Car’s Headliner and the Headliner Fabric

Once you own a car, brand new or old, you may start the journey to protect and improve its look. Usually, stylish seat covers, dashboard covers, trims are the most common options to spruce up your vehicle. Apart from them, the headliner is also a significant part that provides protection and improvement to your car’s interior.

The headliner or the roof lining is a foam-baked material attached by adhesive to the ceiling of a vehicle. The foam backing will mold to the contours of the car’s roof to give it a nice finished look and provide protection to the wiring system.

Premium eco-friendly suede headliner fabric

Commonly, the headliner will become dirty and old, fall off and sag during long-term use, especially when excessively exposed to moisture. Then you need to repair the saggy headliner or replace it with an entirely new one. You can either do it by yourself or hire a professional. If you’d like to fix or install a new headliner on your own, the first step is to know your headliner types and choose the headliner fabric


Traditional Bow Rod Headliner

bow rod headliner system

From the early years to the 1950s, cars were in larger sizes. They had bow rod-style headliners, on which the bows or tension rods ran through to keep the headliner fabric in place.

The rods were usually metal or wood, while the headliner fabric could be made of various materials, from light upholstery fabric to heavy ones such as polyester and vinyl. However, leather is seldom used for headliner fabric since it is much heavier than other materials and will cave in easier.

Suppose you are a vehicle enthusiast interested in fixing or replacing a classic headliner for a collected vintage car model. In that case, it’s essential to know the headliner type and installation method.


Contemporary Panel Headliner

car's headliner

Nowadays, people have changed the bow rod headliner to a lightweight panel that fits the vehicle’s ceiling lines. The panel is usually constructed with a board and a lightweight headliner fabric that has a foam backing.

The ideal headliner fabric must be lightweight so as not to become unattached soon. Therefore, the headliner materials can be suede, vinyl, polyester, nylon, or other synthetics. In addition, these headliner fabrics come with a pre-attached foam backing, which makes it easy to deal with adhesive.

If you want to replace your car’s headliner fabric, scrape off any remaining foam to ensure a clean and smooth board surface. In such a case, the headliner replacement will adhere to the board better and last longer.


DIY Custom Headliner

DIY headliner with mixed fabrics

As mentioned above, there are two types of headliners based on the vehicle models, so you need to follow the basic roof system of your car. However, if you want a custom headliner that is unique and shows personality, you can make it by mixing various fabric pieces.

You can choose any material you want, from regular upholstery fabric to luxury leathers, which must be durable and lightweight. Once you find the fabric pieces, glue them to a 1/8’’ foam backing and attach them to the headliner board in the way you want. Then you will have a unique, custom headliner.

1 comment
  • Plan ahead, patience and execute. This is no cookie cutter job. Fun but not fun.

    Jeffrey P on

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