DIY: barn wood headboard {part two: sealing}

DIY: barn wood headboard {part two: sealing}

{See PART ONE of our DIY headboard here}

PART TWO: Finishing/Sealing

Ok, so here was the BIG dilemma: We really REALLY loved the gray weathered look of the barn wood. Problem is, as soon as you start any significant sanding, you loose the gray. Also, it seemed like every finish we tried darkened the gray. We love the variations in the original of dark and light gray and wanted to keep that as much as possible. So after much hemming and hawwing…here is how we did it:

First, we sanded it LIGHTLY with a fine grit sanding sponge- just dirt and getting any major splinters:
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

Next, we used a cleaning brush over the entire thing….no water, just dry:
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

I could pretty much scrub as hard as I wanted with out messing it up. So I scrubbed. Because I don’t want a dirty headboard. Dang it.

DIY: Barnwood Headboard

Next, we used the air compressor to blow away all the fine dust and dirt. We did this a lot too.
DIY: Barnwood Headboard

After this step, the boards were pretty smooth and it eliminated all of the dirt. Like I said, we tried MANY a finish and finally used Vaspar FLAT Clear Finish Spray {2 cans- $8 total at Lowes). It darkened it a little bit, but not too bad. We did several coats until I felt like I could cozy up against it (maybe 3-4 coats). I am a freak about such things.

DIY: Barnwood Headboard

When it was dry, it was lighter than that last pic.

And before we did the sealer, I painted a couple words on it. I forgot to take pics- but you will see it on PART THREE.
Next, Nathan will attach it to the bed frame – I will show you how we secure it and take the final shots.


  • Antoniette Galante

    I’m making a barnwood headboard but I know there are little bugs living in some of the boards. Of course some (spiders!) came out when I had them in the car. How do you get rid of them?

    • fiveoeight

      Well, there are several things you can do: First, make sure the barn wood is totally dried out. Leave it out in the sun! You might even use a pressure washer to get any dirt, dust, bugs out first.
      You can also use bleach if you are worried about any more bugs, mildew…ect…scrub with that and again, let the boards totally dry out.

      I am sure there are other ways too, but these are pretty easy and a good place to start to get the boards how you want them! Hope this helps!

      • Antoniette Galante

         I’m almost finished with the headboard. Just got back from vacation so all I need to do now is seal it. I’d love to send you a picture of the finished product if you’d like! Thanks for the advance on the sealer by the way.

        • fiveoeight

           I described how I sealed it in this part towards the end- using Vas­par FLAT Clear Fin­ish Spray {2 cans– $8 total at Lowes). The reason I chose the spray is because our boards were fairly clean and
          free of bugs…I just needed something that would seal it but not
          really change the color.

          However, if you would like a thicker coat, you can use a polyurethane (flat or satin) or I am sure polycrylic would work ok too. Those will produce a different final product ( I am guessing it will darken the wood from that light gray look).

          Hope this helps! Send pics when you finish…would love to see how it turned out for you!

      • Patti Hertzog

        We were afraid of termites, so we put the boards in a large plastic bag, sprayed like crazy with termite killer, sealed the bag, and left them to sit for two days. So far, so good.

  • -Ryan

    My wife and I just built a barn board head board. We are having issues with it staining our white sheets. Did the light sanding and 3-4 coats of seal solve this problem with you?

  • Krit

    Love your headboard! I am in the process of finishing barn boards to surround my fireplace. I was having difficulty as well finding a clear sealer that wouldn’t take away the woods character. Thanks for the suggestions! I was curious- did you ever have issues with the barn boards having an odor? The backside of my barn boards seem to have a hay smell to them…I cleaned the boards with Borax after using a scrub brush. I’m hoping the sealer will take care of the hay smell….?

    • fiveoeight

      Ours never had an odor. But I would assume several coats of the sealer will do the trick!
      Sorry for the slow response- thanks for visiting!

  • nicole

    How is the sealant on your headboard holding up now that it’s been a couple of years? I’m thinking of using it on a barn wood door I’m making.

    • Nathan_at_508

      Actually great! We’ve been using that headboard for our bed from day 1 and it looks the same as the day we made it!

  • mhh….good wwork

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  • What is this for?

    • Nathan_at_508

      Hi Christina,
      Not sure what you’re asking about here but the project overall is a headboard for our bed.