What is a Headboard? 17 Things I Bet You Don’t Know


I am trying to create a resource to answer any questions someone might ask bout headboards. So if you have a question that is not answered below please let me know.

A headboard was originally used to insulate against the cold stone and concrete walls. More recently the headboard is primarily used as shelf and storage space, comfortable backrest for sitting up, and for improving the decor of a bedroom. It also provides support for foundations.

What is a Headboard Used For?

These days it is used as furniture to add to the decore of a bedroom. Some styles add functionality with shelves for books, clock, photographs, and other personal items.

They were invented long ago to help keep sleepers warm during their night slumber. Most homes “back in the day” had stone or concrete walls and no insulation. The cold would come right through the wall/. But a headboard made with thick wood is a decent insulator compared to stone.

Do You Need a Headboard on Your Bed?

You do not need a headboard as it was invented to prevent the sleepers from feeling drafts from the walls in the old days. Often they grew up in homes that had headboards on every bed in the house so they don’t know that there is an option to go headless.

There are many platform foundations that don’t even have brackets for attaching a headboard so you can save money. Benefits of going headless:

  • Save money.
  • Easier to move. If you are like me and move as often as you do the dishes then more stuff is a pain. especially since your friends will stop helping after a dozen moves.
  • Less cleaning. Seriously, furniture needs cleaning and polishing. I like less cleaning myself.
  • Less noise. Most headboards are going to rattle, clang, and bang against the wall.
  • No maintenance. Yep, the bolts and nuts holding it to the bed frame get loose over time. Unless you fasten it to the wall, but then you have drywall repair and painting when you move.

    And if you rent the landlord won’t be too happy about holes in the wall (trust me).

What Kind of Bed Frame do you Need for a Headboard?

To mount a headboard you need brackets with slots where bolts and nuts fasten them together. Most box spring foundations come with these brackets installed or are available to purchase as an addon.

Many are made with wood legs and sideboards often accept a headboard. If not, you can drill holes through the legs of the headboard and the wood legs and attach with long carriage bolts and nuts and washers. Lock washers are great to reduce the chance of the nuts becoming loose.

Can You use any Headboard with a Platform Bed?

Yes, with some platforms such as with some wood framed with wood legs. But not the plain metal fold-out platform foundations as there is no bracket and no option to buy one. Unfortunately, you will have to check with every bed that you are considering to purchase.

Beautiful headboard

How do You Attach a Headboard to a Bed Frame?

You can attach a headboard to a with a few different options including:

  • If you have a bracket on each side you can slide the headboard bolts into the slots in the bracket. Screw on the washers and nuts and tighten.
  • If your frame does on have the brackets you can check to see if the manufacturer makes them and is available for purchase separately.

What hardware do I need to attach a headboard?

If you do not have any hardware to attach it to the bed frame you can measure the size of the holes and take a trip to the hardware store. Make sure to measure the length you will need for your bolts to be long enough for nuts and washers.

It is crazy frustrating to arrive home with your hardware, grab your wrenches and sockets, position the headboard perfectly, ask the wife to hold it with one and your beer with the other, slide the first bolt through, and dang! It is too short.

At this point you have to ask your beautiful wife to go to the hardware store for you because you drank two beer while accomplishing nothing. The bolts can be too long since nobody should be crawling around under your bed.

So if you are going to be wrong, and you are a man so it will happen, get bolts that are too long.

What Is a Headboard’s Purpose?

There can be many points to a headboard including:

  • To store books, clock, cell phone, photos, knick nacks, etc.
  • To add a piece of furniture to the decor of the bedroom
  • To add strength if it is attached correctly
  • To provide comfort with fluffy upholstered fabric and material for leaning against while sitting up before sleeping.
antique headboard

Should Headboard be Wider Than Bed?

It is a personal preference if your headboard should be wider than the frame. My antique metal bed had a metal headboard and footboard incorporated in the frame design. It was exactly the same width as the frame.

Some designs extend wider than for design and functionality. Some are free-standing which has to be wider than to work. Some also have shelves that extend beyond the bed which can replace side tables.

Should Headboard Touch Floor?

Yes, the headboard should touch the floor for several reasons:

  • To support its own weight rather than placing stress on the foundation.
  • Some are incorporated into the design and provides the legs to support the head end.
  • For strength when moving it to hunt for dust bunnies.

Do Fabric Headboards Collect Dust?

Yes, fabric headboards collect dust the same as any other furniture in the bedroom. However, some models are much more difficult to clean and dust due to patterns and uneven surfaces.

And where does so of that dust land? On your pillows. So perhaps you can through a sheet over the bed before dusting and then wash the sheet.

What if a Headboard is loose?

The easiest way to stabilize a headboard is to: drill a couple of holes into the legs, two on each side for a total of four holes.

  • Remove the headboard.
  • Drill two holes in each leg of the headboard (no higher than the top of the mattress so it won’t be seen later).
  • Drill the lower hole in each leg 1″ off the floor. This is the screw that will go through the drywall and into the bottom lumber plate inside the wall.
  • Drill the top holes in the legs.
  • Hold the headboard against the wall where it will be installed and mark the hole locations on the wall with a pencil pushed through the holes.
  • Move the headboard out of your way.
  • Drill a small hole in the drywall at the two marks.
  • If they hit a wood stud that is great, but unlikely.
  • If no stud then uses a heavy-duty wall anchor and insert it into the drywall.
  • Place the headboard back into place and install screws with washers through the top two holes and into the wall anchors.
  • Install two screws with washers in the bottom two holes.
  • Push bed against the headboard.
bookshelf headboar

Can I Change the Headboard of My Bed?

Yes, you can change the headboard of your bed if your frame has universal brackets that the headboard is attached to.

However, some models have headboards incorporated into the design and provide support. In which case no, you cannot change the headboard.

How do You Take a Headboard Off a Bed?

Follow the steps below steps to remove a headboard

  • Grab a socket or wrench set. You need two the same size as the bolt and the nut.
  • Pull the bed away from the wall.
  • Place one wrench or socket and ratchet on the nut that is located under the bet.
  • Place the other on the bolt on the outside of the headboard.
  • Start backing out the bolt by turning it clockwise.
  • If you are too wimpy to get the bolt to loosen then first loosen the nut under the bed. This will be much easier to get started.

What is a Freestanding Headboard?

A freestanding headboard means that it supports its own weight and balances on its own frame. These can provide a look that works with the decor of your room and can provide a little privacy if it has large wings.

free sranding headboard

Scott Boyd

A semi-retired workaholic in Thailand is a challenge. It is too hot to keep building adobe and earthbag buildings so a new project was needed. I became interested in bed frames after purchasing a bamboo bed frame from a local supplier here and I learned there is little information about them on the Internet. So now I spend my days researching, testing, and reporting my findings to help others while having an occasional beer and istening to 60s and 70s B side rock, blues, and much more.

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