How Do Headboards Work? Different Headboard Types, Installation, and Use
Whether you are doing a renovation of your bedroom or you just want to freshen it up, putting up a headboard is a nice way to make a significant change. When choosing a headboard, you’ll need to make decisions about which designs and materials you prefer and think will look best in your room. It’s also important to figure out which type of headboard will work best for you. But how do headboards work?
Headboards work by attaching to the wall behind your bed, to the bed itself, or being freestanding behind the bed. Headboards can help decorate your bedroom, make your bed more comfortable, and provide storage space.
When choosing the material for your headboard, ones to consider include wood, metal, natural fibers, upholstery, or leather. After you pick the best material for your headboard, you will want to decide which installation option is right for you. Headboards can be wall mounted, bed frame mounted, or freestanding.
Below, we’ll discuss the different types of headboards, how they work, and how to install them.
How Do Wall Mounted Headboards Work?
Wall mounted headboards work by attaching directly to the wall, giving the headboard a floating look. A lot of people prefer this type of headboard because the headboard doesn’t need to match the size of the bed itself and you can change your bed without also having to change the headboard.
These headboards have a very elegant look and do a great job of presenting the personal style of the owner, as they are usually very decorative. Most of the time, the wall mounted headboards you will see are upholstered headboards. Some can also be used for additional storage space with shelves and drawers (like bookshelf headboards, for example). Here’s one of our favorite wall mounted headboards on Amazon (392 reviews, ⅘ stars).
When it comes to wall mounted headboards, there are various ways you can install them on a flat, bare surface.
How To Install a Wall Mounted Headboard
Installing a wall mounted headboard requires steady hands and lots of patience. Below, you’ll learn how to do it.
Step 1. Determine where you want the headboard to hang
First, you have to determine where exactly your headboard will hang on the wall. You can do this by taking accurate measures of the distance between the hooks in the back of the headboard and the distance between the floor and the hooks.
Step 2. Ensure that you choose the right method to securely attach the headboard to the wall
When hanging a heavy item, you will need to make sure that it’s properly secured to the wall - especially because you won’t want accidents such as the headboard falling off in the middle of the night.
Unless you are completely sure that your walls are made of material strong enough to support the weight of a headboard, you will want to ensure that the fasteners are going to be placed somewhere stable. If your walls hide supporting elements such as studs, you will have to find out where they are because that’s what the headboard will hang from. For more information about safely anchoring a headboard to a wall, see this article.
Step 3. Install Fitting elements
Once you’ve marked at least two secure points that your headboard will hang from, the next step is to install the fitting elements to the wall. You can use wall anchors for extra security when screwing the fittings to the wall. Once you finish, make sure they are fixed properly.
Step 4. Hang your wall mounted headboard
If you have placed the wall fittings at the proper intervals and matched the distance of the corresponding fittings behind the headboard, then it’s time for the last step.
If you have measured everything properly, you should be able to hang your wall mounted headboard like you would hang a picture. Given the size of headboards, you will probably need some help from a friend when putting it up.
For reference, see this YouTube video.
How To Use a Wall Mounted Headboard
A wall mounted headboard can have plenty of interesting uses. People mostly use them after a long day of work, sitting against the headboard and either reading their favorite book or doing some work on their laptop.
You can also install shelves on your headboard, thereby giving you extra storage space for books or other things.
How Do Bed Frame Mounted Headboards Work?
Bed frame mounted headboards work by being mounted directly to your bed frame. If the headboard is properly screwed into place, you’ll have an all-in-one bed setup.
If you plan on purchasing your bed and headboard separately, you should double-check that your frame has brackets that are compatible with your headboard. If this isn’t the case, then you should consider using adapter plates to align and secure the bolts properly. Here’s a great bed-frame mounted headboard that’s easy to install (on Amazon).
Installing this type of headboard is a bit tricky and requires at least two people to get all of the parts lined up properly.
How To Install a Bed Frame Mounted Headboard
Here are a few steps that will help you set up your bed frame mounted headboard.
Step 1. Pull the Bed away from the wall
Pull the bed a couple of feet away from the wall to give you space to work. This will ensure that you have more than enough space to install the headboard properly.
Step 2. Place the headboard close to the bed frame
Place the headboard in position against the frame with the finished side facing the bed. Then, center the legs with the bed frame's headboard brackets. The holes on the legs must align with at least two of the holes in each of the brackets for secure mounting.
Lift the headboard and hold it upright temporarily by pushing a heavy object, such as a bedside table, against it.
Step 3. Fasten the headboard in place
Finally, slide a washer onto a bolt from the fasteners included with the headboard. Place the bolt through the bracket and the headboard leg hole. Slide a washer onto the bolt if it bulges through to the other side of the leg.
Screw a nut onto the bolt until it is just finger-tight. Repeat the same process on the other leg. Check that the headboard is still centered, side-to-side, by eyeing the distance from the edge of each bracket to the edge of the legs. Use a wrench or pliers to tighten the bolts, and you will be all set.
For reference, see this YouTube video.
How To Use a Bed Frame Mounted Headboard
For the most part, all headboards can be used in similar ways. Like we mentioned before, the simplest way to use a headboard is to simply sit against it and relax with your laptop or with a book. A bed frame mounted headboard is also a great way to turn your bed into a sofa and watch movies or other content online.
Additional details like shelves can also be added, but for a more traditional way of using a bed frame, we suggest just relaxing on it and using it to boost the comfort in your bedroom.
How Do Freestanding Headboards Work?
Freestanding headboards work without needing to be mounted to a wall or directly to a bed frame (however this is an option!). These headboards come without any attachment hardware or pre-drilled holes, so you can choose how you’d like them to be mounted. They are always sold separately from the bed frame.
These headboards give you a lot of options and flexibility since you can decide exactly where you want to mount them. There are many freestanding headboards that will stand on their own and rest between the bed and the wall without you having to mount them. Bookcases or storage headboards are an example. Here is a highly reviewed free standing headboard that’s easy to install (from amazon).
Freestanding headboards will require more customization than other headboard types since they come without any hardware or pre-drilled holes. However, they can usually be easily outfitted to be either wall mounted or bed frame mounted, or completely free standing.
How To Install a Freestanding Headboard
Follow these steps and you will have your freestanding headboard ready in no time.
Step 1. Determine how and if you would like to mount your headboard
Locate the screw holes in the back of the upper part of the bed. If you happen to find bolts there, remove them. If not, find and purchase bolts of the appropriate size for the holes you find. Remember that freestanding headboards and those with struts are installed in almost the exact same way.
Step 2. Place the headboard in a proper location for mounting
Next, place the headboard in the correct position. Note that the struts of a freestanding headboard are built into the headboard itself (which should be the bottom end). Position the headboard upright behind the bed frame.
Line the struts up with the screw holes in the frame and keep the bottom of the headboard flush with the floor. Also, don't adjust the height as you would with simple struts. For more detailed instructions on how to choose the right headboard height and size, see this article.
Step 3. Secure the headboard
The last thing you should do is secure the headboard. Fit a bolt through the gap in each strut and screw it into the corresponding screw hole. Tighten it as much as you can so the headboard becomes firmly attached to the frame.
You should have a partner or a friend hold the headboard up so it remains flush against the bed frame as you work. After you finish this step, your freestanding headboard will be ready to use.
For reference, see this YouTube video.
You might also like this article on how to fix a wobbly, squeaky headboard, that bangs against the wall.
Should You Choose a Metal or Wooden Headboard?
Metal and wood are some of the most popular materials for headboards. But should you choose a metal or wooden headboard?
You should choose a metal or wooden headboard depending on your budget and the design you prefer for your bedroom. Metal headboards are more modern and can be more affordable, while wooden headboards are a classic and versatile option that may be more expensive.
While wooden headboards have been around longer than other types, they still remain one of the most popular choices because of their classic look. People who tend to redecorate their bedrooms more often choose them because wood can match any design style. Since wood is flexible and can be easily carved or cut, it can appear in any shape, style, or design you want. Depending on the type of wood and how it is carved or shaped, wooden headboards can work with almost all design styles, including traditional, modern, rustic, and country. Wooden headboards are also incorporated into various bed types.
Metal headboards, on the other hand, are popular because they fit with more modern bedroom designs. They might lack the warmth of wooden headboards, but they provide a lighter look. Metal headboards are also commonly chosen because they come in various styles and are much more affordable than wooden ones. They match many different design types, including industrial, contemporary, urban, country and vintage. Metal headboards can be made of brass metal, wrought iron, brushed aluminum, or stainless steel.
How Do Headboards Work with Different Types of Beds?
Another thing to take into consideration when choosing a headboard is what type of bed you have and whether it will work well with a headboard. But how do headboards work with different types of beds?
Headboards work well with platform beds and with almost any type of bed frame, but they don’t work as well with bunk beds because they’re difficult to install given the bed design.
Let’s take a deeper look at how headboards work with different types of beds.
How Headboards Work with Platform Beds
Headboards actually work better with platform beds than with most other bed types. Platforms are sturdy and have wood backs, and they also have sides and a solid wood front that you can attach the headboard to using lag screws.
With the sturdy anchoring provided by the platform construction, the headboard isn't part of the design and doesn't need to support any weight. This makes it simple to add a headboard for storage or aesthetics. In a nutshell, headboards work perfectly with platform beds.
How Headboards Work with Bed Frames
You might think that a standard bed frame looks quite simple, but they’re made to be able to hold practically any headboard. A bed frame's headboard brackets usually have four horizontal holes, one above the other. These holes can fit with various headboard designs or allow you to raise the headboard a couple of inches if you need to.
In general, headboards work perfectly with almost any type of bed frame.
How Headboards Work with Bunk Beds
You will rarely find bunk beds that have headboards, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to use them together. However, it’s rare for bunk beds to have headboards because it’s much harder to install a headboard on a bunk bed than it is to install one on platform beds or bed frames. Bunk beds also don’t require headboards as much as some other types of beds do.
Although it’s possible, for the reasons mentioned above, we wouldn’t recommend installing a headboard to your bunk bed unless you absolutely need to.