Is your car's headliner sagging? Is it terribly dirty? Well here the solution for you! The following will show you how to recover your drab old headliner. I will not only be recovering, but changing my color from gray to black.
I bought 6 yards of fabric - I opted for a "headliner material" which is foam backed
2 Cans of 3M 90 Spray on Adhesive (Do not go cheap on your adhesive)
Headliner Material: 6 yds. @ $11/yd = $66 | 50% off coupon = $33
Adhesive: 2 @ $13/ea = $26
Considering I'm not using all of the material (only half of the headliner) -- lets say the total cost is no more than $50.
Headliner Removal: 45mins <-- never done it before
Removing old material and preparing: 60min
Recovering: 60min <-- a lot of wait time
Covering Pillars: 20min per set (3 sets)
Covering Sunroof Slide: 20min:
Installation: 30 min
So, this is a good weekend job - remove headliner on Friday (maybe prepare too). Recover on Saturday. Install on Sunday :)
Some vehicles are equipped with curtain airbags located in the headliner itself. I don't know how the airbag deploys nor do I know if the headliner material will effect operation. Likewise for pillar mounted airbags. That is one system you don't want to screw around with. <-- Just like seat mounted airbags -- you're not putting seat covers over them right? :P
Step 1: Remove Headliner
This will vary from vehicle to vehicle... For my car (Mark IV Volkswagen Jetta/Golf) instructions can be found here: http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=1312975
Step 2: Remove Old Material
My headliner had 5 metal rings that needed removal by prying up locking tabs. The problem with most headliner is separation between the fabric and foam. First, remove the fabric and discard.
If you foam is stuck on your headliner board (like mine) - you get the tedious task of scrapping it off. I used a flat rasp and scrubbed/scraped the foam and glue residue off. I truly believe that the more meticulous/anal you are about this, the longer your end product will last ;)
Once all of the foam is removed - sand the headliner board with 80/100 grit paper to remove extra glue and prep for the next phase.
Step 3: Additional Preparation
Count how many compound curves your headliner board has. Make at least that many 1qt bags filled with water. To additional leak protection, wrap a second bag around each water bag.
Lay out your chosen headliner fabric and cut a suitable length -- give yourself some extra material to work with ;)
Step 4: Apply Healiner
Start with the flattest area of your headliner board. Follow the directions for your adhesive. I applied two coats of adhesive to a smallish area on both the headliner fabric and headliner board. I allowed about three minutes to let the glue tack/fire off. It is necessary to allow the glue to tack for a tight hold.
Allow the adhesive to set and then move on to the next area. I did about 1 linear foot at a time. When you reach an area with a curve that you want to apply pressure to, place one or more bag(s) of water on top. This will ensure even pressure is applied while the glue sets.
Here's some advice on a method of application. Don't start at a corner or side. Start in the middle.
1. Fold headliner in half (picture one) and apply a small section half the length of the headliner board
2. Unfold headliner and allow some cure time - apply bags if necessary
3. Fold headliner in opposite direction -- pull tight to remove the leading edge of adhesive (to ensure a complete coat) and apply adhesive half the length of the headliner board
4. Unfold and allow some cure time -- apply bags
5. Repeat until that half of the headliner is complete
7. Fold down the headliner and apply adhesive
8. Unfold and repeat until finished. Apply to smaller areas on really tight curves.
On the matter of holes -- such as a moon/sun roof...
When you get to areas like this, make relief cuts to allow the fabric to wrap around. - 5th picture
Once finished -- let your headliner sit for several hour -- a day would be even better ;)
Step 5: Pillars
Again, removal is dependent on your car ;)
If you have airbags, please take extra caution. Do research to find the proper way to remove your pillars containing airbags.
For my pillars (A, B and C), I used a different material. I found a dull, textured, heavy black vinyl that matched my dash. These were applied with spray on adhesive and then trimmed.
It took some practice to prevent wrinkles and sags. Vinyl + tight compound curves is a bit tricky. In the end, I have very minor defects that are not noticeable ;)
Step 6: Reinstall - Deoderize
Reinstall everything ;) It's a good idea to let everything cure for a day or so though.
Have an odor from your adhesive? There's a deodorizing product called Ozium. A quick spray on the smelly panel instantly neutralized the smell ;)
One day I will get around to replacing my gray handles/components with black :D