March 2020

Headboards for mattress bases explained

Headboards add that finishing touch to your mattress and base providing both style and function. The days of plain or drab headboards are now behind us, as an array of different styles, fabrics and finishes are now available. This guide will explain everything you need to know about headboard choices.

Updated 2021: Headboards don’t just add style to your bed but also prevent pillows from slipping down the back of beds, prevent you from marking your walls and can provide that snug feeling to your overall sleeping experience. There are many different manufacture methods of headboards from solid wood, metal to padded upholstered headboards. This article tells you everything you need to know about headboards to finish off your perfect nights sleep!

Artisan15000017 2
All our headboards are hand upholstered here in the UK

Our headboards are made by hand to the same high standards as our mattresses and base products. We make them in all our standard sizes and the headboard heights can be found here.

Headboard Types

Compared to mattresses you’ll be pleased to know that headboards are relatively straight forward. There isn’t the overwhelming choice out there to dazzle and confuse you like there are when it comes to choosing a new mattress.

Stand-alone headboards come in 3 types:

  1. Freestanding floor-based headboards (ie one large piece that attaches to the base)
  2. Top only ‘leg’ fixed headboards (the ones with two wooden legs attached)
  3. Fixed to the wall headboards (ie a wooden or upholstered rectangular pad)

Headboard Materials

There is also a myriad of different materials when it comes to headboards too. The main three are:

  1. Upholstered – These are the most popular choice. These upholstered headboards are padded and usually covered in matching material to the base or room decor. They are comfortable to lie against and relatively lightweight to move and attach. They are the best value headboard when it comes to choice and comfort.
  2. Wood – Is also a popular choice, especially if making your own headboard to match the decor. Oak and pine are amongst the most popular types of wood used for headboards because they tend to match the broadest mix of bedroom furniture. The drawbacks with wood are that they are not the most comfortable to rest up against and can be cold to the touch. They can also be costly especially if using hardwood.
  3. Metal – There is a huge variety of metals headboards types, especially if you search online. Brushed aluminium, stainless steel, brass, iron and chrome are all headboard metals. Metal headboards can be found at very low prices but beware the fact that a lot of them will squeak over time as the fixing rub against either the base of headboard bolts. They can be cold and unforgiving if you like to sit up in bed. Lastly, metal headboards may tarnish over time and require frequent polishing or lubricating to stop the squeaks associated with metal bed frames.

Why do I need a headboard?

Headboards serve a number of purposes in the bedroom.

  • Aesthetics/decorative
  • Provide a bedroom focal point
  • Stops pillow falling behind your mattress
  • A comfort layer if sitting up in bed
  • Can keep fitted sheets nice and snug on your mattress
Wooden headboards add a nice aesthetic but can be uncomfortable
Wooden headboards add a nice aesthetic but can be uncomfortable
Upholstered headboards are the most popular and offer great comfort
Upholstered headboards are the most popular and offer great comfort

Styles of John Ryan By Design Headboard

Here at John Ryan By Design, we offer a range of 7 different styles of mattress headboard to suit all tastes. Our John Ryan By Design Origins and Artisan headboards are available in the following styles:

  1. Forbes headboard
  2. Bella headboard
  3. Laura headboard
  4. Leah headboard
  5. Warbreck headboard
  6. Georgia headboard

Forbes headboard


Bella headboard


Laura headboard


Leah headboard


Warbreck headboard


Georgia headboard


Headboard sizes & dimensions

Headboards are all standard widths in line with the mattress sizes, see the table below.

The height of our Artisan headboards is 50″ / 1.27m and the height of the Origins headboard is 54″ /1.37m.

They use standard headboard bolt fixtures and can be raised or lowered depending on the depth of the mattress.

Mattress SizeDimensions
Small Single 2’ 6” x 6’3” (80cm x 190cm)
Single 3′ x 6’3″ (90cm x 190cm)
Small Double 4″ x 6’3 (120cm x 190cm)
Double 4’6″ x 6’3″ (135cm x 190cm)
Continental Double 4’7” x 6’6” (140cm x 200cm)
King 5′ x 6’6″ (150cm x 200cm)
Continental King 5’3″ x 6’6″ (160cm x 200cm)
Extra King 6’0 x 6’3 (182cm x 190cm)
Super King 6′ x 6’6″ (180cm x 200cm)

Headboards for Zip & Link Beds

When it comes to zip and link beds you have two options with headboards. You can have either:

  1. One-piece headboard – useful if you’re not planning on separating the mattresses but are using the zip & link for different tensions like a soft/firm split or to reduce movement from another sleeper.
  2. Two-piece headboard – this allows the bed and the headboards to be split. This is useful for guest houses or spare rooms where you may split the beds dependent on the guest.

Please leave us a note in your order when ordering a zip and link bed with headboard as to which of the above you prefer. Our friendly team will, however, call once the order is placed but it is worth bearing in mind how you want the headboards to work.

d link mattress on a base

The best headboard styles for a zip and link bed that will be split into two are:

  • Bella
  • Georgia
  • Laura

This is because the design works well independently when the beds are split and also put back together.

How are headboards attached to beds?

Headboards are attached using headboard bolts. These bolts are placed through headboard fixing slots and are then hand screwed into screw grommets in the back of mattress divan bases. You can move the headboard up and down to the desired height. This is useful as some mattresses, particularly our models, are quite deep. Being able to raise the headboard is useful. So the design of the board only starts where the mattress finishes and not part way down the mattress.

Usually, headboards are fitted when the bed is delivered.  Our delivery staff deliver to the room of choice and will assemble as part of our service. If buying base elsewhere where you may need to self-assemble the grommets should be identified by small stickers on the base at the head end.

headboard bolts
Headboard bolts

If buying base elsewhere where you may need to self-assemble the grommets should be identified by small stickers on the base at the head end. You may need to pierce these carefully with a Stanley knife to get through the upholstery.

High-quality headboards should have runners in the headboard fixings. These prevent damage to the fabric, especially in zip and link beds that are being moved or adjusted frequently. The runners can be seen here as a grey plastic protector.

John Ryan Silver Hopsack 3
Headboard runners

Headboards can add the finishing touches to your beds aesthetic. If you need more help with choosing a headboard then why not contact our small expert team for some advice on 0161 437 4419?

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