Installing a Suspended Headliner
Suspended headliners can be intimidating if you have never installed one before. Don’t worry they aren’t that bad! I’m going to show you all my tricks to make this job easy.
For the most part, you will only need four tools to complete this job; scissors, spring clamps, staple gun, and a steamer. While scissors will be cutting the material throughout, the spring clamps will keep the material in position. If you want to avoid wrinkles in the headliner, the steamer will come in handy here and finally the staple gun will keep the headliner in place. At this point, we should also note the importance of glue, you will need glue for some bow type headliners
First step, you should re-install the bows into the correct position on the new headliner. If you took them out in preparation, you should have labelled them in order from front to back. Once the bows are in place, you can head over to your vehicle and install the headliner. At this point, you will need to be careful to take your time and ensure all the bows are where they need to be.
Before we start stapling the headliner in, we need to set the position and pull tension on the headliner from front to back. Use the spring clamps to help keep the material tight while we are working out wrinkles. Slowly and gently, pull the material tight using the spring clamps to keep it in place. It’s good to have lots of clamps so that you can put them anywhere you need. In theory, you could start in the front or back. Here we are starting at the back.
Once you have the front and back held in place we can start to work the sides and staple them in place.
Here we are starting at the rear corner. Start pulling the material to smooth the wrinkles and ensure there is enough material to cover the frame of the car.
You will need to cut back the listing to allow the headliner to follow the natural shape of the roof and help remove wrinkles. Go slow and use your best judgment.
Pull the material slowly to a point where it is smooth and use the steamer whenever it is needed. At first, it might look as though the steamer is actually adding more wrinkles but there is no need to panic. When this occurs, it is simply because the material is getting warmer and the fabric is loosening.
As long as you keep pulling and staple in the right places, the wrinkles will disappear as the fabric cools it tightens up and helps to get rid of any remaining wrinkles.
If necessary, you might want to make some relief cuts but be careful not to cut too far.
Soon enough, you will get into the rhythm of pulling the material, steaming wherever necessary, and cutting back the listing.
After you finish the sides you can move towards the front and this basically the same process.
When using the steamer, use slow movements over the material and allow it to warm up. If required, get underneath the material as well as gliding it over the top and you will see some great results. At this point, you can continue stapling remembering that there will be excess material all the way around the car.
When stapling, be prepared to switch sizes as go because sometimes there will be different thicknesses of tack strips on your car. It is always best to use the longest staple you can.
Use your scissors to make relief cuts in the excess material to allow you to manipulate it in a way that suits you. Rather than pulling at funny angles and creating more wrinkles, make small relief cuts and you suddenly have the material will move how you want. Be careful not to cut too deep. On some cars you will notice that you cant staple the A-pillar which is why we suggested glue earlier. For the A-pillar and any other areas that won’t work with a staple gun use glue
Trim the excess fabric. If you’ve reached this point, we congratulate you but there is still some careful work to be done. As you may have noticed, you can’t put all the pieces of the car back together while there is still a good amount of excess material. So the next job is to cut this away. Be careful not to damage you headliner at this point. You don’t want to have to redo all this hard work.
If you’ve managed to follow our instructions and install your suspended headliner, well done; was it as hard as you first thought? While on the topic of headliners, we offer a fantastic course showing how to make a headliner from scratch so feel free to check this out. On top of this, we also provide a full guide on how to recover your sun visor.
Tools I use in this video