How to Make Button-Tufted Headboards

Updated April 17, 2017

Headboards make your bedroom look put-together and sophisticated, but buying a custom or ready-made headboard is fairly expensive. Customise your own headboard by making a button-tufted headboard--these look luxurious and expensive, and make one to your own preference for half the cost. Choose your own shape and fabric to create a unique piece of furniture that generates interest and conversation.

Determine the width and height of your headboard. The width of the headboard should be just a few inches wider than your mattress, according to your preference, but remember that fabric and padding adds a bit of width as well. The height of your headboard is up to you; however, if you have tall ceilings and want a dramatic look, a taller headboard will suit you.

Choose the shape of your headboard. Get creative with shapes---but the easiest shape is a rectangle. Hardware stores usually sell plywood in different sizes, so buy a rectangular piece to size after measuring the width of your mattress. Sometimes the hardware store will cut it to size for you for little or no extra cost. You need a piece that's at least 1/4-inch thick.

Cut the top of your plywood with a jigsaw into a curve, triangle or any other shape. Use creativity and extra elbow grease. Simply draw the design with a pencil, and cut the designated shape with the jigsaw.

Choose a fabric for your headboard. Velvet, leather, simple cotton or linens all work for this project. The thicker the fabric, the better. You need a fabric that's not only durable but thick enough to cover the foam without it showing through. Add at least 12 inches in width and length to the fabric in order for it to wrap around the back of the headboard.

Choose a foam that's at least 2-inches thick for comfort and have the fabric or craft store cut it to size for you. The foam needs to mirror the exact dimensions of the plywood because you only need it for the front of the headboard. Or cut it yourself: Simply lay it underneath your plywood and trace around with a black marker and cut to size.

When sizing the batting or fiberfill, add at least 12 inches in width and length as you did for the fabric because you will need to wrap it around the back of the plywood and foam.

Buy buttons to cover with your original fabric or choose buttons that match the pattern or colour you've chosen for a complementary look. Some people like where the buttons don't match perfectly, while others opt for using the same fabric as the rest of the headboard.

Decide where you want your buttons to go, and mark them with a pencil. Using a small drill, drill holes into the plywood (just small enough for an upholstery needle to pass through).

Place your fabric front-side-down on a clean, large area, smoothing it out to avoid creases or lumps in the fabric. Place your batting or fiberfill on top of the fabric in the same fashion. Remember to size the batting the same as the fabric.

Lay the foam on top of the batting and fabric, ensuring that it's centred on all sides. Place the plywood on top of the foam, lining up the two to ensure they're even with one another. Start fastening the batting and fabric to the back of the headboard with the staple gun. Pull it as tight as possible to avoid loosening the fabric in the front, and begin stapling it with 1/4-inch staples every 2 inches. Trim any excess fabric and batting.

Stand up the headboard so you can start tufting. Double-thread your upholstery needle with durable upholstery thread, and poke through one of the pre-drilled holes from back to front; otherwise, you won't have access to the hole without damaging the fabric. Don't pull the thread all the way through; you'll need some extra thread in to staple and secure it in the back.

Slide a button through the needle after you've pushed the needle through the front of the headboard, and thread the needle through the same hole in the button. Push the needle back through the original hole in the headboard.

After the button is tightly attached to the front of the headboard, staple the remaining strands of thread to the back of the plywood. Hammer the staples to make sure the thread is securely attached to the headboard. Continue these steps with the rest of the buttons.


Use caution when operating power tools and other dangerous equipment. Wear safety glasses and gloves. Wear safety glasses when stapling.

Things You'll Need

  • Jigsaw (if modifying the shape of the headboard)
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun
  • 1/4-inch staples
  • Small drill
  • Hammer
  • 1/4-inch plywood
  • 2-inch foam
  • Batting (also known as "fiberfill")
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Buttons
  • Upholstery needle
  • Upholstery thread
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About the Author

Yvonne Hawkins is a recent University of Alabama graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in anthropology. Her writing interests include music and entertainment, travel, and sustainable living. She aspires to become the chief editor of a major publication before she's 30.