A headlining is the fabric covering with a foam layer that is glued to the headliner of your car. It is not uncommon for a car's headliner to become detached and collapse if it has been exposed to a lot of moisture or if the car is an older model. You don't need to hire a professional to repair a sagging or dirty headliner. Replace it yourself by following these headlining installation steps.
Step 1. Remove the old headliner
- Remove any trim surrounding the headliner and holding it in place.
- Unclip and remove all seat belt covers, lights, speakers, sun visors and hangers. You may also need to remove some of the top A, B, C pillar panels in order to drop the headliner from the headliner. You may need to loosen some bolts and/or pry up some parts with a flat or torx screwdriver.
- Loosen the clamps holding the headliner in place.
- Slide the headliner out of the vehicle and lay it on a flat work surface. A large table or the floor is fine.
- Remove the material from the headliner of the car. It should come off without much effort.
Step 2. Scrape off the foam that is still on the headliner plate with a brush or with a thin sandpaper
Be careful not to damage the plate. The smoother the surface of the slab, the better the finished sky will look.
Step 3. Lay the new headliner fabric on the headliner plate
Lay it out flat and smooth out any creases or wrinkles.
Step 4. Fold half of the fabric back on itself, exposing half of the headliner sheet
It works easier when you apply each half of the fabric separately.
Step 5. Prepare both surfaces for bonding
Brush contact adhesive on the underside of the headliner and on the exposed half of the headliner. Alternatively, you can also use 3M spray adhesive, which is much easier to work with.
Take the strongest glue possible. Due to the position of the headlining, much weaker adhesives fail in heat
Step 6. Stretch the cemented material over the cemented half of the slab, pressing it into place with your palm as you go
Step 7. Fold the loose half of the headliner back onto itself and repeat gluing, stretching and pressing with the other half
Step 8. Wait for the glue to dry
The drying time is stated on the adhesive label.
Step 9. Cut holes in the headliner where the lights, seat belts, sun visors and coat hangers are to be attached
Use a hobby knife for this.
Step 10. Trim excess fabric from the edges before putting the headliner back into the car
Leave about an inch of extra fabric around the perimeter of the plate so it can be tucked in during installation.
Step 11. Put the headliner back in place in the car
- Tuck the excess fabric underneath to get neat edges.
- Secure the headliner using the vehicle's designated clips (if applicable).
Step 12. Reinstall the accessories and trim that you removed before the headliner replacement
- To save money, buy the new headliner fabric online at auction sites and discount stores, or from bankruptcy depots.
- If you'd rather not buy all of the supplies separately, you can purchase a headlining replacement kit for your car.
- Be very careful when gluing the headliner to the headliner. Contact cement adheres to contact, which means that once the cemented fabric touches the cemented headlining, the two surfaces will stick together and you can't undo it.
- Be careful when removing and installing, as some cars have curtain airbags behind the headliner.