Installing a Headliner


Installling a Headliner 




So you're sprucing up your Chevelle's interior and the headliner needs replacing. Sure you can farm it out to a pro and pay $200-$300 labor, but you just hate to leave your baby in the hands of others for who knows how long and/or you just don't want to part with more bucks. It's not super difficult to do yourself IF you take your time, have some patience, and follow a few basic rules. By the way, a basic stock headliner kit costs about $65 from a Chevelle parts house. And you'll need about $15 worth of glue.

First and VERY IMPORTANT, when removing the bows, mark them in order "1,2,3", etc., so they go back in the exact same location they came from. This will save a lot of time and frustration later. Also mark them side-to-side and mark which mounting hole (possibility of three each side per bow) they came out of. This is, of course, after removing the accessories, dome light, and edge moldings. Now is a good time to paint and/or dye any moldings that need it. It's easier to install a headliner with the windshield and rear glass removed but still possible with them in place. With the old headliner out, make sure the roof insulation is OK (replacements are available) and the plastic bow center clips are in place and not broken. The dome light wire will have to be cut, then spliced back together when later reinstalling the light. IMPORTANT: Before starting the HL installation, get a couple dozen or so of the large paper clamps, at least one inch wide. Also get two cans of headliner glue. Contact cement doesn't work very well. It's stringy and makes a mess. 3M High Strength Spray Adhesive will work. Just don't get any on the exposed areas of the headliner.

To help remove the fold creases from the headliner, lay it out in the sun on a warm day or in a small room or closet with an electric heater for about 30 minutes. The creases won't come out completely but will go away in time after installation. Take some masking tape and a pen and mark both the centerlines of the car body front and rear and the headliner, full length, front to rear. Before starting the installation, take all accessory mounting screws and install them in their respective holes.

Start the installation by threading the headliner onto the bows in their proper order. Center the HL and carefully trim just enough of the stay ends (cloth material the bows go through) away to mount the bows in their proper mounting holes without bunching the stays. Leave plenty of excess HL material on all sides. Cut a small hole and thread the dome light wire through in the proper location. Center the HL again and clip the bows into the center plastic mounting clips. Stretch the HL into place front to rear and clamp, starting in the center and working your way to the sides (no glue yet). Then go to the middle of the sides and stretch and clamp your way to the corners. Keep going back and forth from front to sides until the HL is completely stretched and clamped in place (without glue) with no wrinkles and you're satisfied with the look. Some fold creases will still be visible but will go away in time. Don't final trim the HL until after it's glued and tucked into place. Glue and remove clamps as you go, one area at a time. Tuck the material in behind the metal edge strips with a paint stick or other soft, blunt object so the metal teeth grab it. After the glue is dry, final trim the material with a razor blade. At the accessory mounting screws, take the razor and make a tiny X at the screw heads, just large enough to get the head through the material. Remove the screws and reinstall the accessories. Splice the dome light wire together and mount the dome light. Install the rear side "earmuffs" that came in the kit and reinstall all moldings.

Now admire a job well done. You've conquered the widely feared job of installing a headliner