Build a King-Sized Pallet Headboard

king.headboard.head


Step-by-step project guide on how to build a king-sized pallet headboard from scratch. This style headboard can be made for any size bed. Read more to see what I did with this pile of wood.

This project goes with the king-sized platform bed frame build I completed in April. Check it out here:

Earlier in the week I talked about my inspiration board (previously on Rachel’s Pinterest…but now I have my own!). By now you should know at least this much about me: I dig beat-up, recycled, rough looking furniture. A quick search for “headboards” on Pinterest and I found just the kind of headboard I was looking for. Now it’s time to build it!

First things first: I didn’t re-use a pallet. While it may have been easier that way (in that I wouldn’t have had to create my own wear and tear on the wood), I’ve read multiple articles regarding the hazards of re-using chemically treated pallets. There’s some debate on the topic, and I’m no expert, but I’d rather not sleep on it (get it?).  See for yourself.


I picked up (5) 1×6’s and used scrap 1×4’s and 1×2’s.


The platform bedframe I built is 80″ wide and so…this will be too! I cut the two “legs” at 50″ in height and used them to line-up the inside 1×6’s. I made random cuts, making sure to stagger the joints in each row. There is no way to mess this up, as long as the planks add up to 80″ in length.


Here’s the rough layout. See how I threw in a couple 1×4’s and 1×2’s?


I drilled each plank with a 13/64 bit to simulate a disassembled pallet look. I also roughed up the wood with my sander, hammer and random hardware.


Here’s a closer look…


Late last night I stained the planks with rustoleum dark walnut. If you saturate the wood with water prior to brushing on the stain, the wood won’t absorb as much stain, thus giving it a lighter tone.


Looks cool!


Close-up.


I flipped everything over and started screwing the slats into the supports and legs. I will be putting supports every 20″, 3 supports total. The smaller pieces that dont make it over a support will be bracketed.

Just when things were starting to roll, the weather started getting crazy. I had to rush out back and bring in the grill as we were getting 60mph wind gusts!


Clouds…


3 minutes later…!


I packed it up once I heard the BANG! from the grill falling over and lighting striking too close for comfort.


I finished assembling the headboard yesterday. Here’s how it looks:


As I stated earlier, I have (3) supports 20″ apart along with brackets wherever they were needed. This makes the headboard EXTREMELY sturdy and fairly heavy.


I attached the top piece of moulding by counter sinking 4 screws into the top legs and slats. I covered them up with wood putty and will go over the putty with stain before I clearcoat.


Here’s how it looks uncoated! Stay tuned for the final update with pictures in the bedroom later this week (I’m going to give the clearcoat a few days to dry out).


After putting on one coat of polyeurethane, I lightly sanded the headboard with 220-grit paper. I put on a generous final coat and called it done!


Because we have a platform bed and it sits very low, I’m opting to attach the headboard to the wall and not the bed frame.


I had a bunch of scrap 2×6’s lying around, so I cut them down to 4″ and made a 45 degree cut with my miter saw. The idea is to have the bottom piece mounted to the wall (with a 3-1/2″ screw in a stud) and the top piece mounted to the back of the headboard.


I have 4 sets of these to secure the headboard to the wall. One for each stud.


Speaking of studs! It’s my sleepy assistant!


Alright so I’ve got them all mounted and LEVELED. Very important.

mount pallet headboard
I have the headboard supports mounted with 2″ wood screws. I pre-drill before screwing to eliminate wood crackin’.


Here’s a closer look.


I lift the headboard up with my he-man strength (this sucker is heavy), and tuck the top supports into the corresponding wall supports.

pallet headboard
This is when I took a deep breath of relief. IT STANDS!


Not going to lie…I had a dumb smile on my face when it was secure and all my measurements lined up.


Lookin’ good with those ikea hemnes nightstands I refinished.

Check this out…


This was back in early April.

pallet headboard
And this is now!

pallet headboard
I had a lot of fun with this one. If you have any questions on process, products used or just want to say meh, it looks OK…leave a comment below!

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77 comments

      1. dude im totally making this, im looking for matching night stands or ideas, and maybe even a dresser, let me know what u think. thanks for the ideas peace.

    1. Thanks DJ! It was a fun build. It’s the cheapest type of pine I could find at home depot or menards. It was already distressed and cracked prior to my hitting it with hard objects!

      1. I love everything about this!! I am not a DIY person at all and neither is my hubby. However I think we may try and tackle this project together. Is it possible to attach the headboard to the platform part rather than the wall? If so can you give us pointers on how to do that? Thank you and great job!!

        1. Hi Apryll! Thanks! I think you’ll find that once you get your feet wet, DIY is easier than it looks. Taking the leap is the hardest part. This is a great 2-person starter project!

          As for your question…Because the bed is so low, I wouldn’t really recommend trying to attach the headboard to the frame. I’m not sure there’d be enough support that low to hold the weight. In my opinion, you should definitely mount this into a stud since it’ll be hanging out over your heads while you sleep!

  1. Love this! In the process of dismantling pallets (well, ok, my husband is)…was thinking I’d put the boards vertical but love the way yours looks…may reconsider…this is for our vacation home so hopefully the chemicals from the pallets won’t kill us…not right away, at least! 🙂

    1. thanks! so glad you like it! but seriously, be careful with those pallets. I heard the heat treated ones are alright, but unless they’re marked it’s hard to tell. at least wear gloves and face masks/respirators while you work with them and…SLEEP! haha! let me know if you have any questions, I’ll be right here!

  2. Looks great! When staining, did you randomly Pre-soak the boards with water or was it more systematic to get the light/dark pattern you had? Thanks for the inspiration! Can’t wait to build this.

    1. Hey Matt- It was fairly random. I tried to get 3-4 tones and place the darkest pieces next to the lightest in a few spots for maximum contrast. The more water-logged you get a piece the less stain it will take, so I kind of experimented with that. Awesome to have inspired you, let me know how it goes!

  3. I absolutely love this! I’m really new to staining though (as in I have never stained before). I was wondering if you could share a little more on your technique?

    When you say you soaked the boards before you stained them, did you physically dunk them in water like just letting them soak in the bath tub or something or did you just use a spray bottle of water and hose them down letting the water absorb into the wood? Do you remember what intervals you soaked them? ie the dark ones for 5 min, the light ones for 30 min, etc, etc…

    After you soaked them did you wait for them to dry before staining or did you just wipe the water off of them and stain them right away while they were still a little moist?

    And then when you stained, did you leave the stain on for the same amount of time for all of them or did you stagger that as well? If you staggered, do you remember the time amount you staggered them?

    Sorry to ask so many questions, just really impressed with your project and really scared about staining.

    Thanks in advance for any help and advice you can give!

    1. Mark- Don’t be scared! I’ll try to break it down the best I can. I filled up an old Tupperware container about half way with water and physically brushed the water onto the wood. Since wood is porous, it will absorb the water first, then the stain second. By putting more water on (i.e. completely saturating the wood), the less stain will be able to be absorbed.

      SO! The lightest pieces were completely saturated with water (by brushing it on), then immediately stained (with a separate brush). This is messy, so make sure you work on an old tarp or something. The darkest pieces only took stain, no water. To achieve the middle tones I experimented a bit by brushing only some water on the pieces, being careful not to overly saturate the wood.

      To sum it up: Darkest: Stain with a brush, immediately wipe off excess stain with rag. Medium: Brush some water, then brush stain and wipe accordingly. Lightest: Saturate with water, brush on stain and wipe.

      Hope this helps you out a bit, glad you like it!

      1. Hey Rick,

        Awesome piece! I’m busy doing it now! When you saturate the wood, do you do it for all 3 coats? Also is it necessary to put the sealer on? If so do I just apply one coat at the end of the staining? Thanks Mate

        1. Hey Keegan- Thanks!! I saturate the wood with water (1) time and then stain while the wood is wet. Only stain once! The (3) coats is for the clearcoat or poly. I would absolutely recommend sealing it to limit the amount of dust that would collect on un-coated wood over time.

          1. Thanks Rick, one more thing so you apply the sealer before you assemble the pieces or after you’ve assembled it all together? Also do you seal the slats and the areas that are not visible?

  4. Thanks Rick for your advice! I’m going to give it a try this hopefully next weekend. Curious, did you sand the boards first, or did you just use them as is from the hardware store? Also I assume the sealer you used was just a regular polyurethane satin clear coat?

  5. Did you make the side tables as well? My husband and I are going on 11 years of marriage and have never had a bedroom set. So, we’re just going to build it.
    I LOVED what you did and hope we can replicate …. or at least come close! 🙂

    1. Theresa – 11 years! My gosh I’d say it’s time for a bedroom set! The side tables are from Ikea, but I refinished them. Check that out here. Good luck! I think you’ll find your bedroom oasis much more satisfying after doing it yourself!

  6. LOVE!! I’d like to make me one. Just curious, do you remember about how much you spent, total?
    Single mom gotta budget. 🙂

    1. Hey there! You can absolutely do this project on the cheap! I’d say $75 total. Though I’m sure you can do it for less though if you’ve got some extra supplies and materials or if you get creative. Here’s a couple ideas…

      – Purchase lower quality pine or whitewood. If some of the pieces are cracked at the store, perhaps they’ll give you a discount? You’ll never know if you never ask! We are going for a rough look, you know! This is what I did with my headboard.

      – Scrap wood lying around? Use it!

      – Use leftover stain from a previous project -or- make some homemade stain (mix white vinegar/steel wool. You can even add tbsp of coffee grounds to get a richer color)

      That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. If I think of anything else I’ll let you know!

  7. This looks amazing!! We’ve recently relocated and I am working hard to make our house a home this time around by adding more personal touches. Did you make the bed frame as well? Is there a tutorial for it??

    1. Thanks Amanda! Sounds like you’re in the same boat as I am, we just relocated again too! Yep, I built the bed frame a few years ago…check this out. Good luck with your new place!

  8. I like this very much…gonna try it out, always wanted to do this but my hubby thinks i cant makes me wanna do it even more.thanks for sharing this and your bedroom looks col…….love it…..well done.

  9. Looks great Rick good job! Think I will give it a go!

    BUT, I rent so cant go drilling supports into the wall for the headboard. Do you have any ideas on how you could fix this to the bed? Would bolting the two side supports to the back of the base work do you think?
    Or would you suggest building the supports into the base when making that?

    1. Hey Alex-

      I’ve been thinking about this for a day, it’s quite the predicament! I’m a little leery to suggest having such a HEAVY headboard resting behind your head without properly securing it into wall studs. If this weren’t a low platform bed, I think you probably could get away with bolting supports to the base. But because the bed is so low, I would be very afraid of this thing falling on you. It would probably crush and hurt you and you’d have a hard time making friends afterwards!

      Can you ask your landlord if you can secure your headboard into the studs as long as you repair the wall before you move? I think that’s the best and safest option! Let me know how it goes!

      1. OK thanks for your feedback. I may just raise the hight of the bed to overcome this issue. I will have a long think about it first, I certainly don’t want the thing falling on me!

  10. This is awesome! Do you know what all materials you used like screws, nails, etc… Also, We have a foam mattress. Will the slats be okay with a foam mattress? If not, what do you suggest? Thanks man!

  11. Made this last weekend for the wife for xmas! She love it!!! if i could attach a pic i would, i used 1×2’s the back is not pretty but the front turned out sweet!!! thanks for sharing the plans and idea!!!

    1. Dillon- Great to hear! The back of my headboard looks terrible too…no worries! No one will ever see it! Enjoy all that hard work and sleep well man you earned it!

  12. Absolutely love this platform bed and head board. Will be our project this spring. Been looking for something rustic like this. Beautiful, thx so much for sharing.

    1. No Mike, it doesn’t push the headboard into the wall. I guess it could if you slam it into place, but it just rests nicely flush with the headboard legs.

  13. This build is awesome. I was drinking and promised to try to make a kitchen table for a friend. It was first wood working project ever. It came out so nice the moment I delivered I came home to my wife asking me to make this bed. Materials purchased today, tomorrow I start it. Then the nightstands to match, and a full length mirror. I am hooked on making all my own stuff now if I can. You inspired me to buy a wood working book, and some neat tools too. Thanks for putting this up, and thanks for the 3 year update, that really is what sold me on making my own, knowing it will last!

    1. Chris- BE CAREFUL WHAT DRUNK CHRIS PROMISES! Hahah. Thanks for sharing this! I hope your build is going well, let me know if you run into any issues. It’s comments like this that keep me going so I appreciate you taking the time to do so. Feel free to send me a photo/link of your finished bed to the HNYDT facebook page, I love posting finished projects and giving a shout outs to their makers. Build on brother!

  14. hey rick i am thinking about building this exact frame, how high off the ground did you bed sit? also could the headboard be attached to the frame?

  15. I LOVE this! I was between a gray driftwood and a dark brown stain and this has got winner written all over it! I’ve never stained before so I’m a little nervous how it will turn out but looking forward to it!

    I also bought an unfinished pine dresser from ikea (link below if you want to see it) that I’d like to stain to match the headboard when it’s complete. Any suggestions on staining a dresser to get the same effect? Not sure how to get the same effect on dresser drawers as you did using smaller wood pallets.

    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50221419/

    Thanks!!!

    1. Hey Lindsay! Thanks!! You got this, it’s super easy! For the dresser I would set each drawer face on some scrap wood and make each one a different value. The more water you saturate the drawer face with, the LESS stain it will take. So, you can experiment with that a bit and get some fun results. It’s very messy though, so gloves and a drop cloth are a must. Keep me posted on how things go or if you get hung-up along the way. Good luck!

      1. Thank you! I just finished my headboard and also framed a floor mirror to match. I have never loved my room so much!! Thanks for all your help and the DIY tips. Reading your other posts to find my next project 🙂

        1. Awesome! There’s a different level of appreciation and enjoyment in a space when you DIY. The PROBLEM is once you get started doing things yourself…you can’t stop! I’m such a DIY drug dealer/enabler! Enjoy your room and great work!

  16. Nice read and pics. Just finished mine up and am quite pleased with it. Five dollars for some 1 1/4″ screws, ten dollars for the stain, and the wood was free from pallets. Thanks for the info!

  17. Hey Rick,
    What size planks did you use for the top and 2 side pieces? Not sure if I saw that anywhere, so I apologize if this has been provided already.

  18. What’s up buddy! Just finished making my king sized bed..about to tackle the headboard! Really appreciate the knowledge and inspiration..keep it up.

  19. I really like this. Tell me how did you get the edges of the boards different heights? I really like that aspect

    1. Hey Rick, I’m not quite sure what you mean by different board heights. Do you mean how certain boards aren’t flush with the rest of the boards?

      You can achieve this by buying boards that aren’t straight. Normally you would go into the aisle and check to make sure your pine is as straight as possible…but for this project I did just the opposite! I looked for really screwed up boards to get some character. Keep in mind getting wood that isn’t straight and flat is much harder to work with! Hope that answers your question!

  20. That’s what I meant, board thickness had looked varied. I’m going to do this headboard but I think I’m going to use 15/21 plywood as a backing do I don’t have to use brackets… I think I can achieve the same look with small shins (to bow the edge out a bit to look like different thickness) Both your bed and headboard are an impressive piece of work!

    1. Gotcha! Yeah plywood is a great idea. The brackets were a real pain to get started. Your plan to use shims to push the wood out in certain spots is brilliant! Good luck with the project and thanks for the kind words!

  21. Awesome Possum. I have my “time off” project now. What size screws do you use for the brackets with the short boards that don’t make the cut for the supports? Goofy, but I don’t want screws stabbing me in the head while I sleep. I’m weird that way…all my current screws are too long or too small. Thanks!

    1. Don’t be scared of a couple screws Heather! Haha. The bracket screws I used were VERY short. I believe 3/8″. It was so long ago that I don’t remember exactly, but you can take your material thickness, bracket thickness and then hit up the hardware aisle at HD or Lowes to find the right length. Good luck with your time off project!

  22. I wish I could post a picture but I’m half way through my headboard. Your instructions have helped me loads!
    I can’t wait to get it finished! It’s going to look amazing.

  23. Me and my husband want to build this for our room… we were going to use pallets but now we are afraid to with all the talk about chemicals in them and what not. How long did it take to do this and is there a way you could send me step by step instructions to my email so I can print them out. Also. is this a Queen size bed? It is STUNNING!!!

    1. Hey Cassie! It took me about a weekend to build the headboard if I remember correctly. I have a .PDF link at the top and bottom of the post where you can download a .PDF and print it out. This is for a king size mattress. Thanks and good luck with you build!!

  24. We just completed the frame, starting on headboard next weekend… Is the top trim on headboard a 1×3? I downloaded PDF but it’s not the same as the bed, so the dimensions for headboard are kind of nebulous so far bed looks great. The Tuft and Needle mattress arrives today…

  25. Hey Rick, headboard looks awesome. Thanks for the plans on the platform bed, it turned out great. Quick question. What screw length did you use to put it together?

  26. Rick, this headboard is fantastic. Is there anyway I could get a link to a material list and step by step instruction (like the updated platform bed instruction and material list) to go along with the platform bed? I would love to make this for my wife’s birthday, and I think I get the general idea, I just want to make sure I’m not missing anything. Thanks for uploading all of this! It’s all great!

  27. Hi Rick I was wondering what size of wood are the 2 50in legs u cut and what size wood is the trim on the top of the headboad and how long is the cut thanks.

What do you think?