How to Make a DIY Distressed Headboard

How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Header Board from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic header board with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!

Yesterday, I invited you into my real food pantry. Today, we’re going to get a bit more personal. I’d like to invite you into my bedroom.

“The bedroom? I thought you were all about real food and natural living around here?” 

Yes, this post is a bit off-topic for Live Simply. That happens from time to time around here. Remember the time we talked about making money on a blog? And then there was the time I invited you into my studio. “Off-topic” sometimes happens. And as always, I have a perfectly good explanation…

Last month I posted a picture on Instagram. By the way, are you following Live Simply on Instagram?? You really should! The picture was of a custom headboard Dustin had built over the weekend from salvaged wood pallets. The excitement over his weekend project was contagious. Many of you commented, “I need one! Directions??”  Men, I thoroughly apologize for the DIY envy I sparked in all the ladies out there.

How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!

I’ve received multiple requests since posting that simple black and white picture of our DIY headboard. Many of you have asked for directions and a tutorial. So today, we’re taking a little break from Easy Crock-Pot Shepherd’s Pie (which is currently cooking in my crock-pot) and DIY Milk and Honey Body Wash. Get your power tools and salvaged wood ready, let’s make the uber-popular Instagram headboard.

Dustin MarrTo guide you through this project I asked Dustin to share a complete step-by-step tutorial.

Dustin, they’re ready!

Hey, it’s Dustin here!  First, let me apologize to all the men out there. I’m sorry Kristin posted this project on Instagram, creating hundreds of hours of work for the husbands or handy DIY ladies.  Hopefully this post isn’t coming in the middle of your favorite sport’s season.  The hard work will be worth it in the end, I promise. Rewards await! 

DIY Distressed Header Board
 
Ingredients
  • wood pallets
  • ⅜" sheet of plywood (cheaper alternatives: OSD or chipboard)
  • circular saw
  • hammer
  • pry bar
  • brad nailer (where to buy)
  • ¾"- 1" nails, depending on the thickness of the wood pallet boards
  • paint in desired color
  • paintbrush
  • 80 grit sandpaper
  • hand sander (where to buy)
  • wood glue (where to buy)
  • heavy duty wall anchors to secure a pallet board to the wall (I used three wall anchors)
  • 2" wood screws to secure the header board to the pallet board (I used two wood screws)
optional, if you'd like to add lights:
  • 2 wall sconces with on/off switch at the light fixtures
  • 25 watt lightbulbs
  • 1 extension cord (I used a 15' extension cord)
  • staple gun (to secure the extension cord to the board)
Notes
The “where to buy” links provide links to the actual products I use. As always, I recommend shopping around online and at local stores for the best prices and products you love.

Step 1: Measure

First, measure the size you’ll need for your headboard based on the size of your bed. You can make the headboard any width or height you desire. I decided to make our headboard a bit thinner than our actual bed size. We have a king-size bed, so for us the final dimensions were 60 inches wide x 42 inches high.

I don’t have a full workshop in my garage, so I had my local hardware store cut a sheet of plywood out to those dimensions. I used plywood as the backing support for all of the wood pallet boards which later were nailed to the plywood. Cheaper alternatives to plywood are OSD or chipboard. 

How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!

Step 2: Source and Cut the Wood

You can get wood pallets for free from local businesses around your area (check Craigslist). I prefer wood pallets because this type of wood is a rough-cut which allows you to create a very distressed look after the headboard is painted and sanded. Using wood pallets can be labor intensive since you have to disassemble the woods boards yourself.

Cut the pallets next to the ends with a saw so you don’t have to bother pulling out all the nails. This saves a lot of time since you only have to concentrate on pulling out the nails from the middle section of each pallet. It took three pallets to cover the the dimensions for our king-size bed.

How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!

How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!

Step 3: Secure the Wood

Lay out the pallet boards on the plywood to get the pattern you desire. I staggered the ends of the boards to create a rustic look instead of squaring off the ends in a straight line. Before you nail the boards to the plywood you can paint the plywood black where the seems will be. The black paint hides the lighter colored plywood behind the boards if they don’t perfectly line up.

In addition to nailing the pallet boards to the plywood, gluing the boards to the plywood with wood glue is another option for durability. After gluing, I used a brad electric nail gun to secure the pallet boards to the plywood. The length of the nails will depend on the thickness of the pallet boards. I used 3/4-inch nails for our headboard.

How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!
How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!
How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!

Step 4: Paint

Once all the pallet boards are secured to the plywood you’re ready to paint. I chose an antique white color paint with a satin finish. Our headboard only needed one coat of paint to achieve the look we desired. I let the paint dry overnight. The next day, once the paint was fully dry, I used a hand sander, with 80 grit sandpaper, to achieve the distressed look.

How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!

How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!

How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!

How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!

Step 5: Add Lights and Hang the Board

One of the main issues we’ve had in our bedroom is the lack of soft lighting at night. Kristin likes to read before bed but we only have a ceiling fan and closet light, so I decided to add wall sconces to the headboard. I used a simple 15-foot electrical extension cable to tie the connections together and stapled the cable to the backside of the plywood with a staple gun.

Finally, I secured an extra wood pallet board to the wall, using heavy duty wall anchors, and then rested and secured, with two-two-inch wood screws, the headboard on the pallet board.

How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!How to make an easy weekend DIY Distressed Headboard from salvaged wood pallets. Gorgeous, shabby-chic headboard with step-by-step tutorial instructions and pictures!

More DIYs You May Like:

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 DIY Lavender Sachets

DIY Homemade Milk and Honey Body Wash

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DIY Homemade Sidewalk Chalk: A super simple tutorial for making your own sidewalk chalk!

 DIY Sidewalk Chalk

 

DIY Distressed HeadBoard
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • wood pallets
  • ⅜" sheet of plywood (cheaper alternatives: OSD or chipboard)
  • circular saw
  • hammer
  • pry bar
  • brad nailer (where to buy)
  • ¾"- 1" nails, depending on the thickness of the wood pallet boards
  • paint in desired color
  • paintbrush
  • 80 grit sandpaper
  • hand sander (where to buy)
  • wood glue (where to buy)
  • heavy duty wall anchors to secure a pallet board to the wall (I used three wall anchors)
  • 2" wood screws to secure the header board to the pallet board (I used two wood screws)
optional, if you'd like to add lights:
  • 2 wall sconces with on/off switch at the light fixtures
  • 25 watt lightbulbs
  • 1 extension cord (I used a 15' extension cord)
  • staple gun (to secure the extension cord to the board)
Notes
The “where to buy” links provide links to the actual products I use. As always, I recommend shopping around online and at local stores for the best prices and products you love.


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13 Comments

  • Greg says:

    I like this shabby chic or rustic cottage look. Adding the lights has the effect of showcasing the headboard. Combining old/rustic with beautiful new bedding is a great look.

  • Amazing! I showed your post to my husband, I told him to make a BIGGEST headerboard for our king bed. He nodded “Ohh hmmm, let’s see what we can do..” We have a lots of wood pallets in our backyard. I’ve pinned this 🙂 Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Sarah Simas says:

    Love this look! I’ve already priced out the materials, but hit a snag with the lights. Are the lights shown plugged into a wall outlet or are they hardwired?? Searching for a similar model has been a challenge for this techno-klutz. lol Thanks so much for your creativity! I can’t wait to make this. 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    Do you remember where you found the lights? Plug in wall lights can be tough to find!

  • kayli says:

    What is the color name of the paint you used and what type of distressing wax/gloss did you use

  • Abel says:

    How did you hide the cable from lights? Did you drill holes to run the cable through the headboard and out to the back?

    Thanks

  • Mallory says:

    I’m having trouble understand how you hung the board on the wall. You attached a board to the back of the plywood and then one to the wall and screwed the headboard to the board on the wall from the front or top of the headboard? Hope I make sense!

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hi Mallory, The board on the back of the plywood simply rests on the board on the wall. This bears all the weight, since there are no feet on the ground to support it. The 2 smaller screws go through front of the headboard and go into the board on the wall to prevent it falling off. Side note: Anchoring the board on the wall is much easier for one person to manage.

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