Install a Headliner
A headliner is the foam-backed cloth covering that is attached by adhesive to the ceiling of your car. It is not unusual for a car headliner to become unattached and cave in if it has been exposed to excessive amounts of moisture or if the car is an older model. You do not have to hire a professional to come in and fix a saggy or dirty headliner. You can replace it yourself by following these steps for how to install a headliner.
- Remove the old headliner.
- Pry off all the trim that surrounds the headliner and holds it in place.
- Detach and remove all of the seatbelt covers, lights, speakers, visors and clothes hangers. You may also have to remove some of the upper A, B, C pillar panels to get the headliner to drop form the roof area. You may have to unscrew some bolts and/or pry some parts up with a flathead or torx screwdriver.
- Unclip any clips that are holding the headliner board in place.
- Slide the headliner board out of the vehicle and set it on a flat work surface. A large table or the floor will do.
- Remove the material from the car headliner board. It should peel off without much effort.
- Scrape off any foam that remains stuck on the headliner board with a bristle brush or lightweight sandpaper. Be gentle, so as not to damage the board. The smoother the board surface is, the better your finished headliner replacement will look.
- Lay the replacement headliner fabric over the headliner board. Spread it out flat and smooth out any folds or wrinkles.
- Fold 1/2 of the fabric back onto itself, leaving 1/2 of the headliner board exposed. Working each half of the fabric application separately makes the job easier to manage.
- Prepare both surfaces for adhesion. Brush contact cement on the underside of the headliner fabric and on the exposed half of the headliner board. Alternatively 3M makes a spray adhesive that is much easier to work with.
- Get the strongest glue you can. Because of the location of the headliner, many weaker glues will fail with heat.
- Stretch the cemented material over the cemented half of the board, pressing it in place with the palm of your hand as you go.
- Fold the unattached half of the headliner fabric back on itself and repeat the gluing, stretching, pressing process for the other half.
- Wait for the adhesive to dry. Drying time will be listed on the adhesive label.
- Cut holes in the car headliner where the lights, seat belts, visors and clothes hangers need to be attached. Use a hobby knife for this.
- Trim any excess fabric from the edges before you install a headliner board back in the car. Leave about 0.5 inch (1.27 cm) of extra fabric around the circumference of the board so that it can be tucked in during installation.
- Return the headliner board back to its place in the car.
- Tuck the excess fabric under for clean edges.
- Secure the headliner with the car's headliner clips (if applicable).
- Replace the accessories and trim that you removed for the headliner replacement process.
- If you don't want to purchase all of your supplies separately, you can buy a car headliner replacement kit.
- To save on money, shop online auction sites and discount fabric stores, or local fabric liquidation warehouses for headliner replacement fabric.
- Be very careful about gluing the headliner fabric to the headliner board. Contact cement bonds on contact, meaning once the cemented fabric touches the cemented headliner board, the 2 surfaces will adhere and you cannot undo it.
- Be careful when removing and installing, as some cars have curtain air bags behind the headliner.
Things You'll Need
- Screwdrivers (Philips head, flat, or torx)
- Car headliner material
- Bristle brush or light sandpaper
- Strong glue
- Hobby knife