Cheap trick: renew the headliner

Lese­dau­er 6 Minu­ten

The sky is fal­ling on your head? Use con­ta­ct adhe­si­ve rather than a hel­met. In the past, ski­es were stret­ched. That was time-con­suming and a job for a sadd­ler. Then some thrif­ty guy came up with the idea of making the head­liner out of press­board and just gluing fab­ric on it.

Later, some accoun­tant came around the cor­ner and said that the glue was too expen­si­ve… and a few years later the sky falls on your head.


I am not liable for any dama­ge you may cau­se by fol­lowing the­se inst­ruc­tions. Errors and omis­si­ons excep­ted If your box burns down, explo­des when you ope­ra­te the cen­tral locking, gets tor­ched, gets lead poi­so­ning when you brea­the in the sol­de­ring fum­es, burns a hole in your jum­per with the sol­de­ring iron, or sticks your hand to your head: I am not to bla­me! I do not say: „Do it exact­ly in such a way!”, I say only: „I did it in such a way”. Ever­yo­ne must know hims­elf, what he does there. 

On the Pican­to, after 10 years, the fab­ric on the head­liner began to sepa­ra­te from the backing mate­ri­al around the winds­hield. Attempts with spray adhe­si­ve to pre­vent worse fai­led mise­r­a­b­ly. The­re was no stop­ping it.

When a dent for­med in the cent­re of the head­liner and threa­tened to des­troy headroom, I had to do some­thing. The­re was a nice report in „Old­ti­mer Markt” (a ger­man clas­sic car maga­zi­ne) about how to renew the head­liner – what they can do, I can do too. 🙂 The inst­ruc­tions app­ly to any car with a head­liner of this type.

You need:

  • Spi­rit
  • old towel
  • a non-hai­ry, wide brush
  • Pat­tex PCL6C, 650g (enough for a small car)
  • Sand­pa­per
  • sharp kni­fe
  • sharp scis­sors
  • Head­liner fab­ric of your choice


Pat­tex? That won’t hold! Take head­liner glue! 

I don’t care. Accord­ing to the pro­duct data sheet , the adhe­si­ve is desi­gned for a tem­pe­ra­tu­re ran­ge of ‑40 to 110 degrees Cel­si­us. That’s enough, even when the sun is bea­ting down on the roof. Bes­i­des, the gre­at head­liner adhe­si­ve has­n’t held up so well if it does­n’t stick after 10 years, has it?)


Does­n’t Pat­tex stink terribly? 

No, not when it has set. It sets after three days.


Can I also use a thi­c­ker (pre­mi­um) fabric? 

I did, and it went easily.


Can I also take nor­mal fabric? 

After my expe­ri­ence with the Espace: install sun­ro­ofs, I would be care­ful. The head­liner fab­ric is stret­cha­ble in every direc­tion, some fab­rics are not stret­cha­ble at all, others only in one direction.

With such wea­ving you will then ine­vi­ta­b­ly get pro­blems (wrink­les, cre­a­ses) when gluing it on. Fur­ther­mo­re, it is not said that the colour or the fab­ric its­elf is UV resistant.

The cano­py fab­ric is also not very expen­si­ve. I orde­red the head­liner fab­ric from Ama­zon. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, it is too dark and has a blue tint to per­fect­ly match the Pican­to gray.

In retro­spect, I would have been bet­ter off with a black head­liner, but that see­med too gau­dy at first. After­wards, one is always smar­ter. So con­si­der if black (or even an ent­i­re­ly dif­fe­rent colour) would­n’t be an opti­on. Only if the sel­ler gua­ran­tees the colour as in the ori­gi­nal, then this is not an issue.

(working materials)


The head­liner has been quick­ly removed.

Uns­crew all lamps, hand­les, and the sun visors.

Pull off the rub­ber seals at the top of the doors and tailgate.

Detach the trim panels on the A‑, B- and C‑pillars.

A- and B‑pillars can usual­ly be pul­led off manu­al­ly, but for the wider C‑pillar you may have to resort to a remo­val kit as descri­bed here.

Some head­liners are still atta­ched to the roof with addi­tio­nal clips. This is usual­ly the case with vans. Loo­sen the­se as well.

Put all screws and clips in the glove box. The head­liner will fall down now.

Slant it a bit and pull it out to the tail­ga­te. This is best done by two peop­le. You can try to glue the old fab­ric back on, but soo­ner or later, the old glue will dis­sol­ve, and you’ll have to start all over again.

So get rid of the crap. Just pull on it and the fab­ric will come off. The­re is a thin plastic film bet­ween the card­board and the fab­ric. Remo­ve this and the remains of the head­liner fab­ric as far as possible.

(Must be removed)


Now use the sand­pa­per to roughen the head­liner a bit and tap or vacu­um ever­ything off. It is best to take the head­liner insi­de and lay it on a lar­ge table. Out­side, the glue sim­ply sets too quick­ly, depen­ding on the weather.

Now clean the cano­py with alco­hol and a lint-free old towel. It must be free of gre­a­se. Align the fab­ric on the cano­py on a tri­al basis, allowing it to over­lap generously.

(Try on)

Quick and clean!

When ever­ything is rea­dy, you’­re rea­dy to go. You have to pay atten­ti­on to the fol­lowing from now on:
– work fast
– work clean.

Glue the fabric

Fold the fab­ric over on one side. Paint the first 20 cm of the sky and the fab­ric even­ly thin with the brush. Fold back fab­ric and press ever­ything carefully.

dachhimmel kleben
(Still visi­ble: torn off remains of the thin foil) Now fold the fab­ric over in the other direc­tion and con­ti­nue working as befo­re, pie­ce by piece.

dachhimmel kleben
(Glue head­liner on both sides) App­ly the glue par­ti­cu­lar­ly care­ful­ly to beads, edges, and holes. But plea­se do not app­ly it too thic­kly and – as alrea­dy men­tio­ned – evenly.

dachhimmel kleben
(Here come the holes!) The front edge, on the winds­hield, fold over and also glue from on the back of the sky. The­re is no trim or rub­ber seal on the winds­hield that would cover the edge later.

dachhimmel kleben
(Almost done!) In the pic­tures, you can’t see that I also app­lied the glue to the head­liner car­ri­er. The rea­son is simp­le: Then it had to go fast. No time to take pictures. 🙂

dachhimmel kleben

It does not look good!

All the dents and dents you can­not see later, they come by pres­sing. You can see well on the beads of the sun visors, as I pres­sed the­re with my fin­ger­nail. I admit it: I some­ti­mes app­lied the glue too thic­kly and did­n’t let it set long enough. When pres­sing on, the adhe­si­ve is then pres­sed through the lami­na­ti­on and pulls the floor down. This hap­pen­ed to me in two places. 🙁

Trim­ming the edges

Now, with sharp scis­sors, cut off the fab­ric around the remai­ning edge about three inches “too much”, fold it over and glue it down. Cut out the holes for the lamps, etc. with a sharp knife.

dachhimmel schneiden

Dachhimmel kleben
(Incor­rect colours, a black sky would have been better)


Done! That was it already.

The instal­la­ti­on goes again exact­ly the other way around and is done in 10 minutes.

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