Craft / Homes & Interiors

How To Cheat Your Way To An Upholstered Button Headboard

When my housemate Ali told me she had purchased a hideous button headboard and planned to upcycle and reupholster it I couldn’t have been any more excited. I’ve been itching to try this ‘how to’ for a while now, and finally I was getting the chance!


After a struggle fitting the headboard into my tiny car, we were off on a road trip to visit Tegan of Traffic Cone Creations who leant her expertise to this project. We had grand intentions of doing this project ‘by the book’, following tutorials online. But, in the end, we cheated a little. Here’s how…

What you need:

  • Upholstered button headboard – this one was £2 from a charity shop
  • Fabric
  • Staple gun
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Craft knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Scissors


Remove the staples…

We begun by trying to remove these staples to get the thin sheet of white fabric that neatens up the back off. These staples were old and had been, well, stapled for a really long time. They were rusted and really hard to get out. We managed a few, then I made the discovery we had all been hoping wouldn’t happen; more staples attaching the salmon fabric to the wood back of the headboard.5

…Or don’t!

It was at this point, after spending way too long removing only a tiny amount of the staples that we knew about, that we decided to cheat. Craft knife at the ready, Ali cut around first the white later then the salmon layer of fabric, leaving the staples in the wood. Although it was less neat, it was a much quicker process.



While the final result was messy at the back, this would eventually be covered by the new fabric anyway. This headboard will sit against the wall and it’s for Ali’s personal use, (as opposed to shop stock,) so it didn’t have to be perfect all over.


Prepare for re upholstering

As you can see in the photo above, you are left with a few layers once the original fabric is free from the wood back. You want to keep the foam and keep the wood back, discarding the original fabric as this is the bit you’re replacing.


Different button headboards have buttons attached in different ways. We were expecting ‘split pin’ buttons, but we were confronted with some scary screw buttons instead. We pulled them out by levering them with screwdrivers. Keep the buttons, you’ll need them later!

We also found that the fabric was being held down by yet more staples in the dents that the buttons sat in. We did actually pull these up, as we wanted the fabric to remain in tact for the next step.




Cut your new fabric to size

We lay the original fabric onto the new fabric we wanted to use, making sure there was enough room (a few inches) at the sides for the fabric to be pulled behind the board and stapled. Using scissors, the original fabric acted as a template as cut around the side making sure to leave those important few inches!


Time to reupholster!

  • We lay the fabric patterned side down on the floor and placed the headboard over it.
  • Starting in the middle of the bottom and top of the headboard we pulled the fabric tight and used a staple gun to staple the fabric into place.
  • Working outwards at intervals of about an inch, we continued to pull the fabric taught and staple, putting a couple of staples into each place.
  • At the corners, we folded the fabric over and stapled it until it was secure.

Getting the dimpled look

One thing we found surprisingly easy about this process was achieving the dimpled, quilted look of a button headboard. The foam inlay of the headboard was so strongly dimpled that we simply stapled the fabric down in each of the existing dips in the foam.

Most importantly, we began in the middle and worked outwards, as the fabric becomes very stretched the more dimpled it becomes and simply won’t stay stapled if you try to start anywhere else!


Those pesky buttons…

We took the buttons apart and found that they were actually in four parts; the bottom of the button (left) which comes apart to be a button bottom and a nail, the button top (right) and the fabric covering (middle). We removed the nails and discarded the fabric.

Ali had a hunt through Tegan’s amazing fabric collection and came across a vibrant turquoise satin. We cut the fabric to fit over the button so that there was an excess to use to wedge the bottom of the button into place. We ended up using hot glue to ensure the pieces of these buttons stayed stuck together.

Once we had recovered the buttons, we cheated again. We could have used the nails and hammered the buttons into place, but they were a bit fragile after being taken apart. We also didn’t have a hammer! Instead, we used hot glue to stick them into place in the dimples of the headboard.

96Voila! A reupholstered button headboard! We chose to leave the back uncovered, although it would have been simple to staple a piece of fabric cut to the right size over the messy back. Keep watching for a post on the headboard’s new home in Ali and Gary’s room. A huge thank you goes to Tegan of Traffic Cone Creations for her guidance on this DIY and her help with the staple gun! Check out my Fabulous Friends post on Tegan here.

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3 thoughts on “How To Cheat Your Way To An Upholstered Button Headboard

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