Shiplap Headboard DIY – for the “Non-Carpenter”

This is for the non-carpenter because making this shiplap headboard requires no special tools or skills whatsoever. I love to do wood working, even though I am not very good at it and I don’t really have tools. I have one electric saw, and it’s a little circular handsaw that can be inaccurate and quite dangerous to use. So, I have to resort to other, less expensive tools to get my stuff done.

This entire shiplap headboard cost me less than $50. Yours could be even cheaper if you have some of the stuff laying around the house that I didn’t.


List of Supplies for Shiplap Headboard

Shiplap headboard suppliesThese dimensions are for a Queen size bed. I will explain how to adjust them if you have a different size bed.

  • 2 sheets of 5.0MM 4×8 Underlayment –
    • One of them will need to be cut into 6, 6 inch strips (for a height of 36 inches or 3 feet) that go with the grain and are the length of the width of your bed. (Mine was 62 inches) Pieces – A
    • The other piece should be cut the width of your bed (62 inches) and the height that you want your headboard to be OVER your mattress. (For me that was 36 inches)  Piece – B
  • Enough 2x3s to be cut at the following lengths:
    • 1-62 inches (width of bed) – C
    • 2-60 inches (height of headboard plus the height of your bed, or if you want to mount it to the wall, just the height of your headboard) – D
    • 3-57 inches (these will be hidden and provide structure to the frame. You have to subtract 5 inches from the width, because each of the 2x3s are 2 1/2 inches wide) – EAlternative solution for smaller screws on shiplap headboard
  • Hand Saw (or table saw if you own one)
  • Sand paper
  • Sponge brush or a rag (some way to apply stain
  • Screws (preferably 3 inches, but if you only have shorter ones, you can do what I had to do with 90 degree brackets)
  • Staple gun & Staples
  • Screw driver
  • Wood Glue
  • Stain (I have 4 different colors on mine)

Notes on the Supplies:

I didn’t have any stain lying around the house, but if you do, you could totally use it. I hardly used any to create this so I still have a ton of left overs. If you don’t have to buy stain, this shiplap headboard is only like $30.

Also, having longer screws would probably save you some money too. The brackets weren’t necessary, I just used them because I didn’t want to go to the store.

You can have all of the boards cut for you at a home improvement store. They just can’t do anything less than a foot for the last piece. So, with the boards, you can get 6, 6 inch strips, but they won’t do the last one for you because there would only be 6 inches on both sides of the saw. They need at least a foot of clearance.

Having it cut at the store will also make it easier for you to take it home in a smaller car.


Building the Frame

The easiest way to frame this is to lay piece B on the ground (the full sheet of Underlayment) and then place the pieces of wood on top in their respective spots.

placement of 2x3s for shiplap headboard

I just placed the boards on top of the frame. I didn’t measure distances between them or anything, except to check that the E and C boards were all parallel.

how to tack the boards together temporarily for framing on shiplap headboardAfter laying them out, I got my staple gun to just keep them in place, like the picture to the left.

It was after this step that I realized my longest screws were only 2 1/2 inches so that wasn’t going to be long enough, because that’s how wide the 2x3s are. So, I had to improvise. If you have longer screws, it will be much easier to just take your gun to the side of the frame and line it up with your horizontal beams and connect them that way.

Otherwise, you can do what I had to do with my tools on hand. It still worked just fine. And if you don’t have 90 degree brackets, you could probably use nails at an angle on both sides of the E 2×3 to connect them.improvisation to connect all the 2x3s on shiplap headboard

First, I used a couple more staples to secure it before I tried to line up the bracket in the joint. Because of the tight quarters, drilling was a challenge with the gun. I drilled some pilot holes and then the screws came second. It was very sturdy and worked just fine, even if it wasn’t the prettiest look.

After I put one underneath each side of the parallel rows, the framing was complete.

Attaching the Decorative Piece to the Frame

Lay the B board on top, line it up and staple all around the outside. Just for my husband’s piece of mind I also found some little nails and nailed in between each staple so that there was a little more stability. Put as many staples or nails on there that make you feel comfortable. I had some sort of support (nail or staple) about every 6 inches or so.

Then, with your future shiplap headboard lying on the ground, piece B side up, pull out all of your A pieces and put them on top. It should look something like this:

 I actually kind of like the way the boards look just straight across without chopping them up, so that is an option as well for your shiplap headboard. You could also choose to do them all the same color and give it a more cohesive look rather than the distressed wood look I was going for.


Cutting the Boards

If you want to create more of a pieced together look, like the one I did, you will need to divide your boards into 2 foot segments, varying the starting points for your measurements.

lengths of shiplap pieces on shiplap headboard

Think of it as if the boards were all 24 inches to begin with and so on the ends sometimes you had to cut off whatever was remaining so that it was flush and then you decided to start another one with that smaller piece. You’re welcome to use mine as a guide. I tried to keep my starting pieces in increments of 6 inches so it was easy to keep track of. The 2 inch one at the top is from the flipped around one that I showed you a couple rows down.

ripped grain on board for shiplap headboardCut the boards with the uglier side down. One of the sides of underlayment looks a lot like wood. The other side is a little fake looking. Choose the side you want to use and have that side facing you when you saw, because the other side will rip the grain.

The side I am showing you is the one you will want to be pressed against your B board so no one but you will know it is there. This was the side I could not see when I was sawing.


Whatever you do, make sure you don’t sand the surface of the board. The layer of wood grain on the top is very thin and you don’t want to sand that off. Just use your sandpaper or sponge for the edges, particularly the one where the grain is perpendicular. Use your sandpaper to make sure there are not any jagged edges poking past the board.

edges of boards before they are sanded
You don’t want your ends to look like this.

Making the Map

Once you have got a nice stack of cut wood, lay it out on the board the way you want it to look. Hopefully you kept the boards in some sort of order so that this portion is a little easier for you. Being able to switch all of the pieces that are 24 inches comes in handy when you want it to look like all of the pieces are coming form different boards.

cut pieces for shiplap headboardThis is the same picture as up above, but without the lengths on it. You’ll notice that the grain is different from piece to piece. Once I had the pieces laid out, I just looked for obvious spots that were two connected pieces.

You’ll notice on the second row from the bottom, all the way to the left, it is the same board continuing. You can even just turn one of those upside down so it looks like it came from a different part.

This isn’t essential now, because you will still do some adjusting once the boards are stained. But you want to switch them if you are going to switch them. Take a picture with your phone when you’re done.


Depending on how many stains you have and how many pieces are in each row, you will want to try and put as many different colors in each row to create a random, but also pleasant looking shiplap headboard. I just tried to take one board from each row (where possible) and in varying locations along the width and then put those pieces in a pile. I had four piles, 2 with 5 boards and 2 with 6 boards. Each pile got a different color stain.

staining the shiplap headboard pieces

stained shiplap headboard pieces

After you have stained your fake shiplap and it has had about 15 minutes to soak into the wood, take a paper towel or a towel you don’t care about and rub the stain off in the direction of the grain. This will prevent it from becoming sticky.

Let the pieces dry over night.

You will also want to stain the outside of the frame, just the parts that will be showing. That way it looks like a cohesive unit.

stained frame for shiplap headboard
you can see where I stained it, and the fact that my cat was with me throughout this entire process.

Assembling the puzzle!

Once the pieces are all dry, usually the next morning. Lay them all out on the headboard piece B the way you want them. It’s okay if it doesn’t look exactly the way the first one did, but the picture you took can help. It should look something like this.

A pieces laid on top of frame for shiplap headboard

I made some tweaks once I got it in place, for example you will see two honey colored pieces on the second row from the bottom, even though I wanted there to not be a duplicate of color on each row. It just looked better that way. Feel free to make as many tweaks as you need to to get the look you want.

Attaching the A Pieces

nickle spacing for DIY shiplap headboardFirst, I glued all of the pieces to Piece B with wood glue, each time making sure to have about a nickel’s width in between each board. This allows you to see each board and give it a nice little outline.

The glue is good, but unfortunately it is not going to be sufficient. Some of the boards might have gotten a little warped, or the staples or nails are poking up just enough so that the underlayment pieces can’t lay flush.

gluing the A pieces to the shiplap headboard frameBut put the glue on anyways, because it will keep your boards in place and might work quite well for some of the middle pieces.

letting it dry shiplap headboard
Letting the Glue Dry

Once you have let the glue dry, you can take your staple gun or some little nails and attach the pieces that are poking up. I also did this along the top and bottom because that is where the rows of staples and nails were, making it a consistent problem.

So, just staple or nail where you need to. After all, the shiplap headboard can look a little rustic and nails or staples will only enhance that look.


Attaching the Shiplap Headboard

If you have the legs go all the way to the ground, you can just attach the shiplap headboard to the bed frame like I did.

The frame had a couple of holes and I just attached four screws to each leg to hold it in place. It is best if you can have someone hold it in place for you while you do this. That way you make sure it doesn’t start to lean towards you as you do it… like what happened to me.

If you don’t have someone to hold it, lean the headboard against the wall at an angle and then use something to prop up the other end of the frame up so that the headboard legs line up at the right angle with the frame.

I didn’t have to use more support than this, but wouldn’t have minded putting some diagonal ones attaching the frame and the bed at a secondary point. This is not necessary, but it makes me feel a little better about.

Maybe one day I will add it and share the picture.

Once you’re all done attaching the frame, put the bed spring back, then the mattress and make your bed!

Congrats! You just made a beautiful shiplap headboard that made your bed finally pop and be more than a mattress. And the best part, it cost hardly anything!


finished product shiplap headboard

One Other Option

One more thing I would like to do to my shiplap headboard, is put a little border around the edge to make it look a little more finished. I would just use a thin angled piece of wood around the edges that was stained my favorite color.

More DIY Projects:

If you liked making the shiplap headboard and are wanting ideas for a nursery you can see how I changed a bookshelf into a changing table!

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