Installing a Headliner

(In a '68 Chevelle, but a good tutorial)

Installing a Headliner


This thread was originally posted here at the Chevelles.com forums, as well as being featured in the July 2007 issue of Chevy Punch Magazine (PDF). We've also archived here as well, since it's such an excellent writeup.


Thought id share some tips and pictures of installing a headliner. I just did this on my 68 today (sedcond one ive done). hope this can help someone.
chris (bubba68ss)

Tools/supplies:
  • Headliner kit
  • scissors
  • super weatherstrip adhesive (2 tubes MAX)
  • 50-60 paper clips (clamp style)
  • 2-3 hours
  • patience

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Get your headliner laid out and warmed up to get all the wrinkles out. Also, transfer all the rods into their correct spot.

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Most likely the cloth channels will be too long. Get the bows centered in these channels and then snip back the cloth about 1/2" past the 90* bend as shown.

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Make sure to get about 50 or so clamp-style paper clips from any store with office supplies. They will be your many hands!

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Take the whole assembly into the car and starting with the rear, put the first bow in whichever holes they came out of. Then make sure the the cloth channel has no wrinkles in it by pulling even on both sides. Snap the bow into the clip. The clips may be very brittle and/hard so don't try anything 'creative' to get them in. Well, actually the way I did it was a little primitive; i laid on my back and pushed it in with my foot. Push on one side of the clip and it should 'open' itself up and feed the rest in. You may need two feet (perhaps a flexible friend/wife) to help get them in. This is probably the hardest part of the entire job! Perhaps new clips are easier but i just reused the originals.

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Pull the headliner forward and back to see if there is enough material (just to be sure its the right one). Pull the front really hard and lock it down with a few clips. Then pull the back hard and secure with clamps. This should set all the bows/clips into their position.

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Gluing: I used something different this time, its a little metal red tube of super weatherstrip adhesive (pictured in the next photo on the roof) Starting with the front, start in the middle (about 5" section) and pull it tight (and somewhat a little outwards. if you get wrinkles you can work them out when you get to the sides. But don't pull TOO much to the sides, just enough to keep the wrinkles out of your 5" section. lay a bead of glue on the bottom side (or top OR both top and bottom depending on how much glue you have) of the flange and 'wrap' it around while keeping it tight. Once its wrapped around throw a few clips on it. Next pick a side and repeat the process then do the other side. Don't worry about the A-pillar corners yet...

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Do the exact same process with the rear. It's much easier with the windows out! (If the glass is still installed you can use small clips. It's a little more difficult, but it can be done with the same results.)

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Here is a picture of the rear after I glued it down. There are visible wrinkles but they will come out when you get to the sides so don't think it's screwed up.

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Pick a side, any side. Repeat the gluing process by starting in the middle (where the two large clips are). After taking this picture I noticed the seams were a bit loose so i just pulled a few clips and pulled a little bit and worked them out. This glue stays workable for quite a while but is not runny. Good stuff.

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By this time, the front was dried so I took the clips off (because i needed them for the sides) and put the front trim on which is basically a BIG, long clip. also, this is when you work the corners into position. By now you understand how to work the material. I used a few screws to hold it tight then piled on the glue.

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Putting the visors and rearview on are just a matter of finding the holes (we all had this problem once, right?). With the visors, just feel for the BIG hole where the springed end goes into and poke an 'x' in it. then just feel around for the screws and mark their position. the visors will actually pull the headliner a bit tighter once installed.

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Last pic I took just waiting for glue to dry up. Letting it set overnight. Then its' trim and sail panels to finish it off.

Hope this helped you in your first attempt or encouraged you to give it a try.

Chris White

Additional Headliner Installation Tips


The 11-page forum thread with the above tutorial had many additional tips from other members, some of which are included here:
  • A tip for '67 owners: On a '67 the center bow is just a piece of wire held in by bending metal tabs over. Pry the metal tabs open with a screwdriver and remove the wire. Insert it into the headliner. This has to be the 1st bow to go back in!!
    Center it up and push the wire and material under the tabs and bend them back down. To clarify, on a 67 you start in the middle, otherwise you can't bend the tabs back over.
  • Heating the headliner to a temperature close to a hot day's sun before installation will prevent a lot of wrinkles. When warm, you can really stretch the material and once it cools it will be as tight as a snare drum. Works well on vinyl roofs too.
  • One thing that I do is to put all the screws in their spots before installing the headliner. That way you can feel the screws afterwards. Then i use a small punch and heat it hot to melt the holes in the headliner. This works great...perfect holes. You can also use the punch to burn the holes in your carpet for the seat belt holes. Just find the hole with an ice pick stick it through and then pull out and burn your hole This works great. just have a fan blowing the smoke away.


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