DIY Recycle Old Wood into a New Headboard


Recycling, reusing and repurposing should be an eco-friendly lifestyle that everybody’s well-advised to adopt. Even old wood, such as pallets from warehouses and timber from old houses, can be recycled to make them into new things with practical values and beautiful designs.

One of the fast and easy yet rewarding ways to recycle old wood is to turn it into a new headboard for your bed. In fact, there are hundreds of sites including Pinterest, Instructables, and YouTube that provide inspiration, as well as step-by-step detailed instructions, in doing so. Many more people are apparently becoming more aware of the benefits of recycling old wood into pieces of furniture, such as dining tables and beds.

Here are the things that we want to say about it, too. Keep in mind that the ideas presented here pertain to pallets since these are easy to find, affordable on the pocket, and quick to disassemble and assemble. These ideas can also be applied to other types of wood, of course.

No Shortage of Styles to Choose From

 Just as headboards come in wide range of styles from rustic country to modern industrial, the styles for a DIY headboard from old wood are just as varied. The choice will largely depend on the preferred vibe for the bed in particular and the bedroom in general.

The styles include but aren’t limited to:

  • Rustic headboard with a dark nutty color to the wood, either from the natural grain of the wood or by applying stains or paints

  • Tufted headboard with the pallets covered in thin foam and fabric, such as velvet in the preferred color. The fabric will then be sewn in several places to create a diamond-like pattern with each point accented by a bead.

  • Upholstered headboard wherein the pallets are covered in thin foam and leather or leatherette in the desired color, such as pink for a girl’s room or black for the master’s bedroom.

  • Functional pallet headboard with side shelves for books and other small items. The pallets will be left as is and attached to the wall such that the spaces between the slats automatically become the shelves.

  • Lighted headboards with the pallet wood either strung with small lights (e.g., Christmas lights) or with wall sconces (e.g., reading lights).

Again, we suggest looking for inspiration for turning old wood into DIY headboards on social media and do-it-yourself sites. You will find that just about any kind of wood can be turned into a DIY headboard, such as window shutters, doors, and even cribs. The trick is in finding the inspiration for it, as well as in using the right wood, materials, and techniques.

Suggestions for Using Pallets for DIY Headboards

 Not all pallets are suitable for use in DIY headboards – or for any piece of furniture, for that matter. Keep these tips in mind when choosing the pallet wood for your DIY headboards:

  • Check that the wood is, indeed, still usable, durable and beautiful (i.e., the grains are still visible for a rustic feel).

  • Discard any piece of wood that can break when it’s removed from the frame, or when nailed to other pieces or to the wall, or with plenty of splinters, dirt and mud.

  • Choose pallets with wood that are more or less of the same sizes so that the resulting headboard has a more polished look.

  • Always remove the possible hazards from the pallet, such as splinters; accumulated dust, dirt and debris; and protruding nails. Washing and sanding the surfaces of the wood will likely be necessary to remove these hazards.

  • Use the right color of paint or stain for the wood, if it’s in your plans. Many pallet wood can be left as is after cleaning and sanding, especially if the grains are beautiful to look at. Many of them, however, will need a new coating of stain or paint to hide flaws, bring out their natural beauty, and achieve the desired look.

Basically, you have to ensure that every piece of wood on the headboard will stand up to the use for which it will be subjected to. While a modern headboard in installed more for aesthetic purposes, bear in mind that you will be leaning into it so durability and safety are important.

Suggested Steps for Transforming Pallet into a Headboard

Here are a few suggested steps in a DIY project of turning pallets into headboards. These steps apply to a DIY headboard wherein the pallet was taken apart. You can tweak the steps depending on your overall design, skill level and available time.

First, measure the bed that will go with the headboard. The latter should be larger or in the same size as the former to maintain a symmetrical look. This means that DIY headboards for double beds will be different in size than king-sized beds. Be sure to have your design ready, too.

Second, gather the tools and materials for the job. These can include the following:

  • At least three salvaged pallets depending on the size of the headboard
  • Salvaged wood for the legs
  • Finish nailer and 1-1/4″ 18-gauge finish nails
  • Painter’s tape
  • Stencils
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Shellac or varnish or stain
  • Paint and paintbrushes or paint sponges
  • Orbital sander with the right sanding discs (e.g., 80- and 22-grit)
  • Drill with bit set
  • Reciprocating saw with metal blade
  • Circular saw

You may also use the old-fashioned tools, such as hammer and saw depending on your design.

Third, break apart the wood in the pallet. These can be done by using the reciprocating saw for faster results. Gather the wood, separate the usable ones from the bad ones, and pile them in a safe location.

Fourth, start making the headboard with the simple steps being:

  • Make the legs including their intermediate support. Lay them out, add the support piece in the middle, and position the top plank.
  • Mix the wood from the disassembled pallets to get your desired look.
  • Fasten the top plank so that these are connected to the middle support piece and legs.
  • Add more planks, as necessary, using nails and construction adhesive.
  • Secure more rows until the headboard’s basic design is completed.
  • Sand the surface to make it as smooth as possible. Be sure to sand on the top, edges, and rear overlaps on both sides, too.
  • Decorate the headboard using wood paint, or apply shellac, or put on a coat of point. Let it dry.
  • Mount the headboard from the wall or attach it to the bed.

These are simple steps that even a novice DIY enthusiast can do. But no matter the techniques used in making DIY headboards from old wood, the most important thing is that these speak about your personal style.

Company Information:

BedsOnline offer a wide range of beds from single beds to double beds in various styles and mattresses. These beds can be paired with headboards, both brand-new and recycled from old wood, as well as with mattresses from well-known brands like King Koil and Sealy.


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