Are you a design fan who regularly falls in love with the furniture and accessories—like headboards and side tables—you see in catalogs and magazines? Are you just a little bit handy, or have a tool-savvy spouse or good friend? Do you enjoy the therapeutic effect of smacking things with hammers? (We do! We do!) Then we’ve got a fab DIY project for you. This antique tin-tile headboard is an easy, inexpensive way to give your bedroom that Old World feel on a modern-family budget.
True, this headboard doesn’t take a lot of effort to put together, but what we love most about it is its versatility—it’s got enough detail to stand on its own with minimalist bedding, but its neutral metallic tones enable it to work harmoniously with bolder colors and patterned duvets, sheets, and pillows. Take a peek at how Annie has styled it with three different bedding looks; then stop drooling, and head over to the home-improvement store for supplies, already.
What you’ll need (for a queen-size bed):
- One 30” x 60” piece of 3/4” birch plywood
- Two 4” x 30” pieces of 3/4” birch plywood
- Two 4” x 60” pieces of 3/4” birch plywood
- One 4” x 52” piece of 3/4” birch plywood
- Wood glue
- Electric screwdriver
- 1.25” wood screws
- Steel bed frame (optional; if you don’t have one)
- Pencil or permanent marker
- Paint or wood stain and brushes
- Tin ceiling tiles (we got ours at the Brimfield Antique Show; try architectural salvage stores and flea markets for vintage pieces, or purchase them new at home-improvement stores)
- ½” or 1” wide-head finish nails
- Nail set (optional)
- Matte clear-coat spray
How to make the headboard “blank”:
1. Lay the 30” x 60” piece of plywood flat. Align the top outside edge of one of the 4” by 30” pieces flush with the bottom outside corner of the larger piece. This will form the leg support.
2. Squeeze glue in a zigzag pattern over the leg support and main headboard piece.
3. Lay a 4” x 60” piece of plywood on top of both the leg support and main headboard piece, aligning the top, bottom, and outside edges. Press down to help set the glue.
4. Screw the longer board in place, starting near the middle. Continue to add screws down the length of the boards in an offset pattern.
5. Squeeze glue in a zigzag pattern over the top portion of the main headboard piece.
6. Lay the 4” x 52” piece of plywood over the glued area, aligning the top edges of both boards. Press down to help set the glue. This will form the cross support along the top.
7. Screw the cross support in place, working from the center to the ends in an offset pattern, as with the leg support.
8. Repeat steps 1 through 4 to make the opposite leg support, making sure to align the top of the leg support with the bottom of the cross support.
9. Screw the leg support in place, as in step 4.
10. Stand the headboard upright on its leg supports, with the back (the side with the visible screw heads) facing away and the front facing the bed frame. Place the outside edge of the bed frame bracket against the outside edge of the leg support. Mark the openings of the bracket with pencil or marker. Repeat on the other side.
11. Lay the headboard flat, drill out the holes for the brackets, and wipe clean.
How to make the tin-tile headboard:
1. If the tiles are vintage and have rust on them, brush and wipe down to remove loose flakes. Flip the headboard onto its back (the side where the screw heads are visible). Paint or stain the front with the color of your choice.
2. Align the top and side of the first tile with the top and outside edge of the front side of the headboard.
3. Using the finish nails, nail the tile into place, starting at the uppermost corner and working your way along the top and down the outside.
4. Repeat at the opposite end with another tile. Then lay the middle tile in place.
5. Overlap the edges of the tiles as needed (ours required about 1/2” of overlap on each side). Starting from one corner, nail the middle tile in place across the top. Use your free hand to smooth the tile down as you go along, to prevent the tile from rippling.
6. Continue to nail down all sides of the tiles, smoothing with your free hand as you go. Use a lot of nails to ensure that the tiles stay flat. Use a nail set to drive the nails deeper, if you don’t like the look of the heads against the surface of the tiles.
7. Spray the nailed-down tiles with matte clear coat to prevent any rust or patina from flaking off and to preserve the vintage look. Allow to dry completely before fastening the headboard to the bed frame.