We all know what headboards are. That big slab of wood at the top of your bed. While not all beds have headboards, they are extremely common. Practically a compulsory feature in most beds today.

There have been many variations of the headboard, especially noticable in metal bed frames. Metal bed frames tend not to have a headboard in the traditional sense, but instead in the sense that they are an extension of the frame itself. It’s common for headboards on metal bed frames to just be several metal bars, without much thought for design or finesse. It’s unfortunate that this has become the industry standard.

That being said, there are metal bed frames which have very intricate, well designed headboards, there truly are some incredible feats of metalwork out there. However, that’s beside the point. The headboard is not there simply for aesthetic reasons, it also holds an important position in both health and leisure settings.

How headboards can help you

Headboards hold multiple functions. They provide a disruption of the air flow going over the occupant of the bed, decreasing the risk of the temperature lowering. Originally they were designed to protect the occupant from drafts and to separate them from cold bedroom walls. Now that technology has improved in leaps and bounds, fortunately cold walls are an uncommon occurence in most modern homes.

Headboards also provide support for the neck and back. Whether you’re sitting, slouching or lying in bed, it’s helpful to have a solid structure behind you to ease the side effects of awkward posture, or extended periods of time spent sitting still. Many people use their headboard as a resting place while reading, or watching the tv.

Metal vs. wood headboards

Traditionally, wooden headboards were used because they were sturdy, and were less likely to get cold. However, they can be quite bulky, especially if they’re upholstered, despite that added element of comfort and luxury. If you’re short for space, you’d be much better off with a metal headboard. They take up less space, and aren’t overly expensive. Wooden headboards have a tendency to discreetly delve into the slightly jucier price tags.

However, not all is well with metal headboards. They are often uncomfortable, inadequate, and cold. While they do provide opportunity for decoration, for example with fairy lights or other small additions, it’s not uncommon for them to be severely lacking in the design department. It’s rare that you’ll find a reasonably priced metal headboard that actually looks nice. If you’re after metal headboards with intricate designs and patterns, your headboard will join the wooden ones in the price tag area.

Our recommendation

Headboards are not always necessary though. It’s perfectly possible to relax on your bed in comfort without a headboard. My bed has no headboard, and often when I’m writing I’ll prop myself up on pillows to find a more comfortable position. For many people, headboards have never been necessary. Whether or not you have a headboard is a personal decision, one that you should consider carefully when thinking about your comfort and aesthetic needs. If you’re buying a wooden bed frame, you should probably consider a wooden headboard. Wooden headboards can be upholstered if you feel that you need an extra spark of comfort and personalisation.

Personally, I think wooden headboards are the best. Some of the old wooden headboards not only had multifunctionality but were simply beautiful. The intricate carvings and the rich, silky finishes really made a stunning addition to a bedroom. You could perhaps even say that a high quality wooden headboard brings an air of regality to any setting.


Lover of all things beds, especially the sleeping. IKEA makes my life easy. Contributing author for Guide Me To Bed and bed maker by trade.

Go top