The Definitive Buying Guide to Headboards

Headboards are believed to date as far back as Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, with the latter receiving the credit for the idea of making headboards more comfortable. In those days, headboards were a luxury, and owning a headboard was a sign of status. 

This was still true later in medieval times. The purpose of a headboard was to keep the draft from drifting off the wall onto the person sleeping. Homes were icy cold back then and didn’t have the drywall we have now.

Today, though, it’s a whole new story. A headboard is a common sight in a bedroom. 

If you’re thinking of buying a headboard for your bed, whether replacing an old one or buying one to go with a new bed, this guide is for you. Find out what you need to know in our Bedstar Buying Guide to Headboards.

Table of contents:

Is a headboard necessary?

It’s your choice. Many people have them, but not everyone does. Some people are perfectly happy without them. However, the headboard’s original idea is to protect you against any draft coming from the wall, but now there’s more of an aesthetic function to them. They add completeness to the bed, but besides the fantastic aesthetics and keeping you out of a draft, headboards offer extra benefits:

They protect the bedroom wall

Why do we wash our pillowcases? The reason is that we sweat. Just like we sweat onto our pillowcase and the grease from our hair can also rub off onto it, we could do the same to the wall and mark and stain it. If you have a headboard, your head can no longer come into direct contact with the wall and mark it.

They support your back

A headboard allows you to sit upright more comfortably in bed if you like to read or watch TV. Of course, do this without the headboard, and the wall will still give you support. Will the support from the wall be comfortable, though? Not at all. It’s a wall — cold and hard.

You won’t lose your pillows

If you don’t have a headboard, you can be sure your pillows will fall down the gap between the bed and the wall. The headboard will help you to keep them all on the bed. You’ll find the headboard essential, especially if you’re going to move your bed away completely from the wall.

sleeping on a memory foam pillow

Different types of headboards

There are different ways to set up your headboard. 

At Bedstar, we sell floor-standing headboard furniture and strutted ones.

Strutted headboards

These are common headboards and come with struts that allow you to fix the headboard onto the bed’s back. All you have to do is line the holes in the struts up with the pre-drilled holes at the top end of the bed and bolt on the headboard. You can also adjust the position of the headboard upwards or downwards to suit your needs.

Cube Diamond Padded fabric headboard
Strutted headboards have two reinforced struts that attach the headboard securely to a divan base.

Floor-standing headboards

These headboards stand on the floor, and you attach them to the bed. They tend to have a slot in the main body of the headboard, and the bolts go through it. Since they have a fixed height, you have to be more careful when choosing them.

Monte Carlo Padded fabric headboard
Floor standing headboards are headboards which conveniently stand behind your bed.

When looking for a new headboard, you might also come across wall-mounted ones, which you’re more likely to buy if you’re installing a fitted wardrobe into your bedroom. Wall-mounted headboards use hidden fittings to connect to the wall. They depend a little less on the bed’s fittings, so there are fewer problems with sizing a wall-mounted headboard.

Padded fabric headboard

Headboard materials

Depending on your reasons for buying the headboard and what you want to achieve with your headboard, you should choose a different material. Headboards tend to come in three main types of material:

Wooden Headboards

Wood is one of the most common choices on the market and gives you a lot of flexibility. You can use it to make your bed more dressy and give your room a more contemporary feel or a traditional one. The natural tones and colours of the wood mean the headboard creates a fantastic backdrop for your bed. You can also paint the wood the colour and shade that suits you. A good wooden headboard will last you decades.

Budget is an important factor when choosing a wooden headboard. As adaptable as wood is, if you buy a pine or oak headboard, it can be quite expensive, so be sure of what you want for your bedroom. 

Friendship Mill Vegas headboard

Metal Headboards

Like wooden headboards, metal ones are adaptable and can work well with various décor styles, whether antique, contemporary, or traditional. Nickel-plating creates a rustic look, whereas bronze or brass plating infuses the bed with a regal-like aesthetic. Like wooden headboards, you can paint them if you wish. 

Metal headboards are also easier to clean. When you’re cleaning one, all you have to do is wipe them with a slightly damp cloth, but be careful to watch out for any sharp edges. Note that metal is more sensitive to temperatures, too, so a metal headboard can sometimes be uncomfortably warm or cold to the touch.

Serene Waverly headboard

Upholstered Headboards

Anyone who wants to go for that extra elegant touch should look for a headboard with an upholstered finish. You can get these in a range of fabrics, such as standard velvet, crushed velvet, wool, chenille, Verona, or fusion fabrics. You could even go for a leather finish. Upholstering lends additional comfort to the headboard, which works well when you want to sit upright and watch TV or ensconce yourself in a good book!

Fabrics can be more than a little bit more difficult to clean, and you’ve really got to stay on top of them to keep them looking nice. If you have a dust-mite allergy, you might prefer a wooden frame or a metal one instead.

Katie headboard

Headboard styles

Headboards come in various styles, which you can choose in line with the interior design of your bedroom and/or your reasons for buying a (new) headboard. At Bedstar, we sell four main styles:

Panel Headboards

Often, the paneled headboards have a rectangular frame and consist of two, three, or more panels within the frame. There’s an elegant, tidy feel about them, and they combine well with divan beds. They can adapt to different interiors, and they have a sense of timelessness about them, too.

As part of their adaptability, you don’t have to settle for a plain design. You can buy a wooden headboard and hire a carpenter to etch or carve some intricate designs and details into the panels or other headboard parts.


Slatted Headboards

Slatted headboards may be metal or wooden and will feature vertical slats. They create the illusion of height, making the bed seem that bit taller or grand. Most times, the slats will be an equal distance apart, but on some headboards, also arrange them slightly differently. A slatted headboard can add depth to a smaller bedroom.

Friendship Mill Shaker headboard

Traditional Headboards

By ‘traditional,’ we don’t mean you’ll see grandiose headboards reminiscent of many centuries ago with bold, handsome designs carved into them. What we do mean is that these headboards follow a more traditional design in their shape. A little inwards from the headboard side, the outline curves into an arch, reminding onlookers of a slightly older, more traditional headboard style. We offer traditional designs in wood and metal.

Friendship Mill Orlando headboard

Contemporary Headboards

A contemporary headboard has a smooth surface, clean lines, and a sleek silhouette, making for an exquisite top piece for your bed. What kind of décor do you have? Is there a lot of glass, stainless steel, or chrome and lightly coloured woods? The chances are you’re more a lover of the contemporary, so you’ll want a headboard to match this taste! 

Consider a metal frame or a frame upholstered with a natural fabric such as wool. This allows you to stay contemporary without the headboard becoming visually overwhelming. The room elements should be working together, not dragging your eyes in all directions when you step into it.

giltedge Paris headboard
Contemporary Design, existing or occurring at the present time.

These are some of the main styles you’ll come across when looking for a headboard. Other styles you might encounter include storage / bookcase-type headboards, which enable you to save space, and shabby chic, which adds an element of romanticism into your bed setup.

How to choose a headboard

Today, headboards are more of an aesthetic element than anything else, so if you’re not going to concern yourself as much with practicality, you need to make sure everything ‘flows’ in the room. Of course, the main thing that’s going to catch your eye when you enter the room will be the bed, especially the headboard, so you want it to look the part. 

Here are some of the main aspects to consider when buying a headboard:

What Size Headboard do I need for my Bed?

It’s a given that you should keep in mind the bed’s size when you buy a headboard, but you should also think about the size of the bedroom itself. A smaller bedroom could limit you to the size of the headboard you choose. You’ll need to measure the room and take into account wall space. Any doors and windows on the wall could affect your choice of the headboard. 

It’s always a good idea to add five inches on either side of the headboard to ascertain whether the headboard will truly fit the wall space. Doing this will also allow you the freedom to go large if you choose.

We have headboards to fit the following bed sizes:

  • Small single (75 x 190 cm / 29.5 x 74.8 inches).
  • Single (90 x 190cm / 35.4 x 74.8 inches).
  • Small double (120 x 190 cm / 47.2 x 74.8 inches).
  • Double (135 x 190 cm / 53.1 x 74.8 inches).
  • Kingsize (150 x 200 cm / 59 x 78.7 inches).
  • Super kingsize (180 x 200 cm / 70.8 x 78.7 inches).


If you spend a lot of time sitting upright in bed, you’ll want a taller headboard, whereas if you’re the type of person who climbs into bed and goes straight to sleep, a shorter one will do the trick for you.

Note that, aesthetically, a high footboard would be best if you have a high headboard, especially if you have a large room. This creates a sense of grandeur, whereas a low headboard and low footboard are more the way to achieve a contemporary look. Alternatively, you can give the bed a fresh, modern feel by having a medium height headboard and no footboard.

How high should the headboard be above the mattress? As a guide, the standard height is anywhere between 35.5 and 73.7 centimetres (14 to 29 inches). Anything above this, you can take to be extra tall.

Reading a story in bed

Aesthetic or functional?

What is more important to you when you’re choosing your headboard? Why are you buying one? 

If you like to sit upright in bed to watch TV or read, you may care more about comfort, whereas if you’re thinking long term, you may prefer a wooden headboard because of its durability.

If you’re concentrating more on making the bed the focal piece of the room, you may care more about the design, the material, and the finish of the headboard than whether it stores your belongings. 

Of course, none of this means that a headboard can’t be functional and look nice at the same time. It’s possible to have the best of both worlds when you buy a headboard with storage space.


You don’t want your headboard and all the other elements of the bedroom vying for your attention, or anyone else’s who walks into the room. The headboard should coexist harmoniously with the existing décor (or you should consider how it will do this if you’re redecorating). Black, for instance, really offsets a bed, but if you have a floral-themed room, a black leather headboard will look hideously out of place!

How to match your headboard with your décor? Think textures. Upholstered headboards create softness, so you should create an accent wall to offset the headboard against the wall. This wall should feature a stronger, harder texture, like brick or wood, and you should paint the rest of the walls with more soothing hues. Lighter colours will make the room feel spacious and darker ones will make larger rooms feel more intimate.

Oak headboard

Fitting a headboard to your bed

Attaching a headboard to your bed couldn’t be easier, especially when it’s a strutted one. All you have to do is unscrew the bolts on the back of the bed, line them up with the screw holes in the struts and bolt the headboard back onto the bed. It’s as simple as that, but if you’re still unsure, read our guide on how to attach a headboard in six easy steps.

You can stabilize a headboard if you need to remove the box spring and mattress to access the bolts and loosen them if they seem too tight. Apply three or four drops of thread-locking adhesive – make sure it’s one, especially for furniture, so that you can break the seal if you need to — to the bolts and tighten the bolts back up. Then leave the adhesive for 24 hours to set before you replace the box spring and mattress.

Caring for your headboard

The better care you take of your headboard, the more use you can get out of it. 

Metal is easy to clean but tends to tarnish, so you should apply a protective coating from time to time. Using an oil-based cleanser will help to protect it against the tarnishing any humidity might cause.

Wood will take an extra bit of cleaning, so get in there regularly with the polish or with some soap and wax and give your headboard a good going-over. The intricate details of a wooden headboard can make them trickier to polish as well, which is something to think about when you’re choosing your headboard. You may prefer a simple design to save yourself some time when you clean it.

The right headboard

A headboard can be as beautiful as it is practical and protect you from a draft while still keeping the bed the focal point of your bedroom. A choice of finishes makes it possible for you to combine comfort with good design and allow your headboard to work well with different styles of décor, whether you’re opting for a traditional look or a contemporary one. 

If you’re not sure what kind of you’d like, why not browse our selection of headboards and get some ideas? We’re always happy to help, and you can speak to us for advice on our headboards and choose the right one for you.

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