How to Refinish a Headboard

Many newlyweds begin their lives with hand-me-down furniture, most of which is out-of-date or has several layers of paint on it. One item that can be refinished easily is the headboard. The two most often used methods to turn a dingy headboard with no character into a focal point of the bedroom are removing the old finish and applying a new one, and padding and covering the headboard with a piece of eye-catching fabric.

  1. Use a paintbrush to apply the paint-removing solvent. Read the instructions to see how long you must allow the solvent to remain on the headboard. Use a scraper to scrape off the old finish. Allow headboard to dry.

  2. Use fine sand paper to smooth the surface of the wood. Wipe off the dust with a tacky rag. Apply stain to the wood and let dry. Use a good brush to apply varnish and allow it to dry. Go over all varnished surfaces lightly with fine steel wool and follow with a clean tacky rag. Apply a second coat of varnish and allow it to dry.

  3. Lay the headboard flat on the floor to refinish it without the mess of stain and varnish. Place at least 3 inches of batting over the entire headboard, allowing it to lap over the sides and top. Use the staple gun to attach the batting to the headboard.

  4. Lay the piece of fabric that is at least 8 to 12 inches larger than the headboard on all sides over the batting. Wrap the fabric on one side around towards the back of the headboard, turning raw edge under, and staple it in place. Do the same on the opposite side.

  5. Wrap the fabric on the lower edge of the headboard around towards the back, taking care to make the corners neat. Turn under the raw edge and staple the fabric in place along the lower back edge. Wrap the fabric over the top edge of the headboard, turning raw edge under, and staple the fabric to the top back of the headboard, ensuring there are no wrinkles in the fabric and that corners are neat.


  • Use solvents outdoors or inside with windows open to avoid being overcome by fumes.