Don’t you hate it when you have a specific item in mind and you shop and shop and you just can’t find anything that’s quite right? Yeah, me, too. That’s when you know it’s time to bust out the power tools and make it yourself. And that’s how my shiplap headboard DIY project came to be. Want to hear about it?
Side note: Shiplap is also known as“tongue & groove” because it is wood cut with notches in the top and bottom. This allows the pieces to fit in perfectly with one another, while still leaving a small gap for aesthetics.
Shiplap Headboard DIY Cliff Notes
Cost: $100-$200 depending on what you already have
Time: 2-3 hours
Skill Level: Beginner – Medium
- Trim (I used 1x2s)
- Sanding Blocks
Backstory of our Shiplap Headboard DIY
A few years ago, right before the pandemic was in full swing and we went into lockdown, we did a big bedroom rotation in our home. My youngest daughter moved into my son’s room, my son moved into the guest room, and I took my daughter’s vacated room as an office/craft space (and subsequently set up my Etsy shop, woo hoo!).
Since we had eliminated the guest room, I wanted to incorporate a bed into my office without it feeling like there was a bed in my office. We had a spare twin mattress after the big room swap and we decided a daybed was a good option—but a daybed that felt more like a couch than a bed.
Online daybed frame shopping left me unimpressed.
I needed something that was essentially just a daybed sideboard (a headboard, but on the side of the bed). I wanted the head and foot of the bed to be open. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything in my price range that met my needs.
So, I built one myself.
Luckily, I had some shiplap that was earmarked for another project lying around, so I snatched it up and started nailing it to the wall. Okay, not quite that simply, but it really wasn’t hard at all. In fact, it was harder to decide what color to paint the headboard than it was to install.
How to Install a Shiplap Headboard
Step 1: A Bedframe & Mattress
The first thing I did when I decided on my path was to drag our extra mattress into the office and purchase a bedframe. We had an extra twin bed, but it had a headboard and footboard, which would be very obtrusive with how we arranged the office.
I wanted something simple and inexpensive and this metal frame from amazon fit the bill. I opted for the 16″ tall bedframe so I could store items underneath the bed (guest linens, craft supplies). This bed frame also has a decent weight limit (500 lbs) which will be helpful if we had an adult guest sleeping in the bed or if several people were sitting on it (which happens every day).
Assembling the bedframe was quick and simple. I did it in less than 10 minutes.
Next, I stuck the mattress on top of the frame and figured out exactly where I wanted it within the room. I centered it on the wall between the window and the corner.
Step 2: Measuring for the Shiplap Headboard
I measured the bed and decided I wanted the headboard to be 75 inches wide, the same as a twin mattress. That way, when I add bedding, the headboard will be slightly narrower than the bed with the bedding.
I wasn’t quite sure how tall I wanted the headboard to rise on the wall, but 6 boards of shiplap felt like a good number, so that’s where we started. I’d evaluate after the boards were up.
Step 3: Gather Headboard Materials
Since I had the shiplap in the garage already, that part was easy, however since I wanted my shiplap to be “floating” on the wall in the center of the room, instead of jammed in a corner as it would be if you were doing a whole wall, I needed to hide the cut edges.
I hunted around in the garage and found some 1″ by 2″ pieces of pine trim left over from a windowsill project. They were unfinished, and we had just enough to frame out my headboard. Perfect!
Side note: Wood math is confusing. 1x2s are not 1″ by 2″ at all. They’re more like .75″ by 1.5″. Sooooo… measure everything yourself, even if the sign at the store says numbers that seem good.
Step 4: Cut the Shiplap
Now that I had my materials and measurements, I was ready to cut. I deducted 3″ (strips of wood x2) from the 75″ (total width) and cut the 6 boards of shiplap 72″.
I cut the 6 pieces of shiplap, grabbed my Ryobi nail gun and headed inside.
Step 5: Install the Shiplap
I wanted to start by installing the bottom board of the shiplap and work my way up from there. Using the height of the mattress as a reference, I decided I wanted the shiplap to start 2″ below the mattress, which ended up being 21″ up from the floor.
Installing the first board a few inches below the top of the mattress would prevent the bottom edge of my shiplap headboard from showing above the bed. I could have continued the shiplap to the floor, but this felt like a waste of material since no one would see it.
My assistant (aka husband) held one side of the first piece of shiplap while I leveled and nailed in the other side.
Remember that shiplap is notched? I put the tongue facing down and the open notch facing up. That way, once the first piece was in, I could use the little ledge I created to nest the other boards in. Nest and nail, nest and nail…
I paid special attention to the edges of the shiplap. I wanted them to be PERFECTLY even so when I installed the 1x2s on the sides as a frame there wouldn’t be any gaps.
I installed the 6 pieces I had randomly** decided would be good and was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty darn perfect.
**Okay, so I say it was a random decision, but it was an educated random decision. Each piece of shiplap is approximately 6” so 6 of those pieces combined would be about three feet and that felt like a good height. And it was!
Step 6: Shiplap Headboard DIY Frame
Using the pieces of 1×2, I cut a frame. I turned the pieces differently so they would stick out from the walls at different distances. I cut the side pieces 34.5″ inches long and installed them flat against the wall along the end of the shiplap using the nail gun. They protruded just slightly over the shiplap, which is exactly what I wanted.
I cut the top piece 77.5″ inches and installed it sideways against the top of the shiplap so it protruded a bit more than both the shiplap and the side pieces, almost like a ledge. It’s also slightly longer than the 75″ total width of the bottom pieces.
I did not install a piece below the last board of shiplap since it will be hidden by the bed.
My headboard was up!
Step 7: Fill & Sand
After nailing all the pieces in, I had to fill and sand the nail holes. This is an important step, one you definitely don’t want to skip. Using wood filler, I squeezed a little blob on my finger and then smooshed it (technical term) into each nail hole. If the wood filler protruded a bit, that was good. If it sunk in, I added more.
When the wood filler was dry, I gently sanded the spots with a sanding block.
Step 8: Stain the Frame
I stained the pine frame using General Finishes Gel Stain in Nutmeg, a color I had used all around my house, including on my refinished banister. I spent a long time finding just the right stain color for that project and still had some left over, so it was a no brainer. It’s a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way and the gel consistency makes it a little more forgiving than traditional stain.
I carefully stained the frame. I applied two coats, trying to avoid getting any on the shiplap (I succeeded) and the wall (I failed).
I finished it with a topcoat. My favorite is General Finishes Water Based Topcoat in Flat. It goes on a little milky but dries clear and smooth. This is necessary to seal the stain in, otherwise it might rub off on linens or clothes.
How to Stain Wood Using Gel Stain
Using gel stain is quite simple (and satisfying). While wearing gloves, dip a clean rag in the stain—just a finger’s worth if you’re staining a small area. Rub the stain onto the wood with the lines of the grain. Wipe excess off using a clean part of the rag. Repeat once or twice until you get the color you like.
Step 9: Paint the Shiplap Headboard
Finally, I was on the last step—painting the shiplap. I saved painting for last so I could cover up any errant stain with the paint.
I was still trying to figure out what color I wanted it. Fresh white shiplap is so nice and bright and classic, buuuut… black is better.
Using a brush, I painted the shiplap the same Tricorn Black as my office wall. It took 2 coats to cover the white thoroughly, then I went back with a tiny paintbrush to fill in all the shiplap grooves.
Fun Fact: Home Depot will mix any paint color you want, regardless of brand, and you can save a ton of money.
Finally, we had a finished project. I hung some (black) art over the bed, got some new off-white and grey bedding (Hearth & Hand from Magnolia at Target) and we were in business.
DIY Shiplap Headboard Costs
It turned out that this headboard was a lot less expensive than purchasing another, and it’s perfect for our needs.
There are a few different ways to purchase shiplap or tongue and groove. A quick google search will provide you with plenty of very inexpensive DIY options, especially if you’ve got a table saw. We don’t have a table saw and I was looking for a nice, smooth look, so we opted for pre-primed tongue-and-groove MDF from Home Depot. We purchased two ten packs (like I said, we had another project in mind) for about $70 each.
Prices are now higher, about a $100 for 10 shiplap boards.
We already had the pine trim, the paint, wood filler, sanding blocks, and the stain, but if you have to purchase all that, it would probably add up to an additional $50 to $75, depending on your selections.
Our Shiplap Headboard DIY
Since we’ve completed this project, it’s been a wonderful addition to the room. It’s pretty, simple, and functional. The daybed is a gathering place for my kids when I’m working and they’re home.
This works as a daybed headboard for us, but it could also work in a master bedroom or a kids’ bedroom.
Could this work in your home? I’d love to know. Drop a message below or email me a pic!