This post shows how to build a reclaimed wood headboard for a queen-sized bed. This DIY reclaimed wood headboard is the perfect rustic decor for a master bedroom.
I struggled a long time with what to do with our bedroom who was in desperate need of a makeover. I had a shortlist of things I wanted (actually I better call it a Long List), but it took me forever to come up with a plan. I knew I wanted some texture and color in there, some raw materials with a ‘tough’ look to counteract with the more romantic bedding I like so much.
The two people sleeping in this bedroom don’t actually see eye to eye when it comes to decorating. Our styles and preferences couldn’t be more different. Modern, slick, and cool on the one hand, while my style is more romantic, vintage with a beachy cottage vibe.
I decided that I wanted to come up with a way to incorporate both our styles, and settled that a rustic, industrial look would satisfy us both.
And that’s how I came up with the idea to build a reclaimed wood headboard.
I’ll show you how I built this headboard in detail, but first let’s go into the why behind this headboard ideas first.
Why A Reclaimed Wood Headboard?
Well, Songbird, what’s up with that, why do you think a reclaimed wood headboard is the greatest idea since chocolate chip cookies?
Let me explain.
Using real wood with an upcycled and rustic look will adds a huge amount of interest and fun to any room and it makes for a great accent wall (I have a thing for accent walls, check out my DIY faux concrete wall finish in my bathroom).
As it stands our bedroom in its before-state is a blank canvas. Actually, a bland canvas would be a better word. There is builder-grade wall popcorn wallpaper on the wall, a laminate floor in a non-distinct color, and other than the bay windows there is no interest in that room.
There is also only one logical place the bed can go, which is directly opposite from the door. The wall behind the bed is therefore the first thing you see. I’d thought I’d better make that a true focal point and turn that wall into an accent wall.
Rustic, industrial look
A reclaimed wood headboard made from repurposed scaffold boards fits right in with the contemporary rustic look with an industrial vibe.
As I explained I am incorporating two different decor styles in this room. A more romantic vintage look and a modern masculine style. Somehow I feel that rustic industrial is the exact middle ground between the two. The rustic goes well with vintage and a romantic farmhouse feel. The industrial definitely has a masculine style and works well with modern design. I guess in short I am working with the Coastal Cottage Industrial style again.
I love the look of beat-up, chippy natural wood, so this old wood headboard is right up my alley.
The DIY headboard we are building will be quite large. It will fit around our queen bed with room to spare. We are also going to up quite high. As such the headboard is almost a wall in itself. We’ll finish the headboard with a nice trimmed edge.
I am already looking forward to all the decorating possibilities this headboard will bring me. The wood of the headboard will make it so easy to hang things above the bed (our current very old brick wall does not). And I can see myself creating little decorating vignettes by placing smaller items on the ledge.
Without any decorations, the wood plank headboard will look good. With decorations, it will glide through the seasons magnificently.
Save money and environment
I like that by choosing to work with repurposed wood, this headboard will be soft on our pocketbook and even softer on the environment. Reclaimed wood is cheaper than new wood (especially if you don’t mind lots of dings and scratches), making this build very affordable. And repurposing old scaffold boards into a new headboard is just the right thing today in this day and age of deforestation.
More DIY makeover projects I created for this room
<<<< Wallpapered Colonial Wardrobe Makeover >>>>
<<<< DIY Mailbag Chair Reupholstery >>>>
<<<< How to make a new mirror look old >>>>
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Tools & Materials
The list of tools and materials involved in building this DIY reclaimed wooden headboard is not that long.
The main materials are:
- 8 Scaffold boards (20cm wide 2 m long). We found ours at a salvage store.
- Leftover trim
- White paint
- Wood screws
The only thing I had to buy was the scaffold boards. I needed so little of the other materials that I could use leftovers from other projects. Win!
The tools you will need to build a headboard from reclaimed wood:
- Orbital sander
- Saw, this can be a hand saw, but a powerful jig saw or a miter saw works faster.
- Laser level
- Battery powered screwdriver
The bare wood planks that we used come from building sites where they have been used on the scaffolding. Although I didn’t know that at first.
* Total embarrassing aside
The wood is called ‘steiger’ wood here. But steiger has two meanings in Dutch, one is the landing dock for boats, the other is scaffolding. I always associated this wood with water and boats, my guy knew that it had been used in construction and building projects. Can I tell you that I still have not lived down his surprise and total mockery of me when he realized my mistake? My DIY credibility has been compromised, I can tell you that….
Anyway on to the actual building of the DIY scaffold plank headboard.
Building instructions / Construction directions
- Step 1: Cut To Size
- Step 2: Sand and Stain
- Step 3: Placement
- Step 4: Attach boards to wall
- Step 5: Make holes for outlets
- Step 6: Frame the headboard
The first steps involve preparing the repurposed wood for the build.
Here is a closeup of the old wood. Can you see how banged up and damaged it is? There are stains and spatters and dings and scratches everywhere. The whitewash you see comes from cement residue. Love it!
We first cut the wood to size with our miter saw. We only took about 20 cm off on one side. You’ll have to decide for yourself what dimensions will look best in your room and with the size of bed you have. If you are not sure how to figure that out I suggest taping some brown paper to the wall as a mock-up, that will help see it.
——- I totally did NOT throw those cut-offs away. In fact next year they were part of my Christmas mantel. Yeah me! ———-
I then gave all the boards a proper sanding with my orbital sander. I made sure they were as smooth as I could get them. Most importantly I ensured that there were no splinters anymore. Who wants to get splinters in their hands in the bedroom. Not me.
Next up was deciding on the finishing of the boards.
At first, I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to go the whitewash route or not. As you can see I decided not to go for white for a change. There will be a lot of white in the bedroom anyway (my wardrobe makeover is one of those new white elements in there), and I wanted to emphasize the wood. So I opted for a stain instead.
I choose a medium-dark stain I had left from a previous project. I think it is a dark walnut color, but I am not sure. I put on two coats, lightly sanding in between the coats. If you want to know more about how to choose the best finish for wood, just click that link.
When you stain bare wood, remember to always work with the natural wood grain.
Don’t you just love the knots in that wood and all the rich variation in the color?!
The third step in the DIY headboard project was actually to start building this old wood headboard.
The first thing was to mark the places where we had to screw supports to the wall.
In our European home, there are brick walls that are old and brittle and not fun to drill into at all. If you have an American-style home, you can probably skip this step and attach the boards directly to the studs.
With my new tool, I marked the spots where the supports had to go.
We secured three supports onto the wall and then screwed the planks onto them.
The planks are not completely straight so there are some gaps and uneven spots, but I like that.
As you can see we drilled some holes for the power outlets in the bottom plank.
I used 8 planks and created a headboard that was almost as tall as I am.
Even without anything else, and all the building mess still in the room I am already smitten with my new planked wall.
To finish the headboard we added some white-painted trim on the edges. We simply nailed it in with very small nails and a nail gun.
There she is, in all her reclaimed glory, my new wood headboard.
This turned out so much better than I anticipated and exactly as I had hoped.
My rather romantic metal bedframe and the modern chrome table lamps from the man are married very nicely together by my rustic and touch wooden headboard.
Where to buy ready-made repurposed wood headboards
If the prospect of building your own reclaimed wood headboard is a bit much for you, but you really like the look, then don’t worry you can buy them already built.
I found some really beautiful old wood headboards that I’d love to have in my home any time.
I really like this wood headboard with vertical planks. It looks a lot like mine and it is ready to hang.
An easier DIY route might be using this peel and stick wood paneling behind your bed.
This bed frame with a wooden headboard is sleek and modern and would be perfect for a dorm room.
I really like this metal frame bed with built-in wood headboard. It has just the perfect mix of romantic and industrial that I like.
This queen bed has a wood headboard with a driftwood look. I like that one a lot too.
If you want a wood headboard but you’d like it to fit in with your farmhouse style, then you’ll love this white wooden farmhouse headboard.
A beautiful alternative to a real headboard that will give you the same kind of rustic, aged look is placing two reclaimed wood shutters behind your bed.
And I really like this outsider idea for a headboard too. Look at this gorgeous carved wood headboard, isn’t it stunning?
Styling a reclaimed wood headboard
Let the fun begin. Let’s see how we can dress up this repurposed headboard in different styles and in different seasons.
Because of our high ceiling, there was plenty of room left to hang things over the headboard even though that was quite tall by itself. My DIY juju hats feather wreaths felt right at home for one.
It also works especially well in fall with its rustic cabin vibe. And heck it is perfect in summer too.
The above bedroom styling with a white and blue summer vibe also shows just how well this rustic headboard works with vintage styling. I love the contrast and the companionship between the styling.
I love the end result. It gives instant character and warmth to the room.
I am so pleased with how this project turned out and I already know it will be one of my favorites for years to come.
Marianne Songbird is the founder of Songbird, where she hopes to inspire everyone to create a home they love, one DIY project at a time. She shares anything from craft ideas to home decor inspiration and from DIY projects to decorating hacks. Originally from the Netherlands Marianne and her husband Lex are currently renovating a 250-year-old farmhouse in Germany.