short-side dimension)

Now that your frame is assembled, stain it your color of choice (I used Old Master's Fruitwood wiping stain, purchased from Wilmot's Decorating Center). Once it's applied and evened out, lay it over the upholstered base. Attach to the base with brad nails, placing one nail every 6-8 inches for security. Next, mark where you will hang the headboard on the wall and where the flush mount brackets will go. Following the instructions on the package, attach one bracket to each upper corner of the headboard and coordinating locations you marked on the wall. These small French cleat style brackets make it easy and secure to install this headboard directly to the wall.

And that's that! This project is easily customized with a little extra planning (and maybe materials).

Here is the complete headboard from my One Room Challenge Spring 2020. View the whole project here and here.