I found the perfect barn doors for my headboard at an auction. Those doors sold for $3500. Boo!
My entire bedroom renovation was a firm $1500 budget, so spending $3500 on two barn doors wasn’t in the plans.
So I set out to replicate them as best I could. With a few planks, screws and stain I could DIY it. It ended up being the perfect DIY project! The total cost was $50, and I was able to complete it over a single weekend.
I also had significant savings to spread around the rest of the bedroom renovation.
BUILDING A DIY BARN DOOR HEADBOARD
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I hunted through Pinterest and found a few headboards that I liked. Most of them were rustic, farmhouse style. They were also all very tall.
A tall headboard would give some much-needed oomph to my small bedroom. I wanted a headboard big enough to add all the drama the bedroom needed.
I made two different barn doors and attached them together. That made the project much easier to manage and made it look like two different barn doors. That’s the look I was going for, so it worked out well.
My headboard is 6 feet tall. Technically you can make a headboard as high as you want. Standard size is 54 inches, but to keep the proportions in line the headboard shouldn’t be higher than the bed is long. That’s just a guideline. I’ve seen headboards all the way to the ceiling that looked fantastic.
1×4 @ 72in x 4
1×6 @ 72in x 12
1×4 @ 26.25 x 8
1×4 @ 50in (or longer) x 4
You could make this headboard with a hand saw a hammer and a screwdriver. It might take awhile, but because the build is simple, you could build this without any electrical tools.
Tools we used in our build
- Mitre Saw
- Electric Drill
- Air Nailer
- Carpenters Glue. Gorllia glue all the way. Don’t skip the glue!
- 1 1/4 inch screws
- 1-inch finishing nails for the air nailer.
- A set square or a straight edge
Step 1 :
Layout 6 1×6’s @ 72 inches. As this will be the front of your headboard, keep the best side of your boards face up.
Lay 2 72in 1×4’s and two 26.25in 1×4’s on top of the 1x6s around the edges
Lay two more 26.25in 1×4’s inside the frame made by the 1×4’s. Place them 9 inches from the inside edge of the frame.
Make sure all the boards fit correctly, and everything looks even. Ensure that the 1×6’s are tight together to eliminate gaps as much as possible.
Flip one 1×4 over and apply glue to the back. Put it back in place, press down firmly, and tack it in place with your nail gun. Repeat for each 1×4. For the short 1×4’s, make sure you get at least one nail into every 1×6 below. 4 or 5 nails on the longer 1×4’s should do.
If you do not have a nail gun, you can glue your pieces down and add a few small finishing nails to keep it together. These nails are only used to hold your barn doors together so you can flip it over and not have it fall apart. The real strength comes from the screws that you will drive in from the back during the final step so don’t go overboard with the finishing nails.
Lay one 50in (or longer) 1×4 diagonally across the inside frame of 1×4’s, as shown.
Using a straight edge, draw a line across the board where it will need to be cut to fit inside the frame. The line will need to be just inside the frame, along the edge of the 26.25in 1×4. Do this at both ends, and cut the board just inside those lines. Test fit the board before resetting the angle on your saw! You may need to cut off a bit more to get it to fit nicely.
Glue and tack on this board as above.
Lay the second 50in (or longer) 1×4 diagonally the other way across the frame. Mark it as you did with the previous one, with two additional lines along the edges of the other diagonal piece.
Cut just inside these lines, test fit, glue, and tack in these two boards.
Let the dry glue overnight.
This half of the headboard now LOOKS complete, but we want it to be a little sturdier. You will need to flip the whole thing over carefully to drive in screws from the back. The entire thing is pretty fragile at this point so flip it carefully. It’s a two man job so grab someone to give you a hand.
Once you flip over your barn door, you can drive in a few handfuls of screws.
At the minimum, you will want one screw holding each 1×6 to the 26.25in 1×4’s at the top and the bottom, and one or two keeping all the other 1×4’s in place. Try to get the screws as close to the middle of both boards as you can, but there is no need for measuring it out correctly.
Repeat steps 1- 5 and build the second half of your headboard.
How to attach your barn door headboard to a bed frame
Now you have two separate barn doors, and you need to connect them to make a full headboard.
We used 2 60 inch lengths of 1×4 and added them to the top and the bottom of the back of the barn doors. That’s all you need to hold it together. Add carpenters glue and 5 or 6 screws per barn door to hold them in place.
To attach the headboard to a bed frame place your headboard exactly where you want it and mark the boards with a pencil. Drill your holes and screw in place.
For $50 in lumber and a single weekend, you can have a new farmhouse headboard for your bedroom.
The Finish method we used on our headboard.
You could finish this headboard any way you like. Painting it white would be darling. A solid stain would look good too, I mean you really could do anything with it.
We wanted a worn, chippy paint, chippy stain look. It’s an entertaining method to use. The process feels like you’re painting on a giant canvas.
We started by staining our headboards with Min Wax Special Walnut. I made sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies.
We let the stain dry, and then I added random swashes of white paint. We had Sherwin Williams alabaster on hand, so that’s what we used, but any white paint will work.
The paintbrush just lightly touched the board, leaving behind strips and blobs of paint as I went. Not too many, just enough to add white to primary areas on the headboard. Some up top, some on the sides, etc.
I let it dry and then sanded down areas that created harsh lines and feathered the edges for blending, so the white paint didn’t look newly painted.
The next step was to add some chippy paint. I used carpenters glue, but any white glue would do. You paint areas on your board with glue, let it tack up, and then add white paint over the top.
At this point, you can leave it alone and let the paint dry. The paint will crackle in spots. You can use a hairdryer if you’re impatient (because that’s what I did).
Once the paint crackles, it’s time to use the sander. I go over the entire board again, taking off bits of white paint and creating worn spots on edges. This addition adds a lot of rustic charm to the boards.
If the boards don’t look worn enough, you can go back and add more glue, more paint, and more crackle. Be sure to sand again. Repeat this process until you like how it looks.
Once you get the finish to a point where you love it, you need to add the last coat.
Use a rag and not a brush. You’re going to add a very light coating of stain over all the white paint on your board.
The dark stain changes the white paint to a beige brown, and that’s what makes it look worn. I love this step the most because this is where you can see your chips & worn paint. The light application of stain highlights the cracks and crevices and makes it look like years of paint layers. Don’t forget this step!
You can’t overdo this process. If you don’t like it, sand it some more, add more stain, add more paint, create more crackle. You can’t ruin it, trust me, I find the more you do, the better it looks. Don’t get through the first round and think you hate it. I hated mine, but I kept going and finally created a finish that I loved.
Check out the textured rose accent pillow that I made for the bedroom: ROSE TEXTURED PILLOW MADE FROM A DROP CLOTH
I also knitted a chunky blanket for the bedroom, and you can see that frustrating DIY here: ARM KNITTING FAIL AND A CHUNKY KNIT BLANKET