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DIY headboard for a young boy

Chapter 4 in the boy bedroom refresh series is a DIY headboard. This post is also part of the Build it For the Home Series with At Home DIY. (All the other projects from the participating bloggers are linked at the end) The challenge this month is “Build it Cheaper than Buying It”- one of my favorite things. If i was going to do this bedroom refresh “all the way”, I would need to give this kid a headboard. He has had only a bed frame since he moved to a full-sized bed. And with the pieces of metal tile I still had from the accent wall and letter, pulling the industrial feel to the other side of the room would be a breeze.

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The boy bedroom refresh series is sponsored by Aspect Tiles. DIY friendly self-stick tiles for all kinds of home design styles.

I really liked one headboard I found at Wayfair, but that was way out of my budget for a headboard. I was planning on making it myself anyway, so when this challenge came up, I knew it would be a perfect fit.

The Plan

I’m a graph paper girl, so I sketched out a basic plan to give me an idea of was going for. The standard width of a full bed is 55″. I decided that roughly 48″ was probably a good height. Honestly for no reason other than it just felt right.

graph paper plan for boy bedroom headboard


When planning out the cost, I decided to use common boards. They’re the midrange at Home Depot. You could make it for even less if you used furring strips, it would just require quite a bit of sanding and finishing work to make it smooth and polished.

Here are the pieces I bought and even how much I paid when I purchased them (prices may have changed since then).

Cut List

  • underlayment 25 x 52″
  • 1×3- 48″ x 6, 50″ x 2, 58″
  • 1×2- 48″ x 2, 56″ x 3
  • 2×4- 59.5

The Build

First, lay out one 1x3x48″ board. Spread glue along a 48″ 1×2, line the outside edges up, and use a brad nailer to tack them together. Do it again to create the back of the other side.

two boards one with glue ready to be attached together to build a headboard

Using the top edge as your guide, attach the 56″ 1×2 across the top to join the two sides together. Use a speed square to keep your corners at 90°.

ryobi nailer with wood headboard corner, speed square and bottle of titebond glue

Measure down 25″ from the top, and glaue/nail a second 56″ 1×2 there.

basic headboard frame.

Take the 3rd 56″ 1×2 and glue/nail it roughly half-way to add a bit of additional support.

headboard frame ready for the underlayment piece.

*I chose to add an additional support under the bottom cross piece, I’m not confident it’s necessary. If you want to add it, it’s a 25″ 1×2 on each side.

Attach the piece of flooring underlayment to the front of your frame.

headboard base

Now is where the pretty part starts. Sand down the 1×3 face boards to make them smooth and then add a stain in the color of your choice.

ryobi orbital sander stain applicator sponge and sanded piece of common board.

Once dry, I chose to glue and then screw the boards from the back side to avoid seeing nail marks on the front of the DIY headboard. I love using these trim screws because they have a small head and leave only a small hole.

small headed trim screws

Line up and attach one of the 48″ pieces to the front of the left leg, then attach another 48″ piece on the outside of the left leg (this piece I glued and nailed), covering the edges of the stacked wood. Then attach one of the 50″ pieces across the top (checking for square), and repeat the right front and then side again.

basic headboard frame missing bottom edge and metal tiles.

As you can see in the picture, I used this point to dry fit your top crown and make sure I liked where it was going.

Lay the frame down and attach the bottom 50″ piece. Dry fit your metal tiles to see how the layout looks for you. Cutting as you go. You will most likely have a bit of a gap. I expected it, so. I planned for a trim border so as not to have to cut a small piece of metal and to cover the sharp edges.

diy headboard with dryfit tile layout.

Once everything is dry fit, peel off the backing and stick everything down.

diy headboard ready for trim to hide tile edges.

Trim out the lattice strips on a table saw to a preferred trim width (I just cut them in half) Then miter cut them to fit the edges of the tile section.

close up of metal tile and trim pieces with a tube of construction adhesive ready for attachment.

Use construction adhesive to attach the trim pieces along the edges to cover any gaps or sharp edges.

trim in place after being attached with glue.

Attach the stained 58″ 1×3 across the top, and flush with the back, with an equal overhang on each side. Then the 59.5″ 2×4 across the very top with equal overhang on each end and also flush with the back.


Next, I took the piece inside and lined the headboard up with the bedframe.

diy headboard placed against frame to mark the places where holes need to be drilled

I drew the attachment points. on both legs with a pencil.

pencil drawn guide for drilling holes

Using a 9/32 drill bit, drill a hole in the center of each of the marks. Line up the frame and slide a 5/16″ -18 3″ hex bolt and washer from the frame through to the back of the headboard. Secure it in place with a washer and lock nut.

diy headboard attached to bedframe

Once I put the new duvet set and bed skirt on, it was a whole new room! The best part? Instead of hundreds, I only spent about $75 on the wood and supplies to make this one.

full bed made up with DIY headboard in place.
long view of diy headboard and bed with new comforter cover and bed skirt.

The wall art arrived today so the room is starting to head towards actually being complete. I’m very excited to check this box and move on to other things.

What do you think Are you Ready to take on a DIY headboard project of your own?

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pinnable image leading back to post about a diy headboard build

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  • Reply
    Rebecca Celhar
    May 15, 2020 at 10:24 AM

    This is so clever! It reminds me of the cityscape project you did at the Philly Home and Garden show!

    • Reply
      May 19, 2020 at 5:14 PM

      Yes! The very same product!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2020 at 2:39 PM

    Love love love the headboard! It turned out perfect!!! Way to go!

    • Reply
      May 19, 2020 at 5:14 PM

      Thank you so much! He loves it too!

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