Freshening up the interior of your ride is one of the key components of making it your own. Stereo systems, wheels, tires, and paint are all things that are common mods. One thing that is often overlooked (pun intended) is the roof. The headliner in most cars is a formed foam panel that is typically covered in some sort of thin, neutral color fabric. This is an easy mod that can add some drama to an otherwise boring piece of trim. We performed this trick on a 350Z with charcoal ultra-suede. The total job (not counting removal and reinstallation) took about 30 minutes.
1. The headliner was removed and laid on the workbench. Be careful, the foam is fragile.
2. The console section is held on with spring clips. Using a panel popper, the clip was removed.
3. Be careful with this part, the plastic tabs are prone to breaking.
4. Once the console is removed, the work can begin. The ultra suede was laid out on top of the headliner and trimmed with about 3-inches of overlap all the way around. Then it was folded in the middle.
5. The key to this process is quality upholstery glue. You can’t do this job with aerosol can glue, it will not hold up, so don’t even try it. You need a cheap spray gun, an air compressor, and some quality glue. You can get the glue from your local upholstery shop. Most shops will sell you a gun-full for about $5.
6. Once the glue was sprayed on both the suede and the headliner, the material was carefully laid back over the headliner. This part takes some work and having a helper is nice.
7. Smoothing out the suede into the curves and crevices was fairly simple. If you get a wrinkle, you need to lift it and reapply, but be careful, the underlying fabric does not have much holding power.
8. It is a good idea to work in sections, or strips of the headliner. Trying to work the suede in large sections is a recipe for disaster. This shot shows how we worked the headliner in sections.
9. Working the curves requires pulling the material tight with one hand and smoothing it into the curve with the other. Suede has some give, but not very much, so working the wrinkles can be tricky.
10. Compound curves, like the sunvisor recess, offer even more difficulty. Take your time and work the material into place.
11. With one side down, the other half was pulled back a little and the process was repeated.
12. Draping the suede, the center was pulled tight.
13. Then the suede was worked just like the other half.
14. We flipped the headliner over and sprayed down the edges of both the suede and the headliner.
15. Then the edges were wrapped. The center of the console cutout takes a little work, but as long as you don’t short-cut the corners, most mistakes will be covered by the console.
16. Once we were done with the suede, the headliner was reinstalled and the car took on a whole new look. The darker hue tones down the light inside the car, adding a sinister effect.
A life-long gearhead, Street Tech Magazine founder and editor Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 5 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced. You can follow Jefferson on Facebook (Jefferson Bryant), Twitter (71Buickfreak), and YouTube (RedDirtRodz).
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