How Do Headboards Work: Types, Installations, And Uses

How Do Headboards Work: Types, Installations, And Uses

Are you looking to add a personal touch to your bedroom? Prevent your wall from abrasion? Elevate your bed frame? Or generally, renovate your room? Headboards can help you achieve all that and more. However, there are different types. So, before you head on to pick just any, you must know which will work best for you. 

But it doesn't stop there. How you install your headboard depends on the type you choose. To find out more about how this piece of furniture works, the different types, what types are best, and how to install them, keep reading.

How Do Headboards Work

Headboard, also referred to as bedpost, bedrail, bedhead, works in three ways, namely:

  • By anchoring to the wall behind your bed
  • By attaching to your bed
  • By standing on its own behind your bed

You can use any of these styles, depending on your preference or overall room design. However, most homeowners make this decision based on their mattress size, design, and material. That said, bedposts come in different materials. But the most popular ones are: 

  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Natural fibers
  • Upholstery
  • Leather

Picking a bedpost with the best material is one thing. Choosing an installation option is another. You can either mount it on the wall, attach it to your bed, or allow it to stand freely. 

Types of Headboards

Wall Mounted Headboard

Wall-mounted bedposts are those that work by attaching to the wall. They are designed to fit on the wall, using fixings and brackets to give it a floating look. Also, they offer better support and stability.

This type of bedpost is mostly tall or extra-wide, making them suitable for large bed platforms. For example, king and queen-sized beds. Most homeowners prefer this headboard type because of the following perks:

  • It doesn't have to match your bed size.
  • You can make changes to your bed without having to touch your headboard.

Additionally, they are really decorative and can give your room that elegant look. So if you're looking to imprint your style in your bedroom, this piece of furniture could be what you need. The most common material for this type of bedpost is the upholstery. Also, some can include shelves and drawers, allowing for extra storage. 

When it comes to wall-mounted bedposts, you can follow the steps below to install them. But first, put together the following tools: 

  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Screw, and 
  • Stud finder.

How to Install a Wall Mounted Headboard

1. Determine the exact points your headboard will hang. 

You can do this using the following steps:

a. Hold it against the wall and mark, with a pencil, the top and bottom of your headboard.
b. Measure the distance separating the hooks behind the headboard.
c. Use the same distance to identify two secure points below the marked top.
d. Make sure these points are along the strongest part of your wall. You can use your stud finder to identify studs. (supporting elements spaced 16 to 24 inches behind the wall). 

2. Install the fitting elements included in your headboard.

Now that you have your secure points, you can install your fittings in two simple steps:

a. Drill holes through your points and screw in your fittings. If your headboard did not come with fittings, get french or Z clips from a store.
b. Use wall anchors when screwing for extra security.
3. Mount your headboard on the wall. 

If you've located secure points and installed your fittings accurately, mounting your headboard should be as easy as hanging your TV on the wall. Due to the weight of this piece of furniture, you might need an extra pair of hands to put it up.

4. Push your bed frame against your wall. 

This way, your whole setup would seem like a single unit. Hence, allowing you to maintain a cohesive design.

Uses of a Wall Mounted Headboard

Asides from the obvious decorative purposes, wall-mounted bed rails can be used in different ways.

  • It can serve as a solid spot to relax after a long day, read a book, or work on your laptop.
  • You can use it for extra storage by installing shelves.

Bed Frame Mounted Headboard

This type of bedpost is installed directly into your bed frame. Some vendors sell both pieces of furniture as a single unit. However, if you're looking to buy separately, ensure that your bed frame comes with headboard compatible brackets. If this isn't possible, you can use adapter plates when installing onto your bed frame.

As a rule of thumb, the width of your headboard should be the same as that of your bed frame. If yours is a little wider, say 3 to 4 inches, it's not a problem. Frame-mounted bedheads work for bed types, including four-poster and bunk beds. 

How to Install a Bed Frame Mounted Headboard

Completing this setup can be very tasking. You might need help to align all the parts correctly. That said, here are steps you can follow to mount your headboard on your bed frame:

1 .Create space for you to work with. 
First things first, ensure you have enough space to work. If you already have your bed in place, start by pulling it from the wall. 
2. Place the headboard against the head of the frame.
3. Locate the holes/brackets behind your bed frame and align with the holes on the legs (struts) of your headboard.
Note that some frames identify holes with stickers while others insert bolts in them.
4. Hold the headboard upright and push the bolts through the mountain holes. 
This is tricky, as you would need someone to hold it upright while pushing through the holes. Alternatively, you can employ a heavy object, for example, a nightstand, to help keep your headboard upright. 
5. Slide in a washer and screw a nut onto the bolt to fasten the headboard in place. Repeat the same process for the other end.
6. Ensure the headboard maintains centricity. Then use a wrench to tighten the headboard in place.

Uses of a Bed Frame Mounted Headboard

Generally, you can use all bedposts in a similar way. That is, as a backrest. It provides comfort and support when you need to sit upright. For example, you may want to treat yourself to a movie night in bed. 

Also, the bed frame-mounted headboard allows you to maintain your design even when you change the position of your bed.

Freestanding Headboard

Unlike the last two, you don't need to mount this on any wall or bed frame. On that note, they come without pre-drilled holes, hooks, or tools to facilitate attachment. This means that how you use this type of headboard is up to you.

Freestanding bedposts give you the room to experiment with whatever design you may have in mind. Although it is without any attachment tool, you can customize it to mount on a wall or bed frame. 

Also, these bedposts can stand firm between your wall and bed frame because of their thick struts. They are often 10 to 15 inches thick, allowing them to hold storage spaces. Examples of freestanding bed rails are bookcases and storage bed rails. 

How to Install a Freestanding Headboard

This type of headboard might require more customization, depending on how you intend to use it. In this section, we'll look at three possible ways. 


  1. Pull your bed towards you to create space for your headboard.
  2. Center it between your wall and bed. 
  3. Push your bed towards your headboard to form a single unit. 

Frame Mount

If you decide to mount this piece of furniture on your bed frame, follow the steps below:

  1. Align the legs(struts) of your headboard with the holes behind your bed frame. 
  2. Mark the points with a pencil and drill corresponding holes in the struts. 
  3. Push in a bolt and screw a nut to fasten your headboard. Do the same for the other end. If there are no holes in your bed frame, get adapter plates from a hardware store. These are tools for attaching parts without a standard hole pattern.

Wall Mount

If the wall is where you choose to anchor your headboard, you need a stud finder and some common tools. Then follow the steps below:

  1. Use your stud finder to locate studs behind your wall. If you don't have a stud finder, you can feel through your wall to find your studs. 
  2. Mark two points along your stud.
  3. Position your headboard such that its struts are on those points.
  4. Drill holes through the headboard to the studs and use screws to fasten it to the wall. 

Uses of a Freestanding Headboard

Freestanding or floor-standing bedposts are easy to install. Its thick base offers the stability necessary to maintain a cohesive bed structure. Also, they’re more robust than other headboard types, making them more suitable king and queen size beds. 

In addition, its design allows you to personalize and imprint your taste in your room. Since freestanding bedposts come without holes or hooks, you can customize them into whatever style you want. One way you can get the most out of this bedpost type is by choosing a design that complements your bed. On that note, let’s look at how this piece of furniture works with different bed styles. 

How Bedposts Work with Different Bed Styles

When looking for a new headboard for your bedroom, you must consider your bed type. This way you can ensure you're making the right design choice.

That said, bedposts work well with most bed types. However, some designs can make it very difficult to install. For example, you can easily fit this furniture with a platform bed design. But not quite with bunk beds.

On that note, let's look at how this awesome piece of furniture works with different bed designs.

Bedposts with Platform Beds

Platform beds are of different types and materials. They consist of large bases to hold mattresses. They're often lower than panel beds, making them more stable.

The solid structure of this bed type is part of the reason why it works well with bedposts. They have a front with attachment provisions. And a strong base capable of supporting considerable weight. So, whatever method of installation you choose, it'd sit perfectly with platform beds. 

Bedposts with Bed Frame

A standard bed frame seems like a fundamental piece of furniture. However, they're sophisticated enough to support any headboard design. Its design consists of headboard brackets to facilitate attachment. Each has four horizontal holes in a straight line.

This hole placement makes it easy to set up any type of attachment. Even if your headboard design requires that you raise it a few inches. In a nutshell, bed rails work perfectly with any bed frame type. 

Bedposts with Bunk Beds

As mentioned earlier, you can use bedposts with any bed design, including bunk beds. However, bunk beds with bedposts are a rare occurrence. This is because its design makes it difficult for any type of installation. 

Adding bedposts to bunk beds will not significantly improve its design. At least not as much as it would with other bed types. Therefore, we don't recommend using this piece of furniture with bunk beds.

However, there may be certain situations where you have to install a headboard, regardless of your bed type. For example, when the goal is to provide some form of covering for your wall or protect it from abrasion. 

That said, another bed style where headboard installation is not necessary is the sleigh bed. This bed type dates back to 19th century France and America. Its design consists of a curved foot and an in-built headboard. 


Headboards are a great way to improve your room design. However, its installation might require an extra workforce. You don't want them falling over your head while you sleep. Therefore, you must ensure you secure them firmly. If you don't have extra hands to help, go for a headboard type with a simple installation process. 

Frame-mounted bedposts, for example, the Mila full or queen headboard, would require less work compared to its wall-mounted counterpart.