Author Topic: Fixing headliner upholstery-anyone done this?  (Read 5480 times)


  • Bristles
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Fixing headliner upholstery-anyone done this?
« on: December 07, 2014, 02:42:36 PM »
My 1999 Nissan Sentra still runs well, but I have had an ongoing problem with the headliner upholstery sagging. A few years ago, the driver's side visor was not staying in place properly.  So, I "fixed" the visor by sewing a piece of velcro to the upholstery and to the top of the visor so that it would stay up (a <$5 fix for a >$150 part!).  Eventually the stress of the velcro pulling on the fabric created a separation between the upholstery and the foam liner, which has now grown.

I looked up on YouTube a few fix-it videos, and there seems to be 2 options: 1) get some foam adhesive to spray between the foam and the cloth or 2) replace the whole thing with some type of spray fiberglass-type stuff.  I'm inclined towards #1 since it's probably less expensive, less risky, will probably take less time and still leaves the option of #2 down the line. 

I have some questions about this, however.  Does this require removing the entire headliner?  The sag is above the drivers front with no gape anywhere, so I think I can just make a slit in the fabric to spray the adhesive that way.  Has anyone tried a repair of a fabric upholstery headliner using foam adhesive in a similar way?  If so, how satisfied are you with it?

I'm considering making the slit near the velcro spot, then actually just removing the foam right there anyway and gluing the velcro right to the underside of the car roof.  Then if I can successfully repair the rest of the fabric it won't look any more jenky then it did before but without the annoyance of the sagging fabric and without having to worry about the adhesive failing at the velcro spot again.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Fixing headliner upholstery-anyone done this?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2014, 03:02:19 PM »
I got a used headliner from ebay. It came in a huge box and I had to pick it up at the greyhound station, but it was only 50 bucks and I had no mess for a perfect job.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Fixing headliner upholstery-anyone done this?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2014, 05:37:22 AM »
Don't laugh but a few thumb tacks can go a long way!!  Get the flat head ones and match the color and your done!!

thurston howell iv

  • Bristles
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Re: Fixing headliner upholstery-anyone done this?
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2014, 11:23:22 AM »
Best way is to remove the entire headliner. Most are made with a delicate "egg crate" type of material that is very flimsy.

The way the pro-shops will do it is to remove your front seats. Usually a few bolts and a wire or two for seat belt sensors. (Disconnect the battery- just in case there are any airbag sensors.)

Once the seats are out the headliner is easy to remove. Helps to have two people. Also helps to have a large flat area with which to work (big table).
remove old cloth. Gently remove the old foam (It's a sticky messy job- be patient. It will come off.)  Once the board is clean you can spray it with some heavy duty adhesive. Let it get tacky.  Also you should have already purchased the replacement cloth (You can buy this super cheap at upholstery shops by the roll)- It will come with the foam backing and everything!.   Spray it with glue as well and let it get tacky. Then when both glued areas are sufficiently tacky, gently stretch the material over the board and smooth it out from inside to outside edges. Let it dry overnight. Trim the excess material and re-install.

I am not an expert by any means. I've just done this a few times. It's cheap and easy to do, just time consuming.

Good Luck!


  • Bristles
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Re: Fixing headliner upholstery-anyone done this?
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2014, 01:42:42 PM »
yea, very easy to do on your own. I have purchased headliner material from a generic craft/fabric store, Joanne's to be specific.

Pretty much everything thurston said is spot on. Take your time trimming and cleaning up. When i have done it in the past, i leave extra material around the sides and the sun roof opening if there is one, and glued it to the other side to help hold the material even better.

amazon has a bunch of headliner fabric available too if you want to order it all online, but i always like to go look at the fabric options in person.


  • Bristles
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Re: Fixing headliner upholstery-anyone done this?
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2014, 12:30:13 PM »
Now is a good time to customize your car.  :>  I had this problem on my 98 SL2.  The fabric was dry rotted and unusable.  I replaced it with a nice wolf print fabric using 3M Super 77 spray adhesive.  Got me laid.  :>:>


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Fixing headliner upholstery-anyone done this?
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2014, 06:05:26 PM »


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Fixing headliner upholstery-anyone done this?
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2014, 09:49:35 AM »
I had an 83 S15 Jimmy (worst car I've ever driven) that had a failed headliner back in the 90s. I tried the spray adhesive trick, but the foam had rotted out so there was nothing to stick to and that failed. Also, if you spray incorrectly and soak out the fabric it does not look too good. Then I tried the pin option... which worked well until one of the pins fell out, down the back of my shirt and I thought I was getting stung by a bee the next time I leaned back. A stapler ended up being the trick that worked. Looked like total crap, but was able to get the staples into the backer and they held. If you have the time and care about appearance, the suggestions for removal and proper repair are probably going to work the best in the long run. You could even mount a magnet for your visor problem while you're at it.


  • Stubble
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Re: Fixing headliner upholstery-anyone done this?
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2014, 04:09:42 PM »
Get headliner fabric from Joanns fabric. They sell the spray adhesive you need as well. I spent ~$90 for my Civic headliner. Read the instructions on the adhesive. It's pretty easy. I didn't cut the fabric until after I glued it down and let it try. Then I just used a box cutter to trip right up to the edges of the cardboard headliner material. The adhesive is very strong and won't allow the edges to pry up. Mine has held up well so far. I have to stress that you follow the instructions on your particular adhesive. That is the make it or break it part of a headliner.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Fixing headliner upholstery-anyone done this?
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2014, 04:30:43 PM »
Make sure you use 3M 90 spray adhesive, not 77. The latter might work well enough to get you laid (like it did for guitar_stitch), but is more likely to fail over time than the 90 is.

Speaking of guitar_stitch, I second his recommendation that you should use this as an excuse to customize your car. Just make sure that the fabric you use is stretchy enough.