How to Build a Wing Back Headboard

I’m kind of sad that I’ve been neglecting this blog for the last several months, but it’s been for good reason. I actually started a furniture business! I feel like the word “business” is a bit formal for what I’m doing. It’s just little old me building furniture for people in my super messy garage. But I’ve had a slow trickle of custom furniture orders coming in since June, and although I’ve been documenting every project with photos, I just haven’t found the time or energy to write about them. I still stay home full time with my toddler so most of my garage time happens after she’s in bed. When I finally finish a project and have another one lined up, plus about 30 things on my own to-do list, I get a bit overwhelmed and the writing is the first thing that I let slide. But I’m trying to be better, because I’m making a lot of fun things that I want to share! My first custom order was a wall-mount bookrack, which was a modification on the PBK Madison knock-off shelf. My second order was this king-size wing back headboard that we’re talking about now.

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The design is pretty simple and easy. The wings on this headboard taper a little bit at the top, so it required some sewing to get the fabric to wrap nicely. But to simplify, you could not bother with the taper so you can just wrap, staple, and done! That’s what I’ll describe here. If you have questions about how I added the taper, please email me and I’ll share more of those details with you!

 

The overall height is 70 inches, and the width is about 81 inches. The fabric was 57 inches wide, so the height of the back piece (from the mattress to the top of the headboard) is about 48 inches to allow enough fabric to wrap and staple. The supplies list below is for a king-size headboard. If you want to make a smaller size, adjust materials accordingly.

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Supplies

2  sheets 4’x8’x½-inch MDF (you may need less depending on your bed size)

3  8-ft 1×4 pine boards

Wood screws, 1″ and 1.5″ (I like to use self-drilling)

Staple gun & staples

Foam (I used a 1″ memory foam mattress topper from Walmart)

Quilt batting

5 yards Home Décor Fabric

1 can spray adhesive (like this)

Cardboard upholstery tack strip (I used this)

**In order to fit the MDF into my SUV, I had to rip it in half, so my headboard back was cut into two pieces. I used four 2ish-foot long strips of scrap plywood to attach the pieces back together. 1×2 pine board would also work. If you have this same issue, make sure you have extra wood for this.**

 

Steps

Part 1: Upholster the back

  1. From the MDF, cut:

one 78”x48” piece (I had two 78”x24” pieces that I attached together)

two 9”x70” pieces

 

  1. Cut two of the 1×4 pine boards to 70” long, save the last one for later

 

  1. If you had to transport your back piece in sections, attach them back together.

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  1. Cut a piece of foam to 78” by 48”. Using spray adhesive along the edges, attach the foam to the large piece of MDF. Wrap with quilt batting. (If you had to piece your MDF together, attach the foam to the flat side of the board without the braces).

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  1. Cut about an 85” length of fabric. Drape it over the foam with about 3-4 inches overlapping each side. I had mine up on sawhorses so I could keep it right-side-up and make sure the fabric stayed smooth while I stapled from underneath.

 

  1. Working about 2 feet at a time, apply spray adhesive near the edge of the MDF on the back, let it set for about 15 seconds, then wrap the fabric around and stick to the adhesive, making sure everything stays nice and smooth. Only wrap the sides and bottom right now. DO NOT WRAP THE FABRIC OVER THE TOP OF THE HEADBOARD YET.

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  1. Reinforce the glue with staples. I used a staple about every inch. The first time I made a headboard, I used a regular hand-held staple gun and didn’t use the spray adhesive so I had to use a LOT of staples. My hand started cramping up and it was SO sore for several days afterward. This is why I advise the use of an electric or pneumatic staple gun! (I use this Surebonder stapler).

 

 

Part 2: Make the wings

 

  1. Using wood glue and 1.5″ screws, attach a 70” 1×4 board to a 70” strip of MDF. Be sure you’re drilling through the MDF and into the edge of the wood. If you try screwing into the edge of MDF, it just tears right out.

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  1. Cut a strip of foam to fit on top of the MDF, butted up against the wood piece. Tack it down in a few places using spray adhesive.

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  1. Wrap the foam and MDF with batting. Start the batting where the foam butts up with the pine, and wrap it around the outside of the wing and all the way around to the back of the pine board. I didn’t bother stapling the batting since the fabric holds it in place.

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  1. Cut the remaining fabric in half length-wise. Wrap the fabric around the same way you wrapped the batting. Using the upholstery tack strip and staples, attach the fabric to the pine right where it meets the MDF. Then wrap the fabric all the way around to the back side of the pine, and attach with spray adhesive and staples (I apparently took no pictures of this, sorry).

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  1. Wrap the ends like presents. Fold down the fabric in the middle, then fold one side over, then the other, and staple it all down in the center. Do this for the top and bottom (the headboard is so high you won’t see it on the top). Unless you want to sew a little pocket at the top before you attach the fabric so it wraps nicely.wrap_ends
  2. Make the second wing the same as the first one.

 

Part 3: Assemble the headboard

 

  1. Lay the back piece face-down on a table or sawhorses. I used my dining table. Line up one of the wings on the back so that the top is flush with the top of the headboard. Using 1″ screws, drill through the pine board and into the back piece every 4-6 inches. Attach the second wing the same way on the other side.assmebly_illustration
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  1. The last 1×4 will be attached along the top of the back piece to add some thickness. Cut it to fit between the pine boards on the wings and screw it to the back about every 12 inches. (Missing a photo of this step, but you can see where the piece is attached in the photo in the next step)
  1. Wrap the fabric over the top of the headboard and secure with spray adhesive and staples.

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And there you have it! You can rest the headboard up against the wall and pin it there with your bed, or you can bolt it to the bed frame through the pine pieces on the wings for extra security.

 

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Thanks so much for stopping by! As always, if you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email!

 

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  • Lori

    Awesome great job, love your blog!!!

    • Sarah

      Thank you so much, Lori!