Wednesday, December 11, 2019

DIY Wooden Headboard for under $60

This article was originally published here on Crafting a Green World in 2016.

Guess what we did over winter break?

I don't have a "before photo," so just imagine that prior to building our DIY wooden headboard, our bed was basically consisted of a mattress on top of a platform.

Super classy, right?

I really like the look of a giant, rustic, wooden headboard, but I don't have access to antique barnwood or other salvaged wood, I'm not comfortable with keeping pallet wood that close to my head, even if it's well sanded and well sealed, and I didn't want to pay for or really even use fake but easy-to-apply laminate. That left us with using new, though natural, materials, from our local big-box hardware store.

With those supplies, plus a little jiggering around, we figured out how to get the look that I wanted in a single day for less than sixty dollars--and that includes buying the wood stain, which you may not necessarily need to do.

DIY Wooden Headboard

Here's what we used:
  • two shelving unit end framesThese are wooden frames with metal brackets, designed to allow you to add your own shelves. You'll be turning these on their sides and stacking them, so that you'll have a large frame that's about 6 feet wide and four feet tall. People want to get rid of these all the time--we actually had one randomly sitting in our garage--so you could try to find one at your local ReStore or on Freecycle before you buy it new. It won't matter if it's in poor condition, as it won't be visible. 
  • tongue and groove wooden planksThese are plain, unfinished wooden planks with tongue and groove edges so that you can line them up nicely. By using these, I had to give up on the staggered look that I'd wanted, but the ease of placing them perfectly and making the job quicker and simpler was worth it. We used seven of these for our headboard, although one is completely covered by the mattress, so we could have skipped that one and saved a few bucks.
  • screwdriver, drill, and drill bits. You'll need to screw the end frames into the wall, and the wooden planks into the end frames. 
  • water-based stain (optional). For some reason, I find that whatever stain I buy, it always looks much darker than I think it will, so I generally go a couple of shades lighter when I choose it.

1. Lay everything out to make sure that you like it. There's no cutting involved in this project, so you really can lay your entire headboard out on the floor to make sure that the pieces will go together the way that you want and that you like the look. 

2. Stain the wood planks. My kids helped me with this step, and although I was a little afraid that they'd do a wonky job, fortunately stain is very forgiving.

And yes, as our headboard that stain looks at least two shades darker than it does in this photo.

I did not seal the planks, and I may live to regret that, but it saved me a lot of time, they look fine, and really, how much wear and tear can a headboard possibly get? Don't answer that if you're gonna be gross. 

3. Screw the frames to the wall. Matt set the bottom of the bottom frame just above the top of our platform, so that the platform could still sit flush to the wall (and he found my Fitbit! I thought that I'd lost that thing forever!), leveled it, and screwed it into the studs. Remember, you're setting these frames sideways, so that each one is six feet long and two feet tall. Once the bottom frame is in, the top frame can sit right on top of it--just double check that it's level before you screw it into the studs.

4. Screw the wood planks into the frame. Although you have to be mindful of those metal brackets, you can otherwise just screw the planks into the wooden frame. I also did not fill in the screw holes, and although I was a little afraid that the screws might catch my hair, they're far enough to either side and inset enough that they don't. You can see in the photo above that these planks extend just far enough to each side of the frame that we were able to hide a power strip on each side--of course, all the crap that we plugged into each power strip has wires sticking out, but it still looks better than it did before. 

Three years on, the headboard still looks brand-new, so I'm super smugly satisfied that I didn't bother to seal it. The rest of our bedroom is still pretty janky, but maybe in another three or four years I'll be in the mood to update something else...

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