How to Put on a Headboard for a Bed

Updated November 21, 2016

Headboards can give a bed a more formal appearance, while creating a nice focal point in the room. They can also be functional, as in the case of a bookcase headboard. In some beds, the headboard is a necessary part of the bed frame, which is made up of three metal rails and two feet, or two metal rails and a foot board. In these beds, the headboard legs also serve as the two legs at the head of the bed. In other beds, the headboard is detachable and purely decorative; the metal bed frame is totally independent and the headboard is optional. The procedure for attaching the headboard to the bed varies slightly, depending on whether the headboard is part of the bed frame or detachable (also called a clip-on headboard). It's easiest to perform this task with help from a second person.

Using nuts and bolts or screws, assemble the two side bed rails to the foot board or bed rail that sits across the foot of the bed. The end result should be a "U" shape.

Stand the headboard upright against the wall. There will be two legs that extend to the floor. The bed rails will attach to the front of the legs.

Place the bed rails in front of the headboard, with the open part of the "U" facing the headboard. Examine the legs of the headboard and the ends of the bed rails to locate the screw holes on each.

Ask a helper to hold up the end of one of the bed rails, so it's horizontal to the floor while you align the screw holes and insert the screws or nuts and bolts that will attach the headboard to the rest of the bed frame. If a second person is not available, place books under the bed rail to hold it horizontal to the floor; if it's not perfectly horizontal, the screw holes won't align at the point where the side rails meet the headboard.

Attach the other bed rail to the headboard as in the process explained in step 3.

Push the bed into its final location and replace the box spring, mattress and bedding.

Remove the bedding and remove the mattress and box spring from the bed.

Locate the screw holes that will be used to attach the headboard to the frame. Every bed frame has screw holes for a headboard; often, there are several located along the length of the top bed rail, designed to accommodate different headboard styles. The screw holes will be located on either end of the bed rail at the head of the bed. If you cannot locate the screw holes, check the rail that goes across the foot of the bed--you may have the bed frame flipped.

Locate the screw holes on the headboard. The headboard will have 2 legs; the screw holes will be located on the legs.

Stand the headboard up against the wall or have a friend hold it upright. Push the bed frame up against the headboard. As you do this, align the screw holes and then insert the screws or nuts and bolts.

Push the bed into its final location and replace the box spring, mattress and bedding.


If, for some reason, the bed frame does not have screw holes or if the screw holes don't align, you can drill holes into the bed frame using a drill bit that's suitable for metal. There are special kits that can be used to modify your bed frame and headboard. There are kits that allow you to retrofit a non-detachable headboard, turning it into a "clip on" headboard. There are also kits that can be used to turn a full size bed frame into a queen size and kits to elevate or lower the height of the bed, among others. (See resources.)

Things You'll Need

  • Screw gun or wrench
  • Screws or nuts and bolts
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