Repairing Or Replacing Your Automotive Headliner

As far as automotive interiors, there is nothing more annoying or potentially dangerous than a sagging or separating automotive headliner. If you are not having this problem in your car, you have probably seen a car drive by with the headliner falling down into the back seat. If this problem is not repaired, eventually it could become a safety hazard by falling into the driver’s field of vision.

What can be done?

There have been some temporary solutions offered in the past, such as those “twist in pins”, but they are at best a temporary solution and will actually damage the headliner board, and cause more problems when it comes time for a more permanent fix.

The best solution is to completely replace the fabric of your headliner. You could have that done professionally, although that would be a rather expensive solution. A much more affordable solution would be a “do-it-yourself kit” that make this project something that anyone can do.

At we also offer a complete replacement for the entire board, which comes pre-covered with the fabric color of your choice. This option is only avaialble for a very small selection of vehicles.

What is a “Headliner”?

Most cars after the mid 70’s have what is called a fabric covered headliner board. This board is usually made from a pressed material, much like cardboard. That headliner board is then covered with a foam backed headliner fabric, which is glued directly to the board. In most cases, the sagging or separation occurs when the fabric separates from the foam.

What should I buy?

When looking for a do-it-yourself kit, look for several things. First of all, make sure you are buying a quality material. Most fabric comes with either 1/8 inch thick foam, or 1/4 inch thick foam. It is usually best to go with the 1/4 inch thick foam.

Make sure that wherever you buy, you can get the exact color that you want; a reliable store will send you samples to match your existing headliner. Keep in mind, that time and sunlight can fade your headliner, so look for a piece that has been protected from the sun when matching colors.

Also, make sure that you order the correct size headliner kit. Cars, trucks, van and SUVs all come in different widths and lengths, so you want to make sure you buy enough material to cover the entire board. If in doubt, always buy a little extra, as it is easy to cut it smaller, but impossible to make it larger.

And last of all, make sure the kit you buy comes with enough glue. Typically, headliner kits include a spray contact adhesive. Usually one can is enough for a small van/SUV or car, but anything larger will require 2 cans of glue. Make sure the glue is specifically made for fabrics and the high temperatures that can build inside of a vehicle.

How do I replace the headliner?

Without going into too many details, the general idea of a do-it-yourself headliner kit, is that you scrape the existing material off your old headliner board and glue on the new material. Most quality kits will come with the detailed instructions on how to do this. The hardest part of the job may be getting the board out of your car; be sure not to damage the board in any way, or you will be in worse shape then when you started. And remember that the smoother you can get the board before you glue the new fabric in place, the better the end result will look.

As you can see, replacing your headliner is a job that anyone can do. You just need a little time and patience and you can repair that ugly and dangerous headliner.

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