DIY: Barn Wood Headboard {Part one – the construction}

DIY: Barn Wood Headboard {Part one – the construction}

Whoa my goodness. We finally have a headboard! AND, lucky for you, we actually took pics of our process this time! Wooooo hoooo. So, here it goes….
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

We used oak barn wood that we scored from Nathan’s brother a while back. Same stuff used to make our small barn wood kitchen table. We have a queen size metal bed frame- no head or foot board. Soooooo, with no real plan, we just set out to put our headboard together….
First, we laid out all our best pieces.

DIY: Barnwood Headboard

I didn’t want just a few straight boards nailed together, I wanted to stagger the pieces to create interest…of course, this also created more work. We laid them out on top of each other….roughly how we wanted….
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

DIY: Barnwood Headboard

There was some debate as to whether to keep the old nail heads in the wood, but in the end we took them out for easy-ness sake
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

{SIDE NOTE} It was early morning and COLD – for it only being September….but we were kid free for the day. Nathan was capturing my attempt at being really exited that this was finally getting done. Which I was…but as you can see, the coffee was still needing to be drunk. I did my best.
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

Back to the work. To figure out the SIZE of the headboard for a queen, we just went up to our bedroom with a measuring tape and guessed. Super technical, I know. Then we drew the outline directly on our workshop floor in pencil to help us line up the boards relitivly straight. Here is where you could have left a jagged edge, but we opted to have it clean cut.
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

Using the miter saw, Nathan cut the pieces to fit how we laid them out.
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

DIY: Barnwood Headboard

Here is the final size we came up with for a queen after all the boards were cut and laid out… 44″ x 64″
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

The wood we used for the next few steps will vary for you because we just used any leftover wood that we already had. But you can find similar something similar at any home improvement store.
The 2 main boards holding it together and connecting to the frame were roughly 1″ x 4″ and 65″ long.

We wanted the actual barn wood part to begin 22″ off the floor. So we attached the barn wood 22″ from the bottom of our 1″ x 4″ pieces with screws in case we needed to make any adjustments (nails seem more permanent).
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

And, since we opted to have the front look staggared, we had to screw in pieces along the back were the boards met.  Again, we just used scrap wood. We also used shims since the barn wood varied in thickness…doesn’t look that great, but super secure and sturdy.
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

The construction process wasn’t very hard- just time consuming. It took close to ONE day (even with out the kids). Doing it again would go much faster since we know how and have all the measurements. Here is what we had after the construction:

DIY: Barnwood Headboard

I know other people who have done headboards attach/hang them directly to the wall. However, the oak we used was WAY to heavy and most of our walls were plaster. This is why we have the legs. Also, I move our furniture around a lot and I wanted the option of moving our bed.

I am working on putting together the other photos…but PART TWO will how you how we sealed the boards and PART THREE will show you how we attached it to the frame and you will see the final pics!



  • Found you on the Daily Thred website — love this! Sending it to Hubs so we can hopefully copy you — just need to find some reclaimed barn wood.

    Thanks for the tut. :-)

    • Awesome- send me a pic of your headboard when you are done! Thanks for the tip- hadn’t seen that on the Daily Thred.

    • Anonymous

      Awe­some– send me a pic of your head­board when you are done! Thanks for the tip– hadn’t seen that on the Daily Thred

  • Pinkylynn60

    love it!! love anything that can use re-purposed items. barn wood is very good to use for many projects.

  • Eileen

    Im glad I looked this kind of a project up.  Im planning on a head board for a king.  The good part is I have doors already made.  I plan on doing what you did to put together on boards.  Thanks for the pictures.  How did you decorate?  I plan on leaving handles and tieng dry flowers old sign and picture and stringing mini lights ill try to post it :) 

  • NickC

    I really enjoyed your use of the old barn wood for a headboard. I just got some old wood myself and will be using your posting as an outline for building mine.

    I wanted to let anyone else interested in doing this the concerns with using outside wood for later indoor use. If the wood still has moisture in it then it could have wood boring beetles or bugs (i.e., termites). You can either chemically treat the wood or heat treat it. I would recommend heat treating if possible, since there are deleterious effects from the chemicals (especially so close to your head!). Heat treating is only recommended for “green” wood, or else it will literally catch on fire in the oven the lumber yards use. If you are wanting to heat treat your wood, then do a simple internet search to see about local lumber yards that may be able to help.

    However, if the wood you are using is fairly old and dry (as appears in this project), then you are likely fine. The bugs and beetles leave with the moisture, so you should not be too concerned with transporting them into your bedroom. That being said, do a careful visual inspection, and even cut off a small section to exam the interior of the wood. If you don’t see live bugs then you should be ok.

  • Elizabeth Binion

    do you know what size you would make a full

    • Nathan_at_508

      Hi Elizabeth,
      As you can see in the post above we made our headboard 64″ wide for a queen, which means we made it 4″ wider than a standard queen mattress. In the end, adding those 4″ makes the bed about the same width as the headboard once you add the sheets, pillows, comforter etc. Using the chart below you can see a standard Full mattress is 54″. Based on those dimensions I would 3-4 inches to that for your headboard.
      TYPE:                 DIMENSION IN INCHES
      Crib                     28″x 52″
      Twin / Single        39″x 75″
      Full / Double        54″x 75″
      Long Twin*           39″x 80″
      Queen Size         60″x 80″
      King                   76″x 80″
      California King    72″x 84″
      Hope that helps!

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  • Steff

    How did you de-bug the old wood? What pesticide did you use?

  • RKsolid

    Love this, finally a tutorial! Living in a city I don’t have much space to make this or a saw or farms nearby! You should sell them!

  • gillian

    where do you suggest I get the wood from?

    • Nathan_at_508

      That’s a tough one. There’s really no easy answer – if you know someone who lives on a farm that has a decaying barn you could ask about that, or sometimes you can find this kind of stuff on craigslist. I think the key there is to just checkin on craigslist every couple of days for a while until something pops up. The next best thing is to find some old pallets – the wood doesn’t have quite the same look but its very similar and old pallets are much easier to come by. Check with local businesses to find some free pallets.

  • JD

    Very nice design — I wouldn’t have thought of putting spacers behind the boards to create the uneven look. Curious, do you have any problems with the wood “shedding” or leaving dirty marks on pillows or sheets? (or is this something to be revealed in Part Two?)

    • Lori Upton

      Sand the boards lightly to get rid of the splinterswing and dirt.

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  • Sherry

    Just wondering, if you didnt attatch it to the wall, do you worry the headboard will crash onto you? I know it has legs but im unsure of how it would stay up against a wall, squeezed by a bed…

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  • SoontobeMrsMitchell

    Working on our headboard now as I type! We didn’t have old barn wood as much as I wish we did, instead we broke apart old pallets and used that wood! I saw this post today and immediately starting planning! I’ll let ya know how it turns out. Right now I’m just having trouble piecing it together the way I want! Thanks for all the help!

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