Friday, February 17, 2012

Headboard Makeover

About a week ago I started my next big project, a headboard out of a recycled door. Today I finished said project. I think I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, and it was generally pretty simple (once I figured it out).

The final product took about 3 coats of paint, a little more for the cream sections and I'd say... maybe 6-10 total hours of work, but I spread that over a weekend and a week so it wasn't really too bad. It sat in my office most of the week and I'd give it another coat of paint each night until I was satisfied.

General Supplies:

* 2 colors of paint (I prefer two tone because having it all the same color is boring and the panels of the door make it easily doable for some nice contrast.)
 Over the years I've learned that paint samples can be your friend. Lowe's sells all of their samples in Satin which tends to be the most general paint choice people use in their houses. Home Depot seems to have theirs all in flat, with the exception being one of their other brands which I think had eggshell. Satin was perfect because its just enough sheen and right in the middle, so it looks nice.

* lumber: I used a 1x5 for the cap piece to make a nice overhang, and some 1x3 for the rest of the frame. Then pick a piece of crown molding or casing that you like to frame off the top and give it some nice detail.

* Nails: I used a combination of small brad nails to finish some of the lower sections as well as finish nails for a pneumatic nailer which makes the work a whole lot faster, though you could hammer all of them in and set them if you don't have any air tools.

* Wood glue and wood filler, to glue all the pieces and fill the nail holes.

* A door in a style you like.

First step is to cut the door to the length you want. The bed this is going on currently is a full bed, but in the future it may go onto a queen bed. Luckily those measurements aren't too different in width and the panels on the door lined up pretty nice, so I shot a little wide for now and it ended up framing the bed nicely and once it moves to a queen bed it will be a perfect fit, around 60 inches... give or take.

The next step was to lay everything out so I could start to get a visual of what I was doing. The plan was to run 1x3 down the sides of the door and to frame the edges and run crown molding along the top. Somewhere in all this process you should clean the door up. This one had paint on one side and was stained and sealed on the other. For paint to adhere nicely you should sand everything down, and I didn't want to put all that work into the stained side, so I decided to use the already painted side. So when I needed breaks I'd sand off and chip away any of the loose paint that was there to get a solid base layer that wouldn't pull off once it had new paint on it. Then I gave everything a quick sanding and was done.  This picture on the left shows it with more paint stripped off and with the frame clamped down after being glued and nailed.

This is where I started to run into my first problem. Without thinking about how I'd need to attach things or form corners, I cut the crown molding too short. On top of that with the frame intersecting things I had a gap looking under the crown and couldn't think of an easy way to tie it all together. Also the molding took up most of the free space at the top of the door. You can see here that the bottom of it is butted up to the top of the panels in the door. I ultimately decided I was too tired to try to figure out how to fix all of this and I didn't like it being that close to the panels, so I ran back to the store and chose a different solution.

This was my second major problem. So here you can see the other piece of 1x3 nailed to the side of the door to form part of the legs. The clamp is holding the top 1x5 to the top of the door as it dries. I was going to put the 1x3's together differently when I started and changed my mind. So I forgot these were going to be too long. This left me with about a half an inch that would push me off of the wall and leave that gap on the back of the cap piece. Not happy. So I had to take the jigsaw and rip this extra off of both sides.

I decided to worry about fixing the overhang till later in the project and moved on to cutting and nailing the molding for the top of the bed. Here's a picture of what I settled on. A bit different and a cleaner look and easier corners than the crown molding that was at a 45 degree angle. Also despite the corner pieces being pretty small I just about nailed the 45 cut and got them lined up nice, you can see there's a bit of filler on the point just to even out some of the torn up wood but it came out pretty smooth.

At this point I was just about done, everything was glued and setting up, nailed, and the holes were filled in, so it was time to take it home and get painting.

Here it is on my office floor with the first coat on everything. After working at Lowes doing paint I have come to despise yellows/creams. I like the look of them as long as I'm not trying to match or paint with them. Everything just keeps showing through and you have to do coat after coat until it finally covers everything up, and this is true of just about all paints. I don't care if you have a built in primer, it just can only cover up so much. And trying to color match a yellow? Kill me. They are impossibly tough, the machine can't do it. They never read yellow right and to match we would always dispense a little less and then start to inch up on the color until we got it right, adjusting the formula a drop or two at a time until the customer couldn't tell the difference, most of the time those we could still tell we were a little off. Yellow is just mean. The only other things I did after this was box the legs off by adding a short piece to each of the insides for the door to sit on top of and so you couldn't see the inside of the legs. After that I just had to clamp it to the bed frame, drill holes in the boards I attached at the bottom of the legs where the bedframe lined up and then put a couple of bolts through and unclamp. I think I'm pretty happy with this, another go at it would be a little smoother but I don't have any major complaints. Now for a 4 day weekend and some relaxation.


  1. Awesome! Love it! I have two antique doors in my basement I was considering on doing this to so I can replace the headboard that came with my ikea bed set. Great project and I love the finishing/ crown molding ideas!

  2. Great ideas! I love walk-throughs on stuff like this. I agree on the yellows....the flippin suck.