Using french cleats for a "floating" headboard...

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Forum topic by Eric Roberts posted 07-23-2009 09:34 PM 11801 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Eric Roberts

4 posts in 2651 days

07-23-2009 09:34 PM

Hi folks…I recently made a headboard for our guestroom (full size bed) .. learned a lot…I found a plan online on some DIY site…it called for 1/4” plywood I think…it was light to work with but the final product was kind of flimsy…I ended up covering the entire back with hardboard thinking that would strengthen it up…did so so…

Headboard 1

Headboard 2

I used a french cleating system I bought at the hw store maded from metal…it worked very well…it hangs pretty close to the wall…but it’s not really tight to to the wall. It’s mounted with only one strip of cleat and it will “rock” a little if leaned on.

So – that was my learning piece and now I’m on to the next one for the master bedroom. It’s basically going to be a big rectangle like the other one although my wife wants to round the corners at the top. It will be a bit larger than the other one and it will take more abuse from being knocked around and bumped into than the guest bedroom…keep it clean folks…the idea is that we’ll be able to use it as a backrest to read against and also we usually have about an hour of roughhousing every night with our two boys … so I would imagine it will get knocked up against quite a bit.

I was thinking of the following design and would ask for any suggestions/advice:

- King size bed
- The dimensions will be 75” wide X 44” tall
- Appx. a foot or so of the bottom will fall below the top of the bed – it will be mounted so that a foot or so will be below/behind the head of the bed
- I want it strong but not too thick…I think having it a maximum of 1 1/4” thick would be best
- I think I need 2 cleats to make it as sturdy as possible…I fear that if I only use one at the top the bottom will rock around when knocked into by the kids…so I was thinking one cleat along the top and another around the middle
- I realize that using 2 cleats would require a great deal of precision in keeping them parallel both for the headboard side and the wall side
- I could maybe use a template piece…maybe a strip cut to 2’ or so…get the top cleat level and secure…then use this 2’board to align the bottom cleat to it…then use the same board/technique on the wall cleats
- I think I need 3/4” ply for the cleats
- I think I need 1/2” ply for the headboard so that there is something to screw into (I found by using 1/4” on the other one I had a tough time having a screw really catch into the 1/4” ply…maybe I was doiing something wrong…)
- The idea is that I’d have the headboard 1/2” ply cut square to 75X44
- Line the edges of the entire think with 2” pieces of 3/4” ply to strengthen it up
- have 2 “struts” across the middle that would act as cleats and braces for the center…maybe these would be 2” wide as well…not sure if the width of the cleat adds to the strength/holding power
- then the same cleats on the wall
- my headboard batting and fabric will be pulled tight up and over the ply braces and stapled down onto the actual 1/2” plywood…hopefully this will cause the least amount of buildup on the bracing

I apologize for the long post…thank you for any ideas or advice you might have,


-- ~~ Please help cure childhood cancer ~~

3 replies so far

View Karson's profile


35032 posts in 3823 days

#1 posted 07-23-2009 11:40 PM

A cleat at the top and a spacer at the bottom might work well. I’ve found that aligning multiple cleats so they get the same amount of pressure is tough.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Cory's profile


754 posts in 2842 days

#2 posted 07-27-2009 09:21 PM

I put multiple cleats on the 10’ tall guitar I built for my daughter’s room (you can see it in my projects). I put the cleat on top first, then hung it on the wall. I then attached the lower cleat to the wall and put the mating piece on top of it with 2 sided tape on the face. When I hung the guitar on the upper cleat, I pressed the board against the 2-sided tape and then lifted the whole thing off the wall. A couple of quick brads then some screws and I was in business with two perfectly placed cleats distributing the weight.

I would think that the weight of the headboard and a spacer at the bottom keep it from rocking, though, and that you don’t need two rows of cleats. A french cleat is incredibly strong as long as you get the cleat well screwed into the studs in the wall. The other thing that I’ve with my french cleats (made out of 3/4” hardwood) was to put an end cap on them so that pieces can’t slide side-to-side. They don’t go anywhere.

Hope it helps.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View Eric Roberts's profile

Eric Roberts

4 posts in 2651 days

#3 posted 07-28-2009 07:43 PM

Thanks for all the info…I like Cory’s method for the 2 cleats…I did not have to do it but will remember it for future projects.

The headboard came out 1000 times better than I thought it would. I definitely have the bug now. And best of all my wife loves it. I’m going to add a project when I get the time as I took lots of photos along the way from start to completion.

I used only one french cleat that went along much of the length of the headboard about 12” from the top … the bottom was about 10” below the mattress…so if the weight alone wouldn’t make it very stable (which it does) then the bottom being pinned behind the mattress helps as well. It is very very secure…and looks great…I know this is not a modest post .. but I’m just very thrilled with the finished product….



-- ~~ Please help cure childhood cancer ~~

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