How to Choose a Headboard – Step by Step

A headboard is a piece of furniture that is fixed at the top of the bed. They can be simple, rustic, elegant and stylish, or even soft and cozy. But many people are confused about the purpose of a headboard. Are they really necessary? While not strictly necessary, headboards can add a much needed flair to your bedroom. Choosing the right headboard can be a challenge. 

To choose a headboard:

  • Determine the size and height of the headboard for your bed
  • Choose the color of the headboard
  • Find out the ideal material and fabric
  • Narrow down your headboard design

Below you’ll see more details for each of the steps along with examples.

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Before you Choose a Headboard, Follow these Tips

Choosing a bed headboard is a task that needs to be done with care. Here are some general tips you should keep in mind when choosing a headboard:

  • A headboard must suit your personality and your needs.
  • Know the size of your room; if you have a small room, then choose a small size headboard. King size headboards are only suitable for king size beds in big rooms, though they do add a luxurious touch to your bedroom.
  • Durability is also an important element of a headboard, especially if you’re not planning to change your furniture in the near future.
  • Always keep in mind that a headboard should be easy to clean. No one wants a headboard with scuffs and stains.
  • To avoid the hassle of attaching the headboard to the bed frame, consider a floating headboard.
  • If you are concerned about bedroom space and want more storage then you should buy a headboard with shelves or extra storage.
  • The material your headboard is made of can impact the temperature in your room.
  • Carefully select a headboard that reflects the style of your bedroom.
  • Function can be just as important as form. For example, if you want to sit up in bed, then consider a quilted headboard.
  • Wooden headboards with simple designs provide a rustic and classic look. Whereas carved wood or fretwork headboards catch the eye.

With these tips in mind, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of choosing your perfect headboard!

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Step 1. Choose a Headboard with the right Size and Height for Your Bed

Remember that the headboard must sit above the mattress. A standard headboard can be up to 4 inches wider than the mattress and bed frame, while height ranges from 14 inches above the mattress to as much as 60 inches. There is not a specific rule for selecting the height of the headboard, you can choose a height according to your needs or style.  Just keep in mind the size of your room and the height of the roof. A large headboard does not look good in small rooms with lower ceilings. 

Common Headboard Sizes

Although there are many kinds of headboard, they generally come in one of seven sizes.

  • Shorty bed headboard: 6” wide and 3-9” tall
  • Twin bed headboard: 38” wide and 75” tall
  • Double bed headboard: 54” wide and height up to 75”
  • Queen bed headboard: 60” wide and height up to 80”
  • Extended queen bed headboard: 66” wide and up to 80” tall
  • King size bed headboard: 76” in width and up to 80” in height
  • Super-king bed headboard: 80” wide by up to 96” tall

Interesting tidbit: Even cot beds have headboards!

How High Should a Headboard Be?

It depends on your room size, the height of your room, the size of your bed, and what you plan to use the headboard for, as well as style, decorations, and your taste.

If your room is small or has low ceilings, a shorter headboard is likely more suitable. Your bed also plays a significant role in the appearance of your room and the size of the headboard you should choose; larger headboards generally suit bigger beds. 

Also consider what you plan to use the headboard for. Are you going to be reading or watching movies in bed? If so, then a taller (and softer) headboard may be more suitable because you can rest your back against it while sitting up. Taller headboards are also great for showcasing your pillows.

There is no specific rule for choosing headboard height. You can go as tall as you want, but keep in mind the size of your room, your bed, and what you plan to use the headboard for.

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To choose a headboard, you need to determine the right headboard size.Here you can see a beautiful button tufted foam padded headboard perfect for reading and watching TV in bed. Measurements: 62.6 x 22.4 x 2.6 inches. Price ~$100. From Amazon
Choose an extra tall headboard for a room with a tall ceilingCheck this extra tall headboard that gives a luxurious touch to large rooms. Measurements: 88.25″L x 66.5″W x 65″H. Price ~$700. From Amazon.
Choose a low headboard for small rooms or busy roomsThis simple, low headboard adds a rustic look but isn’t designed for reading in bed. Headboard size: 0.8 x 64.6 x 37.2 inches. Price ~$90. From Amazon.

Step 2. Choose the Color for your Headboard

A headboard’s color should complement your room design, whether through contrast or by match your color scheme. Different materials come in different colors.

Wood: Wood headboards usually come in natural colors. If you want a dark theme and natural colors then wooden headboards are made for you. Alternatively, wood is an excellent material to paint yourself, just make sure you buy an unfinished headboard.

Metal: Metal headboards provide a metallic touch. If you want lots of lights around your bed then a metal headboard is a good choice.

FIber: Fiber, leather and upholstered headboards provide comfort and functionality. They also come in many colors. 

Use an upholstered headboard to easily sit up and read in bedAn upholstered headboard. Gray colored. Price ~$75. From Amazon.
A simple metal headboard that can add some stature to any bedA simple metal headboard, textured black. Price ~$115. From Amazon.
Choose a wooden headboard with lights to easily sit up and readA wooden headboard with built in lights. Colored white and can easily be painted over. Price ~$340. From Amazon.

Step 3. Choose the Headboard Material & Fabric

Whatever look you’re going for, headboard material matters a lot. Here are some of the most common materials and their advantages.

Wood Headboard

Wood can be both traditional and luxurious. Wooden headboards often come with built in shelves for extra functionality. If you’re into DIY, wood is also an excellent medium to paint or add design elements to, by yourself.

Headboards made of Metal 

Metallic headboards come with a lot of variety and craftwork. You can find them in iron, aluminum, brass, steel, and copper. Metal headboards are also durable and inexpensive. Furthermore, a tall headboard can give a feeling of more space in the room.

Headboards made of Natural Fiber

These headboards also come with lots of variety such as: wicker, abaca, seagrass, and other organic material which are used in this type of headboard. Fiber headboards give a comfy, country feel to the room.

Upholstered Headboards

Upholstered headboards add a touch of charm, elegance, and luxury. They’re also great for resting your back against. Common fabrics include linen, leather, and velvet.

A simple one panel headboard made of wood for a minimalist bed style.A simple dark wood headboard. Minimalist, durable and rustic. Price ~$90. From Amazon.
Upholstered headboards tend to be hard to cleanAn upholstered headboard that’s stylish and durable but hard to clean. Price ~$75. From Amazon.
A simple and cheap metal headboard like this one can be used as a way to keep your mattress in placeAn elegant short metal headboard that’s durable and adjustable but heavy. Price ~$160.  Image from Amazon.

Step 4. Choose the Headboard Design

All headboards are unique. Your choice of design will depend on your taste. The style and color of your room, the height of the ceiling, and the size of your bed can make your headboard look elegant or awkward. It’s therefore important to choose a headboard that fits the rest of the space.

Also keep in mind that every headboard has its own pros and cons. For example:

This beautiful upholstered wall panel headboard with tables provides a lot of style and functionalityAn oversized upholstered wall panel headboard with bedside tables. This design is beautiful, comfortable, stylish and durable. But on the other hand, it is hard to clean, costly, and heavy, and requires a lot of space. Price ~$200. Image from Amazon.
Choose a headboard with storage if you want to keep your room clean or to add decoration to the bedThis wooden headboard is good looking, provides extra space, and is durable. But there’s little variety in color scheme, and it’s heavy. You can store toys, photo frames and decorative items. Look good in medium-size or small rooms also it will be good with standard-double beds. Image from Amazon
A simple steel headboard that's easy to clean.A simple steel headboard. This metal headboard is durable, easy to clean, provides a feeling of space, and requires little maintenance. But it’s heavy, and not very attractive, and expensive. Goes well with a single, kid, shorty or twin bed. Looks good in a small or medium size bedroom and with a bedroom that’s busy with a lot of furniture in it. Priced ~$50. Image from Amazon.

You might also want to use a bookcase as a headboard. If this idea interests you, be sure to take a look at our 10 bookcase bed nook ideas to make your bedroom look cozy for more ideas.

Should you use a footboard as a headboard? 

Footboards are not designed to be headboards. They aren’t designed to support the same amount of weight (from you leaning against them) for extended periods of time. You may need to reinforce your footboard to use it as a headboard. However, it’s probably simpler to buy a headboard in the first place! 

Headboards for Adjustable Beds

You can use the same headboards listed above for adjustable beds as well. In general, headboard designs are interchangeable. Note that adjustable beds tend to increase in height (they don’t change in width), so be careful about choosing a headboard that is too tall for your room.