DIY Headboard from Vintage Doors - President David Ray Explains

By: David Ray | Campus President, The Illinois Institute of Art—Schaumburg

December 13, 2017

In this walk-through, I will show you how a nice headboard for a queen-sized bed can be created for less than $100 by re-purposing vintage doors. While a store-bought vintage headboard can easily cost between $300 and $500, making your own headboard lends a sense of pride in the process of finding the perfect materials, and putting it together yourself or with a friend or partner!

The doors I used are from the early 1900s and I purchased them for $30 each at an antique warehouse. The additional hardware and lumber added another $25 to $30 to the overall cost.  

The headboard was made for a queen-sized bed, which is approximately 60” wide. The vintage doors were selected for the warmth of their appearance and because each door is 30” wide. Joining the two doors created a 60” wide headboard that was the perfect width for the bed. 

The steps in making the headboard were fairly easy. The first step included cleaning the dirt and grime off of the doors using water and “Simple Green,” an all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner that is safe for the environment.

The doors have over 100 years of history and character. To preserve that character, the doors were purposefully not sanded down.  

Headboard 1 Headboard 2 Headboard 3
[Above: Doors upon purchase, Simple Green cleaning solution, and detailed washing process]

Headboard 4 Headboard 5
[Above: Power washing each side of the doors]

The second step was to apply a coat of stain to the entire surface of each door, front and back. The stain was immediately wiped off with a cloth rag. The purpose of the stain was to darken any chips or dings in the door and unify the overall surface texture.       

Headboard 6
After wiping off the stain and letting the doors dry, the third step was to apply a coat of clear satin polyurethane to the doors, one side at a time. This further unified the overall surface.

Headboard 12
Steps one through three involved preparing the surface of the doors. The next steps involved securing the doors together, side by side, to create the 60” wide headboard.  

In step four, 12” metal brackets were used to join the back of the two doors together.  5/16 x 1” lag screws were used to attach the brackets to the doors. Four brackets were used, one each at the top and bottom of the doors and two closer to the middle of the doors.  

Headboard 7 Headboard 8
The doors were further secured together with a 1x4” board approximately one foot from the bottom of the doors and another at the top.  In addition to helping secure the doors together, the 1x4” boards served as “spacers” to keep the door away from the wall once installed. The “spacers” are necessary to accommodate the width of the baseboard. When installed, the bottom of the headboard rests on the floor and against the baseboard. Without the “spacers” on the door, the door would lean back toward the wall. Instead, the “spacers” are the same depth as the baseboard. The “spacers” rest against the wall, keeping the headboard vertical.     

Headboard 9
Step five included attaching antique hinges to the doors. When the headboard is installed, the hinges are secured to the wall to keep the headboard in place.  

Headboard 10 Headboard 11
Prior to the final step, installation, the doors were separated so that they could be more easily transported. Once on site, it was easy to reconnect them.  

Step six—installation. The brackets and the 1x4” “spacers” doors were reattached and the doors were connected again to create the headboard.  

Headboard 13 Headboard 14
The headboard was then attached to the wall using screws through the four hinges—one on the outside top and bottom of each door. Anchors were first put into the wall to secure the screws.  

Headboard 15 Headboard 16
This final photo shows the finished headboard installation! 

Headboard 17

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By: David Ray | Campus President, The Illinois Institute of Art—Schaumburg

December 13, 2017

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