Q: We are at a loss. Every bed in our house has a headboard, and they all make noise when someone tosses in bed. We tried putting rubber wedges between each bed and headboard connection, but the noise persists. Other than attaching the headboards to the wall, is there a magic way to get a solid connection that will not rattle with every move?
A: A headboard might seem like a decorative feature with one simple function: keeping pillows in place. But if you read, watch TV or scroll through phone messages in bed, your headboard also functions like the back of a chair. Every time you lean back, you apply considerable pressure to it. And that leads to rattling.
There are a few ways to silence the noise, depending on whether the problem stems from the connection itself or the headboard’s relationship to the wall. A headboard connects to a bed via brackets that are either integral to the bed rails or are attached to them. There are two styles: bolt-on and hook-on, with the bolted type being the most common. Push a bed away from the wall and you can quickly identify which type you have: Do you see bolt heads or not?
If you see bolt heads, test whether the connections are tight. Use two wrenches: one on the head and one on the nut. If you can tighten them, that’s a sign that they were loose. If you previously checked and tightened any loose connections, don’t merely retighten them. There are a couple of things you can do to keep them from wobbling loose again. Check that there are washers under both the bolt head and the nut at each connection. If not, disassemble the joint and add washers — plus a lock washer between the nut and its washer. Before tightening the nut, squirt in a product that keeps connections from wobbling loose yet still allows disassembly, such as Loctite Threadlocker Blue 242 ($6.47 at Home Depot). Brackets are often designed so they can accommodate bed frames made by different manufacturers, so if you find that there are empty holes or slots, you might be able to add an extra bolt at each bracket, which will also make the connection more secure.
There’s not much you can do to adjust hook-on connections, other than perhaps inserting thin shims if the hooks are narrower than the slots. But it’s possible that adapters were used to allow a hook-on headboard to be attached to a bed frame with bolt-on brackets, or vice versa. If the adapters don’t fit right, replacing them might also help. Find various models by searching online for headboard adapters.
Once you’re sure that the headboard is securely attached to the bed, focus on what’s happening between the bed and the wall. A company called Bed Claw makes rubber bumpers that fit over bolt-on brackets. The primary purpose is to keep the brackets from scratching the wall, but the bumpers also help lessen rattling sounds. They cost $9.65 for a pair, enough for one bed, on Amazon. Or you could improvise with foam pipe insulation ($1.58 at Lowe’s for a six-foot length sized to fit around one-inch-wide piping). No one will see this padding, so just attach the foam with duct tape.
And then we come to a step that might work once you have tried everything else: There is a lot of headboard above the place where it links to the bed rails, so if there is a gap between the headboard and the wall, every time you lean back, you apply leverage that amplifies your force. Unfortunately, there is almost always a gap because baseboards keep beds from snuggling up to walls. If you can eliminate that gap, the rattling might go away. One solution is to use felt protectors for furniture feet. The protectors probably won’t be thick enough to match the thickness of the baseboards, so adapt them with longer screws; thread on washers or a nut to fill in the extra space between the felt and the headboard. (A four-pack of Richelieu Hardware screw-on felt pads about one inch wide is $4.09 at Home Depot.)