Car Headliner Repair – Step to Fix Sagging Liner

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It’s quite discomforting to ride inside a car with a sagging headliner. What would your passengers think if your car’s headliner looked like this? If you don’t want your car to make a bad impression, you must read this article about car headliner repair – steps to fix a sagging liner.

You don’t need to remove your car’s sagging headliner to fix it. You can use steam, as it is how most professionals use to fix sagging headliners without removing them. With just a simple steaming, it is possible to revive the glue that secures your headliner to its underlying base material. A small steam cleaner will help the glue regain its original adhesive property.

If your car’s headliner is only partially sagging around the edges or in some small sections, you can use glue to re-attach those sections. You can buy a spray can of headlining adhesive and use it for this purpose. This will ensure that the glue will be sprayed evenly on the soiled parts of the headliner and its base.

Read on to learn more about the problem of sagging car headliners and the steps you need to take to fix them.

Car Headliner Repair Overview

car headliner repair

If your car has seen many miles, it probably needs fixing here and there. Perhaps, the headliner is already sagging. It shows that your car is aging. Don’t worry.

You can fix its flabbiness. There is a way you can bring back the adhesive property of the glue that attaches the headliner to its base material.

Use Steam

Most professional repairers of headliners use steam to fix sagging headliners. So, you can follow their example. You need to get hold of a steam cleaner. This is the tool you need to soften or melt the hardened glue that attaches the headliner to its base.

Once the old glue is reactivated, the headliner will again be securely joined with its base. This is how to fix a sagging headliner in a car without removing it.

Glue the Sagging Edges

If the headliner is not totally detached from its base but is only sagging around the edges or in some small sections, you can glue those portions back to their places.

For this purpose, you can use a spray can of headlining adhesive. A good spray adhesive you can use is the 3M Headliner & Fabric Adhesive:

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Spray it on the separate sections of the headliner and re-attach them to the base. Using such an adhesive spray will ensure the even distribution of the glue in the headliner. As you can see, fixing a sagging roof liner can be a DIY job.

Car Headliner Repair Cost

If you ask a professional auto repair service to do it, it will cost you somewhere between $200 and $350. But if the sagging of your headliner is not that serious, you can fix it yourself, and you will only probably spend as little as $50.

How long you will do it will depend on the extent of the sagging. If the sagging is so severe, you must replace the entire headliner. In that case, the whole process, from removing the old headliner to installing the new one, will take around 5 hours.

Why Do the Headliners Sag?

Headliners of cars are usually made of fabric. It runs through the entire vehicle roof; that’s why it is called a headliner. A perfectly installed headliner adds immensely to the aesthetics of the cabin.

But its most important function is to provide the necessary insulation so the cabin will not be so much affected by the temperature outside. The headliner also helps to insulate outside noise from the cabin.

Your headliner is typically made in two sections – the base and the cover. For the base, the material could be fiberglass or cardboard covered with foam material. The cover can be made of leather, vinyl, or fabric. This cover is laid, fitted, and glued to the base. It is this cover that sags over time.

Why do headliners sag? There are several reasons for this:

  • Old age
  • Poor or no maintenance
  • Extreme humidity
  • Extreme heat

In addition, cars with sunroofs are prone to having sagging headliners because of the increased chances of moisture leaks.

How to Fix a Sagging Car Headliner

car headliner repair kit

Thankfully, fixing a sagging headliner is not that difficult a task. Even a DIYer can do a decent job of it. If your car’s headliner is already sagging, here are five ways you can restore it to its former looks:

1. Use Steam

Steam is the best solution to a sagging headliner. It is how most professional headliner repairers fix drooping headliners since they don’t have to remove the headliner. All it takes is a simple steaming on the sagging sections.

Softens the Old Glue

The hot steam will reenergize the old glue that holds the headliner to the base. Even a small steam cleaner can soften or melt the old glue to come back to life again. If it does, it will again hold the headliner to the base.

Begin by working with a small headliner section and see how it goes. There is a possibility that the glue is already too old to be revived. If the glue in that section responded well, you could revive the rest.

Run the Steam Cleaner Across the Headliner

So, run the steam cleaner across the headliner. Do it as if you are using a paint roller. As you move forward, press the headliner you have just steamed cleaned back to its base.

Repeat this method until you have passed through all the sagged sections. This method will also reduce the risks of wrinkles and creases in the fabric of the headliner.

2. Glue the Sagging Headliner

Simplest Method

If you don’t have access to a steam cleaner, you can use glue instead. This is the simplest method to fix your sagging headliner and is also the most common. The glue will work best if the sagging of the headliner is starting.

An effective glue you can use for this purpose is the Tear Mender Instant Fabric and Leather Adhesive:

Click here to view it on Amazon.

Attach the Sagging Headliner to the Base

When you use this glue, it will instantly bond your sagging headliner to its base.

Constant Exposure to the Sun Causes Sagging

Typically, the sagging starts where the windshield meets the headliner. This is usually located at the top of the car roof. Constant exposure to the sun’s UV rays is the primary reason why this is so.

Attaching the part of the headliner to this section of the windshield with glue that you can buy from the auto parts store will easily fix this problem. As I’ve said, glue is best if the headliner sagging starts. If the sagging is already severe and extensive, gluing may be unable to fix the problem.

3. Use Double-Sided Carpenter’s Tape

Another solution to your sagging headliner is to use double-sided carpenter’s tape. You may already have this kind of tape in your ordinary household toolbox. Again, be aware that you can only do this fix if the sagging in your headliner is not that extensive.

Measure the extent of the sagging in your headliner. Then cut the double-sided tape with the appropriate length to sufficiently cover that area. Stick the open side of the tape to the headliner, and then remove the cover of the other side of the tape so you can stick it to the base. 

Be aware that you can only use this method if the sagging is located on the edge of the headliner. But if the sagging is at the center of the headliner, you must use another method.

4. Use Staple and Hairspray

Admittedly, using staples and hairspray is an unusual way of fixing a sagging headliner. Not many people know that they can use these things to restore the looks of their headliners. You need a stapler gun with staple wires inside and a hairspray.

Use the stapler gun to secure the sagging part of the headliner to its base. Then spray that section with some hairspray. Allow that section to dry. Once dried, try to remove the staples. Hopefully, the headliner stays stuck to the roof of your car. If it does, you’ve fixed your problem.

5. Use Pins and Thumbtacks

While this is not the most sophisticated way of fixing your problem, you can also use pins and thumbtacks to attach the sagging section of the headliner to the car’s roof. To camouflage the simplicity of the solution, you can pin the thumbtacks in a geometrical or another creative way.

Use Special Pins

To make it look stylish, you can use the special pins that upholsterers use when they attach leather coverings to their upholstered sofas. There are upholstery pins with corkscrew designs that, if you put them in place, will lock down the headliner more securely to the car roof.

6. Install a New Headliner

Remember that the fixes I have enumerated above are for headliners that have not yet sagged severely and extensively. If the sagging is very serious, you must remove the headliner from its base attachments.

As I said at the beginning, it will take at least five hours to fix it, from removing the old headliner to installing the new one. It will also take certain skills to do the job right. If you are not a DIYer, it is better to ask the help of a professional headliner service shop to do it.

Again, how much does it cost to replace the headliner on a car? A car headliner repair will cost $200 to $350 if you get this service from an auto repair shop. If you choose to do this yourself, you must get a headliner repair kit and adhesive for around $50.

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How to Prevent Your Car Headliner from Sagging

car headliner repair glue

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, so they say. That is also true with fixing a sagging headliner. It is better to prevent sagging before it happens. There are ways you can prevent your headliner from sagging.

If you do these things, you won’t have to face the headache of restoring your headliners with its attendant costs, time, and effort:

1. Park Under the Shade

If possible, always park your car under the shade. Don’t leave your car subject to the grueling heat of the sun all day. Excessive heat harms your car’s roof lining. Some people say it is the primary reason why headliners sag.

Not only is your exterior battered by the sun’s heat. When extreme heat pounds your roof, the other thing that is affected is the roof lining or headliner. So, if possible, always park your car under the shade.

2. Regularly Wash the Interior and Exterior

The sun’s heat not only affects your car’s exterior. It also adversely affects your cabin. During hot, dry days, dust and dirt particles can find their way inside the cabin. These foreign particles can also penetrate your car’s roof lining if you are not regularly cleaning your cabin.

Another enemy of your car’s roof lining is moisture. When moisture seeps inside the roof lining, it will affect the ability of the glue to attach the headliner to the base or the roof. This is why you must regularly clean your car’s interior.

By having a regular cleaning schedule, you will be able to notice if there is an undue accumulation of dirt or if moisture has already seeped into your car’s roof lining. In other words, you will be able to check the problem before it gets out of hand.

3. Limit Your Driving in Harsh Weather Conditions

Driving often in extreme weather conditions will result in your car having problems. Aside from the engine and other car components, your roof lining will also feel the abuse. If the weather is too cold or too hot, there will either be a lot of moisture or extreme heat that can penetrate inside the cabin.

Moisture can creep in inside your sunroof and penetrate the car’s roof lining. If you drive in these extreme conditions often, be prepared to face problems with your headliners, aside from the other possible damages to the other car parts.

4. Wax Your Car Frequently

If you don’t have a garage and are forced to park your car in the open, you have to wax your car regularly. Waxing your car’s painted surface provides additional protection to the roof liner.

If you wax your car regularly, you can mitigate the effects of the sun’s UV rays. It will provide additional protection for your car’s roof lining because the wax offers some protection against the heat. Your headline will not sag easily as a result.

Frequently Asked Questions

If your roof lining is sagging and you are searching for ways to fix it, perhaps, you will get some of the required information from the answers to the most often asked questions about this topic:

Can You Fix a Sagging Headliner Without Removing It?

Yes, you can, if the drooping in the headliner is not that severe or extensive. Perhaps, the sagging is located at the edge of the roof lining.

If that’s the case, you must do simple steaming on that portion. Steaming will reactivate the old glue on that part. If the old glue is rejuvenated, it will again be able to stick the headliner to its roof base.

How Do You Fix a Drooping Headlinerg?

If there is only partial drooping of the headliner, you can fix it using steam. This is how the professionals restore sagging headliners to their original looks. What you need is a portable steam cleaner.

Point the steam cleaner to the sagging part of the headliner. Usually, this is enough to ‘awaken’ the old glue so that it will regain its ability to stick the headliner to its base or car roof. The old glue will be melted by the steam so that it can be used again as if it’s new.

How Much Will It Cost to Fix a Sagging Headliner?

If you ask a professional car repair shop to fix your headliner, you will spend between $200 and $350. But if there is only very little sagging on the headliner, and it is located at the edge and not in the center, you can fix it yourself without spending more than $50.

However, if the sagging is all over the headliner, you need to have it fixed or even replaced by a professional car repair shop.

How Long Will It Take to Repair a Sagging Headliner?

It depends on the seriousness of the sagging. If the sagging is only in some small sections, it may not take you a few minutes to fix it. But if the sagging is so severe and is all over the place, it may take up to 5 hours to do it.

The repair time is long because it will involve the removal of the headliner, its repair, and its re-installation.

In Closing: Repair of Sagging Car Headliner

There’s no need for you to remove your car’s sagging headliner to restore its original looks. Just follow the example of professional fixers of headliners. They use steam from steam cleaners to reactivate the glue that secured the headliner to its base material.

Using a steam cleaner, you can soften the hardened glue that secured the headliner to its base material. When the old glue begins to melt, it will be able to get back its original adhesive properties. It will regain its ability to stick the roof liner to its base.

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