Tuesday, July 24, 2007

tutorial tuesday ~ padded headboard

today's tutorial is how to make a really complicated padded headboard!


  • mdf (medium density fiberboard, from lowes or home depot) cut to size/shape you want/need; i have only made rectangular ones as curves are too scary!! maybe one of you will try it first?
  • (2) 2x4's to height of headboard (from floor) minus a couple of inches (you'll see later)
  • screws, carriage bolts to bolt it to frame...not sure of amounts, will get the husband to tell me what he used and update
  • piece of 2" or 3" thick foam cut to size (more on figuring that out later)
  • dacron batting to cover foam and wrap around with room to staple
  • decorative fabric to same amount as batting (and most decorator fabric is 54" wide and any bed other than a single is too wide to run the fabric up and down (never made a full size, so not sure about them) SO your fabric has to be railroaded - run sideways instead of up and down; in the headboard we make on this tutorial, the fabric is really up and down stripes but we had to railroad it and it is thus, horizontal stripes...make sense?)
  • adhesive spray (mine was elmer's brand)
  • optional items: buttons (regular or fabric covered), white fabric (such as curtain lining) to cover back of headboard, some sort of trim to cover staples if using the backing

ok....so here's how i figure the size of the wood products...first i figure out how wide the headboard is to be...it needs to be as wide as your bedframe....oh, yeah you have to have a bedframe to make a headboard like i'm doing here cause it ultimately attaches to the metal frame...so the mdf needs to be as wide as your bedframe plus a wee bit of overlap (maybe like an inch) on each side....height is however high you want it to be (that the fabric will allow - you only have 54" to work with (decorator fabrics are 54" wide) and must factor in thickness of mdf, foam, dacron, fabric and allow for 3" overlap on each side, i.e. your piece of mdf cannot be 54" tall) and then it needs to go down past the mattress and half way to the box springs, not all the way to the floor...clear as mud?...your 2x4's you attach to the mdf to make the 'legs' and these 'legs' attach to the bedframe. the legs (2x4's) need to be as long as the measurement from the floor to almost the height you chose for the headboard to be. so if you want your headboard to be 4' tall, your 2x4's would be just a little less than 4' (i'll show you how much lacks in a picture)...BUT your mdf would NOT be 4' tall it would be 4' MINUS the distance from the floor to half way up the box springs. so if you box springs are 10" from the floor and they are 10" thick, the mdf would be....can you do the math? 4' MINUS 10" floor clearance MINUS 5" (half the box springs) which would be 33" and that would work with the 54" wide fabric !...so that's how we do our measurements to get our materials...the piece of foam (which we get at our local fabric store) needs to be the exact same size as the mdf. your fabric and batting need to be enough to wrap around the mdf, foam and have at least 3" of overlap for stapling....

are y'all still with me or have you gone and bought a headboard already???

ok, optional items are buttons. we did NOT do buttons on the following headboard but we did add them to ours in our master bedroom. if you do chose to do buttons, you must decide where you want them and drill holes in the mdf before covering it with the foam/batting/fabric.

well then...here we go! since the 2x4 legs sort of show at the bottom we like to paint them first. also, in order to lessen the bulk/thickness that the 2x4's add to the whole thing, the husband cuts out the thickness of the mdf (which i believe is 3/4") so that the mdf rests in/on the legs...all of this is seen in the photo below:

in that photo you can see where the husband cut out (on a table saw) the legs, where he painted the legs, and where he is getting ready to screw/glue the mdf onto the legs...

above you can see how long the legs are, the piece of mdf, how he puts a bazillion screws in it and glues it too!

oh, and you need a cat for an assistant! you simply cannot do this project without a cat or some other furry critter to help. our assistant for this project was ming, 'M's cat...he is a superb helper except for he likes to eat screws/anything metal...we have to keep an eye on him!

the husband is attaching the mdf to the legs....see, above, how the mdf sits in the legs where he cut them out with the table saw? now, this is totally optional...we did not do this (cut out legs) with the one we made for his parents...it's purely aesthic...the sides are thicker/bulkier when you don't...also if you find this whole process just too much to handle, i think you could just 'cut out' legs in the mdf - if that doesn't make sense to you, please feel free to ask...some of this stuff is just plain hard to explain...
here, above, the mdf and legs have been joined together and the husband has pre-drilled for the bolts to attach the whole shebang to the metal bed frame...

ta-da! the bed frame is bolted to the legs...it's super sturdy too!

now here's where i come in to play...all that other stuff is all manly and what not...i like the fabric part! plus it's way prettier...each time we make one of these we improve it and they get better and better...since 'M' chose a 'striped' fabric it was important for the lines to be straight so i came up with the brilliant idea to draw a line on the mdf to use as a guide to staple the fabric straight. this line is 3" from the bottom (start at the bottom!) and you staple the fabric right side to the mdf...we use an electric/pneumatic staple gun (meaning it hooks up to the husband's air compressor) you certainly can use a regular staple gun!! we just like fancy tools...

now go back and staple the dacron batting right where you just stapled the fabric - and it doesn't have a right or wrong side!

now it's time to finally attach the foam...i use spray adhesive on both the back of the foam and the piece of mdf.

now you just pull and wrap and staple the dacron batting over the foam and onto the back of the headboard...i try to do neat mitered corners...

then do the same thing with the fabric...see the excess? i trim this when i'm finished stapling...

the final step to 'neaten' up the back is to staple plain white fabric (used for lining drapes or something) onto the back to cover up all the raw edges...i just folded the fabric under a bit and stapled it...didn't get too fancy...also i then used a white braided upholstery type of trim and hot glued it on the edge of the white fabric to cover up the staples...i don't have a picture of that - oops!

all done!

ming approves!

now i'm sure all of you are scared to death to attempt this...right?



Sarah G. said...

That is awesome!!! Very nice work. Wanna make one for me?? :-)

AM said...

That's so pretty. When we sell a house, and get a few more projects completed, I think we will make a headboard for our masterbedroom.

rpm said...

Wow, that is very impressive. It looks great. It did make me tired thinking of myself doing it because I'm so lazy! I think you and your husband could go into business with the headboard making and furniture redos. Ming is so pretty.

Mrs. D said...

You need you're own show! Seriously, you are so crafty. If I was told to make a headboard I think I'd just sit down and cry! That's gorgeous.

Pam said...

YEAH...I've totally been waiting for this tutorial! I desperately need a headboard for my guest room so thanks for the instructions. I just need to pick out the right fabric. I have three assistants (aka. cats) so I should be able to pull it off..no?

Magnolia Sun said...

It looks great, they always make it look so easy on the home improvement shows. I agree you should be doing this on TV and getting really rich too.

***Willow, Belle & Old Man Turbo's Mom*** said...

Love that!
I did a simular fabric on my MIL Dining Chairs....Lots if fun I just wish I had more time to jaz up my Home a bit. Heck maybe I will hire you! You should look into advertizing your talent..you will be the next TLC Homeshow Hit!

Chandra said...

I have been wanting to do a fabric headboard for a long time. Now that you have posted this I just may try it. Thanks.