How to Make a Button-Tufted Queen Headboard


One of the quickest ways to brighten your bedroom is to create a new, custom headboard for your bed. With shape, size, colors and fabric completely at your discretion, you can create a new look you will love. And the project is so economical, you could change headboards for every season if you like.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/4- to 1/2-inch plywood
  • 2-inch foam
  • Batting
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Upholstery thread
  • Upholstery needle
  • Shank buttons
  • 2 Flush mounts
  • Kraft paper for creating headboard template
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill with 1/2-inch bit
  • Electric or upholstery stapler or heavy duty staple gun
  • 1/4-inch staples
  • Utility knife
  • Stud finder
  • Spray Mount or other adhesive
  • Iron
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Marker
  • 2-inch finishing nails
  • Tape

Creating the Headboard

  • Measure the width of your mattress, then add 1 inch to determine the width of your plywood base. (For a regular queen bed, this would be 60 inches plus 1.)

  • Decide on the shape and height of your headboard. A basic rectangle is the simplest, but the fun of a custom job is being creative, and a simple curve can make an elegant difference. Look at photos, browse online and come up with a shape you'll enjoy living with.

  • Keeping in mind the width of your queen headboard, sketch your design full size on the kraft paper. Cut out the design so you will have a template to cut the base for your custom headboard. (You can skip this step if you want a rectangular headboard.)

  • Measure your template so you can determine how much plywood, fabric, padding and batting you need to buy.

  • Purchase a sheet of plywood that will accommodate your design. The plywood should be at least 1/4-inch thick. Using 1/2-inch plywood will make the headboard heavier, but more stable. Most home improvement stores have a lumber department where this is available. If your headboard design is a simple rectangle, have the store cut the wood to size. If you've decided on a curved or more elaborate design, make sure the wood is large enough to encompass your design.

  • Purchase your foam padding. Craft stores, upholstery stores or fabric stores that carry upholstery material will have what you need. If your headboard design is a rectangle, have the store cut the foam to the exact size of your plywood base. If you've chosen a different design, be sure the foam is large enough to accommodate your design.

  • Purchase batting and fabric. Refer to your initial measurements and add at least 1 foot to the width and length of your batting and fabric. (Don't be distracted by lighter materials. You need a heavy-duty upholstery fabric to cover your custom headboard.)

  • If you've selected a custom shape for your queen headboard, trace your template onto the plywood. Use a circular saw for straight cuts and your jigsaw for any curves. If you do not have access to a circular saw, you can use a jig for the straight cuts, but it will take longer.

  • Sand the edges of the plywood so they are smooth and will not catch on the batting.

  • Decide where you want to place the buttons for the final tufted design and mark the plywood. Then drill holes, using the 1/2-inch drill bit, through the wood in each spot you want a button to go.

  • Lay the plywood base onto the foam pad and mark the pad for size. Trim the foam to the exact shape of the headboard.

  • Use the Spray Mount or other adhesive to attach the foam pad to the queen headboard. This is to help prevent shifting while you are manipulating the fabric.

  • Iron your fabric to remove any wrinkles.

  • Lay fabric, right side down, on a large work surface or a clean floor.

  • Lay batting on top of fabric.

  • Place plywood base with foam attached on top of batting. Center the headboard so you have excess material on all sides.

  • Fold the batting and fabric over the top of the headboard and put one staple through the fabric and batting into the wood, approximately 2 inches from the edge and in the center of the top.

  • Pull the fabric taut and fold up from the bottom, putting a single staple approximately 2 inches from the edge and in the center of the bottom.

  • Follow the same process for left and right, then check the front of the headboard to be sure the fabric lies the way you want it to with regard to the pattern you've selected.

  • If you are satisfied with the positioning, turn the headboard back over and continue stapling, pulling the fabric taut and placing staples approximately every 2 inches around the headboard.

  • Trim excess fabric and batting.

Tufting the Headboard

  • Thread your upholstery needle with upholstery thread.

  • Push the needle through one of the pre-drilled holes in the back of the headboard, all the way to the front. Leave a long tail of thread on the back side.

  • Thread one of the shank buttons on the thread and push the needle back through the fabric to the back. Repeat at least 4 times, and finish with a second long piece of thread hanging loose in back.

  • Place a 2-inch finishing nail over the hole in the plywood base and tie the threads over this, tightening until you have the tufted look you want on the front side of the headboard.

  • Place a piece of strong tape over the finishing nail to help prevent it shifting or marring the wall.

  • Repeat the last 4 steps for every button, rethreading needle as necessary.

Mount Your Custom Button-Tufted Queen Headboard

  • Locate the studs in your bedroom wall. You can do this by using an electronic or magnetic stud-finder, by looking for nails in baseboard or trim that will often fall on a stud, or by rapping your knuckles on the wall and listening for a higher-pitched sound. If you drill a hole and miss the stud, insert a thin piece of wire (such as a metal hangar) and spin it around until you hit the stud. Once you locate one stud, you'll find the others spaced either 16 or 24 inches on either side. If the studs are inconvenient to the position of your bed, you can also use heavy-duty Sheetrock anchors.

  • Install the lower section of the two flush mounts.

  • Mark the headboard and attach the upper portion of the flush mounts to the back of the headboard.

  • Mount the headboard on the wall, move your bed in place and admire your new, custom, tufted queen headboard.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can select buttons in matching or contrasting colors, or purchase buttons that can be covered with some of your excess fabric.
  • Use the proper personal protective equipment, including safety glasses, when using drills or saws.

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  • Photo Credit luxurious bed image by Pavel Losevsky from
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