DIY Grid Tufted Headboard Tutorial

Hello! Since were currently almost 3 feet under snow here in Pennsylvania (I don’t want to talk about it), I figured it was a good time to finally write up a tutorial for the new headboard I added to the guest room.

DIY Grid Tufted Headboard tutorial from The Happy House Project

If you remember from my previous post about the guest bedroom and bathroom, I promised John (and myself) I would wrap up every little minor detail in these rooms before starting any new projects. Lame.

Part of my to-do list in the guest room was to find a headboard. Since I’ve wanted to try tufting for a while, I decided to do a test run by DIYing a simple grid tufted headboard in this room. We don’t used this room a lot so if it didn’t come out perfectly at least I could get some practice in before tufting something harder. We may someday do a much larger diamond tufted one for our master.

Honestly, one of the worst parts of this project was buying supplies and picking fabric. I did everything (shopping, picking fabric and building) in one day, but it would probably be a lot less overwhelming to break these up. I spent over an hour in Joann Fabrics looking around and ended up spending more than I wanted to on fabric since I didn’t see anything I liked on sale. After that, I was mentally wiped, but I still had to head over to Walmart to get mattress pads (trust me- this will make sense in a bit!).

Here are the supplied I used:

DIY Headboard Supplies

  1. Plywood. I used 1/4″ thick plywood from Lowe’s that was $18. I had measured before going to Lowe’s and had them cut it down to 36″ x 90″ for our queen size bed. I would say this is the perfect size for a queen!
  2. D-Ring Large Picture Hangers to hang the headboad. You could always make legs or attach it a different way but I really liked these things! I got them from Lowe’s for $2.78. IMG_2843
  3. Staple gun. I originally bought this Arrow one ($9.99 from Lowe’s) and I cannot recommend this stapler to anyone. It worked fine for about 10 minutes, then I started to notice that it was “shooting” but no staples were coming out every 5 or so staples. Eventually this got worse and I had to take it back. A very nice associate helped me pick out this Arrow 5700K PowerShot Forward Action Staple and Nail Gun Kit (affiliate link) which was worth the extra money and is much easier to use. Two (very sore- see #6) thumbs up from this novice upholsterer! Staplers
  4. Fabric. I used 3 yards of neutral linen-look suit material from Joann Fabrics. Since the walls are grey and the new rug I ordered is also grey, I didn’t want to do a grey headboard. I really liked this off white fabric since it looks really expensive and luxurious. The fabric was $12.99 a yard, but I had a 20% coupon so it wasn’t too pricey. You can definitely shop around and look for fabrics on sale in advance.
  5. Muslin. I also bought 3 yards from Joann Fabrics for $3.99 a yard (before 20% coupon).
  6. Button Cover kit from JoAnn Fabrics. $9.99 (before 20% coupon). IMG_2867
  7. Egg Crate Mattress Pads. Instead of foam from Joann Fabrics, I used two full egg crate mattress pads from Walmart for $29.22 for both. Put your hands up if you like cheap alternatives!IMG_2840

Once you have all the supplies, assembling the headboard is a piece of cake! Just kidding. It’s not that bad, but your fingers will hurt (again, see #6).

First, you have to do a little basic math to figure out the tufts. I knew I wanted two rows of five buttons, so I took my 60″ and divided by 6 which told me I needed to do my buttons 10″ apart.


I used my big ruler-level thing to draw two straight lines all the way across the frame, then I marked the holes for the tufts.


Then, you use a drill and make the holes. 

Because I did this project alone, I did not manage to get a picture of every step. I then laid two layers of the egg crate down and cut it so that there was about a 1″ overhang. I wanted the foam to wrap around the headboard slightly.

I wrapped the muslin over the egg crates and then laid the plywood over it. I started by pulling the muslin and stapling the corners tightly first. I then did a staple about every 2″ or so, pulling tightly with one hand and stapling with the other. This was a lot easier when I switched to the Powershot stapler.

Muslin Layer DIY Tufted Headboard

Over the muslin, you layer on the fabric. I ironed my fabric first since it had crease marks from being folded. I used the same stapling technique but instead of starting with the corners, I went around the whole frame one side at a time.

DIY Tufted Headboard

I did the corners as I hit them. To do the corners I just used a lot of tugging and a lot of staples. I kind of folded the fabric as I went along, not paying too much mind to how it looked in the back as long as the front looked good.


Once I was done my layers, I was so excited to flip it over and take a look at my handiwork! This was my very first time attempting any kind of upholstery project.  I cautiously turned it upright and….


… it was a little lumpy.

I probably didn’t pull the foam layer tight enough across. At that point I had a lot of time (my whole day) invested in this thing so I decided to just carry on with the tufting and hoped that with the additional tension from the tufts the lumps would even out. Spoiler: this (semi) worked!

The next step is to make buttons with leftover scrap fabric. I’ll save you all the fascinating details of button making since you can read the instructions yourself on the button kit. I will say that making buttons is not fun, contrary to what anyone may tell you. You have to push them really hard with your thumbs and I do not see how I could have done more than 10 at one time! #firstworldproblems

DIY Button Kit

 Then, I threaded a long needle with some leftover twine and began making tufts.


I did this by stapling an “anchor” through which I knotted my twine. I then went through the hole, threaded the button and came back through the hole again anchoring the twine tightly to the staple. I used additional staples as necessary to anchor the twine. Again, I did not take a lot of pictures of this because I had to pull pretty tightly and it was getting close to 9pm (read: I was over it).


I did that for each button and here it is done!

DIY Tufted Headboard

As you can see, the fabric really did smooth out around the tufts. Even though I had ironed the fabric before starting, it still got a little wrinkly, but these smoothed out with my steamer. The tufts didn’t come out too deep, but that’s because I couldn’t have gotten them any tighter if I tried! I would probably need another (much stronger) person to pull the tuft while I stapled the anchor. Also, I only used two layers of foam and if you doubled that you would be able to get a much more dramatic tuft.

So.. let’s talk about the elephant in the room. There was still a lump at the bottom of the headboard. But you know what? I’m OK with it. No one will ever see that since that will be hidden behind the bed. Sometimes as a DIYer, I beat myself up if I don’t get 100% picture perfect Pier 1 Pinterest-worthy results. (Say that 10 times fast). As I say when things don’t work out perfectly…

This is DIY, not the DIY Network. 

It helps if you say it out loud. And with a lot of sass. And with no one else around.

To hang the headboard I used two D-Rings that I centered on the wall.


Here it is all hung up!

DIY Tufted Heaboard

The lumpy part is completely hidden! Told you ;) This project couldn’t have almost gone horribly wrong more perfectly!


I lined my buttons up so you can see most of the top row even with Euro pillows. The bedding is new and it’s Nicole Miller from Home Goods. I think it compliments the linen headboard and looks super cozy.

DIY Tufted Headboard

I love how formal and modern the headboard looks in the room. It definitely makes the room seem more open and inviting.

DIY Tufted Headboard

 The total cost for this project was $129.31. 

Not bad considering it was inspired by this West Elm one that goes for a whopping $649!

I will have a formal room reveal for this room once I wrap up a few more thing