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Old 07-15-2010, 01:35 PM   #1
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Replacing Headliner

The headliner in my Jeep is starting to deteriorate and needs to be replaced. I called a upholstery shop and they quoted $300 to put glue fabric on the board, or $800 if they remove the headliner and install everything. I feel this is way to much and have decided to try it myself. Has any one every replaced a headliner by themselves? How long did it take and where the results satisfactory?
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Old 07-15-2010, 02:47 PM   #2
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Re: Replacing Headliner

I replaced the headliner in my first car when I was 16, a 92 Olds Cutlass Supreme. My Dad and I found a suitable headliner at a U-Pull-It junkyard, I doubt it cost much more than $20, then had it installed in practically no time at all. I don't remember much about the actual install, but I think that means it was quite painless

$300 to spread some glue around sounds absolutely outrageous. If you really wanted to go that route, why not just buy a gallon of carpet or multi-purpose adhesive for $12 and see what you can do?
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Old 07-15-2010, 11:18 PM   #3
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Re: Replacing Headliner

I painted my headliner black, which involved removing it completely. This wasn't an extremely difficult process, but I spent about 15 hours doing so.
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Old 07-16-2010, 02:42 AM   #4
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Re: Replacing Headliner

I have replaced the material on many headliners in my time. I had the good fortune of having worked in a body shop that had a full service upholstery shop. If you do this do not skimp on the adhesive. Get a big can of 3M super 77 spray adhesive.

Take all the plastic trim that holds the headliner up out first. there will likely be a bunch of little metal clips holding the headliner up so make sure to look and see how and where they are positioned before removing them.

Next (if there are dome lights) remove the covers and the bulbs and unscrew the screws that hold them to the roof as the light fixture is part of what holds the cardboard backer in place. Snake the light fixture up through the hole in the headliner. Then remove the cardboard backer through the back tailgate opening.

Once you have the headliner out of the vehicle, (you'll want to do this part outside) strip the fabric material off of the cardboard backer. There will be some rotted foam left behind on the cardboard backer, this "must" all be removed because if you do not completely remove all of this foam the new material will not adhere properly and all your work will be for nothing.I like to use an old backing plate on a rotary polisher or a wire wheel (the cup type) in a drill to remove all the old foam.

Most places only sell the replacement material by the linear yard so unless you can locate a wider roll of the material somewhere you will need to sew two pieces together that extend at leas 6 inches past each end of the cardboard backer and this is where the expertise comes into play, if you are not skilled on a sewing machine it is very hard to sew a straight line at over 5 feet in length.

First off measure the total length of the cardboard backer from front to back and purchase a piece of the material twice the length + 2 additional feet and cut in half at the center of the total length. (remember both halves need to extend 6 inches past on each end.)

Here are a few tips for sewing the 2 sections together. First you will want to be working in a very clean workspace free of dust and dirt because dirty foam will not adhere very well and will likely lead to premature adhesion failure resulting in a drooping headliner.

lay your first piece of fabric down flat and even out any wrinkles. You want the foam side down. Now lay your second piece exactly on top of the first piece but with the foam side up. Take some of your painters tape and secure a piece of tape around the edges at maybe every 6 inches or so to keep the 2 pieces even and exactly on top of each other.

Next you will have to sew the 2 pieces together. You want to come in one half inch from the edge of one of the long sides and make your stitch there the full length of just one side. After you have sewn the 2 halves together remove all the tape and lay the newly sewn piece out in full with the foam side up. There will be 2 half inch flaps (one on either side of your stitch.) spray some of your 3M super 77 adhesive into a shot glass or a dixie cup and dip four finger tip into the adhesive and apply the adhesive to the foam side of the 1/2" flap and fold it down evenly gluing it flat back in the direction of the outer edge of the headliner against the foam.This is an important step that you will not want to skip because this is going to give your stitch integrity and help to keep it straight when you glue it to the cardboard backer.

Now you're ready to glue the new fabric to the cardboard backer. From this point on it is do or die. You only get one shot at gluing this new fabric to the cardboard. If you are doing this project outside and it is in the least bit breezy out it becomes 10 times more difficult. You will need a competent helper for the gluing process.

On the front end of the cardboard backer, place a mark at exact center of the board. Repeat this placing a mark on center at the back end of the board. Next strike a chalk line between the 2 marks. Remember you don't want any dust so shake the excess chalk off of the line before you strike your line. Another method is to tape a string to the side of the cardboard backer that will be going against the roof of the vehicle. Tape it about 4 inches back and then wrap it around the edge pulling it taught to the mark at the other end of the board and wrap it around and tape it 4 inches back keeping it taught. This will be your guide to assist you in getting the new fabric glued straight on center.

Next place a piece of 2 inch painters tape along one edge only of the string or chalk line. On the other side of the string or chalk line you want to spray down a 3 inch or so line of your spray adhesive the entire length of the untaped side of center. Now fold your fabric back in half (foam side out) ensuring that you are folded exactly on the stitch with all other 3 sides even. Next spray down a line of your spray adhesive from the stitched edge back about 3 inches, along the entire length except for the 6 inch overhang on each end. Allow the adhesive to dry for about 5 minutes before moving forward.

The 3M Super 77 adhesive is like spray rubber cement and once it sets up, if you get it against itself you are done. If this happens the foam will tear loose from the fabric and you will now have to re glue and you will now see a blemish along the seam after this project is completed. Not to mention that the glue may bleed through the fabric at the re glued area where the foam is now missing.

This is where the competent helper comes into play. I use the term competent to indicate a person who won't be distracted, the successful completion of this job requires focus.

OK after the adhesive has dried for at least 5 minutes what you and your helper need to do is pull the folded and glued piece of fabric slightly taught, (do not stretch it) Keeping it slightly taught you now need to flip it over and lay it down on to the glue with the stitched edge exactly on the edge of the painters tape. Once you have achieved this you want to rub down the glued section ensuring that the foam is firmly and evenly glued.

Now comes the fun part, getting the rest of the fabric glued onto the board without getting any wrinkles. OK now you want to remove the painters tape and the piece of string if you used one and then spray down a 5 inch wide or so coat of adhesive on to the board first and then also on the foam 5 inches back from the stitching and remember not to glue the 6 inch overhang on each end. Let that adhesive set up for at least 5 minutes and then go to the side where the unsewn edges of the fabric are and place your arms between the top and bottom pieces of fabric. What you want to do is roll the glued fabric down onto the glued board working about 2 to 3 inches of the glued fabric onto the glued board. You want to start this process at the middle of the glued section and work you way to the end then go back to the middle and repeat this process until you get to the other end. Starting back at the middle again roll the other two and a half inches of fabric down onto the board, again starting from the middle and working to the end. Repeat this process for the other side. repeat this until the entire side is glued down all the way to the edge of the board. Do not try to rush through this. Only glue 5 inches or so at a time, let the adhesive dry at least 5 minutes and roll down about 2 inches at a time working from the center out to the ends.

Once you have gotten the first side glued all the way to the edge, go over it lightly rubbing it down against the board ensuring that all the fabric is pressed down and there are no weakly glued sections. Once you have done this go to the other side and fold back the unglued side onto the completed side and repeat the process gluing 5 inches and rolling 2 inches from the center to the ends. Repeat the process until the second side is all glued down and then lightly rub down that entire side ensuring the entire side is properly bonded.

When you get the entire piece of fabric glued down to the board what you want to do next is flip the board over so the fabric side is down and trim the unglued 6" edge back to about 3 inches all the way around the board. Next spray down a 3 inch line of adhesive onto the edge of the board and also glue the 3 " foam overhang and let the glue dry for at least 5 minutes and then carefully fold the remaining fabric onto the glued board all the way around working again from the centers out toward the corners. If there was a dome light and there is a hole for that light to go through, what you want to do is cut an X in the fabric that is covering the hole from corner to corner and glue and fold back all four tabs where you cut the X and press them firmly onto the back side of the board. You will want to glue both the tabs and the board.

Now all you have to do is to place your new headliner back into the vehicle, feed your dome light through the hole and re secure the light fixture to the roof with the screws, replace the bulb and cover, (if there was a dome light) replace the clips around the edge of the headliner and secure them to their original locations, (if there were clips) and re install all your plastic interior trim pieces and you're done

In closing I would like to say that it takes skill and experience to re cover these head liners and "they" make it look easy.

Well I hope this helps you to decide which way you want to go. Best of luck. TD

Last edited by tuscarora dave; 07-16-2010 at 02:54 AM.
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Old 07-16-2010, 05:37 AM   #5
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Re: Replacing Headliner

Tuscarora Dave, Thank you for the detailed instructions!! Very cool


I've had the headliner replaced in both of my Saturn SL's
Cost: $100-$120 each
The first time was $120 and included the visors
The second time the guy no longer had a shop and was mobile. he didn't have a sewing machine and couldn't do the visors.
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Old 07-16-2010, 10:33 AM   #6
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Re: Replacing Headliner

I did my wife's old ford escort a few yrs ago. Cost was like $50 in material and a few hrs of my time. $300-$800 is WAY to much
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Old 07-16-2010, 11:18 AM   #7
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Re: Replacing Headliner

Quote:
Originally Posted by CEE DOG View Post
Tuscarora Dave, Thank you for the detailed instructions!! Very cool


I've had the headliner replaced in both of my Saturn SL's
Cost: $100-$120 each
The first time was $120 and included the visors
The second time the guy no longer had a shop and was mobile. he didn't have a sewing machine and couldn't do the visors.
You are welcome, it was somewhat of a challenge to write up since it has been a while since I had actually done one but I enjoy a challenge. I just hope it helped the OP.

Those prices are very inexpensive. Maybe it's the law of supply and demand but around here at a local upholstery shop they wanted $65 a yard just for the material. I found it at a store like Ben Franklin for somewhere around $15 a yard. I had a beater car that I picked up for $100 and glued a bedsheet to the headliner. lol Total cost was less than $20 and it looked pretty good other than the slight bleed through of the adhesive.
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Old 07-16-2010, 01:56 PM   #8
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Re: Replacing Headliner

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Originally Posted by tuscarora dave View Post
OK after the adhesive has dried for at least 5 minutes what you and your helper need to do is pull the folded and glued piece of fabric slightly taught, (do not stretch it) Keeping it slightly taught you now need to flip it over and lay it down on to the glue with the stitched edge exactly on the edge of the painters tape. Once you have achieved this you want to rub down the glued section ensuring that the foam is firmly and evenly glued.

Now comes the fun part, getting the rest of the fabric glued onto the board without getting any wrinkles. OK now you want to remove the painters tape and the piece of string if you used one and then spray down a 5 inch wide or so coat of adhesive on to the board first and then also on the foam 5 inches back from the stitching and remember not to glue the 6 inch overhang on each end. Let that adhesive set up for at least 5 minutes and then go to the side where the unsewn edges of the fabric are and place your arms between the top and bottom pieces of fabric. What you want to do is roll the glued fabric down onto the glued board working about 2 to 3 inches of the glued fabric onto the glued board. You want to start this process at the middle of the glued section and work you way to the end then go back to the middle and repeat this process until you get to the other end. Starting back at the middle again roll the other two and a half inches of fabric down onto the board, again starting from the middle and working to the end. Repeat this process for the other side. repeat this until the entire side is glued down all the way to the edge of the board. Do not try to rush through this. Only glue 5 inches or so at a time, let the adhesive dry at least 5 minutes and roll down about 2 inches at a time working from the center out to the ends.

In closing I would like to say that it takes skill and experience to re cover these head liners and "they" make it look easy.

Well I hope this helps you to decide which way you want to go. Best of luck. TD
Thank you Dave your write up was very informative, more so then the write up on the headliners website I plan to order from. I do not think I will have to worry about sewing, they sell yards in 60 and 64 inch widths. Do you let the adhesive set up for 5 minutes to prevent bleed through? I am worried about being able to cut a straight line around the perimeter of the headliner. Is it alright if I roll the excess fabric over the edge and glue it to the top of the board hiding the edge that was cut?
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Old 07-16-2010, 02:54 PM   #9
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Re: Replacing Headliner

The cost is going to be based upon the vehicle. I know to replace a headliner in my '95 Range Rover is an all day job and a royal pain in the booty. I would venture to say a professional shop would charge easily $1,000 for the job.

What kind of Jeep do you have? What year? Moonroof?

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Old 07-16-2010, 03:11 PM   #10
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Re: Replacing Headliner

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The cost is going to be based upon the vehicle. I know to replace a headliner in my '95 Range Rover is an all day job and a royal pain in the booty. I would venture to say a professional shop would charge easily $1,000 for the job.

What kind of Jeep do you have? What year? Moonroof?

Colin
Jeep Grand Cherokee, 1995. no sun roof or dome lights.
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