How to Tuft a Headboard in an Afternoon

Create a one-of-a-kind piece—and save money in the process—by making this DIY cushioned headboard in just a few hours.

yellow tufted headboard
Project Overview
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Skill Level: Beginner

When you walk into a bedroom, what's the first thing you notice? Chances are, it's the bed—whether it's a boring mattress on a metal frame or a showpiece of a headboard. We think every primary bedroom deserves an eye-catching pop of style, and a soft, tufted headboard is a gorgeous way to add both comfort and high-end detail. The best part? You can make one yourself. We'll show you how to tuft a headboard for a queen-size bed in just a few hours—with only wood, fabric, buttons, and a few other basic supplies.

Before you dive in, decide the feeling you want your headboard to bring to the space. This will determine which fabric you choose. For example, velvet material screams luxury, while tweed exudes a midcentury-modern feel. Regardless of what texture or print you choose, make sure you purchase upholstery fabric—otherwise, your hard work won't last very long. Consider color, too: A soft neutral is relaxing, but a vibrant hue will make a statement. Try a white tufted headboard for a crisp, timeless look or a bright yellow to create a fun focal point.

Ready to get started? Follow these simple steps to make your own tufted headboard.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Drill and 3/8-inch bit
  • 1 Staple gun
  • 1 Straightedge
  • 1 Pencil
  • 1 Upholstery needle
  • 1 Permanent marker
  • 1 Scissors
  • 1 Measuring tape

Materials

  • 1 1/2-inch plywood sheet
  • 4 2x4 boards
  • 1 Screws
  • 4 2x8 boards
  • 2 12x60-inch piece of medium-weight chipboard
  • 1 Staples
  • 1 Foam
  • 1 Spray adhesive
  • 1 Batting
  • 1 Button-cover kit
  • 1 Buttons
  • 1 Upholstery fabric, 4 yards of at least 58-inch-wide
  • 1 Upholstery twine

Instructions

  1. Make Cuts

    Cuts
    Piece Dimensions Quantity
    Plywood frame base 48x66x½-inch plywood sheet 0
    Frame top and bottom 2x4x66 inches 2
    Frame Sides 2x4x40-¾ inches 2
    Headboard wings 2x8x60 inches 2
    Headboard leg supports 2x8x12 inches 2
  2. Build the Frame

    attaching a 2×4 frame to the back of headboard frame for support

    To create a sturdy base, reinforce the plywood sheet with a 2x4 frame. Flip the plywood so the back side is facing up. (The back side is typically a little rougher and less shiny than the front, but don't sweat this step. Since you'll be covering the front with fabric, it's not a huge deal if you accidentally pick the wrong side.) Next, lay a 66-inch 2x4 along each of the long sides of the plywood sheet. Lay a 40-¾-inch 2x4 perpendicular on each side, as shown. Your 2x4 pieces should now frame the outside edges of your plywood sheet. Make sure all of the pieces are properly aligned, then secure with screws.

  3. Attach Wings and Legs

    For extra style and support, add wings and legs to your headboard. To attach the wings, align a 60-inch 2x8 board perpendicular with each of the shorter sides of the frame. Make sure that the boards are flush with the edge of the plywood, then secure with screws. To add the legs, attach a 12-inch 2x8 board to each of the 60-inch 2x8s below the plywood. Align so the wood pieces form a right angle, then secure with screws.

  4. Attach Chipboard

    stapling curved chip board to tufted headboard frame

    To form the curved edges of the headboard, cut the chipboard—which you can find at art- and shipping-supply stores—into 1x1-foot sections. (Smaller pieces are easier to manipulate than one long piece; if desired, you can buy the chipboard pre-cut.) Staple the outside edge of one piece of chipboard along the inside edge of the first wing. Curve the board and staple the other edge to the plywood. Continue until the entire length of the wing is lined with curved chipboard pieces. Repeat on the opposite side.

  5. Drill Holes

    headboard frame with marked spots for drilling holes

    Measure and mark the desired hole placement for tufting. You can choose either a diamond or grid pattern, and the number of tufts is up to you—just make sure that all the holes are equidistant from each other. We used a pencil and straightedge to draw a grid pattern on the back of the plywood. Once your pattern is in place, drill a hole through all of the intersections with the headboard elevated so the bit doesn't hit your work surface.

  6. Attach Foam

    Cut foam to fit the top of the headboard, including the wings, as well as the outsides of the legs. Attach with spray adhesive. From the back, poke an upholstery needle through the tufting holes, and mark the locations with a permanent marker. Cut through each tufting hole with scissors.

  7. Attach Batting

    stapel two layers of thin batting to headboard and spray with adhesive

    Wrap the foam in a layer of batting. Spray with adhesive, then attach another layer of batting. Pull the layers taut, and join them to the frame with staples. Trim excess batting with scissors. Once again, find the placement of each tuft hole with an upholstery needle and poke through with scissors.

  8. Upholster and Attach Buttons

    Use a button kit to cover buttons with headboard fabric. Trace a circle with the kit's template onto a piece of scrap headboard fabric. Place the piece of fabric on top of the kit's mold, then place your button shell on the fabric, directly above the mold. Push the shell down and attach the button back. Use the kit's pusher to secure the button back to the shell, and remove the mold. Repeat until you have the correct number of buttons.

  9. Begin Tufting

    Place fabric across the headboard and around the wings, with at least 10 inches overlapping on the sides. Thread upholstery twine onto the needle, adding a covered button to the end and knotting in place. Starting with the middlemost hole, push the needle from the back of the headboard to the front, pulling the button tightly in place on the back. On the front, thread the needle through the hole on the back of another covered button, loop around, and return through the hole in the headboard to the back side. Pull the button as tightly as possible, and tie into a secure knot. Repeat this process for the remaining tufts.

  10. Secure Fabric

    Staple excess fabric snugly in place around the back of the headboard. To cover the legs, add a panel of fabric to each, folding the top edge under to create a straight seam. Trim excess fabric. Now enjoy your DIY cushioned headboard!

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