Professional Upholstery: Auto Headliner Repair Tips

The headliner of your car or van may be sagging or drooping, a common problem in older cars. There are many online do-it-yourself tips for repairing this fabric ceiling in a car, but the experience of an upholstery professional can save you from the hassle and time spent on a repair project.

Online headliner repair tips may describe methods of using push tacks or extra spray adhesive to secure small areas that are sagging. Unfortunately, these are short-term attempts to fix a problem that should involve complete headliner replacement.

Consider the following when deciding on DIY headliner repair or using a professional service:

Headliner material

The headliner board itself may be made of either fiberglass, plastic, or cardboard. Fiberglass headliners have an outer layer that provides protection from the sensitive itching that some experience when working with fiberglass.

Traditional headliner fabric already contains a foam backing. Pre-fab headliner repair kits available on the market usually contain a slim selection of fabric colors and types.

Custom headliners can be developed with specialized fabric adhered to foam rubber sheeting. A professional upholstery expert knows the best types of material, proper color match and patterns to use in a vehicle.

Disassembly of headliner from the vehicle

A brave DIY type person might handle a headliner replacement in a few hours. However, depending on the type of vehicle and options integrated inside the car interior, it may be better to let a professional handle the job.

Here are some typical disassembly steps:

Remove all trim – visors, visor clips, dome lights, grab handles, coat hooks, and other trim screws holding in the trim panels. Remove the side trim panels – these are usually plastic and can easily break; then remove front & rear trim. Remove the rubber sealing tubes around doors.

Special tools may be needed for specific headliners, especially for sunroofs, overhead consoles, lighted visors, curtain airbags or pillar airbags.

Finally, remove the headliner from the vehicle without damaging the structure.

Replacing auto headliner fabric

At first glance, the fabric replacement may seem easy; but if not finished correctly, buckling or sagging of the fabric can result.

Basic steps include removing the old fabric, using a brush to scrape remaining foam from the board, positioning the new fabric over the headliner board and adhering it with a spray adhesive that is specific for high temperatures that are found in closed vehicles. Carefully trim and overlap fabric edges in the right places before installing the headliner back inside the vehicle.

When ready to re-install the headliner in the car, re-connect any wires needed, and install all clips and trim.

While this may seem like an ideal DIY job, an upholstery specialist experienced in car interior restoration can efficiently replace a headliner and ensure that there is a snug, good-looking fit to the finished installation.

Credit: D & N Upholstery

Dupli-Color® Automotive Series Spray Adhesives and Remover

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