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DIY: Upholstered Nailhead Trim Headboard

For some time, I'd had my eye on the Modern Velvet Headboard ($280) from Urban Outfitters, but I simply couldn't bring myself to spend $315, including shipping, on the thing. I'm not quite pleased with the quality of UO's materials (particularly the velvet they use), and since the headboard would be mostly just a decorative piece, it didn't seem like a sensible purchase. So what's a girl to do? DIY it of course!

It didn't seem like it would be a difficult project, and building my nailhead trim headboard myself would allow me to choose exactly the fabric I wanted, in addition to saving a bundle. So off to Home Depot and the fabric store I went! I picked a greenish gray German velvet to bring some contrast to my light bedding.

Here's are the supplies you'll need:

  • Piece of 1/2-inch plywood cut to the width of your bed frame and desired height (54"w for full, 60"w queen, 34"h). $17
  • 1/2-inch foam to cover surface area of one side of the plywood (i.e. 54" x 34", etc). $2.50
  • 3 yards of 54" batting. A queen-size bag will do. $11
  • Staple gun and staples. Borrowed
  • 2-3 yards of fabric. (I bought 3 yds. and have some to spare, so 2 yds. will probably do.) $24
  • French Natural Nailhead Trim — available at Joann's Fabrics, eBay seller nails-to-you ($8.50), DIY Upholstery Supply ($15). $8.50
  • Hammer or rubber mallet. Owned

Total Cost: $63!

Now, onto the steps . . .

  1. Head to Home Depot and have them cut your piece of plywood to size. They'll do it for free. If you want to screw your headboard directly into your bed, rather than hang it from the wall, you may want to have them cut you legs from the scrap plywood.
  2. Lay your plywood on the floor. Lay the foam on top of the plywood and staple it down, just in the four corners. If it's not a perfect shape, you may need to cut smaller pieces from the roll of foam and arrange them to fit.
  3. Unroll your batting and stretch it out flat across the floor. If it's already folded in two layers, leave it like that, you'll want two layers. Center the plywood, foam side down, on top of the batting, making sure there's room to fold the batting onto the backside of the plywood.
  4. Begin stapling the batting to the back side of the plywood, pulling it tautly as you go. When you reach the corners, fold them nicely like you would a present. Continue all the way around.
  5. Make sure your fabric is ironed or steamed if it has wrinkles.
  6. Lay your fabric on the floor, front side down. Lay the plywood down on top of it, foam/batting side down, with at least two or three inches of fabric around the edges of the plywood all the way around. Cut off excess fabric if needed.
  7. Begin stapling your fabric to the backside of the plywood, pulling it tautly as you go. When you reach the corners, be extra careful to fold them neatly like a present.
  8. Next up: the nailhead trim! The nailhead trim is basically a strip of nailhead that you only have to nail in every fifth nail. This saves a lot of time and makes lining up the nails a cinch. Decide what pattern you're going to go with ahead of time. I chose two rows of trim, but you could easily go with one, or even get more complicated. I wrapped my hammer in a sock so it wouldn't scratch the nailhead, but a rubber mallet will also work.
  9. Start at the bottom and begin nailing in the trim, checking to make sure it's a straight line as you go. When you get the corners, you may have to snip off some of the trim, and hammer in real nailheads depending on the length and width you're going for. Repeat as necessary until you've completed the trim.
  10. Fini! If you're going to hang your headboard, I'd recommend screwing in two heavy duty D-ring picture hangers into the back of the headboard, and hanging them from a screw or hook on your wall. If you want to attach the headboard to your bed, you can screw plywood legs to the headboard and them bolt them to your bed frame.


The Supplies

Foam on Top of Plywood

Plywood Layed on Top of Batting

Batting Completely Stapled to Plywood

Corner of Stapled Batting up Close

Padded Headboard on Top of Fabric

Stapled Fabric Corner up Close

Fabric Completely Stapled to Plywood

Nailhead Trim Lined Up on Headboard

Nailhead Trim Nailed in up Close

Corner with Nailheads

Completely Headboard with Two Rows of Trim

Headboard Complete!

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Join The Conversation
wolfpackmag wolfpackmag 5 years
Question, could you provide the type of fabric that you used? I'm coming across stretch velvet (for costumes or dresses) and I'm not sure what will work best!
dholmas dholmas 5 years
As an upholster I would recommend using 2x4's if you want to screw it to the bed frame. From the floor up to the top. It will give extra support. Also, tacking into plywood is not easy and I use double welt after stapling the fabric following the line of the headboard. Do not forget to cover the back with a neutral cloth to cover any wood showing.
CarolynCain CarolynCain 5 years
I am trying to make a headboard for my King size bed and need some help. I bought 1/2" plywood, 1" thick foam, and batting. I picked up some black and silver nail head trim and attempted to nail it onto the almost finished headboard. But it just wouldn't work. How did you get your nail head trim to go through the fabric, foam, batting and wood????? I am in desperate need of help!
hautehelena hautehelena 5 years
super easy project for a first time diy-er. I did this last night and used "leather" I got from joann's for $13! The only complaint is that the studding was hard! I suppose because I wanted my headboard to be super puffy and I got the thick batting, it made the nailing a project all by itself. I want to do two rows but one looks just fine. I also had to pull the fabric inwards while I put the nails in, to make sure it was even all the way around. But DEF worth the $100 I spent to make it. THANKS :)
Love-and-Sex Love-and-Sex 5 years
Love it!!
girlie871 girlie871 5 years
wow! Great idea.. I feel like driving down to a home depot and a joannes to start my own headboard
Home Home 5 years
Thanks Sarah!
smaine07 smaine07 5 years
That looks awesome! This has been on my list of projects to do for awhile now.. I think I am going to use a leather like material for mine though. Your instructions seem much more straightforward than the others I have found, so thanks!!
nancita nancita 5 years
Wow. I am very very impressed. Home Depot handiwork leads to modern elegance!
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