The Numbers Are In: Is It Cheaper to Make or Buy This Headboard?

How often have you looked at a headboard in a catalog and thought “Shoot, I could make that!” That may be true, for sure. But when you break it down into cost of materials, tools and time, it might turn out to be less expensive for you to buy one than to make one. But let’s say you’re the DIY type and you actually enjoy gathering the materials, supplies and tools, planning, and executing your design. In that case, I like you already.
Let’s break it down and compare.

The inspiration headboard is the Ethan Allen ‘Alison’ style. Priced at $799 for the Queen size, my friend only needs a full size. Surprisingly or not, size won’t change the cost of materials substantially.

In a nutshell, the ‘Alison’ is a cut out wood headboard with diamond tufting, cording, silver decorative nailheads, a band of fabric and another row of decorative nailheads. The outside band of fabric is seamed in two places at the top. The back of the wood will have to be covered and there will need to be hanging hardware. We’re adapting this into a hanging headboard for ease of construction, shipping and future moving.

Photo Image: cocozy.com

When estimating the cost of materials, I tended to err on the side of overestimating, since there’s always some unexpected expenses that come as a surprise.

Full size headboard dimensions: 54″ wide x 46″ tall x 1.5″ deep.

Materials:
1/2″ piece of plywood (cut to 54″ x 46″) $35.00
2″ foam $50.00
roll of dacron batting $15.00
fabric 3 yds @ $25.00 (adjust accordingly) $75.00
covered buttons $1.00 each $16.00
silver nailheads box of 1000 $26.00-$30.00
staples $ 7.00
spray adhesive $ 7.00
hanging hardware $12.00
welt cord $ 5.00
twine $ 5.00
TOTAL $257.00 rounded up to $300.00

Tools You’ll Need:
jigsaw $40.00
drill $40.00
tufting needles $12.00 (pk. of 3)
electric knife to cut foam $20.00
tack hammer $20.00
staple gun $25.00
sewing machine (borrow one)

TOTAL $157.00

With some give and take here and there, this is a ball park figure you can use as a basis for making your own headboard. Don’t forget that you’ll need to learn how to do diamond tufting, apply cord and the decorative nailheads. If time isn’t an issue, and you have confidence that you can create a headboard you’ll be crazy about, then making it yourself can save you some money.

Photo Image: ApartmentTherapy.com

If you’re the type of person who will never be satisfied with your own work because it’s not perfect, then spending the extra money to purchase one will be well worth it to you.

For the most part, if you believe you can create a headboard like this as your first project, you’re deluding yourself. It takes lots of practice to learn the techniques used in this particular style.

When you see cheap tufted headboards online, there’s a reason they’re so inexpensive. Go to Ethan Allen or some other respectable furniture store and take a close look at the upholstered headboards. When you see and feel quality, the cheap, flimsy ones will no longer be acceptable to you.

Pros of Making a Headboard:
Cost
Custom fabric
Sense of satisfaction
Your own creative spin

Cons of Making a Headboard
You may not have the skills
You may never be satisfied with your own work
You have to buy or borrow tools
You don’t have space to work
You don’t have time

There are many simpler headboard designs that won’t cause you so much deliberation, but if you want to knock off a designer style, you need to think it through, don’t overthink it, and then roll up your sleeves and get to work!

Posted in fabric, furniture, furniture design, handmade, headboards, Uncategorized, upholstery | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to The Numbers Are In: Is It Cheaper to Make or Buy This Headboard?

  1. Cat says:

    I cannot wait to see your progress, pls post pics as you go along b/c I am going to upholster my wood headboard also and cut it into a different shape. I just ordered my DG fabric (YIKES!!!). Here are my questions already:
    1.) I would be scard 1/2′ plywoood would bend/warp too easily
    2.) can’t one use those nail heads on the roll where you only nail in like every third or 4th one?
    3.) and why do you have to cover the back?
    CAT!

  2. shellyleer says:

    1. I would choose 3/4″ plywood but it has to be shipped to San Diego and it will be too heavy. 1’2″ is a wee bit thin.
    2. You could use that nailhead trim tape, but I’m a purist and that would bug me.
    3. Just to make it look finished and professional.

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