How to make a custom upholstered headboard

Updated February 21, 2017

Add your own personal touch to your bedroom decor by designing a custom upholstered headboard. Whether you are covering an existing headboard or following these instructions to build your own, making an upholstered headboard is a snap. With just a little effort and imagination, you'll be relaxing against the padded comfort of your own custom headboard in no time.

Gather all necessary tools and purchased materials needed for the completion of your custom upholstered headboard.

Take measurements to ensure the correct width and height of your custom headboard. Measure your mattress to determine the width of the headboard. Typically, the width is equal to or slightly wider than the mattress. To determine the height, measure from the floor up to about eight inches above the top of your pillows while they are positioned upright.

Create a headboard that is truly custom by using butcher's paper to sketch out a headboard shape that you like and that complements your bedroom decor.

Mark the measurements for your headboard on the plywood once you are satisfied with the shape that you have created. Trace the pattern that you made from butcher's paper onto the plywood according to your measurements. Center your design at the correct height for your custom upholstered headboard.

Use a jigsaw to cut the pattern out and then lightly sand the edges. If the plywood you purchased is not big enough to achieve the proper height, you will need to also cut legs from 1-by-4 inch pine boards to the correct length. When measuring for the length of your legs, the bottom of the headboard should be positioned one inch below the mattress to keep your mattress and pillows from sliding back.

Lay your headboard right side up on the floor. Cover your headboard completely with upholstery foam, leaving one inch over the outside edges. Tack the foam in place with a staple gun.

Spread the upholstery batting out on the floor. Place the headboard face down on the batting and cut the batting four inches larger than the headboard. Pull the batting tight over the back of the headboard and staple in place. Make sure the batting is even and smooth on all edges.

Iron the fabric and place it right side down on the floor. Set the headboard on top of the fabric, centering the fabric design pattern if necessary. Following the shape of your headboard, cut out the fabric four to six inches larger than the headboard on all sides.

Work your way from the top center out to the sides, stapling the fabric to the back of the headboard until you have covered about six inches in both directions. Then, switch to the bottom center and repeat the same method. Continue covering the headboard in this fashion, alternating between sides of the headboard to ensure even coverage and pleating the fabric where needed to achieve a smooth finished look on all edges.

Cover the raw edges on the back of the upholstered headboard with muslin or lining cut exactly the same size as the headboard and with edges folded neatly under about one inch. If your design calls for decorative trim, now is the time to attach this to the top edge of the upholstered headboard using fabric glue.

Put your custom upholstered headboard into place. If your headboard is tall enough, you may opt to lean it against the wall of your bedroom and use your bed as support. However, if you are securing your headboard to your bed frame with legs or the plywood itself, you will need to drill holes into the legs or the plywood for the screws to line up with the holes in the bed frame.


Don't pull too tightly on the batting and fabric while stapling, as this may cause puckering on the front of the headboard.


Always wear safety glasses and protective covering on your ears when operating a jigsaw.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric glue
  • Decorative trim (if desired)
  • Upholstery foam
  • Butcher's paper
  • Staple gun
  • Muslin
  • Screws
  • Electric drill
  • 1/2-inch plywood
  • Home decor fabric
  • Jigsaw Tape measure
  • Batting
  • Sandpaper
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