Barn door headboard DIY

Bed collage

While kicking around for wood at a salvage yard, Dana happened upon a weathered barn door riddled with hooks and spikes and rusty, protruding bolts.

“That’s it!” she pointed, “That’s our headboard.”

I looked at all the dangerous hardware — the hooks, loops, hinges, and screws — and went immediately into 50 Shades of Marital Fun.

“Isn’t it great?” Dana asked.

“It is,” I said, “It is indeed. But just curious so we’re on the same page. Why do … you like it?”

“Just reminds me of the … country. Pastoral. Beautiful. Speaks of an innocent time.”

I nodded.

“Yeah … me too.”


It was still a fun project.

Dana wanted the headboard in place for when we moved back into our home, after a few months of kitchen and bedroom/bathroom renovations.

So Emme and I got to work.

It was really actually quite easy — just basically a metric fuckton of sanding, with a tiny bit of grinding work on the rusty bolts and then some bolting into studs.

door 2

Step 1 was finding an old barn door … which we did at a salvage yard in Petaluma. The door came from an old horse barn in Bolinas, north of San Francisco. Considering how much they love horses, Dana and Emme both went into fits of joy when they heard the story. Dana’s dad loaned us his truck and even helped haul it home.

Step 2 involved giving it a good wash in Borax and water to kill off any insects or termites. Basically just created a mix heavy on Borax and soaked the thing. Let it dry a few days. And then began Steps 3 through 99:



Step 3 was all about sanding. Because we’d be sitting up to read against the thing, with our heads and shoulders and backs rubbing against it, I wanted it to be just absolutely smooth as silk. So Emme and I used a Black and Decker Mouse mini sander to do the brunt of the work, and then, after a few passes, we started in with our hands with finer and finer grit paper.

By the time we were finished, it was perfect.

We moved a hook from the backside to the front because we liked it so much.


“You can hang your watch on there!” Dana said.

“Yes,” I said, “Yes exactly what I was thinking.”

Pastoral my ass.

Step 4.

Instead of a stain, we chose a clear acrylic paint to give it a final coat of smoothness and to preserve it. We didn’t want to alter the color with a stain, so the clear paint was perfect. Some more sanding and voila, finished.

Step 5: Getting it inside and trying to move it upstairs and realizing, good god, we should have measured because there is absolutely no way we’re going to get this up the stairs.

In fact, we could not.

I had to cut off the bottom plank to give us enough clearance.


But thankfully Dana’s dad had the genius idea of using lag bolts to bolt the headboard into the wall. We may have lost some height by cutting off the bottom plank but by hanging it on the wall, we regained the desired look. It really anchors the room now.

Just perfect.

If you’re thinking of doing this, I highly recommend it. The door was cheap — $100, a deal! — and the sanding equipment and paint and bolts probably cost $70 total. The sanding was the most difficult and joyous part. I would literally wake up giddy, just itching to get back to work.

Now that it’s installed, we love it. Emme, in her Awesome Girl outfit, loves to jump around like crazy — just like she did on our old bed. It’s a reminder of how much of a focal point the family bed is — a place of comfort and love and fun.


Thinking about tweaking this for kids in the next edition of “Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects.”


  1. I want to come to your house warming party. Just letting you know I am inviting myself.


  2. It’s a deal. Although at this rate, we may never be done! Always seems to be one more thing …

  3. It’s very trouble-free to find out any topic on web as compared to textbooks, as I found this paragraph at this web page.

  4. Hi Mike,

    I just wanted to let you know that I saw this on Apartment Therapy and came to see the original post. Its a great project and fantastic pictures. I reposted (with a different take) it at The Reclamation Administration
    Great job!


  1. […] is sort of making me loopy, between a big project I’m working on, all the heat, stain fumes, endless driving to horse lessons, and then … all the […]