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Car Headliner – Everything You Need To Know

by Jordan Harris
Car Headliner

Are you being tired from that saggy car headliner that looks terrible, and also impairs your driving ability because it sagged on the top of your head? This can be an extreme annoyance and you need to solve this problem quickly. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to help you out.

Personally, I had a lot of issues with my headliner on different cars. It literally annoyed me more than anything concerned with my car. That’s because of two reasons, number one it doesn’t look good, in fact, it looks terrible and I couldn’t stand the visual appeal of it. I later decided to remove the whole headliner material that was sagging. And I felt much better about it.

The number two reason is that it impaired my driving ability. The headliner was sagging on the top of my head. Basically, I rubbed my head with the headliner all the time while I was driving. On my next car, I had the same issue, but I decided to fix it really well and professionally at home by following some DIY tutorials. And, I have managed to achieve a great result. My headliner now looks like it came from the factory and I really enjoy it while I’m driving my car. And how you can achieve this result?

In this article, we are going to start from the basics and learn what a headliner is. Then, we will discuss what are the main causes for the headliner to start to sag. After this, we will discuss a couple of ways that you can fix the sagging car headliner on the cheap. And lastly, we will discuss the cost to repair it. So, let’s discuss.

What Is A Car Headliner?

The headliner is a cloth material that is glued to the roof of your vehicle. It’s not glued directly to the metal but is glued to the headliner board.

The headliner board is the component that is attached to the roof of the car. The headline board is curved specifically to deliver good aesthetics and also accommodate the handles and the dome lights.

Car Headliner

Headliners have many purposes and a lot of benefits from using them. They provide perfect insulation in the cabin against heat and noise.

With and without a headliner, there is a huge difference, because without a headliner you will experience a lot of noise coming from the outside. As well, you will notice that the car during the hot summer days is going to be boiling hot. Since there is no insulation on the top, you would barely be able to drive in these situations.

As well as in the winter, when the temperatures would get so low that even if you turn on the heater of the car, you would not be able to warm up the car. That’s why car headliners are essential components of every vehicle and you must never drive without a car headliner.

From What Is A Headliner Made From?

The typical car headliner is built out of multiple layers to deliver a top insulating result. One material that is standard in headliners is polyurethane foam.

This foam is glued to the headliner board that is mounted on the roof. This foam is giving the headliner that soft feel when you touch it with your hand. And also, this material dissipates the heat in the summer and doesn’t allow it to enter the cabin. And this material also works well with dissipating noise as well, and will greatly improve the acoustics to give you the full experience of enjoying your car stereo without any outside noise.

The bottom layer that usually is sagging is a cloth fabric or vinyl in older cars. This fabric gives the headliner that good look, but sometimes, this material tends to fail and start to sag in some places.

But what causes the car headliner to sag? That’s what we are about to find out in the next chapter where we will discuss that in great detail.

What Causes The Headliner To Sag?

This is a good question. Because there are a lot of factors that cause the headliner to start sagging. And if the headliner would start to sag, it doesn’t matter how you maintained it. It just starts to sag on itself in most situations.

The headliners sag usually on cars that were built in the 90s or early 2000s. This is the case because of the low-quality foam that most of the carmakers were using. But we cannot blame them since these new types of headliners that were not using vinyl started to appear during this time, and they were still untested. The headliners usually started to sag after 10 years of ownership.

Also, budget cars that are using low-quality fabric and other low-quality materials would result in the car headliner starting to sag here and there.

The quality of the glue is the first thing that is to blame when the car headliner starts to sag. But there are also other factors that affect the car headliners as well. And these are the humidity and the heat.

For example, if you take your car to a deep clean service, they would probably clean the roof with water vapor. This hot water vapor is affecting the glue on the headliner, and after a week or two, the headliner will start to sag.

That’s why when you get your car to a deep clean service, you should instruct the people that are doing this job to avoid touching the roof.

Another problem is the heat if your car is exposed to, as too much heat can affect the headliner that is glued with low-quality glue. You can expect that the headliner will start to sag here and there.

Few Ways To Fix A Sagging Car Headliner

So, your car headliner started to sag and you are looking for a way how you can tackle this problem quickly and effectively? You came to the right place because we will explain all the ways that you can fix your car headliner. We’ll start from simple ways on how you can take care of this problem, and then move to more complex topics on how you can glue the headliner using DIY methods. So, let’s dive into it.

Get A Stapler And Staple The Headliner

Having a saggy car headliner is very annoying and you are probably looking for a way how you can do this using a simple and effective method. If that’s the case, this method would be perfect for you, since you can do it in only a few minutes and it’s going to last for a little while. But how you can do it?

The simple answer is by using an air stapler. For this job, you will need ¼’’ staples. First things first, you have to remove the headliner from the car. This can be tricky, since you have to pop a few plastic panels, and then you will be able to reach for the bolts that are holding the car headliner.

Unbolt the bolts and remove the headliner from its place. Remove the headliner and place it on a table. Then use an air stapler to fix the headliner. Make sure that you use a lot of staples to get the result that you want. Then, you can mount the headliner on your car and enjoy your car headliner.

Car Headliner

The downside of this method is that the staples will be visible and people are going to notice. So, if you don’t care about that, then you are good to go.

Another downside is that if you try to staple the headliner without removing it from the car, you might poke a hole in the roof. Or, you can hit an electrical wire that is powering the dome lights. That’s why it’s recommended to remove the headliner first, and then stapling it with the staple gun.

Also, staple guns can cost money, and if you don’t have a gun, maybe the best option is to pay someone to glue the headliner.

Rip The Headliner Off

If you want to do this job on the cheap, and you don’t care about the visuals and how your roof looks, you can just tear the car headliner off the headliner board.

This is the simplest and most effective method if you don’t want to pay for a stapler or to pay someone to glue down your headliner. It will cost you $0 in total.

The only thing that will cost you is the time, and you can expect to spend a couple of hours removing the headliner from the car. Then, you have to remove the headliner from the headliner board, and then reattach the headliner board to the roof.

You can also get a scalpel, and cut the car headliner without removing the headliner board from the car. But in this way, it can be difficult to get it done right.

The downside of this method is that you will lose some of the insulating characteristics, and you will start to hear some of the outside noise more than you used to before.

Pro Tip: If you remove the headliner board and then remove the headliner, you can also clean the glue from the headliner board and paint the board with a color similar to the color of your interior. This will make your car look like there is a headliner installed, and nobody will notice the difference. That’s why it is a good idea to consider this tip if you plan to remove the whole headliner board and do this work all at once.

Glue The Headliner Back To Its Place

Another option is to glue to headliner back to its place. This is a good DIY job, that for many beginners that want to start wrenching on their cars, will be the perfect first job that they can do on their car.

For this job, you will need only headliner glue, nothing else. Maybe a small wrench or a screwdriver to unbolt the headliner boar from its place, and that’s it.

Later in this article, we are going to discuss the ways how you can perform this work on your car. We will also attach a visual DIY tutorial for you to visualize how things are getting done.

But before you do anything, the most important thing is to take a good hour or two to learn all of the steps that are involved in this work. Without knowing the steps, you could mess up and your car headliner cloth material could be irreparable.

That’s since once you glue the material, you can’t remove it from its place and there is a big chance that you could tear it into pieces. Or, make it not looking presentable at all. That’s why following the instructions that we are going to discuss later in detail is key in achieving a good result.

Pay Someone To Do It

Another option that you can take is to pay someone to do it for you. There are many postings on the Facebook marketplace or Craigslist of people who is doing this sort of work.

You call them on the phone, they come to your house and they do their work. You pay them $200 to $400, depending on the work needed, and you have a perfectly looking headliner.

This is the best solution if you don’t want to do any work on your car. Everything is done by someone else, and you only enjoy the results and that is an immaculate car headliner.

The downside of this is that this service costs some money. Not everyone has a good financial position to allow himself to spend a lot of money on aesthetical problems on their car.

That’s why you might like our next way of how to fix a sagging car headliner.

Get A New Headliner From A Used Car

Another great way to fix your car headliner is to find a good used headliner from another car. If your car is more than 10 years old, then there is a high probability that you could find a good sample at your local junkyard.

Junkyards sell car parts on the cheap, and you would not spend a lot of money on this. You can bet that you can find a good headliner for $100 or less in some situations.

The only drawback is that these junkyards are self-serving. This means that you will have to remove the headliner by yourself. And this will require a lot of work if you haven’t done this work before.

But, if you find a good headliner, it’s worth it. In junkyards, you can also find other useful bits and pieces that you are missing. Also, on the cheap as the headliner. Just get yourself a free weekend and visit some of your local junkyards with a friend. There are some really good deals that you can find there.

But I don’t want to replace my headliner, I want to fix my own headliner. How can I do that? Well in the next chapter, we are going to cover how you can fix your car headliner easily at home.

Fixing Car Headliner DIY

Fixing the headliner is a complex task because you will need some tools to get this work done properly. You are going to need something like a scrubbing brush to scrub the foam from the headliner, sandpaper, and also new headliner material and headliner glue.

In most cars, the headliner deteriorates because of the glue or the foam that is inside the headliner. And that means that the headliner foam has to be removed for the new headliner to be placed on the headliner board. And which are the steps for this process? Let’s discuss them.

Step 1

Step number one is removing the headliner out of your car. You will need to pop out the panels on each corner, and on the poles to access the screws. Also, remove the handles above the doors and the dome lights. Once this work is done, then place the headliner board on a table or some surface that will hold the board nice and steady.

Step 2

Now, it’s time to remove the old headliner material as well as the foam that was put from the factory. The foam is probably deteriorated from the heat and will come off easily. You will only need a scrubbing brush to remove it. And this removal process it’s going to take a while.

Step 3

After removing the foam, now it’s time to get sandpaper and sand the whole board until the surface is nice and well prepared for the new material to be applied on the board.

Step 4

Now it’s time to prepare the material, place the material on the top of the board, and cut it. Leave an inch or two extra material on the sides.

Step 5

After this, you can start to glue the material on the board. Remember that you can’t just use any glue, but you need to use special glue for this purpose. If you use superglue, the material will melt.

Apply glue on both sides, both the material and the surface have to be glued.

Step 6

After you applied the glue, now it’s time to apply the material. Apply the material bit by bit and apply pressure as you go. This is a must because you want to form the headliner and make it look perfect. Once this is done, you need to leave the headliner to dry for a couple of hours.

Step 7

After the material has dried. Now you can cut the excess material off and attach the new headliner to the car. After all this hard work, you will have a perfectly looking headliner. Here is also a video of all the steps involving in this work.

Cost To Fix Car Headliner

The cost to fix the headliner may vary on the type of fix that you are looking for. For example, if you don’t want to spend anything, you can just rip off the material that is sagging from the headliner board. This will cost you $0.

If you want to staple the material you will have to spend some money on a stapler. This will cost you between $50 to $100.

If you decide to call a guy to fix your headliner, you can expect to pay between $200 to $500 depending on the service that you will get.

If you want to do it by yourself, you will pay something less below $200 for the material and the glue. Or, if you decide to get a used headliner from the junkyard it’s going to cost you around $100.

All the methods work, it just depends on you and your budget. If you want to spend more, you will get the result that you want, if not you, will have a stapled headliner or no headliner. The important thing is that the headliner could distract you from driving. If you leave the headliner like this to sag above your head, it can be really uncomfortable to drive around like this, and you might get into an accident.

Is It Dangerous To Drive Like This?

Yes, it is. The headliner can impair your vision at the back if it’s all saggy. Also, if it sags on the top of your head, you will find it extremely uncomfortable to drive like this. The best thing is to rip off the headliner if you are in a situation like this and avoid dangerous situations on the road.

Conclusion – Car Headliner

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to car headliner. We learned what a car headliner is, and why headliners are starting to sag.

Then, we covered all the ways that you can fix your saggy headliner. And these were the simple ways of removing the headliner completely or get a stapler and staple the saggy material.

After that were the more complex ways for fixing this issue, and that is a new headliner board and replacing the headliner by yourself by following a simple DIY tutorial.

Or, if you don’t want to bother with your headliner at all, you can just call someone and let them do this work for a certain amount of money of course.

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