How To Make a Luxury Upholstered Headboard

Looking for a way to make your bedroom look more high end? We've got you covered with an easy to follow tutorial on how to make your own headboard.

A bedroom with a made bed in the middle of the frame. The headboard is DIYed and purple.

A headboard is one sure-fire way to take your bedroom to the next level. However, choosing a headboard can be overwhelming, not to mention pricey. One way to get exactly what you want (and avoid shelling out loads of money) is to make your own.

What you’ll need for this project:

  • Sheet of plywood
  • String and pencil for shaping
  • Saw
  • Safety gloves
  • Foam pieces to cover plywood
  • Spray adhesive
  • Plastic sheeting
  • N95 Mask
  • Electric carving knife or box cutter
  • Batting fabric
  • Staple gun
  • Fabric sheers
  • Upholstery-weight fabric of your choosing
  • Iron
  • Three pool noodle
  • Packing tape
  • Fabric glue
  • Pushpins
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    Video Companion
    DIY Upholstered Headboard with Meg Allan Cole |

First, prepare the base of your headboard by tracing your desired headboard shape on your plywood.

To make it symmetrical and even, use a homemade compass with a pencil on the end to create an even arc.

Once you’re happy with the shape, carefully cut the plywood, wearing safety gloves to protect against the movement of the cutting device, whether it’s a saw, electric carving knife, or boxcutter.

Next, arrange the foam pieces on the plywood, making sure you have full coverage to pad the wood. Try not to overlap the foam, as that can cause gapes and bumps. It’s ok for the foam to overhang the plywood, as you’ll cut or wrap the wood later. Use plastic sheeting or unwanted fabric scraps around the perimeter of the plywood so errant adhesive spray doesn’t ruin other parts of your work area.

Next, you will adhere the foam to the wood. Before you start, prepare the space for ventilation by putting on an N95 mask, opening a window, and putting a fan on if possible.

Apply the adhesive in long, even sprays with full coverage so that the foam sticks everywhere without pulling from the wood.

Once the glue has dried for a few minutes, you can cut the foam to match the plywood shape. Use an electric carving knife or boxcutter to eliminate overhang.

Lay the batting over the foam side so that it covers your headboard completely, with about six inches hanging over every edge. Smooth out the fabric so there are no bumps. Use weights — or a spare set of hands — to hold the batting in place, then use a staple gun to staple the batting fabric to the plywood side of your headboard. Start with tightly affixing one side, about six inches down the back of the plywood, then do the opposite side. To smoothly affix corners, wrap the edges like you’re gift-wrapping a present and staple to hold in place. From there, you can staple the perpendicular flat end, finishing with the arc. As you wrap the arc, use a tuck-and-staple method, ensuring that your front-facing fabric is still smooth, without overlaps or gaping fabric. Continue ensuring the batting fabric on the plywood is smooth and adjust as you go since wrinkles could show through once you apply the fabric.

Once everything is stapled down, use fabric scissors to trim away excess fabric.

Lay your chosen fabric over the batting. Use an iron to smooth creases.

Using the same method you used with the batting, staple the fabric over the batting, with about four-to-six inches of overhang around the perimeter. Use your hand, or a helper’s hands, to smooth the fabric as you go, keeping a taut, smooth surface.

To create a puffed, padded edge, use store-bought pool floats.

Using the electric carving knife and wearing safety gloves, cut your pool floats in half lengthwise (the long way). Holding your pool float vertically, place the serrated blade on the end point of your pool float, dissecting it straight down the center. Hold it so that the blade is moving away from your body and hand, then cut.

Cut three pool noodles this way so that you double the length of your noodles, with each as an open arc, then connect them with clear packing tape so you have one long strip. When you have one very long pool float, place it along the outer top curve of your headboard to make sure it’s long enough, and add or reduce length if necessary. You may find it easier to attach the fabric if you cut your long piece into two pieces and then reattach them at the end.

Next, wrap this piece in the matching upholstery fabric. First, roll out your fabric next to the float and cut a piece long enough to sufficiently cover the noodle, with two or three inches hanging off the ends.

With the flat part facing up, apply fabric glue, using one long thin line across, and then fold it over while pulling it tight and press to help the glue hold. For some spots, it is easiest to add glue to the fabric, and for others, you can put it on the flat part of the float. Just glue and pull in the manner that works for you until your tube is fully wrapped in fabric, smoothing out any bumps along the way. At the ends, wrap the fabric smoothly like a birthday gift, and use your quick-drying fabric glue to have a nice, clean edge.

To find the right look for your fabric-wrapped noodle against your headboard, use pushpins to temporarily connect the pieces. You can start at the end or start in the center curve of the headboard. Pin liberally to create a flush border.

While it’s pinned in place, begin applying fabric glue to adhere it to the noodle. Lift in sections to glue, repinning to hold it in place as the glue dries. If you need to add more pins to keep the float pressed onto the glue, do so for a tight seal. Once the entire float is glued down, let it dry for about four hours in a ventilated space.

Remove the pins, and you are ready to bring your new headboard into your room. Attach the headboard to your wall with brackets, and voila! You’ve made your very own upholstered headboard with a luxurious, comfortable border.