UpholsterCycle DIY Upholstery

How to Upholster Bed Headboard (DIY Project)

how to upholster bed headboard

Give your bed a fresh look with a DIY upholstery headboard! In this project guide, we explain step-by-step how to upholster bed headboard using an existing headboard, with tips on choosing and using suitable fabrics.

For many DIY enthusiasts, the first part of the home to tackle is the bedroom. It is important to create a tranquil environment that reflects both your personality and style, which is why fixing up the bedroom is so important. In fact, for many homeowners, the headboard is one of the very first DIY projects that anyone takes on. With a little bit of hard work and dedication, you can turn any simple bed into something luxurious, and beyond compare.

In this hands-on DIY project guide, we’ll explain step-by-step how to prepare, upholster and finish your upcycled bed headboard.

Why Upholster a Bed Headboard?

There are numerous reasons for most DIY enthusiasts’ decision to upholster their headboards. Some, just want to personalize their sleeping space a little bit to reflect their personality. Others are looking for a cost-effective way of adding a more elegant touch to their bedroom. Still others have older beds and want to upcycle them.

4 Excellent Reasons to DIY Upholster Bed Headboard

Personalize the Look

Personalization is key when it comes to creating a bedroom that matches your particular style and level of personality. When you choose to upholster your headboard, you are in charge of which fabric or materials to use based on your particular taste and specific budget for the project. You can take control of your colors and patterns, and bring your own creative flair to express your character or room design. It’s simply not possible to achieve this level of personalization with store-bought headboards.


When compared to purchasing a new headboard from the store, a DIY upholstering project can be a cost-effective alternative. Where possible, it’s a good idea to re-upholster an existing bed headboard frame so that you can invest more in higher-quality fabric. This will allow you to achieve a much higher quality and more appealing headboard than could be bought at an equivalent price at a box store.

Recycling & Upcycling

Whether you have an existing headboard or are thinking of picking one up at a local yard or garage sale, upcycling is a great way to breathe new life into older furniture. It is an eco-friendly approach to sustainability and allows you to repurpose old furniture to match your home’s décor.

Custom Size & Shape

Although there are plenty of headboards available commercially, most of the options available at the local big box stores will not meet your exact specifications. However, when you choose to do a DIY upholstered headboard, you can customize every single aspect of the design to fit your bed perfectly.

upholstery headboard diy customisation
When you DIY your bed headboard upholstery, you can customize the look to be any way you want.

Essential Materials to Upholster Headboard DIY

Once you have decided to take on upholstering a DIY headboard, it’s time to gather all the essential materials to complete the project.

Next, we’ll help you choose suitable fabric to DIY upholster your bed headboard.

Choosing Upholstery Fabric for Headboard

The first part of any bed headboard upholstery project is to select the perfect fabric for your particular needs. Remember, one of the benefits of taking on the upholstery project on your own, is that you can budget more of your expenses toward the cost of choosing a higher-quality fabric. Pay close attention to factors such as durability, texture, cleaning, and maintenance, as well as your budget when making a final selection.

Important Considerations When Selecting Fabric to DIY Upholster Bed Headboard


The bed headboard will be subject to daily contact and is in a high-traffic area increasing its potential for wear. Although the headboard will not see as much wear and tear as an office sofa, it will nevertheless require durable fabric. Look into heavyweight fabrics such as denim or upholstery-grade cotton.

Color and Pattern

Take the time to make sure that the fabric you choose coordinates with the overall scheme of your bedroom. This means selecting a fabric color that will match the rest of the room and does not overwhelm the space with patterns that do not fit. If you are looking to make the bed headboard a statement piece, then look for bolder patterns. However, if you want the room to be a tranquil space to end and begin your days, then neutral tones are always the best.


Keep in mind that your skin will come into contact with the bed headboard regularly, so texture will play an important role in your final fabric options. You want a fabric that is not too rough to touch, and that will provide your room with a clean and casual look. Check out the local fabric store’s selection of denim or chenille-like fabrics.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning is also an important factor to take into consideration when selecting the fabric for your bed headboard. Although it is nice to have a luxurious feeling headboard, not all fabrics are easy to maintain. Instead, you will need to balance your choice between the texture of the fabric and its ability to be regularly cleaned and maintained.


Lastly, your budget will play the biggest role when it comes to choosing upholstery for your bed headboard. While many DIY enthusiasts choose to take on the bed headboard project to save money and spend more on higher quality fabrics, not every individual has a high enough budget to purchase the most expensive fabrics available at their local fabric store. Always make sure to have a set number in your head when you go to the fabric store, to ensure that you purchase something that is well within your budget.

How to Upholster Bed Headboard (DIY Project)

Once you have your headboard and fabric, it’s time to get busy. Gather up all of your essential tools, and get ready to upholster your bed headboard.

Prepare the Bed Headboard

To start the project, you will need to remove any existing fabric from your headboard. If you are upholstering a headboard that was not covered in the past, then you can skip this step.

However, if you are reupholstering a previously upholstered headboard, then you will need a screwdriver and a pair of pliers to carefully remove any staples, nails, or screws that hold the fabric in place. Once the fabric has been removed, you will need to make sure that the headboard is clean, and that the underlying wood is in good condition. You can patch up any holes or gouges with wood putty or wood filler if necessary. This is also the time to paint or stain it, if you want.

Once you’ve removed any existing fabric and staples, and feel satisfied that the bed headboard frame is in good condition, it’s time to start upholstering.

Upholster the Bed Headboard – Instructions Part 1 of 3

To break our DIY headboard upholstery project into manageable chunks, let’s first begin by attaching the foam padding and batting to the headboard frame. These are the non-visible parts that sit underneath the upholstery fabric.

#1 Cut the Foam Padding and Batting

The first step of your DIY bed headboard upholstery project is to measure and cut the padding that will be placed under the fabric. There are several different ways to do this, but perhaps the simplest is to create a pattern from the existing headboard.

You will also want to do the same for the batting, which will go over the foam before you attach any fabric. However, you will want the batting to be slightly larger so that it can wrap around the edges of the headboard.

It’s all right if you accidentally cut your materials too large, because you can simply trim up the foam and batting with a pair of good fabric shears.

#2 Attach the Foam Padding

When it comes to attaching the foam padding, there are several different ways to complete this step.

The easiest is to simply staple it in place using your heavy-duty staple gun. To accomplish this, you will start in the center and work your way outward in a radial pattern, pulling the foam tight as you go.

The other option is to use a spray adhesive and spray one side of the foam, and the headboard, then stick the two together once the glue tacks up.

#3 Attach the Batting Layer

Next, the batting layer is placed over the foam and is pulled tightly around the edges.

Pay close attention when you’re working around the corners, and staple the batting to the backside of the headboard. You will also want to trim off any excess batting once it has been stapled in place, to ensure a neat and professional-looking finish.

That’s the foam padding and batting done. Time to grab a cup of coffee and take a short break, before you tackle the next step of your upholster bed headboard project.

Upholster the Bed Headboard – Instructions Part 2 of 3

Now that you’ve sorted out the foam padding and batting, it’s time to move onto attaching the upholstery fabric to the bed headboard. Here is where the project gets more difficult, and you will need to be more attentive when attaching and folding the fabric around corners to achieve a nice look.

#1 Cut the Upholstery Fabric

One of the easiest ways of cutting your upholstery fabric is to make a template, then add the thickness of your foam and batting plus an additional half to 1 inch along all the edges. Repeat that again:

  1. Make a template (draw an outline) of your bed headboard on paper or cardboard.
  2. Measure the thickness of the foam and batting, then add this measurement to all sides of your template.
  3. Add an extra 1 inch around all sides of your template.
upholster bed headboard template diagram

Upholster bed headboard template diagram – explanation:

  • Orange: Headboard, with outline drawn on paper.
  • Blue Dashed Line: Additional measurement for foam/batting thickness.
  • Red Dotted Line: Additional 1 inch.

The full size of the finished template should be at the red dotted line. Then, trace this template onto your fabric, and cut it out.

Another option is to lay the headboard on top of the stretched-out upholstery fabric, and carefully cut it to size. Make sure that you have enough fabric to wrap around the sides so that the fabric can be attached to the backside of the headboard.

If in doubt about your measurements, cut it larger. You can always trim off the excess, but you can’t do anything about it if you accidentally cut it too small.

#2 Staple the Upholstery Fabric to the Straight Sides

When attaching the fabric to your headboard, you are going to want to start at the center point. In this case, let’s start with the long sides. Pull the fabric tight over the bottom and top side of the headboard, at the center point, and staple it in place on the backside of the headboard.

Then, to attach it all the way along, slowly alternate from one side of the centerline to the other; carefully pull the fabric taut and staple it in place. Be careful that you do not accidentally wrinkle the fabric when this is being accomplished.

#3 Fold & Staple the Corners

The corners are perhaps, one of the most difficult parts of the bed headboard upholstery project.

When tackling the corners, think about how you wrap gifts for the holiday season. Make sure that every fold of fabric is done neatly, in the same manner on both sides, to ensure uniformity. Pay close attention to the edges near the corners, to ensure that the fabric stays tight and smooth as you staple in place with your heavy-duty stapler.

For more help with this step, check out our article on how to upholster around corners.

Upholster Bed Headboard – Instructions Part 3 of 3

Once the corners are done, you’ve finished the hardest part of the project. The rest should be smooth sailing. It’s really just the finishing touches and clean-up now.

#1 Trim Excess Fabric

Just as you did with the batting, you will want to trim off any excess fabric from the backside of the headboard. Make sure you keep your trim line no closer than 1/4 inch from the staples, to ensure that they continue to hold the fabric securely. If you cut the fabric too close to the staples, there is a chance that the fabric can fray and detach.

#2 Attach the Headboard to the Bed Frame

Next, reattach your headboard to the bed frame. Using a screwdriver or corresponding wrench, ensure that the headboard is securely fastened. Shake the bed a few times to check if there is any wobbling or movement, and re-tighten as necessary.

#3 Finishing Touches

Lastly, reinspect the upholstered headboard, for any loose staples or any areas where the fabric seems uneven. Pull your bed away from the wall, and reinforce any spots using your staple gun. Once you are sure that the fabric is securely fastened in place, carefully wipe down the front side to remove any dust or debris that it picked up while you were making it.

That’s it – your DIY upholstery bed headboard is now complete! Nice work!


We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on how to upholster bed headboard. For other easy projects, make sure to check out our articles on how to upholster bar stools or re-upholster dining chairs. Or, check out this project guide on how to upcycle a metal bed frame from our sister site NestKoo, where I explain the exact steps to tidy-up a damaged metal bed frame and paint it with metal-appropriate paints. It could be a great compliment to your new headboard!

Happy upholstering!