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Nautical Farmhouse Pallet Headboard: Easy DIY Weekend Project

I'm a big fan of a few current trends in home decor: all things nautical, farmhouse, and pallet furniture. In this post I'll show you how I've combined them into a project you can easily complete in a weekend. This nautical farmhouse pallet headboard is novice level, and only cost me about $30 in supplies.

Nautical Pallet Headboard | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Here's what you need for a king-size headboard:

{I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.}

2 HT pallets (Check The Freecycle Network for free Heat Treated pallets in your area) 1 sheet of plywood or other large panel, cut to size. Wood glue Whitewash wood stain Foam brushes Saw Hammer Pry bar Pencil


Dropcloth Non-yellowing Clearcoat spray in Matte Tack cloth Sandpaper Wood planer Square Reciprocating saw


Start by whitewashing your plywood with a sponge brush. I had previously attached 3 MDF boards together for our old padded cloth headboard, so I was able to reuse those. The whitewash dries quite quickly. It doesn't have to be perfect, we are trying to mimic the distressed old wood look, and this will barely peek through between the pallet boards.

Nautical Pallet Headboard | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Next, break down the pallets. Make sure you only use pallets stamped "HT", not "MB". Heat Treated is just that, while MB is methyl bromide treated, a highly toxic chemical fumigant. I broke down my pallets using a hammer, small pry bar, and good old fashioned muscle. Many of my boards split at the nailed ends, but that is ok. For this project, the distressed look is in! I also used two different types of pine wood pallets, which made for different sized boards, also perfect for this project. I've seen other articles where users used a reciprocating saw to cut right through the nails. This would definitely be quicker! But I don't have one of those, so hand tools it is.

Nautical Pallet Headboard | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Nautical Pallet Headboard | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Once the pallet boards are apart, decide which side of each board will be your "face" side. At this point, I also cleaned up the boards by lightly sanding the face and sides with course sandpaper. I also used an old hand planer to get rid of any splinters sticking out.

The plywood should be dry by now, so lay it down flat, and start laying out your pallet wood in what ever pattern suits you. Use a saw to cut the boards as needed. My circular saw came in very handy. As did my workbench and vice (thanks dad!), but a regular saw and small table would work just fine.

Nautical Pallet Headboard | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Nautical Pallet Headboard | Musings of a Modern Hippie

After you have your headboard dry fit, go over the boards with a tack cloth, then whitewash* each board and lay them to dry on a drop cloth.


When my boards were fully dry, they had turned yellowish, presumably because I used pine wood. While this effect was pretty, I'm going for a cooler-toned look, so I mixed a few drops of red and blue food dye in with my whitewash to give it a very slight purplish-gray tone. Purple will neutralized yellow tones. This worked great, and after repainting, was the hue I was going for.

Nautical Pallet Headboard | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Once the boards are dry, liberally glue them onto the plywood, and leave to dry for at least a few hours, ideally overnight.

That's pretty much it! You can optionally screw or nail down each board, and seal the whole headboard with a non-yellowing clear coat in a matte finish.

I left the bottom half of my headboard plain, so that I can attached it to our bed frame. Practically though, one could make this headboard only as tall as will show above the bed and mount it directly to the wall.

Nautical Pallet Headboard | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Looking for more pallet projects?

Nautical Farmhouse Pallet Headboard | Musings of a Modern Hippie
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