View Full Version : How difficult would installing your own headliner be?

durrk johnson
03-11-07, 05:36 PM
I have many things wrong with my 80' coupe deville at the moment but I have a hanging headliner in the back and side and was wondering how hard it would be to install a new one myself... i was thinking of using a custom fabric, something that looks good with my car... I know there are the things on the top side that screw off etc... How hard would this be to do and how would i go about doing it?

Advice/opinions very much appreciated! :)

durrk johnson
03-11-07, 08:48 PM
cmon fellas?

Cadillac Giovanni
03-11-07, 08:54 PM
I doubt anyone here knows. The people here have either had theirs professionally done, or have stuck their sagging headliner back up with pins.

durrk johnson
03-11-07, 09:53 PM
hey man... people know stuff, well at least most of the time.

03-11-07, 10:30 PM
It's a royal PITA to do well. Getting the headliner out is a chore in itself, without cracking it. Then, the fabric comes off and there's an 1/8th inch of fiberglass foam that you have to sand off or remove somehow without damaging the plastic of the headliner. Lastly, you have to attach your fabric, usually with a spray-adhesive. It can be done in the steps I've mentioned, but it blows, and it doesn't look as good as a shop-job would.

03-11-07, 10:34 PM
Yeah, it's totally worth it in every way to have it done by a pro.

While you're at it, suede is very "in" right now, and would look awesome.

03-12-07, 11:05 AM
Actually, it is not that bad. My mom's 91 Caprice (her winter car in Ft. Lauderdale) had a headliner that needed recovering. I explained how to do it, what to use, and told her where to buy the material. It turned out perfect.

Here is the thread from the SS forum:


03-12-07, 05:35 PM
Excellent job on the headliner.

Johnny Bravo
03-21-07, 01:40 AM
As mentioned, it can be done but it's a major job, especially if you've never done it before and/or have limited repair skills. The interior trim can be tricky to remove without damage. The windshield garnish moulding trim clips always break, (they get brittle after so many years), then you'll have to get new ones from the dealer.

Furthermore, the headliner board often cracks to one degree or another as it's wrestled it out. Then you've got to throughly remove all the old brown crumbly stuff that was once the headliner foam. A wire brush on a drill, followed by brushing with soap, water, and garden hose works nice.

I've done two, coupes are easier than sedans, both times I removed and cleaned the board myself, then brought it to an upolstery shop and had them recover it. This way saves money, they can repair any small breaks and you get a professional job with warranty. Some shops can recover the sun visors as well.

On the contrary, recovering yourself is a penny wise and pound foolish. By the time you purchase the headliner material and adhesive, (and hope you don't screw it up), you could have spent a few dollars more and had it done right. My shop charged $75, including the material, to recover the board I brought them.

03-21-07, 02:35 AM
I'm doing it this weekend, so I'll let you know! From the write-ups I've seen it really doesn't look all that bad, though there are a couple things to watch out for.

I am not going for an OEM look, so I am not that concerned if it isn't totally perfect. I am just sick of the fabric hitting my head.

I'm going to take pics and post them to this thread, as I see quite a lot about headliners online. Maybe someone can learn from my mistakes!

03-21-07, 06:13 PM
i thought about doing the same project in my 89, but it seems like such a bithch. i also came across this website while doing some research on the web: http://www.wlsheadliners.com/tutorials/cadillac-fleetwood/

Old Fleetwood
03-22-07, 09:22 PM
That's positively amazing.
It looks TOO easy.
But with the drop-down, lighted vanity mirrors in the overhead in the back of my '95 FWB, trying to do that with my car, I just pray to God I never have to do anything like that !:eek:

Cadillac Giovanni
03-22-07, 10:37 PM
I still wouldn't try it. If I messed it up, I would only have myself to blame.

Besides, sticking sewing pins in it still doesn't look half bad as long as you put them in nicely.

Johnny Bravo
03-23-07, 06:37 PM
It looks TOO easy.
It's not quite as simple as they make it out to be, those are merely the highlights of the job. However, it's not beyond the abilties of most do-it-yourselfers either.

There are some tricks to removing the mouldings, a trim removal tool comes in very handy here. The seat belts anchors must be unbolted, and as they pointed out the trim clips always break. Moreover, cleaning the old foam off the board is time consuming, they make it seem like you just brush it off and thats it. In fact, it usually takes repeated brushing and washing to get it really clean, which is crucial for the new adhesive to set well.

Furthermore, there is little room for error when applying the new headliner material, the adhesive is next to impossible to separate once together. Thats why I like to leave that part to the upolstery shop, they've done it so many times it's routine for them, and they use commercial grade adhesive, not the stuff in spray cans from Walmart.

The first time is the most difficult, but it's definelty worth it in the end.
Also, if you bring the car to an auto uplostery shop to match up the color and order the headliner material they can probably offer some tips as well.

03-28-07, 12:13 PM
My headliner sags in the back when it's cold out and I hate it. And the slide cover on the moonroof is coming off too. Would they fix that along with repairing the headliner? Where can I get this done in New York? Can anyone refer me?

08-09-07, 09:04 AM
Some people stretch it and use a staple gun.