DIY (Nearly Free) Upholstered Headboard Using an Old Hollow-Core Door

By | June 10, 2015

For the basement guestroom, I was really hoping for a nice upholstered headboard to add some texture, color, and “fancy” to the room. But, I wasn’t willing to spend big bucks on one. We are using two twin beds down there, pushed together to make one big king bed (or pulled apart for any non-couple guests we might ever host, like my mom and sister) so I knew I needed a pretty large headboard, too.

I started scanning some of my favorite websites for deals, but didn’t find anything I liked within the $100 range, which was my upper spending limit. To be honest, I didn’t want to spend more than $50, but for something upholstered, that wasn’t an option.

Then, Wyatt replaced the hollow core doors with wood panel doors, and something clicked in my brain. Those doors were about the right size…maybe we could just DIY a headboard….for free, or nearly free, anyway.

Building Headboard Frame on Old Door

A quick Pinterest search told me that DIY headboards weren’t really a new idea, but I hadn’t seen anyone using an old door, which was going to be our main money saving option right there since we didn’t have to buy any plywood.

Wyatt was quick to get on board, probably because he knew it wasn’t going to be a hard project and I could do most of it myself. That means I was ready to pick out fabric. I scanned our local paper for a Joann‘s fabric coupon and found a couple good options. I also scanned some sale-priced home decor fabric online (I wanted the extra large bolt size to avoid a seam since our door was 36 inches wide) and I found a few options I liked and saved them to my phone so I could reference them in the store.

Wyatt and I made the trip to the fabric store and finally tracked down my top choice, only to see it wasn’t listed for the online sale price. I figured I’d ask anyway, and they ended up matching the price for me. Score! That means instead of paying $15 a yard, we got it for $7.50 a yard…and got to use a 20% coupon on top of that. Double deal!

joann fabric online snip

We bought 2.5 yards, enough to wrap our door with some leftover for securing to the back, all for a total of $15.

We also bought 2.5 yards of 8-ounce batting to make our headboard plenty soft to lean on. It was also 50% off (we picked a good weekend to shop!) so it was only $7 after our 20% off coupon was applied at check out.

That means our total headboard costs were only $25 (the door was free but we had to buy a package of staples for our staple gun-$3). I’d say that was totally in the budget.

When it came to making the headboard, Wyatt got me started by building a frame on the door. We wanted the headboard to have some dimension to it so he added 2x4s to the back. He made the frame from scrap we had on hand, so it was also free.

Building Headboard Frame On Old Door 2

Basically, he just lined them around the outside edge and screwed them in place.

Building Headboard Frame On Old Door Sanding 6

He did predrill the holes though to avoid any splitting and to make sure he screwed them into the sold frame part of the door, not the hollow part.

Building Headboard Frame On Old Door 3

He marked all that out ahead of time.

Building Headboard Frame On Old Door 4

It didn’t matter if it looked pretty because it wasn’t going to ever show.

Building Headboard Frame On Old Door Scrap Wood

Pretty soon, we had our frame all made. Seriously, it took him like 30 minutes.

Building Headboard Frame On Old Door Done

Then, he gave everything a good sanding with the belt sander so there wouldn’t be any sharp edges or snagging potential.

Building Headboard Frame On Old Door Sanding

While he was doing that, I ironed the fabric to get rid of any creases or wrinkles and then spread it out flatly on our basement floor. I placed the batting directly on top of it. And Wyatt set the door on top, centered nicely.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Prep

After that, I was ready to start the upholstering process. It was pretty simple to pull the batting up around the frame tightly and staple it down with the staple gun.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Attaching Batting 3

I used a lot of staples to keep any wrinkles or bulges down.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Attaching Batting 2

The corners were the trickiest part, but we ended up using the following method to fold the fabric in to give us a nice square corner:

1. I stapled one side of the corner all the way to the end.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Batting Corner 1


2. Fold in the excess corner material, sort of like when folding in the corners to wrap a present, but only go about halfway so you end up with a straight corner instead of a pointy one.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Batting Corner  2


If you’re having trouble holding all this, feel free to shoot a couple staples on the inside of the fold to secure it.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Attaching Batting

3. Tightly pull up on the bottom piece of batting and guide the flap up to make a straight corner, using your fingers to tuck the excess inside smoothly as you go.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Batting Corner 3

4. Staple the heck out of the top folds to hold it tightly.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Batting Corner 4


It really was pretty simple, I promise. Just play around with it to get it to look how you’d like.

I got part of this done on my own, but Wyatt ended up helping me wrangle the heavy door and stretch the fabric really tightly since I was wrangling a stretched-tight baby belly while sitting on the floor—never an easy task on its own. 🙂

Then, we repeated the entire thing with the fabric. We did the corners the same way, tucking and folding. Just be sure to wait to staple it until you’re happy with how everything looks, neatly tucked into a square corner.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Corner 1 DIY Upholstered Headboard Corner 2

DIY Upholstered Headboard Corner 3 DIY Upholstered Headboard Corner 4

However, we added the extra step of making a “hem” with the fabric to keep it from fraying since I didn’t do anything to seal the edges. This was as simple as folding it under with our fingers.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Stapled Hem 1

And then stapling it down, being sure to get the staple into the outer part of the fabric and secure our makeshift hem.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Stapled Hem 3

It was helpful to have an extra set of hands for this step for someone to (carefully) hold the fabric tight while the other one shot the staples into the headboard, being sure to avoid stapling any fingers along the way.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Stapled Hem 2

I trimmed off the excess fabric as we went to keep it from getting bunched up.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Trimming Fabric


The entire process only took us about an hour. Super simple. Seriously, I can’t remember another project going this smoothly or cheaply…ever. One of my favorite DIYs we’ve done, for sure.

I was also pleased with the lack of material we had leftover. Basically nothing. I like not wasting money…

DIY Upholstered Headboard Wasted Fabric

And, because Wyatt is writing a post specifically about how we hung this securely on the wall, I’ll wait to do the full reveal. But, here’s a sneak peak of how I was enjoying it after we finished all the staples and propped it up on the basement post to admire our handiwork.

DIY Upholstered Headboard Done

I’m still in awe it worked so well to use the door. You can’t feel the hole where the handle used to be at all, in case anyone was wondering that. Plus, it is at the bottom, below the top of the mattress so it wouldn’t show anyway, even if it was noticeable.

Stay tuned for the reveal!

So, have any old doors you can reuse into something new? What are your best ideas for reusing them? So far we’ve made a headboard, garden planter boxes, and used a few as work tables in the garage. Waste not, want not, right?

6 thoughts on “DIY (Nearly Free) Upholstered Headboard Using an Old Hollow-Core Door

  1. mrsecarver

    Hmm, a neat idea for maybe a new headboard upgrade for us in our new house?? I might try it – thanks!

  2. lindsayropella

    This is SUCH a good idea! My husband and I have had the DIY headboard project on our to do list for a while now, but never seem to want to go buy that much wood. We totally have some extra hollow doors hanging out in our basement, we are definitely going to have to try this! This turned out awesome, thanks so much for the idea!

    1. Melissa Post author

      Happy to help! You could even do it without the 2 by 4 frame. Totally free that way!


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