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How to Reupholster a Headliner

by Joe Kelly

If your vehicle's headliner is sagging or the fabric is worn out, you don't have to spend a lot of money at an upholstery shop. You can replace the worn-out fabric in a few hours using items from around the house or a local hardware store. The process can be performed by one person, but an assistant will make the job easier.

Unscrew all items that bolt into the roof of the vehicle, such as clothes hooks, visors, molding and lights. These items are typically bolted through the headliner and help hold it in place.

Remove the old headliner. Grab it using one of the uncovered holes from a dome light. Carefully move the headliner down and toward the rear of the vehicle, making sure not to bend or tear the headliner.

Move the old headliner carefully out of the vehicle through a door or rear hatch. Make sure not to bend the headliner while maneuvering it around obstacles.

Peel the worn fabric off the stiff shell of the headliner. Peel back a corner, grip it with your hands or a set of pliers and rip the fabric off the shell. The fabric should peel off fairly easily. Sand any residue that remains on the shell.

Spread the new fabric over the shell, so that it is properly positioned. Fold one end of the fabric back on itself to expose the shell.

Apply spray adhesive to the exposed shell and the fabric's underside. Let the adhesive dry for a minute until it is tacky.

Place the folded fabric onto the adhesive-covered shell, slowly rolling it into place. Work out any wrinkles as you roll the fabric. Work your way from the center to the outer edges of the shell. Repeat the process on the other half.

Cut holes in the fabric using the utility knife for items such as lights and clothes hooks. Use the shell as your guide. For lights, cut the holes slightly smaller than the opening in the shell to ensure a clean look. For screw holes, just poke a small hole in the fabric using the tip of the knife.

Trim the fabric with the scissors, leaving about a quarter of an inch of excess fabric around the whole shell. The excess with be hidden by the vehicle's molding.

Place the reupholstered headliner back into the vehicle. Follow the steps you used to remove it in reverse order. Push the headliner back into place, and screw the molding and other items back into place.

Items you will need

About the Author

Based in Colorado, Joe Kelly has been a freelance writer since 2007. His writing has appeared in various online publications such as OC Publife, The Raiders Post, Liberty Abyss, Chasing the River and PipingShark. Kelly has a Bachelor of Science in business administration from California State University, Northridge.

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