Creating a DIY Rustic Wood Headboard for Less than $50


I love tackling a new project around the house and after I laid hardwood floors in our bedroom and living room, we had a good bit of wood leftover.  I was trying to figure out what I could do with some of the extra and we decided we would make a vintage-looking solid wood headboard for our master bedroom.

The finished product:

rustic hardwood headboard



  • Utility Grade Solid Oak (Lumber Liquidators is the cheapest I found at 97 cents a SQ Foot)
  • Wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • (1) 8 Foot 2×4
  • (4-5) 4″ Lag screws
  • White Paint

How I did it

I regret to say that I didn’t take pictures during the building of this, but I think the project is easy enough to understand that we can get by with me including a few other images instead.

Step 1: Order your supplies

If got my wood from Lumber Liquidators as their utility grade wood is really cheap.  As I mentioned before we installed it in our bedroom and living room. I will say it is a lot more work than laying a “normal” hardwood floor because you have to sort through all the junk pieces to find useable ones, but you can’t beat the character of this wood.


Ordering Your Wood

Start by figuring out how wide your bed is and then how high you want your headboard.  Ours is a king, so it is right about 6′ and we went with a little less than 3′ tall.  3′ X 6′ = 18 Sq Feet of wood needed.

But, even if you are ordering just for a headboard, I would recommend ordering extra as this is scrap wood and some of it may be unusable even for a rustic headboard.

All the other ingredients should be able to be found at the local hardware store.

Step 2: Putting the floor boards together

Start by measuring the length of your bed and then put the wood pieces while cutting each row to the appropriate length. As for height, I would just keep adding them until you get a height you are happy with – we went with 36″.

When putting them together use a little wood glue on the tongues of each piece.  Then let it dry for 24 hours (or until your glue is completely dry).

Step 3: Add bracing to the back

I wouldn’t trust any glue to hold these pieces together while hanging, so I’d suggest adding bracing to the back of your headboard.  I just added 3 vertical braces (using the same wood flooring) by screwing them in to each board to make sure the whole thing is secure.



Step 4: Install the French Cleat to hang it

The headboard is very heavy and you are going to need a little more than a screw in the wall to hang it on.  I created a french cleat by cutting a 2×4 at a 45 degree angle with my table saw.

French cleat to hang headboard


Once I had it cut I just screwed the heck out of one side of it into the 3 braces on the back of my headboard.  I then found 4 studs in the bedroom wall and mounted the other part of the 2×4 using 4″ lag screws and a level (of course).

I also added a couple 2×4 blocks to the bottom of the back of the headboard to make sure it laid straight on the wall.


Step 5: Paint (or stain) the headboard

We were looking for a whitewashed kind of look, so I just grabbed an old can of white semi-gloss that we had laying around and I watered it down a whole lot.  I don’t know exactly, but I would guess it was probably at 10:1 water to paint ratio. Obviously if you want to less of the wood just add more paint.

I found when I was whitewashing it the paint/water mix was bubbling up as I painted it.  I just went back about 5 minutes after I finished my coat and just brushed over it again, that seemed to help with the bubbles.

I ended up doing 2 coats.  Then I let it dry for a while and hung it up on the french cleat.

A couple more pics: