Upcycle a vintage solid wood door into a headboard

Most resale home improvement centers have loads of used doors. You’ll need to look for a wooden door that is symmetrical from top to bottom so that when you turn the door on its side, the panels are even.  The door will probably need cut on the top and bottom to a length to nicely frame your mattress and crown molding trim will finish the top edge.

Most headboards are about 2-4 inches wider on each side than the mattress.  

  • Full sized beds are 54” wide. You’ll want a door that can be trimmed to 58-62”
  • Queen sized beds are 60” wide. Here the finished door length would be 64-68”
  • King beds are 76” wide. You’ll need a taller door, one that can be trimmed to 80-84”


After you determine the width of the finished headboard, cut off both ends of the door an equal amount to the length you want. A circular saw or a jig saw works best for this. Take care and be sure to use eye protection while cutting the headboard.

Once the door is cut to length, you’ll need to sand the door to get it ready to stain or paint. Be careful as old wooden doors may contain lead paint and you’ll want to minimize any lead paint dust with a wet sand technique. Once the door is sanded and scraped, clean the door with a TSP solution.  If you decide to paint the door, the sanding doesn’t need to be as extensive as if you are staining the door.

The hole for the door handle and lock set can be the top of the new headboard. You’re going to finish trim that with either crown molding and a 1 x 4 cap or straight trim and the same 1 x 4 cap. The crown molding or the straight trim should be positioned so that it covers the holes. Cut both pieces to the length of your door and sand all cut & rough edges. Attach with wood glue and finish nails.

Once the trim pieces are attached, you are ready to stain or paint your new headboard. Any quality stain to match your décor will work, or mix it up with a fun opaque or chalkboard-type paint.

For added versatility, you can mount a reading lamp on each side. Be sure to choose a smaller, wall mount light with wires for the best fit. Mark each side of the headboard for the fixtures and bore a hole with a paddle bit to pass the wires through. Mount the light with the screws provided and you are ready to go.

You can hang the headboard on the wall with a French cleat or attach 2 x 4s to the back of the door with screws and attach directly to the metal bed frame.