This project will walk you through every step of making a modern, sleek wooden headboard with accent lighting from two hollow-core wood doors.

(Two parts of this project require an assistant or one very coordinated and strong person.)

Time: 4-5 days (it rained so I let the stain and polyurethane dry extra long)

Cost: under $200 (before tax)

Project Steps

I built this headboard for a queen-size mattress which was only on a plain metal frame. The width is 60″. I felt the headboard would look visually balanced with about 2″ wider on each side. So the doors I bought were 32″ wide for a headboard width of 64″. This left enough space for the bedside tables to be close to the bed without bumping up against the headboard.

I followed the suggestions on the can and used a Pre-Stain Conditioner.

The Pre-Stain Conditioner looks milky when applied but dries clear.

I used Ebony colored stain, applied the stain, waited 15 minutes and wiped off all the excess stain and buffed the doors with soft cloths until no extra stain lifted off. After 12 hours I applied a second coat of stain, waited 15 minutes and wiped off all the excess stain and buffed the doors with soft cloths until no extra stain lifted off.

I stained both sides of both doors. Since I was using a dark stain the grain became very visible and so did any flaws in the doors. Staining both sides gives you the opportunity to pick the best side to be shown.

I also stained the edges since they will be exposed. Take care to wipe off any stain that drips to the underside.

Tip: Use cloths that are lint-free. Old sheets worked best. I used a lot (I mean a lot!) of cloths because I put on a nice coat of stain like I was painting and after 15 minutes wiped most of it off.

I waited a full 12 hours before doing the next step.

Seal the doors with polyurethane. Since I had stained both sides of the doors I also sealed both sides and all the edges to keep the stain from rubbing off onto the flooring, bedding and walls.

I allowed the doors to completely dry for 24 hours before the next step.

After the polyurethane was completely dry I moved the doors to the bedroom before connecting them to each other. The brackets will not make the doors one solid piece and can be easily bent but once the headboard is in place it will be stable.

Attach four tie plates (which were located in the lumber/decking department of my hardware store) with small wood screws which fit the tie plates. The tie plates I used were about 5” long and almost 2” wide. There are 5 columns of holes. I screwed through the second and fourth columns, using the middle row to center the plates.

You can usually see the width of the solid wood edge of the door on the top/bottom edges. Here you can determine the placement of the tie plates. The holes in the second and fourth column of the tie plates I used fell exactly in the center of the solid wood edges of the doors. Here I sought the assistance of my husband; he attached the tie plates while I pushed the doors together tightly and kept them straight and the tops even with each other.

I used heavy duty D-ring / triangle strap hangers to attach the picture wire. The hangers were screwed in 5” from the top on the outer edges of the now-bracketed doors and the wire was attached with enough give to be exactly 2” from the top of the door. Usually pictures are wired at 1/3 the length of the frame but I felt this was too much for the doors. And 5” worked very well.

Follow this link to see instructions for knotting picture wire.

I attached Ikea LED light strips to both sides of the back of the headboard. The Ikea lights are meant to be attached flat but the light would have reflected straight back against the wall. I wanted the light to reflect out the sides so used the adhesive strips that came with the lights to attach them on their sides facing out. I attached them about 6” from the top of the headboard and about 1-1/2″ in from the sides.

Stand the completed headboard up. This will require 2 people because the headboard is so wide and the brackets merely hold the 2 doors together for a visual effect and do not lend any structural integrity at all to the headboard. Attach to the wall like a picture. I used a heavy-duty 50-lb MonkeyHook®. The instructions on the hook I used said to subtract 1/4” from the measurement. So I stood up the doors, marked the center and inserted the MonkeyHook 1-3/4” down.

The doors are actually standing on the floor so the hook isn’t holding any weight but acting like an anchor to keep the headboard from tipping forward.

Tip: I used a wire hanger to grab the picture wire and hold it while my husband lifted the one side of the headboard enough so I could hook the wire onto the hook.

Move the bed frame and bed into place in front of the headboard. Plug in the LED lights. Done!

The last picture is at night with all the room lights off and only the LED lights on. Great ambient light!


Total cost before tax was about $160.