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Welcome!

 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

Affordable DIY headboard tutorial in simple steps

Create your own stylish DIY fabric headboard

Finished DIY headboard for kids bedroom

I made this affordable DIY headboard for a child's bedroom as part of a room makeover. It was such a fun project, and I'm nearly ready to share the final results, which include a DIY storage bed, colourful paint effects on the walls, painted lampshades and Lego storage. I thought I'd share the cheap DIY headboard element separately first because it's such an easy way to make a bed more comfortable and functional - no more pillows slipping down that annoying gap between the mattress and the wall! You can apply the same process to create a cheap DIY fabric headboard for any size bed in a master bedroom, guest room or even for a day bed.  


As with most of the DIY projects on my site, you can easily adapt it to suit your interior style. You can easily change the shape by cutting the MDF base, make it more or less spongy by altering the amount of upholstery foam and wadding, and change the overall look to make a unique headboard by choosing the type of fabric that suits your interior scheme.  


Materials Needed for a DIY upholstered headboard

materials for DIY headboard

You can pick up all the materials you need for this DIY headboard project from your local hardware store. I always buy my MDF or plywood from my local B&Q as they have a good selection of different-sized sheets of varying thicknesses. 

Full tutorial: cheap DIY headboard step-by-step instructions 


1. Measure and Plan


Cheap diy headboard project in colourful kids bedroom
  • The first thing you need to do is draw a plan of the shape and style of the headboard you want to DIY. If this is your first DIY project, it might be easier to stick to a rectangular shape. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you could opt for a circular one. 

  • Measure the width of your bed frame and decide if you want the headboard to fit exactly or to protrude at either side. If you are creating a statement headboard then you might opt for oversized elements to create a focal point. 

  • Measure the height of the bed frame and mattress from the floor so you can determine how tall you want the DIY headboard to be as well as at what height you want the padding to start. (There's little point padding the section of the headboard that will be pressed against the bed frame and mattress as this is a waste of materials and money and will make the headboard stick out more than it needs to at the back of the headboard.  

  • Once you have the measurements, head to your local hardware or lumber store to get a sheet of plywood or mdf. 

  • My local B&Q offers a free cutting service which I often take advantage of. This is especially useful if you don't have tools or are more of a crafter than a DIYer. 

2. Upholster the DIY headboard

foam and batting for diy headboard


These next steps show what a simple project this is - anyone can do it! 


  • Lay the plywood board flat on the ground on top of the upholstery foam.


  • Draw around the wooden headboard base to template the foam.

marking a cutting template for a cheap DIY headboard project


  • Cut the upholstery foam to match the size of the plywood board and stick it to the plywood using spray adhesive. I use spray mount which is great but you have to be careful not to breathe in the fumes, so I recommend doing this step outside if you can or wearing a mask. 


cutting upholstery foam for a cheap DIY headboard project

  • Next, lay a layer of batting over the foam and plywood and cut it to be approx 20cm wider all round. I had lots of batting available, so decided to double up by folding it in half and then laying it over the foam and board.

batting or wadding for DIY headboard
  • Fold the edge of the wadding under to create a thicker wedge for the staples to attach to at the back of the headboard. Staple it to the back of the board using a staple gun. This will give your DIY headboard a padded and soft feel at the front and be neatly attached at the back. If the back of your headboard will be on view (if, for example, your bed is in the middle of a room and the headboard is something of a room divider, then you might choose to continue the batting down the back.

wadding attached to DIY headboard


3. Attach the fabric


Staple gun for DIY headboard

Choose a fabric that complements the colour palette and style of your bedroom. I tend to use my local fabric store because they sell fabric on the roll at really good prices. The fabric I used here was about £7.99 for a metre. 

  • Lay the fabric over the padded plywood board, making sure it's centered and smooth.


Adding fabric to DIY headboard

  • Starting from the top of the headboard, pull the fabric taut and staple it to the back of the plywood board. Don't be tempted to do this step with the headboard standing up, the best approach is to lay the headboard on its front and work on the back and then flip it over once you've secured the top. 

  • With the headboard now lying on its back, pull the fabric tightly down and secure the corners by folding them over neatly and tightly.

DIY headboard project
  • I put a row of staples along the front of the headboard under the line of the foam and batting as I thought it looked neat and would also keep everything securely in place. 

  • If the back of the headboard will be on display instead of being placed against a wall, then you'll want to make the back as neat as possible and might even choose to apply a layer of fabric over the back to cover your folds and staples. 

  • You might choose to apply a couple of coats of paint to any of the wooden base that is visible. White paint might look good if your bed frame is white, or you could be a bit more adventurous. 


4. Mount the finished headboard

Once the paint is dry (if applicable), the final step is to mount the headboard either to the wall behind your bed frame using wood screws and metal brackets, or to the bed frame itself if not directly in front of a wall. Make sure it's securely attached. 

DIY headboard project

Tips for a successful cheap DIY headboard project


  • Look out for wood to upcycle if you are doing the project on a tight budget. You could repurpose say an old tabletop picked up for next to nothing on online marketplaces.

  • Consider giving a second life to an existing headboard by recovering with new foam, batting and fabric. 

  • Go for the personal touch by using a bit of creativity - you could use fabric paint to create a paint effect or add buttons for a decorative element. 

  • Research cheap DIY headboard ideas on Pinterest if you need some inspo on the headboard design - you'd be surprised at what you can create with a bit of thought. 

  • If you have any fabric leftover, use it to make some scatter cushions to style the bed with. 

  • Adapt your design ideas to suit your skill levels. Add more complicated features like fluting or create a tufted headboard if you are keen to showcase your talent. 


How much does a DIY headboard cost?

The total cost of this DIY project will vary depending on the materials you choose and where you source them, but use the following as a guide... Wood - £0 if upcycling or repurposing or approx £10-20 for new. Foam - approx £10 Batting - approx £5-9. I often buy this from eBay sellers. Fabric - £5-10 or free if upcycled Spray mount - £3-6 Screws and mounting brackets - £3-5

It's a great way to create a stunning or simple headboard on a small budget.

Whether you're looking to update your own headboard or create a unique piece for a guest bedroom, this easy DIY fabric headboard tutorial is the perfect way to add style and personality to your bedroom decor.


With just a few simple materials, some basic tools and some creativity, you can create a beautiful headboard that will make a big impact. 


If you enjoyed this project then you might also like my tutorial on how to make a DIY upholstered footstool or how to make DIY wardrobe doors from scratch. 


Where next?

Here are some other DIY furniture-related posts you might enjoy…



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