How To Turn An Old Door Into A Headboard

It all started with a visit to a local salvage yard one afternoon with a friend. How to turn an old door into a headboard with farmhouse charm using an old solid core salvaged 5-panel door. This post includes a detailed step-by-step tutorial on how to build it along with how to hang the DIY headboard onto the wall.

How To Turn An Old Door Into A Headboard

How To Turn An Old Door Into A Headboard

Way at the back of the store behind a pile of interior doors, we came across two very old and heavy doors. Arriving in a compact car we were determined to figure out a way to get those two doors home. Two middle-aged women on a mission and there was no such thing as it can't be done.

With the help of a very patient staff member who shook his head when he saw the Toyota Corolla, we managed to get those babies through the trunk, over the seats with a good portion of the doors hanging out the tethered trunk. Good thing I'm vertically challenged because the doors hung above my head as I slouched in the passenger's seat.

We must have been quite the sight driving down the freeway but with the wind in our hair and accomplishment coursing through our veins, we giggled and chatted the entire way back to our hamlet coming up with a plan on how we were each going to turn our doors into farmhouse headboards for each other's homes.

Old 5-Panel Door Turned Into A Headboard

This is that door after we got it home. Imagine two of them stuffed in that small car.

Old 5-Panel Door Before Being Turned Into A Headboard

It sat in the basement for several months until Spring when we could take it outdoors and get to work.

Prepping Old Headboard Door

Do you like my makeshift sawhorses? Didn't feel like hauling the ones from the basement workshop outside so these leftover drawers from the Twin Headboard Bench came in handy.

This post contains affiliate links so you can see what products I used or recommend for this project. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.


Solid Core Door (salvaged)
Oak Plywood
3-inch Crown Molding
1-inch Decorative Trim
4 each 2x4 Lumber
Wedgewood Gray
Sturbridge White
Clear Wax
Dark Wax
Wood Glue
1 1/2-inch and 4-inch Wood Screws
220-Grit Sandpaper


Power Drill
Pneumatic Nail Gun
Table Saw
Miter Saw
Stud Finder

Trimming Old Door For Queen Size Headboard

Step 1 - Trim the door to fit a queen mattress

To accommodate a queen size mattress the door was cut 67-inches long. We could have got away with 65-inches so there would be less overhang on each side of the mattress.


Trim both ends of the door for a balanced uniform look on each side.

Step 2 - How to frame the headboard door 

To accommodate a mantel ledge on the top, the depth of the door must be increased to 3-inches. To do this screw a 2 x 4 on either end of the door and along the top (as pictured below).

Installing French Cleat On Old Door Headboard

Step 3 - How to build a french cleat

The strongest way to mount the heavy solid core door onto the wall is with a French Cleat. To build one set the table saw to cut at a 45° angle. Rip two 2 x 4's down the middle of the lumber. One cleat will be mounted on the wall and the other on the headboard.

For the one mounted on the headboard, attach it to the back of the door so the angle is pointed downward toward the bottom of the headboard. Make sure the cut is facing inwards towards the back of the door (as pictured above).

We will talk about the wall cleat installation later in this post.

Attaching Crown Molding To Old Door Headboard

Step 4 - Adding crown molding onto the headboard

To build the mantel shelf on the top of the door install 3-inch crown molding with brad nails (much like you would on the top of a cabinet (as pictured above).

Building Mantel Shelf For Old Headboard Door

Step 5 - Adding a mantel ledge on the headboard

To build the ledge above the crown molding:
  1. Cut a piece of oak plywood to measure 5" x 73" (1/2-inch larger than the top of the crown on the sides and front.
  2. Dress up the raw edges of the plywood by attaching 1-inch decorative trim, cutting the corners at a 45° angle. Glue and brad nail in place.
  3. In the photo above you will notice the trim isn't flush on the bottom. That's okay, your crown will fit snug inside and it won't be noticeable (see photo below). 

Old Door Headboard With Mantel

Attach the plywood top onto the crown molding (as pictured above) with wood glue and brad nails. Fill all the screw and nail holes with wood filler and sand smooth before moving onto the next step.

Old Door Headboard Painted Wedgewood Gray

Step 6 - Layer paint with a base coat

It's hard to tell in the photo above but the headboard was painted in the color Wedgewood Gray (the same color as the bedroom walls) with Behr Ultra Primer In One Eggshell. The paint was wet when I took this photo which is why it looks like a glossy finish.

Old Headboard Door White Top Coat

Step 7 - Layer paint with a topcoat

Once the Wedgewood Gray base coat was dry I brushed a thin coat of Homestead Paint Company Milk Paint in the color Sturbridge White. You don't have to use milk paint like I did, white chalk paint or latex would be fine also but thin the paint with water so you have more of a paint wash rather than a full coat.

Distress the topcoat with 220-grit sandpaper where it would naturally wear over time to reveal some of the Wedgewood Gray underneath.

Distressed 5-Panel Door Headboard

To protect the paint finish I applied a coat of Annie Sloan clear wax with a round wax brush. To give the headboard an aged appearance, I immediately applied dark wax into the recessed panels, the decorative trim, and crevices - removing the excess dark wax with a lint-free rag.

Installing French Cleat For Old Door Headboard

Step 8 - How to hang the headboard onto the wall

Now it's time to mount the other French Cleat onto the wall.
  1. Mark the wall at the center of the mattress to find the center point.
  2. Mark the wall at the height of the top of the mattress.
  3. Note: You want the bottom of the headboard to sit and inch or two below the mattress. Mark the measurement on the wall with a piece of tape.
  4. Once you've determined the placement of the headboard, measure from the bottom of the headboard to the cut point of the French Cleat installed on the headboard. 
  5. From the top of the tape that you placed on the wall in #3, draw a line across the wall using a level to keep it straight.
  6. Using a stud finder, find the studs and mark them with a pencil just above the line from #5.
  7. Note: This is where you will need a second set of hands.
  8. With the 45° angle on the French Cleat facing upwards towards the ceiling, line up the back of the cut with your mark on the wall. 
  9. Attach the French Cleat with 4-inch wood screws on each wall stud (as pictured above). Ask your helper to stick around for the next step.

Old Door Headboard Hung On Wall

Step 9 - Mounting the headboard onto the wall

Essentially the two cleats fit into one another to form a strong hanger. You will never have to worry about that heavy door crashing down on your head during the night. You're done!

I've had many of you ask about the wallpaper, it's actually a stencil and you can find links to the stencil and my 12 Helpful Tips On How To Stencil A Wall post. I've also had many of you ask about the wall color. It is Benjamin Moore's Wedgewood Gray HC-146.

Solid Core 5-Panel Door Repurposed Into Headboard

I'm so happy my friend and I happened to stumble upon our old 5-panel doors that afternoon and pleased that she was determined as I to fit them into her small Toyota Corolla.

Had we waited until our husbands could pick them up, the doors would definitely have been sold and the outcome not so rosy.

Old Panel Door Turned Headboard Vignette

If you would like more ideas on how to repurpose old doors, you may like how I turned a smaller 5-panel door (purchased at the same salvage yard) into a Faux Oxidized Tin Flower Planter for our deck. We also turned Old Louvered Bifold doors into a Privacy Fence Screen for our back yard.

If you have any questions about this repurposed vintage door headboard, please leave them in the comment section below or the Contact Me tab at the top. I love hearing from you!

If you enjoyed this DIY headboard idea, I'd be so thankful if you pinned and shared it with a friend.

Repurposed 5-Panel Door Headboard DIY

I share my projects at these inspiring link parties.



  1. I have 5 doors, guess I will be busy.

    1. How lucky! A good vintage solid core wood door is hard to find for a decent price around here. Happy building! If you have any questions about building the headboard, don't hesitate to email me (link in the Contact Me tab).

  2. This is fabulous, and what a great upcycle. I'm excited to share this post with my readers - Pinned and thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much, Chas, appreciate the pin and shares too! Have a great weekend 😊

  3. I have a great love for projects made from old doors (including cabinets), and shutters. This headband is beautiful! The paint job matches the wall paper perfectly, and the edging that you added to the top to house goodies was genius! Great upcycle! And great resource. Picked it as one of my features at this week's Snickerdoodle Create Bake Make Link Party.


    1. You just made my Saturday, Alexandra! Thank you so much for your sweet comments AND the feature. 🤗 xo

  4. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too!

  5. So beautiful!!! Love the crown molding detail!

    1. Thanks Sarah! We still love our vintage door headboard as much as the day we made it.


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