Installing Auto Headliners
By Ron Fryer
(Editor's note: these instructions are for pre-made headliners but you'll get the idea on how it is done)
Prepare the car by carefully removing the old headliner and all the tacks and staples. Remove the bows and number them from front to back, in order. Install the new windlace at this time. You will not be able to do this later.
Headliners can be fastened in three methods. Your car should use one of them. The three fastening methods are: staples or tacks, glue, or tucking under a barbed strip; the latter generally found on the sides of cars. Sometimes cars will use more than one fastening method in combination.
Now let’s begin installing your new headliner. Find the front of your new headliner and insert the bows in the listings sewn into the backside of the headliner. Check in the center of the roof for a row of V-shaped prongs across the car. This is where the short bow will attach. If you do not have the V-prongs, skip the next step. If you have the V-prongs, push them through the bow listing that corresponds with that location, starting in the middle and pulling slightly to the sides. Then bend the prongs in with a small hammer. Install the rest of the bows.
For those cars without V-prongs, begin with hanging the headliner by the bows. Then check the rear of the car to see if there are two short wires, one on each side above the rear window. These wires attach to the back bow. After these wires are attached or after the center bow is attached begin pulling gently forward on the headliner in the center and fasten to the front tack strip or the front header. Working out from the center, pull the front of the headliner to the side, enough to flatten the fabric, and fasten from the center to the sides until you are about two inches from the corners. Next, pull the rear of the headliner back in the center and fasten it to the tack strip below the rear window or to the rear header. Do not attempt to fasten to the rear window frame until the rear of the headliner is completely installed and the sides and front are completed.
By now your headliner should have many front to back wrinkles in it. Begin in the center (near the door post) and pull firmly to the side on each seam until the wrinkles disappear. Fasten only the seam and not the fabric in between the seams. You can work the material to each side by gently patting the material along the seams toward the outside edge. Pull the quarters diagonally into the corners of the car and fasten in place. Finish the rear quarters and trim off excess materials. Push the headliner into the rear window ring and fasten at the center top and bottom, then work your way around the ring. You may have to cut a relief in the center of the fabric. Trim out excess fabric only after you are satisfied with the appearance. Put in the new package tray below the rear window. Finish the sides over the doors with the wire-on included in the trim kit, if applicable. This gets stapled on and then folded down to hide the staples.
Your new headliner is now complete.