DIY: How to Create a Vintage Headboard

craftsdecor & DIY

Ever since our oldest was born, my husband and I have had the same cedar headboard, which actually belonged to my grandparents at one time. We've gradually been updating our bedroom, just working on projects here and there, and we both figured it was high time we update our headboard...yet still keep a vintage flare.

Since this newer headboard required both design and customization, it was time for me to learn how to use a few power tools. First things first, our inspiration came from a Pinterest photo of a headboard we'd fact, I'd seen quite a few similar to this. My husband had gotten a load of boards from our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and he'd actually already ripped them with a band saw, so we started out marking where we wanted to saw the boards and how we wanted to place them.

How to Make a Vintage Headboard

Supplies Needed:

  • 7 boards 1x6x5 (our bed is queen size)
  • 3- 8' Furring strips
  • Speed square
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Brad nails
  • Brad nailer
  • KILZ latex primer (for a base color)
  • Paint (in whatever color you choose; we used Valspar Tropical Spray)
  • Saw
  • Wall fastener (we used 3" screws)
  • Safety glasses
  • 80 grit sandpaper
  • Sanding Block


After prepping your boards for sawing, use a saw to cut the boards. We used a radial arm saw. This was my first time using this particular power tool, so I was really nervous; I tend to have a lot of accidents with kitchen knives. It felt really good to face my fear. In fact, it turned out to be quite a stress reliever.

You might want to cut in different spots to really give a more rustic, vintage look. Then place the boards back into the pattern you prefer, as you cut each one.

Next, it's time to build a frame for the back of the headboard to give support and keep everything together. Measure and cut your furring strips; this will depend on the size of your headboard/bed. Attach the furring strips to the back of the headboard, using a brad nailer.

You'll see that after framing everything up, we still had some work to do to make the ends of our headboard even.

We used a jig saw to cut our boards even.

Finally, our headboard was framed up and ready for some beautification.

The next step is to paint, but it might be wise to put down at least one layer primer. I recommend using a dark primer if you're going for a distressed look, but my husband came home with white, so that's what we used. After letting the primer dry, it's time to paint. You might have to add a couple layers of paint, depending on the look you're going for.

After letting your project dry overnight (or longer, depending on what type of paint you use), use sandpaper or a sand block to give the headboard a distressed look. Sand the cracks and corners, the raised edges, the knots, and more. Wherever you want an old, weathered look, that's where you'll want to sand. You can always touch it up with a bit more paint if needed too, so don't be afraid to get creative with this step.

After wiping it down really well, your vintage headboard is finished and ready to hang. We're really happy with the look of ours; it just adds a vintage feel to our room, as well as a bit of shabby chic.

What is your preferred style when it comes to decorating? Have you created any DIY projects lately?

Mel works remotely from home as the Community Coordinator for Collective Bias. She also homeschools her two rambunctious boys. In addition, she enjoys writing on her blog, MamaBuzz, where you'll find other DIY/craft projects, recipes, travel articles, reviews & giveaways, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @mamabzz and also Like MamaBuzz on Facebook. You can contact Mel at [email protected].

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