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This Instructable is geared for those who are interested in restoring your old ratty vehicle door panels. I completed this project on an older 1981 Subaru. It is a simple technique that can easily be completed in a weekend and it will completely transform your interior! Let's get started.
Materials & Tools:
- 3M Adhesive Spray (Used to apply the foam and vinyl to your door panel).
- Foam (This is going to be your new cushion for the panel. Thickness depends on you).
- Vinyl (Used as your new door panel skin. You can use whatever material you wish, just make sure you have plenty to cover your entire project).
- Razor blade and/or scissors (Used for trimming and cutting the foam and vinyl).
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Step 1: Breaking Down the Panel
Remove the door panel. On most vehicles, especially older, they are usually held in place by a clip. You can either use a special tool for this or carefully use a screwdriver to pop the panel off at each clip point. Make sure you unscrew anything that is connected to the door frame (armrest, door handle trim, etcetera). Handle the panel with care as they are not made of the sturdiest of material.
Once your panel is off, remove the old skin. You may have to fight some glue or staples. Clean off what you can and get ready to trace it on your foam.
Step 2: Tracing the Panel
1) Place your foam on the table.
2) Take the interior side of the door panel and lay it face down on your foam.
3) Use a marker and trace your door panel onto the foam.
4) Remove the door panel from the foam and cut out your newly traced outline. Test fit it on your panel to ensure it lines up.
5) At this point spray the panel side of the foam with adhesive. Also spray the panel with adhesive. Let the two surfaces sit until the adhesive begins to get tacky.
6) Once tacky, apply the foam to the panel and let dry.
7) After the foam is dried to the panel, feel free to cut out your openings.
Step 3: Applying the Vinyl
It is time for the vinyl. Take special care to not get adhesive on your nice new vinyl surface! This step can be frustrating and time consuming. Please be patient!
1) Lay the vinyl flat on the table "face" down.
2) Lay your door panel foam-side down on the back of the vinyl.
3) Loosely trace around the panel leaving a 2-3 inch gap around the entire panel. This allows for room to stretch the vinyl and adhere it to the back of the panel.
4) Cut out your vinyl.
5) Apply adhesive to the back of the vinyl and let it tack. Also apply adhesive to the foam on the panel and let it tack.
6) Once both surfaces are tacky, begin applying the vinyl to the panel. This step takes a lot of manipulation, stretching and slicing. On corners you will have to slice the vinyl to properly fit it. Be careful to not get adhesive on the fancy side of your panel.
7) After you are happy with your fit, you may begin slicing your openings. Always start small, you can always increase your cuts. Repeat the process with however many panels you are doing. Reapply any clips or weatherstripping to the panel. Pat yourself on the back.
Step 4: Reinstall & Extra Step
It is now time to put the panel back on! For me it was as simple as popping the clips back into place and reinstalling my armrest and window lever. Unfortunately all of my door handle trims were sunbaked and broken, so I could not hide my cuts!
Extra Step: The lower half of my doors were a separate plastic panel. I purchased a Duplicolor interior plastic spray system and touched up all my faded plastics by simply following their instructions. While I was at it, I sprayed a few other interior plastics as well. I am glad I did, the results look amazing!
I hope you enjoyed this Instructable! It is an easy way to give new life to an old worn out interior. Any questions? Please ask!