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DIY Metal Headboard Refresh

A little warning: this DIY metal headboard refresh is misleading.

Before I actually got to witness my talented Papa weld our headboard, I thought that metal tubing came black.  Nearly every piece of furniture he’s made is matte black, so how was I supposed to know?  When I went to buy the supplies and ended up with this gunmetal grey metal tubing, I was convinced I’d been sold the wrong stuff.  When it came time for me to pick a colour for the headboard – turns out that’s just metal paint making it black, duh!! – I must have looked at my Papa like a deer in the headlights.  I’d planned on a black headboard and had already ordered black, cream and pink patterned bedding (shocking right? pink!).

“Just go get some matte black paint,” he said, “Rusto-leum“.

I did as I was told and Hubby, Papa and I brushed on the paint a few days before the headboard was loaded into the trailer for the big move out of our hometown.  The paint has held up incredibly well, especially considering that this headboard has been moved about 4,000 kilometers since its creation.  When we set it up again in the lakehouse, I noticed that a few scuffed areas had finally begun to appear.  It also looked a little more faded than I remembered.  I decided last January to give it a makeover as soon as weather permitted – this time I wanted spray paint, to eliminate brush strokes.

I was totally preoccupied during the winter, spring, and summer with choosing a colour but could never decide definitively.

White?  It would look really California Mid-Century but the design I dreamed up would be lost against the white walls.
Gold?  That would look awesome, but not my style.
Navy? Maybe, but it would clash with the black frames of the Hungarian posters.
Aqua? There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing, plus it would clash with the new teal curtains.
Silver? Too industrial.
Orange? Hubby would love it but that would seem more appropriate for a child’s bedroom.  I wanted sophisticated.

I spent three seasons terrorizing my loved ones with these (and more) colour choices.  In the end, with winter looming and spray painting season coming to a close, I decided there was an obvious choice that provided contrast against the white walls, complemented the graphic artwork, didn’t compete with the curtains, highlighted the fun design…black!  Gloss black, for a bit of change? No, too 80s.  Matte black – the same colour and finish I chose more than seven years ago.

I hauled the headboard and side tables (sans glass) outside and marveled at how pretty the black metal looked against the forest backdrop – we definitely need a cool welded gate.  And fence, otherwise a gate is just silly.

I used our workbench to prop up the headboard and lightly sprayed on Rust-Oleum Universal paint and primer (in matte black).  I had dusted and cleaned the headboard before hauling it outside and didn’t do any sanding or any other prep work – this paint really adheres well to metal.  I have finally learned to keep my cool spray painting: applying super thin coats, and patiently waiting in between each one.  I also start a pass before and after the paint reaches the thing I’m painting, because if it comes out in a spurt or spray, it’s not spitting on my project.

Also, not wimping out and actually shaking the can vigorously for the recommended time is key.  It’s tragic I only now have a handle on this! I’m just too impatient for my own good.  The dry time on Rust-Oleum spray paints these days is phenomenal and meant that I could switch where the headboard was lightly clamped and spray that area too, without damaging the freshly painted finish.

And…ta da!

LOL. I know it looks identical to you, but I can totally see a difference!  The black is richer (did it fade from the sun?) and and the scuffs and marks that make it look less fabulous are now a distant memory.  It looks like new and reaffirms black as the perfect choice.

Maybe someday I’ll want to try a different colour, but for now I’m still happy with basic black.  One thing is certain: I’m really pleased with the quality of the paint, both the Rust-Oleum I applied more than seven years ago, and the refresher coat I just gave it.  One other thing is certain: don’t spray paint into the wind:

So, maybe I didn’t wow you with the colour (haha), but let’s pretend there’s a lesson in here, in addition to a couple fruitful spray painting tips: sometimes what you currently have is just right.  Does that sound deep and philosophical?  No? Okay, fair enough.  Well, I’ve got a gold project in the works that just might wow you…

Thanks to Rust-Oleum for providing the paint to refresh my headboard!  Rust-Oleum has been my go-to paint for metal long before home-ownership and the blog, so I’m so excited to be able to partner with them for projects
around the lakehouse.



  1. midcentuymadam
    October 13, 2014 / 4:41 pm

    The headboard and side tables look fantastic, and yes, I definitely see the difference. Oh how I love Rustoleum. I have learned those same hard lessons over the years…patience if everything! I recently spray painted the fiberglass cabinets in our travel trailer. The Rustoleum covered the aging, yellowing fiberglass and made them look brand new. Your lovely blog convinced me that white is where it's at. I still want to incorporate turquoise into the design but repurposed old curtains and some thrift store duvet covers that have been taking up space in our linen closet.One step at a time…patience. Here are some photos of the Scamp.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 15, 2014 / 5:30 pm

      The scamp is looking gorgeous!! Once you add some aqua you might just need to watch our for a ram 2500 creeping up your driveway and stealing it, lol. We've been looking out for a vintage trailer to rehab too.

  2. Dana@Mid2Mod
    October 14, 2014 / 6:06 am

    I'm always wowed by flat black on metal. If I were you, I'd keep it that way forever. I don't think any other color would do it justice.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 15, 2014 / 5:32 pm

      I always think that flat black has a vintage feel. That's probably why Papa loves the matte black too: he started welding furniture in the 1960s and that shaped his aesthetic, I'm sure.

  3. cred
    October 14, 2014 / 1:14 pm

    It does look refreshed to me. Perhaps I just think I see a difference but I'm sure you can really tell up close. And nice choice- sometimes you pick just the right colour the first time. I love the power of spray paint- it works magic on metal. I love that your papa made your headboard.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 16, 2014 / 12:42 pm

      Yay! I'm happy I'm not the only one who can see the difference. Even though I'm tempted by other colours, the black just feels right. But that's the beauty of paint: I can change my mind if I ever want to.

  4. brikhouse2
    October 14, 2014 / 4:47 pm

    I love black metal tubing furniture….does that sounds weird? lol. I have the same metal tubing head board and foot board that I got for my 16th birthday, 20+ years ago…..dang that made me feel old. But instead of squares, mine is circles. I don't think the look goes out of style…..though I could be wrong and maybe people look at my headboard like I look at those large black half circle headboards with fake brass inlay from the 80's lol.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 16, 2014 / 12:44 pm

      Haha, I don't think people have secretly labeled your headboard 80s. I think you're right, the black is a classic look. I actually wanted a swirlier design with circles when I designed this, but with the limited tools my Papa had (he was welding in my parents' driveway, 1500km from his home), I could only have a square design! So I'm sure I'd be pretty smitten with the headboard you have too.

    • brikhouse2
      October 17, 2014 / 3:46 pm

      Yours is much better, trust me. Mine is from Sears, nothing special and much smaller….but it still does the job. lol.

  5. tailsaroundtheranch
    October 15, 2014 / 3:38 pm

    Like all your projects…just fabulous! And may I add, you just can't go wrong with black. 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 16, 2014 / 12:45 pm

      Awww, thanks! Yep, I think black is a pretty safe choice.

  6. beach_bum
    October 25, 2014 / 1:43 am

    I love that headboard…wondering if your dad sells them. We need a headboard for our bed and for our guest bed. I'm in the market ~ if he's selling, I'm buying. 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 25, 2014 / 2:01 am

      My grandpa doesn't really weld anymore but my hubby does! He'd be game to make a custom headboard but I think shipping would be outrageous because it's sooooo heavy. It's also awkward. We could chat about it. Feel free to email me: [email protected]

    • beach_bum
      November 1, 2014 / 11:43 pm

      Oh – thanks for letting me know that! Hm…I'm in Southern Ontario…I guess if I ever decide that I can drive there to pick it up, I'll get in touch with you. Nice to know that it could be an option. 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 2, 2014 / 3:16 am

      Hubby suggested approaching a college welding class. Could be a great way to get a custom piece for a good price – more advanced students might happily take on a job to add to a portfolio…

  7. beach_bum
    October 25, 2014 / 1:53 am

    Oh, sorry – I just realized your grandpa made it! What talent~~~

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 25, 2014 / 2:02 am

      I'll pass it on! He needs to be told more how talented he is. He's lost steam for it. He used to be an artist and made beautiful sculptures too. Thanks for your kind words!

    • beach_bum
      November 1, 2014 / 11:46 pm

      Once an artist, always an artist…he must be very talented to have made that. Sad that he's lost steam…is he doing anything 'artsy' nowadays at all?

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 2, 2014 / 3:18 am

      I meant that he was an artist as a profession, with his own gallery. But he left it to work as a welder (steadier pay) a looooong time ago. But yes, still an artist at heart. He has not created in many years.

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