Are Headboards Universal? {SIZE GUIDE EXPLAINED!}

Although it’s often underrated, a headboard has several important functions. For one, it protects your wall against wear and tear.

It also provides excellent back support when you want to sit up in bed. And, depending on the design you pick, it can add an aesthetic element to your space.

The one question that many ask is, do headboards come in a standard size? Can I buy just any headboard for my bed? Well, not quite.

Only wall-mounted headboards are universal. Read on to learn more.

Are headboards universal?

No, not all headboards are universal. 

There are two main varieties of headboards: wall-mounted and bed mounted. As implied in their titles, the first type is mounted on a wall while the latter is attached directly to a bed. 

Wall-mounted headboards offer the most flexibility as they can be used with beds of different sizes.

All you need to do is find a headboard design you like, attach the piece of furniture to your wall and place your bed in front of it. 

Conversely, headboards mounted to bed frames aren’t universal. Different-sized beds will accommodate different-sized headboards. This brings us to our next point.  

Are headboard sizes universal?

Bed frame-mounted headboards are available in a wide range of widths and heights so they are not universal. The right size will depend on the size of the bed or mattress.

Ideally, the width of a headboard should be about the same as that of the mattress or bed. But when you’re shopping for a headboard, it’s advisable to leave a little wiggle room by getting a headboard that is 2 to 4 inches wider. 

This is because adding layers of beddings to your mattress automatically increases its width. It means that if you get a headboard that has the same width as your mattress, the headboard will end up being on the smaller side. 

To avoid this, consider accounting for an extra 2 inches on either side of your bed. So if you have a queen-size mattress that’s 60 inches wide, the ideal headboard should be at least 62 inches wide

Here’s a quick chart to guide you on the headboard size to get depending on your mattress size and the size of your room:

Bed size Headboard width Mattress size Ideal room size
Full 56 inches54 by 75 inches10 by 10 feet
Twin41 inches38 by 74 inches7 by 10 feet
Queen62 inches60 by 80 inches10 by 10 feet
King80 inches76 by 80 inches12 by 12 feet
California King74 inches72 by 84 inches12 by 12 feet

How do I know if my headboard will fit my bed?

If you’re buying a wall-mounted headboard, then you have nothing to worry about.

But if you’ve opted to go for those that need to be mounted on bed frames, then you’ll need to measure your bed size to ensure they fit nicely.

Some homeowners will simply look at the type of bed they have, that is, whether it’s a full, king, or queen.

However, it’s important to note that these descriptive terms aren’t always precise. 

The safest approach is to take your own measurements, then purchase a headboard that corresponds to that. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Strip your bed of any bedding placed on it
  • Using a measuring tape to estimate the bed’s width. To do this, place one end of the tape on the right side of the bed. Next, you’ll want to pull out the tape and extend it across the mattress until it reaches the left edge of the bed. 
  • Note down this measurement as the width. 
  • Now place one end of the tape at the middle top of the bed and extend it along the mattress till it reaches the middle bottom of the bed. Record this length measurement.

To find the right headboard width, add two inches to the bed width you got after measuring. 

As for the height, the rule of thumb is to ensure that the headboard’s height doesn’t exceed the length of your bed. 

So as long as the headboard is slightly wider than your bed and shorter than its length, then it will fit just right. 

Can a headboard be attached to any frame?

No, headboards can only be attached to bed frames of corresponding sizes. 

For instance, a twin headboard will fit nicely on a twin platform bed, or bunk bed because they share fairly similar sizes. But this twin headboard won’t work for a king or queen-size bed because it will be too small. 

What if my bed frame isn’t compatible with any of the headboards available?

Well, this is where a wall-mounted headboard comes in. This one is permanently attached to the wall, meaning you’re not restricted by the size of your existing bed frame.

Another headboard you can choose is the free-standing design.

These are also known as floor-standing headboards because they can stand on their own. As such, they don’t have to be attached to the frame.

Can a queen-size headboard fit a full-size bed?

Yes, you can actually fit a queen-size headboard on a full-size bed. 

Based on the chart provided above, a full-size bed is 54 inches wide, which means the minimum headboard it can accept is about 56 inches wide. 

Luckily, a queen-size headboard meets the criterion as it’s 62 inches wide. This leaves you with an additional 6 inches of length to work with. 

At first, it may seem like 6 inches is a considerable amount of extra space to work with.

But if you consider that this length will be divided on either side of the bed, you only have an excess of 3 inches, which isn’t too much.

So a queen-size headboard can be used on a full-size bed. 

Can you buy a separate headboard?

Yes, you can. In fact, some homeowners prefer to buy the headboard separate from the bed frame. Doing so comes with several benefits such as:

Freedom to pick from a wide range of headboard styles

If you’re buying a headboard on its own, you’ll be able to pick from an infinite range of colors, designs, and materials. 

Let’s say you have a modern-themed space. The best headboard that will match this style is one that has clean lines or distinct shapes.

However, if your bedroom has a more feminine vibe, you’d go for a headboard with a curvy shape or one that complements that aesthetic style.

You will also be able to pick from different types of headboards based on your choice of material:

  • Wood – wooden headboards are the most popular. They work well in homes with coastal or rustic vibes.
  • Metal – here, you can choose from different types of metal like aluminum, brushed steel, and wrought iron among others.
  • Natural materials – such headboards are made of organic materials like wicker or seagrass.
  • Upholstered – upholstered headboards come covered in fabrics like linen, velvet, or microfiber; hence, adding a touch of elegance to your space.

Meets different budgetary needs

Another reason that warrants buying a separate headboard is the fact you can find one within your budget. 

Whether you’re looking to splurge or working with a shoestring budget, there’s no doubt that you’ll find a headboard.

Gives the illusion of a bigger space

If your bedroom is much smaller than you’d like, a headboard can make it seem bigger. 

A headboard mounted on your bed frame might not make much difference.

But one that’s big in size and mounted on a wall or floor-standing will certainly make your bedroom look larger than it really is. 

Suitable for taller people

If you’re taller, the headboard that’s a part of your current bed frame might not be providing enough support.

If this is the case, getting a separate headboard that’s much taller than standard-sized models is in your best interest. 

Beddings fit better

Tucking bedsheets underneath your mattress can be challenging, more so if the frame comprises a headboard, footboard, and side rails. 

If you want your bed-making process to be a little easier and more enjoyable, consider getting rid of the rails, and footboard.

For the headboard, switch to a floor-standing or wall-mounted version that doesn’t interfere with this process in any way. 

Extra storage

Are you limited on storage space in your bedroom? If you are, a headboard that includes a storage compartment comes in handy.

Some of these storage units will even include locks to help keep your items secure.


Bed frame-mounted headboards aren’t universal. Choosing this design requires you to take the size of your existing bed into account.

Conversely, wall-mounted headboards are universal, meaning they’re compatible with just about any bed.

Choosing to buy this type of headboard confers several benefits. For instance, you can choose from upholstered, natural fibers, wood, or metal.

You also get to buy a headboard that fits your budget or one that gives you additional storage. 

NOTE FROM the author

It's a pleasure to have you here! We've written helpful information on all things that make your home so very special.

If you really enjoyed this article, please feel free to check out the entire website. I'm super excited to share more content to help you unleash your home!

- Tiffany B.

House Unleashed