How to Repair a Truck Headliner

What You'll Need
Screwdrivers (Phillips and flat head)
Putty knife
Tools for prying

Your truck headliner can easily become worn, dirty or torn over time. When this happens, you will need to replace it. Although you can try cleaning and fixing the headliner back in place with adhesive, it won’t look particularly good. Replacement is a much better option. If you undertake the job yourself, it will cost a lot less than having an auto upholsterer replace the truck headliner for you.

Step 1 - Removing the Old Liner

Before you can put in a new truck headliner, you need to remove the old one and you’ll need to do it very carefully and slowly. Start by taking out all the trim around the headliner before removing the bezel around the dome light.

To take off the trim, you’ll need to unscrew it (if it is a fixed-in type) or simply pry it off if it is fitted with adhesive. If the latter applies, you’ll need to go particularly slowly and use small tools to avoid bending and damaging the trim. Flat head screwdrivers work well for this, as do trim removal tools. Be patient because you’ll literally be working over an inch at a time.

Once the trim has been removed, you can begin work on removing the truck headliner. Start at one side and begin to pry it loose. Reach up inside the area under the dome light. You will find a device holding the headliner in place. You’ll need to loosen this in order to complete the removal of the old truck headliner.

Step 2 - Preparing the Headliner

With the headliner out, you’ll be able to remove the fabric that’s covering it. The truck headliner itself is nothing more than a piece of composition board. To remove the fabric, just pull it off until you’ve removed as much as you can; there’s no special technique needed for this. Continue until you’ve removed as much of the fabric as you can. Take care not to damage the composition board of the truck headliner. However, you'll be able to buy a new one at an auto parts store if damage is unavoidable.

Step 3 - New Headliner Fabric

At this point, you now have a choice. You can go to an auto upholsterer and have them put on new headliner fabric or you can do the job yourself. Note, however, that truck headliners are made of a special fabric which you’ll need to purchase from a upholsterer. It’s foam backed and must be attached with a particular type of contact cement that’s applied to both the foam and the composition board. If you do this, go very slowly and carefully to ensure the fabric is evenly spread over the board.

Step 4 - Replacement

When the fabric is smooth and dry on the composition board, put your truck headliner back in place. The first job is to attach it at the center of the truck roof. Next, work all the edges in tidily. Once you’ve done that, go slowly and position the trim back into place to finish