How to Make a Rustic Headboard

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Rustic elements in your home create comforting and inviting spaces. Making a rustic headboard brings charm, appeal and affordability to bedroom decor. It is easier than you may think to take on this project.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden headboard Sandpaper Oil-based paint Nail head trim, rope or other design elements (optional) Clear lacquer
  • Choose a headboard style. Creating a rustic headboard is not expensive, but you do have to use a little creativity. Find a headboard that fits your bed, and make sure that it has a basic shape you like. Great sources for a headboard like this are second-hand stores, garage sales and estate sales. You will be surprised at the bargains that you can find.

  • Clean and sand the headboard. Start with a nice, clean slate for your work. Use a wet, soapy rag to clean the headboard well, including crevices, where dust frequently collects. Once the surface is clean, lightly sand it with sandpaper so that the paint will stick well.

  • Paint the headboard. Choose a paint color that complements your room. Don't be afraid to go with strong colors like red or black. Antique white is also a favorite. Use an oil-based paint on all surfaces of the headboard, and use two coats, if necessary, to obtain the perfect base coast for your preferences. Let the paint dry for a full 24 to 48 hours before beginning the next step.

  • Use rough-grain sandpaper to sand corners and edges. Sand any square corners or edges until the original wood shows through the paint. Use your imagination for this step. Imagine the bed you are working with was decades old. Ask yourself what surfaces would be rubbed against, bumped frequently or otherwise worn on all sides of the headboard. Sand these areas until the wood shows through. Don't be afraid of over-sanding. There is no right or wrong on this step.

  • Lacquer the finish. Once the bed is sufficiently rustic, seal the surface with clear lacquer. You can choose a flat finish for a truly rustic look, or you can add shine by using a semi-gloss or glossy finish lacquer. Allow it to dry completely before moving the headboard or touching the finish.

  • Embellish your work. Add nail head trim or use strong glue to adhere designs in rope, twigs or other materials o your headboard.

Tips & Warnings

  • For added interest, use two different colors of paint instead of just one (e.g. green and red). When sanding, sand some areas to only show the bottom layer of paint, and others to reveal the wood beneath. This will make your headboard appear even more worn, and will appear more visually interesting. If you would like your headboard to continue to age, don't use lacquer. Areas the paint naturally rubs off will add interest, too. Instead of regular paint, you can also opt to use crackle paint for a different look. You can find this, and other specialty paints, at your hardware store or home supply store, such as Lowe's or Home Depot.
  • When working with old, painted furniture, remember to use a face mask and gloves. Lead-based paints, which were frequently used prior to 1978, can be harmful to your health.

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