Week 7 of the One Room Challenge is here and I only have one week to go! This week I finally tackled the DIY headboard for the platform bed. I gave you a preview last week but this week I am showing you how I did it! But before I dive into the full headboard tutorial, let’s take a look back at week one, week two, week three, week four, week five, and week six to see just how far this space has come. I knew from the beginning I wanted to make a wooden headboard with LED lights and I am so excited to show you what I came up with! This might just be one of my all time favorite DIY projects I have ever done! So let me walk you through the step-by-step instructions on how I built this DIY Queen Headboard with Wood Slats and LED Lights.
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What is a headboard?
A headboard is the focal point of a bed located at the top of the bed where you lay your head. Hence the name headboard. It can be decorative or functional and can either be attached to the bed frame itself or fixed to the wall with a French cleat or other mechanism. Headboards can be made of different materials including wood, upholstery, wicker, and even metal. There are also different kinds, such as paneled, tufted, wingback, channeled, carved, and woven to name a few. In recent years with the eruption of social media like Pinterest and TikTok, DIY headboard ideas have grown in popularity.
Why DIY a headboard?
Have you see the cost of furniture lately? And do you know me at all? I love to create unique pieces for my home and this guest bedroom makeover is no exception! Not to mention I really wanted to make this headboard and bed light up! Ever since I did the wine rack and office ceiling, I have been having a love affair with LED strip lights. So I set out to make a wood bed with a modern look that lights up!
Also, I am no stranger to a DIY bed frame or headboard. Years ago I not only made an upholstered headboard but an entire bed. Two One Room Challenges ago I built bunk beds in the other guest room, and I made a king-sized bed frame and headboard for our master bedroom. But the best part is this build does not require a single sheet of plywood! Which is always a plus when you don’t own a truck!
Before I dive into the free DIY wood headboard plans, let’s take a look at what the bed looked like a few weeks ago.
The old bed was just a store-bought headboard made of fabric, wood, and nail heads. It attached to the metal bed frame and needed a box spring. I did re-use the mattress which is a traditional spring mattress.
DIY Queen Headboard Material List
**Note for this tutorial I am only going to show you how to build the headboard. If you would like to build the platform bed frame you can find that tutorial here 😉
*** All measurements provided here are for a queen size bed. If you have a king size, full size, or twin size, you will need to modify to fit your bed size.
First step is to measure out your mattress. As I stated above this tutorial is for a queen bed. You may need to modify the dimensions if you have a different size bed. You will also want to consider the height of your mattress. I have an old school mattress that is fairly thick. Many foam mattresses are much thinner and your bed will sit lower. I designed the bottom of my headboard to line up with the top of the mattress. My mattress measures 59.5Wx79Lx13.5H.
Go to Home Depot or your local hardware store and pick up your wooden planks, supplies, and wood screws for the wood headboard. If you are short on time you can always place an order for in store pickup.
Build the wood frame for the headboard. I built this out of 2x3s. This wood will not be seen so it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. I chose 2x3s rather than 2x4s to reduce the footprint of the frame. This way I wouldn’t have to spend as much on the wood for the finishing trim.
I built my headboard in my garage but I will caution you, mine barely fit in my stairwell when I was done. If you have a king size bed keep this in mind because it may not fit unless you build it in the room. Either way, you will need a flat work surface to assemble this headboard.
My cut list was as follows. I cut two 2x3s to 60 1/4 inches for the sides of the frame, two 2x3s to 59 inches for the top and bottom of the headboard, one 2×3 to 33 inches for the middle support of the headboard, and one 2×4 to 59 inches for the support for the bottom of the frame. To make sure my duplicate pieces were the same size I clamped them together and cut them at the same time on my miter saw. I did this with each of the two different sizes.
I then used my corner clamps to start assembling my headboard frame. You do not have to use corner clamps, but they will make this part much easier and ensure it is square. Worth every penny in my opinion! Also, make sure you place the 60 1/4 inch pieces of wood on the outside and the 59 inch pieces on the inside. Otherwise your headboard will be the wrong dimensions for a queen.
With the corner clamps holding my wood together I drilled pilot holes for my screws. I highly recommend pre-drilling even if your screws say you don’t need to. I have split way too many pieces of wood and had to start over by not pre-drilling. I also used my framing straightener to fix any twisting 2x3s. You could also assemble this with pocket holes and wood glue, but since this part of the frame will not be seen, I don’t think it’s necessary.
To attach the 2x4s I used 2 1/2 inch Spax construction screws. These are truly the best in my opinion and the star head keeps them from stripping out. I staggered the screws a little for extra strength.
For the 33 inch piece you will need to lay it flat rather than on end. This will be the center support for the wood slats in the chevron pattern and you will need more surface area to nail into. This piece needs to be flush with the front of the 2×3 frame and needs to be in the middle. I used my center scale tape measure to help with this part.
For the very bottom support of the frame I used the 2×4 that I cut to 59 inches. I also laid this flat rather than on end as it will line up with the bed frame and be how it is attached. This should also be flush with the front of the 2×3 frame. I mounted this 11 inches from the bottom.
Paint the wood frame the same color as your wall. This step is technically optional but I think it makes a difference, especially if you plan to add the lights like I did. Because there is space between each of the slats and the back of the headboard is open, I wanted the framing pieces to be less noticeable. I painted my frame Iron Ore to match my shiplap accent wall the bed sits on.
Cut and attach the chevron wood slats. For this part I used select pine 1x2x8s. These pieces are more expensive but they are high quality and only require lite sanding on the cut ends. In my opinion this is the easy way so I don’t have to spend hours of my life sanding. Truly my least favorite task in building.
Before making any cuts I drew a line down the center of the center support of the headboard frame with a chalk pencil and my drywall square. This would be my center point for my chevron pattern and act as my guide.
To start the pattern I mitered one end of a 1x2x8 on the right side at a 45 degree angle laying flat. I then rotated my saw to do a 45 degree angle on the left side to make a small triangle for my first piece.
Safety Tip: When cutting tiny pieces like this you should always be working from a larger piece of wood. Making small cuts like this with a small piece require your fingers to be too close to the blade. It’s better to waste a little more than to lose a finger! You can also use the built in clamp on the saw to hold your piece steady rather than jeopardizing your digits 😉 And as always, never use power tools without safety glasses!
I lined the tip of the triangle up with my line and used my nail gun to attach the first piece to the frame.
I spaced all my pieces with a scrap piece of paneling left over from the shiplap wall which is just under 1/4 inch thick. You can see behind the scenes video of this in my Instagram story highlights.
I cut and attached both the right side and left side of each row of the chevron pattern before moving onto the next row. I highly recommend doing this to ensure the center point of the chevron stays lined up.
Once you cut one side of the pattern you can use it as a template for the other side. I found the difference in length between each of my rows was 3 1/2 inches, but I highly recommend taking your own measurements as this can vary depending on the size of your first piece, the spacer, size of your headboard, and the material you use for the slats.
NOTE: Every end of each piece of the pattern will be mitered at a 45 degree angle. The first 12 pieces (not including the triangle cut) will have one right and one left 45 degree angle cut until you reach the corner at the top of the headboard.
Once you reach the corner your pieces will have either a right or a left 45 degree angle cut on each end depending what side of the headboard you are on. Both ends will be the same and these pieces will no longer be interchangeable with one another.
Once you reach the bottom center of the headboard, the cuts will change again and there will be one left and one right 45 degree angle cut on each piece just like when you started.
Pro Tip: The miter saw tears out on the bottom of the cut. Keep this in mind so the good side of your wood is always facing up and the tear out is on the back. The pieces will only be interchangeable until you reach the corners of the headboard. When you reach the corners on, they will no longer work on both sides without flipping the pieces and the tear out will matter more. I hate sanding so I made my cuts with this in mind.
Cut and attach the trim pieces. As I mentioned before, the frame of the head board will be covered up. For this part I also used select pine 1x4x8s and this is why.
For my frame I used 2x3s which are 2 1/2inches on end plus the 3/4 inch from the 1x2s means I needed a total trim width of 3 1/4 inches. A 1×4 actual dimensions are 3/4 x 3 1/2. So I needed to rip cut a 1/4 inch off with my table saw. If I had used 2x4s for the frame I would have needed a trim piece that was 4 1/4 wide and would have needed to buy a 1×6 trim piece which would have been more expensive with more waste.
Once my trim pieces were ripped to the correct width, I cut them down to length on my miter saw. I wanted nice crisp corners so I decided to miter these edges as well. To make this cut the piece of wood needs to be standing on end when you cut the 45 degree angle.
I cut and attached the top piece of trim first. The easiest way to measure for this is to miter one corner first and then line up the trim with the frame. Then mark where the other corner of the frame hits the trim piece. This will be the inside corner of the second miter cut.
The best way to cut the side trim pieces is to miter one end and then line up the trim with the frame. Then mark where the end of the headboard legs hit the trim. This cut will be a straight cut so it lays flat on the floor. In order to get a nice tight fit around the headboard I clamped my trim pieces to the frame tightly before nailing them in with 2 inch brad nails.
Attach the headboard to the bed frame. As I mentioned above, I designed this headboard to attach to the platform bed frame I built. Please see the bed frame tutorial for details on assembly.
Install the LED strip lights. This part is totally optional but it definitely adds something extra! LED strip lights have quickly become one of my favorite things! I have used these on my wall wine rack and my office ceiling and they really do create an incredible vibe. These particular LEDs have multiple color settings, can sync to music, and do RGBIC kaleidoscope color! Stay tunned to my Instagram stories to see them in action 😉
I ordered the 65ft length so I would have enough to do the bed frame and the headboard. I used the first roll on the bottom of the bed frame and the second on the headboard. I started installing them in the bottom right corner on the back of the headboard so I could hide the control next to the nightstand and still reach the outlet behind the bed. The LED lights have a sticky backing and you just peel off the tape and stick it to your surface. I stuck mine to the inside edge of the frame of the headboard.
Make sure you attach the lights along the back edge of the frame closest to the wall. Otherwise you will be able to see the strips through the slats rather than just the light. Surprisingly those extra few inches really matter.
Lay back and enjoy your new DIY headboard project!
I am obsessed with how the entire headboard and bed turned out! it completely transformed this bedroom space and and allowed me to fully customize my bed with LED lights. Did I mention the lights change different colors and can even change to the beat of music! Seriously, how cool is that?!
If you are looking for a custom modern wood headboard with all the bells and whistles, this DIY Queen Headboard with Wood Slats and LED Lights is a great option for you!
Sweet dreams my friends!!!
What would I do differently?
Honestly, I don’t think I would do anything differently on this build! It truly turned out even better than I imagined. And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scheming up a way to add some of these lights to our bed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the approximate cost to build this?
The total cost was less than $425 to build both the headboard and the platform bed. The headboard alone was $185 and the bed frame was about $225 including all the lumber and the lights, plugs, and hardware for the front to open.
Is there a tutorial for the bed part?
Absolutely! The DIY platform bed with storage and built in charging can be found here.
Can I attach the headboard to an existing metal bed frame?
Totally! Just make sure you measure the width of your bed before building the frame. Then before attaching the very bottom support that I attached to the platform bed, measure the height where the bolts will hit on your existing bed frame. Use that height instead to attach the bottom 2×4 to the headboard. Then just drill holes for the bolts and attach as you normally would.
Can I build this out of a piece of plywood and cut my own slats?
Technically you can use whatever type of wood you want. But the reason I chose to use pre-cut pine 1x2s is because I think ripping down my own wood slats just takes too much time not to mention time spent sanding. To me, it’s worth it to purchase ready to use wood. And with the price of nice plywood these days you really won’t be saving any money. I was also concerned about how much of the unfinished edges you would see with plywood and I was not about to edge band all of my slats.
Can I use MDF to save money?
You could, but unless you will be ripping down your own slats, MDF will cost just as much as pine. MDF will also need to be painted. So if you want the wood look like I have you really need to use real wood.
Do I have to add the lights?
Nope. If you don’t like the lights you can omit them. I just love the vibe they create at night when I am laying in bed watching TV.
Can the lights be cut?
No. These particular lights cannot be cut and you need to use the whole role in one place. I used the 65ft length that comes on two connected rolls. One roll for the bed frame and one for the headboard. I did have a little extra and I just doubled up on some areas. If you are looking for lights that can be cut, I used these in the office and these in the wine room.
Did you stain it or do a clear coat?
No, not yet. I will probably wax or do a water based clear coat but I ran out of time this week. Either way I want to keep the natural color of the wood.
Can I paint it?
Absolutely! I really liked the look of the natural wood against the black wall but you can do whatever fits your style.
Still to come in the next week for this guest room makeover….
– closet interior makeover
– several small projects like decor and art
This entire room has come so far and I know it seems like I am so close, but I still have a lot to do and I am not sure I am going to get to the closet before the big reveal! But stay tuned to see if I can pull it off! And don’t forget, I am sharing all the behind the scenes on my Instagram stories and weekly videos on TikTok and Instagram.
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Don’t forget to stop by the One Room Challenge to check out all the other participants and give them some encouragement. I am sure they are feeling just as stressed as I am right now! Only one more week to go!
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