Asked on Sep 22, 2020

Headboard upcycle?

Lindsay AratariSharon NicholsLauren of Mom Home Guide


My headboard has a carved design in the wood. I want to use this headboard in a guest bedroom. This particle board headboard has been exposed to moisture so the edges have raised (similar to a bubble.) I want to smooth the entire surface of the front so that I can repaint, cover with fabric or cover with wallpaper.

Can you recommend a product that I can use to create a smooth surface of this sad looking headboard? Thank you

16 answers
  • Recreated Designs
    Recreated Designs
    on Sep 22, 2020

    Hi Sharon, If the headboard is particle board and it has swollen from water damage, unfortunately there won't be too much that you can do to reduce the swell. If there are areas you can smooth out though you can do it in a similar way to smoothing veneer. Here are the directions on how to do it using wood filler, I hope this helps and you will be able to smooth it out a bit.

  • Kathy Gunter Law
    Kathy Gunter Law
    on Sep 22, 2020

    Sadly, I don't think you can do anything with the swollen particle board. You could try contact paper to cover it but you can't paint that.

    Can you cut out the carved design piece and mount directly onto the wall? Then have the bed on a free standing frame.

  • GrandmasHouseDIY
    on Sep 22, 2020

    I would use an orbitol sander and really take your time with fine grit sand paper over the whole piece. After that I would use an oil based paint and primer (such as Rustoleum) Its a lot thicker than water based paint and will give you a smoother finish.

  • Maura White
    Maura White
    on Sep 22, 2020

    If you sand it flat - then I bet a fabric cover would look terrific!

  • Mogie
    on Sep 22, 2020

    Once you see signs of particle board water damage, you will most likely have to replace it. Wet particle board provides a fertile ground for mold and mildew. Also, it can stain and warp easily. When wet, particle board can sag under weight, which is unsafe. It will not take well to sharp objects such as high-heeled shoes or furniture that is being moved around.

    Wet particle board swells and expands with the moisture. It loses most of its strength as well. It is best to replace the affected parts before the damage gets worse. Particleboard furniture is also susceptible to damage, which can be avoided to a large extent by keeping moisture away. Careful handling of particle board furniture is also important, especially when it is being moved. If possible, disassemble and carry smaller parts of the furniture to minimize the risk of damage.

  • Unique Creations By Anita
    Unique Creations By Anita
    on Sep 22, 2020

    Once it has blown out it is hard to repair to a smooth finish. It may help to add a thin layer of foam or batting to smooth out the surface for the fabric.

  • Betsy
    on Sep 23, 2020

    Hi Sharon: You may be able to sand it down. Use a medium fine sand paper and don't rub really hard. Only go with the grain, if that's possible, and once you get it to where you want it, seal the area. Use an inexpensive white or gray primer as the first coat. Pressed wood is porous and absorbs paint quickly. You will have to apply more than one coat of primer to seal the wood, because the first coat will be absorbed by the wood. Ensure you have a solid color after applying the primer. The edges of MDF boards absorb paint heavily. Make sure to seal these, especially if they have routed details. You can use an acrylic paint sealer or drywall sealer, or you can use glue or oil based primers which will help prevent the edges from swelling. Good luck

  • Kerri
    on Sep 23, 2020

    First sand the damaged puffed area down a bit. Then use wood repair spackle or putty and cover the damaged area to build it back up, then sand it down, and repeat. I used a small electric sander. You can also put a coat of paint to match the wood color over the spackle which keeps it from breaking down too much, wait for it to dry and then sand and repeat ie;, sand, spackle, paint, sand.... until you get it looking like normal wood again. This works.. I have done it on cabinets. Then paint or do whatever you want for finished look.

  • If you want an easy way out, it might be worth a try to add a pretty moulding around the edges to cover the damage. Then paint the entire piece. Of course, I don't know if the design will allow it, but that would be my solution.

  • Kmdreamer
    on Sep 24, 2020

    Are you able to take that off is there wood under neath

  • Johnavallance82
    on Sep 24, 2020

    Hi Sharon,

    Dry it out thoroughly and then add Foam or thick Wadding and then cover it with fabric. Once a fibre board item has expanded, it will never be the same again, sorry!

  • Sharon Nichols
    Sharon Nichols
    on Sep 24, 2020

    Thanks John, but what is Wadding?

  • Lauren of Mom Home Guide
    Lauren of Mom Home Guide
    on Sep 24, 2020

    I would either sand the raised part, or consider upholstering the headboard.

  • Sharon Nichols
    Sharon Nichols
    on Sep 29, 2020

    Thanks to all for the helpful hits about how to refurbish my headboard.

    • Flipturn
      on Sep 30, 2020

      If you are pleased with the outcome of the project, post it on Hometalk to share with others. We always like to see 'before' and 'after' pictures.

  • Lindsay Aratari
    Lindsay Aratari
    on Oct 1, 2020

    You could sand it

Your comment...