Introduction: Wood Headboard Using Paint Stir Sticks

About: Obsessive DIYer

I’ve been wanting a cool headboard for the past 2 years now…but I never got around to doing it. Nothing ever felt worth the price to buy or worth the time to DIY.

For the past few months I’d been seeing a rise in DIY using those paint stir sticks that you can get for free at Home Depot. And it turns out you can also buy them in packs of 10 for $0.98! I love that they come unfinished so you can literally add any stain or paint to them instantly without any prep work.

I love this DIY headboard because it is actually super lightweight, which was important to me. I also used a variety of stain layers to make this piece visually interesting from all angles. Keep reading if you are interested in learning more!

Materials Needed

  • 200 paint sticks (rough count)
  • Miter Box + Saw
  • Sanding Tools
  • Wood Stain – layer multiple different colors for ombre herringbone effect
    • Varathane Weathered Oak
    • Varathane American Walnut
  • Elmer’s Wood Glue
  • Thin Backing Board (Wood or Poster) (63″ x 30″)
  • Heavy books or clamps
  • Screws & screw anchors to hang on wall

Step 1: Paint Stick Prep

Turn on a really good TV show (for me it was starting “This is Us”) and open all of the ~200 paint sticks and sand them down in batches. After sanding they should be ready for the wood stain. This was the step that took me the longest because I wanted to get the color variations right.

Here were my varieties:

1. 2 coats of Varathane Weathered Oak for the lightest boards.

2. 1 extremely light coat of Varathane American Walnut followed by a heavy coat of Varathane Weathered Oak.

3. 1 heavy coat of Varathane American Walnut followed by a light coat of Varathane Weathered Oak.

This gave me 3 varieties but the last combination actually created some sticks a lot darker or lighter so I could separate those into two different groups as well.

Step 2: Backer Board Prep

If you used white thick poster board like I did you will need to give it a rough coat of a wood colored paint. I highly recommend using a very lightweight wood board instead to back this project because my poster board warped a significant amount after the paint and it complicated the process unnecessarily. Depending on your bed size I would cut it a little bit wider than your mattress dimensions.

For my Queen Bed I used 63×30 inch dimensions. I had to use two different poster boards so I connected them using scrap wood and glued + screwed it into the back

Step 3: Herringbone Pattern

Start gluing your paint sticks! Use a right angle to start the first point in the middle of your board.

Note: Each paint stick has a divet in the top of the stick (for handling purposes). If you stick two of those divets against each other it will create a larger hole. To hide these you will need to continually alternate directions of your paint sticks so the divet is always next to a straight edge on the neighboring paint stick. Did I just make up the word divet? Spell check is not liking it…oh well.

Step 4: Finishing Edges

Now this is the part that can get tedious, so make sure you have an entertaining tv show going on in the background. You will want to make sure that you trim the edges of each paint stick BEFORE you glue it down.

I glued a few down first and tried to trim with my hand saw but it wasn’t super neat or successful. Place your paint stick down and draw a line where you need to cut off the excess. Then use a miter box and hand saw to saw off the excess wood using the 45 degree angle. After you do all that you can glue all the edge pieces. Finally you will want to create one final boarder around the edge of the whole project to hide any inconsistencies on the edges.

Step 5: Hang Up the Masterpiece

After you get everything glued down I would wait overnight to let all of the glue dry before attempting to hang. When you hang the headboard I would ask a friend or family member to help hold the headboard up to make sure its level. Then drill pilot screws and insert screw anchors into the wall to support more weight. Finally use a screw driver to screw the screws in and the piece should be snug on the wall! You might want to either paint the screws or use a screw topper to hide the silver screws but I haven’t done this yet.