This was Cliff's first major home improvement project and even though it turned out stunning, that doesn't mean there weren't hiccups along the way. That's life. So many blogs (including the one we relied on for this project) show only the before and after, and make it seem like the entire project was flawless. Cliff and I felt it was very important to keep things real. That's why he talks about how difficult it was to find a right stain and why we demonstrate just how much stud finders lie.
If anyone reading this feels inspired to take on your own project, be it a headboard or something else, take it from us: There will be ups and downs, but with a lot of planning and a little confidence, we know you'll do great!
However, my latest project dwarfed them all—a floor-to-ceiling wooden headboard!
The idea was born after we had spent a few weeks discussing and planning using fancy wallpaper to create an accent wall behind our bed. After painting (and again, repainting, because making decisions is hard) the bedroom, it was time to purchase some wallpaper. To our shock, the wallpaper prices were way more than we were willing to spend. An 8’ by 16’ wall would’ve run us around $1,000. No thanks.
So, after perusing a few different DIY websites, Jonna suggested the idea of a floor-to-ceiling wooden headboard. After the suggestion, I had two thoughts:
- That is way beyond my burgeoning skills as a handyman
- We live in a condo. I don’t have access to a garage, or power tools.
After checking out how others did it, though, I decided that I was willing to undertake the challenge.
Step One: Planning
The first step was to decide what type of wood we wanted to use. Others online sang the praises of using pallet wood—it’s (usually) free, and is easy to work with. We elected to use long, full boards due to the simplicity of having less boards to work with.
We took a trip to the hardware store and began laying out different sizes of wood on the ground. We looked at all different widths, and decided to use three different widths of wood:
- 12 inch
- 6 inch
- 4 inch
Because I was determined to have everything planned out before I started, we didn’t buy anything that night, and I spent the next few days planning how the wood would be arranged. Since it’s impossible to get stain to look completely uniform across a board (let alone multiple boards), it was important to me that I had a plan. I made these to-scale designs in Photoshop.
After that came finding a stain color that we liked. In hindsight, I wasted a LOT of time and money on this step. Unbeknownst to me, the hardware store sells stain samples in ketchup packets, so you use exactly the amount you buy. At first, I was buying small cans, using barely a fifth of them, and donating/disposing of the rest!
In addition, finding a stain that looked good, matched our color scheme, and wasn’t ten shades darker than advertised became a tedious adventure.
Step Two: Staining
At last, it was time to begin staining the wood! In a regular house with a back yard, this could’ve all been done in a day. But for us this wasn’t the case. Remember when I said we’re in a condo? We DO have a large balcony that I could’ve worked on—but in true “make this as difficult as possible” fashion, our balcony was undergoing maintenance all summer, making it unavailable for use. So, I had to stain the wood on our dining room table, being careful only to do a few boards a day, as to not fill the condo too full with fumes. This was by far the longest part of the process. What could be done in one long day took me about two weeks.
The second to last step was one that I was the most nervous about from the beginning. Using DIY websites as a guide, I decided that putting all 20-something boards directly into the wall would be too destructive, and instead made support boards for the headboard to nail into.
After finding exactly where on the wall we wanted the headboard, we purchased four 2” by 1” boards, cut them to the height of our wall, and drilled screws into the steel studs behind our bedroom wall.
Finding studs has always been something that drives me crazy (stud finders are notorious liars), and I soon learned that finding STEEL studs involved even more guesswork.
Step Four: Planning the Layout
The night before the big day, Jonna and I laid out all the wood on the floor and began organizing them in the order we wanted them to appear on the wall. At first, this seems unnecessary, but because of the semi-random nature of cheap wood and stain, there were some boards we wanted to feature more prominently, and others that we had no problem with being hidden from view behind the bed. We found an order we were happy with, and used a permanent marker to number them (on the back, of course).
Step Five: Putting it all Together
The last step was surprisingly easy, and somewhat anticlimactic (since there were no major screw ups). Jonna and I were able to put the entire headboard up in just over an hour. Jonna held the boards, while I hammered two nails in per stud (8 nails per board).
As Jonna posted for the preview, here is a time-lapse video of the process: