How to Paint Wood Headboards

bed with tall, wooden headboard
What You'll Need
Drop cloth
Tack cloth
Spray paint
Clear-coat spray
Safety gear

Though you might be tempted to throw away a worn or faded wooden headboard, you shouldn't. These headboards can be expensive, and, despite wear, they can last for years to come. Instead, you can give it a facelift with a fresh coat of paint. Use the steps detailed below to get started.

Preparing Your Workspace and Headboard

Remove your headboard from the bed, and take it to any area where you have plenty of room to work, like a garage or a dry, shady spot outside. Put down a drop cloth and place the headboard on top of it.

Check the wood for any signs of dents, dings, or warping. Fix a warped headboard or minor flaws in it before continuing to the next step.

Sanding the Wood

Warning: Wear a dust mask at all times when sanding and eye protection if using a power sander.

Sand the entire surface of the wood headboard to remove any splinters and give your primer a smooth surface to stick to. If you have any designs in your wood, fold up small pieces of sandpaper to get into the creases.

Cleaning up Dust

Once you’ve sanded the entire headboard, wipe the wood down with a tack cloth to get rid of any sandpaper dust. If you skip this part of the step, dust will get into the primer and paint.

Applying Primer

Warning: Wear safety gear when working with primer or paint to avoid skin contact or inhalation of toxic fumes.

Primer gives wooden surfaces a better texture for the paint to adhere to, and it fills in small dents or dings. Using even strokes, apply primer with a paintbrush. Don’t let the primer fill in any decorative etchings. If you need to, you can use a rag to soak up any excess primer or drips.

If you want to paint both sides of the headboard, allow one side to dry completely before turning it over.

Painting the Wood Headboard

Next, shake your can of spray paint for a couple of minutes to make sure it's mixed well. Holding the can approximately 8 inches from the surface of your headboard, spray in short, sweeping motions for a uniform application. Work in only one area at a time. Catch any drips with a rag immediately. Then, allow the paint to dry.

Applying Clear Coat

An application of a clear coat will protect your headboard from dings, and it will give your wooden headboard a professional finish. In addition, applying a clear coat will even out any streaks from the prior paint application. Apply this coat in the same way as you applied the paint, by holding the can about 8 inches from the surface.

When you have covered the entire headboard, allow it to completely dry before placing it back on your bed. For a different look, consider making an upholstered headboard.