How to Make Auto Headliners

by Jenny Carver

Automotive headliners are made from fabric or vinyl material that covers the ceiling inside a car. This material is glued to a stiff board shaped to fit on the ceiling. Over time, the glue weakens and the material may sag, hang down or flap around. This not only looks bad, but it can block the driver's view out of side windows and the rearview mirror, creating a safety hazard. You can make your own headliner instead of paying several hundred dollars to have it repaired.

Remove the old headliner from the car. Start by using a Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws from the plastic pillars located in each corner of the car, from the dash to the ceiling. If the vehicle has rear doors, there will be additional pillars behind the front doors. There is also plastic trim above the doors holding the headliner in place. Remove this with a screwdriver.

Pop the plastic pillars off once the screws have been removed. Start at the bottom and work your way up. You may need to slide a flat head screwdriver along the edge to help them pop off.

Pull on the headliner and board, starting in a corner. The entire thing should come down by carefully prying it loose. Don't break the board--it can be expensive to replace.

Place the headliner and board on a flat table or clean area on the ground. Pull the headliner material completely off of the board.

Measure the board and the new material, leaving 2 inches of overhang on all sides. Cut the new material, using the board as a template.

Turn the new material face-down on a clean surface. Lightly spray adhesive over the entire piece, spraying extra along the edges and center. Spray the same amount on the board. Allow both pieces to sit for about five minutes, or until the glue is slightly tacky.

Lay the material on top of the board, sticky sides facing each other. Center the material and use your hands or a plastic squeegee to smooth it out, starting at the center and working toward the edges.

Install the board in the car using the reverse of the steps in the removal process. Tuck the extra material along the edges up and around the back of the board. Cover it with the trim in the car.


  • check If the board breaks during removal or installation, visit a junkyard to get a cheap replacement and re-cover it.

Items you will need


About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.

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