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Picture of Old Door to Chalkboard Headboard
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I love chalkboard paint and needed a headboard. So I made one!

You need:

a bed
an old door
chalkboard paint (this comes in spray cans, $7, or quarts, $10)
painter's tape
some old paper
screws
a drill 
 
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Step 1: Step one: find a door to fit your bed

Picture of step one: find a door to fit your bed
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Measure your bed. Or don't! 

from wikipedia, standard american bed sizings: 
Single/Twin: 39" x 79" 
Double/Full: 54" x 75" 
Queen: 60" x 80" 
King: 76" x 80"

The door here is a standard-sized door, and the bed is a queen-sized bed. Where do you find doors? Good question! For me, this was pretty easy, as I used an old door that had come from my house (who wants to have a door to a hallway?) which was hanging out in the garage. But this is easy to do even without that. Check places like Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, where people donate their old household items like furniture, kitchen cabinets, windows, and doors, or even some thrift stores. Remember, even if you have an oddly-sized bed, there are tons of differently-sized doors which can fit it--you just may have to hunt more. 


Step 2: Step two: sand/paint the panels

Picture of step two: sand/paint the panels
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Depending on the paneling (or lack thereof) on your door, you're going to approach this differently. I shopped around for doors originally because I wanted the paneling to be of equal sizing, but eventually went with the doors I had. I knew I didn't want to paint the entire door, and wanted a framing effect of the panels, but you may want something different! Some doors have raised panels, some have recessed panels, and if you have a plain door with no paneling you can paint in the shape of the chalkboard yourself. 

Either way, you're going to want to first examine the areas you'll be painting. On my door, the paint was peeling off in layers, so I taped off the edges of the paneling first and then peeled back paint, so I wouldn't accidentally peel too much off. I then sanded any rough-looking spots. 

If your door has a smooth coat of paint here, this isn't as necessary. You just need a very flat surface for your chalkboard. 

Before you paint, TAPE OFF around the areas you'll be painting. I also put paper around the rest of the door, as I was using a spray can of chalkboard paint. 

Since I was spray painting, I did three or four coats, alternating spraying vertically for the first coat and horizontally for the second coat. Let dry between coats--I let mine sit overnight in the garage. 

(Magnetic primer is also sold next to the chalkboard paint. I opted out of this, as it was $20/can, but if you want to be able to use magnets on your chalkboard, you may want to put a coat or two of this on first, and then let dry and paint over with chalkboard paint.) 

Step 3: Step 3: add the legs

Picture of step 3: add the legs
First of all, measure how high your mattress + bedframe sits off the ground. This is where you want the bottom of your door to hit. Then measure the short side of your door, and add that number to the height of your mattress off the ground, so you know how long to cut the legs. 

For me, this meant cutting 2x4s that were going to be about six feet tall, to give mattress clearance under the headboard.  I got a 2x4x12 board, and cut it so into two six-feet lengths. 

Now you'll have to attach the legs to your door-headboard. There are more sophisticated ways to do this (like notching the boards to slide the ends of the doors into), but I opted for the simple way that required less cutting and sawing. I painted the boards to match the door, then attached them to the back of the door frame, using a drill with eight 2" screws (four rows of two screws each, just to make sure the legs don't come off). I predrilled the holes as well. 

Step 4: Congratulations on your new headboard!

Picture of congratulations on your new headboard!
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Now you're set! I added some rope light to my headboard for extra panache (just draped over, not even nailed in place yet!) and so I could read at night. 

You want to lightly cover the chalkboard surfaces with chalk, then wipe it off, per instructions on the side of the chalkboard paint. Then write your favorite bedtime quotation and enjoy your new bed!

I've had a few questions about this setup, so I'll recap those here:

Don't you get chalk in your hair?
Nope. I have a body pillow between my main pillow & the headboard, as you can see in the pictures, for extra softness, but even when I'm sitting upright and leaning back against the headboard it doesn't happen. You probably could end up with chalk in your hair, but only if you leaned back and really tried to wipe the chalk with your head. 

Doorknobs?
My door didn't have a doorknob, but if yours does I suggest you remove it. I positioned my door so that the doorknob plate (with keyhole!) is behind the pillows, and the hinge-side (with hinges removed) is at the top. If you wanted to, you could put a shelf across the top for added usefulness.

Stability? how stable is it, since it's just leaned against the wall?
I researched a lot of DIY headboards before making this one, and affixing the headboard directly to the wall seemed to be really popular for a lot of them. But you can't really do that if you're renting! I did end up putting some carpet pads (the kind you put on the bottom of furniture to keep it from scuffing up your floor) on the surfaces where the door scrapes against the wall. For me, since I attached the 2x4 legs to the entire length of the door, this was just the top two points of those 2x4 legs. 

Another option: If you have a metal bedframe, it could be very possible to use screws to affix the metal bedframe directly to the 2x4 legs. This wasn't an option for me--the door was slightly too long, and so the way it sits now the legs sit on the outside of the bedframe, but if you have a smaller door, or set the legs more toward the middle and not flush with the end, it would be entirely possible to attach the rest of your bedframe to this. 

Questions? Comments? lemme know! 

I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading! 
superitchy2 years ago
A cheaper way to get chalkboard paint is to mix 2 tbs unsanded tile grout to 1 cup paint. And that way, you can choose whatever color you like! :)
sussemaus6 months ago
:) awesome tut! Been looking for door ideas for a while. Mine is freestanding, legs go halfway up the back because that's the length of wood I had , no writing on it yet but I like the look of it . I did have to cover up a beautiful vintage door with years of layered paint , but I just wanted the wood!
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shdittman9 months ago

Since I am a super novice I was wondering how to best attach the legs to the door and at what distance (do you place them even with the ends of the door or not). Size screws, what kind, configuration, etc. This looks super simple and I've had a door for 25 years just wondering what to do with it and no headboard on any beds in the house!

abigail-nicole (author)  shdittman9 months ago
I just put them at the ends of the door, even with the top and bottom. If you wanted to be fancy you could measure your mattress & put them with the space of your mattress between them, so it would match up perfectly with your mattress.

I don't remember what size screws I used--I think I just measured the width or boards + door (so 1" thick board + 1.5" thick door, or whatever it was) and got screws slightly smaller than that, so they wouldn't poke through the other side. The diameter of the screws really doesn't matter.

Thanks for responding and taking the time to post your tutorial. Last question: you don't mention fastening the boards to the bedframe. Is this free-standing? I also, am looking for a headboard that doesn't attach to the wall, but where the frame/mattress doesn't have a gap with the headboard.

Love it.
This is so fun. Love the whole room. :D