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Headliner Fix

Posted by DSMAddicted, Feb 26, 2004

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  1. DSMAddicted

    DSMAddicted Proven Member

    Joined May 12, 2002
    Fellow DSMTuners Members,
    doesn't the picture below look familiar to you? 1G DSMs (1990-1994) are the vehicles that suffer the most from this problem, but the same technique applies for 2G DSMs and for any other car I believe. If you are reading this, I assume you have a minimum mechanical knowledge and a good attitude to start a DIY fix that will save you at least $100 (that's the most common estimate I received from local car upholstery shops). You will need a Plastic brush like the one pictured in the 2nd picture, a 3M Foam Fast Spray Adhesive No.74 (refer to 2nd picture - I got mine at Home Depot for less than $10), a pair of sharp sissors and a friend willing to help you out when you'll be applying the new upholstery on what I call the 'headliner frame'.

    Ok, let's start by removing the 'headliner frame' from the roof of your car. Sorry I couldn't snap any pic while I was doing it, but it's extemely easy, I know you'll make it. Start brushing the residual dried glue from the factory headliner. As you can see from the picture, the left side has been brushed throughly and the right one has been left dirty, to show you the difference.

    Once the 'headliner frame' is clean, lay it on a pair of saw-horses (if you have some wood bars, it's better - look at pic) and blow the residual glue particles that you just brushed with some compressed air. You might notice that the 'headliner frame' suffered from some cracks with the time (during removal especially). No panic, it's normal and it won't affect the looks of your new headliner once you are done. To make your life easier during the application of the new upholstery, make sure you apply some packing tape (refer to picture - bottom) on the cracks so that they won't move and create uneven surfaces when you are fighting with that large, sticky piece of fabric that you will be dealing with.

    Here's the upholstery material I found at my local "JoAnn Fabric" store, click here to see if there's one near you. If there are none, just browse through your local Yellow Pages or the Internet. You are simply looking for any store that sells Upholstery... preferably a place specialized in Vehicle Interior Upholstery. For best results, the type of material you want is 'spongy', less than 1/4 of an inch thick, wider and higher then the actual size of the 'headliner frame' you are working on (better safe than sorry) and colored on one side, as you can see from the picture. Please note that my Talon's interior theme is Black and Gray. My factory headliner was gray with matching sunvisors, however I decided to use black material to be different, and to extend the gray/black pattern.

    Shake your 3M can very well according to the instructions. Start spraying the foam on the 'headliner frame' using a series of parrallel lines pattern all across the surface. Repeat this process again perpendicularly to the first coat.

    ...another view of the 'headliner frame' almost at the end of the coating process.

    Once the 'headliner frame' has been properly coated, start doing the same process on the rear side of the piece of fabric you purchased. As you can see in the pic, my technique started to gradually improve... ;)

    I am sorry but I could not take any picture during the actual fabric application on the 'headliner frame' for obvious reasons. You need however to remember that TWO pairs of hands are NECESSARY for this step to be completed properly, and you don't want to mess up here because it's the most delicate part of the whole process. I said delicate, not HARD, because it's not hard at all.

    All you need to make sure is that you apply the fabric starting at one side of the 'headliner frame' at an ANGLE to avoid wrinkles and bubble-type problems. Basically, if this is the frame sitting on the saw-horses ' _ ' this will be the angle you will need to start applying the piece of upholstery: ' \ '.

    If my ASCII representation is not helping, imagine a closed book on a table. Open the book so that the cover forms a 90 degree angle with the horizontal surface of the table. Picture yourself closing the book again, and think about the angle of the book-cover decreasing until it reaches zero degrees. That is a good way of understanding the way the fabric will need to be applied. While one of you holds the fabric high from one side, the other person will be working (on the opposite side) on the actual application on the 'headliner frame' - with bare, clean hands - by applying even pressure on all sides and slowly moving forward (at the same time you will be slowly lowering the piece of fabric to give him/her more material and move towards your side. Take your time and make sure the upholstery has no wrinkles whatsoever.

    Upon inspection of what you've done in the above step, apply pressure with the palms of your hands all over the surface to ensure the bond is properly distributed. Let the headliner dry as directed, and start cutting the excess material 'sticking out' from the borders.

    Cut the fabric that covers the hole for the interior lightening.

    ...et voila'!!! Install your headliner back. Install is reverse of removal... you might want to buy some new caps from the dealer (right side of the picture) because they most likely broke when you removed them. Believe me if I tell you that these pictures DO NOT do justice to the result of this work!!! One thing that bothers me is that my nice black fabric looks somewhat red/purple-ish in these pictures... well, between the conditions of the camera exposure and the JPEG compression, I couldn't help it but trust me if I tell you that the black headliner with the original gray sunvisors looks awesome.

    ...once the job is completed, you are allowed to unleash your fantasy and personalize your new headliner area... that's what I chose. I couldn't help it... ;)

    Good luck with your project, feel free to open a separate discussion thread if you have any question.



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