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Replacing headliner in a 1988 Caprice Classic.

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  • Replacing headliner in a 1988 Caprice Classic.

    Greetings, I do not know if this is the proper forum but it's the closest I could find from google for "car customization forums."


    I am replacing my headliner in my 88 Caprice and was having some difficulties. Because it is so old and the previous owners were apparently heavy smokers, the foam backing was a mess to scrape and sand down.

    As for sanding down the remaining foam from the previous headliner, how clean do you think I should sand it? Getting down to the bare shell would be a duanting task as I have no automatic sander and nearly sanded off my fingertips just getting it down to what I think is acceptable (it is pretty bare but there is still a brown tint, versus a bare white surface). I am replacing the old headliner with a custom felt fabric from a local fabric shop so it does not have a foam backing to it. However, the material is very high quality and has two layers- a coarse vinyl-type (sort of feels like a very fine carpet backing without the glue) backing and then felt for the exterior. Does this sound feasible or should I find a way to get some foam backing adhered to the vinyl-type layer of the material?

    What I planned on doing was using a plastic squegee to even out the material as I stuck it to the glue to get an even placement and no wrinkles

    Also, the first layer of adhesive I applied (3M Super Trim Adhesive) seemed to dry very quickly in about ten minutes and the material would not stick to the glue at all. The can says to wait between 5-10 minutes. However, it did get pretty late on me and by the time I could spray the glue the ground was starting to form dew and I was spraying the glue onto the shell with the shell laying on the grass so I think the moisture messed with the chemical properties of the adhesive.

    Anyways, I figured since I did not give the shell as good of a sanding as I would have liked to (althought it does seem acceptable), that I would let this first layer of adhesive dry overnight and give the new layer of adhesive a good foundation to stick to.

    Does this sound like a decent plan or should I re-sand the entire shell and start anew? Shouldn't the first layer of glue still have been usable after only 10 minutes if the shell would have not gotten moisture on it from the ground?

    Also, I watched a video of a guy who applied glue to BOTH the shell AND the fabric. I did not do this. Could this be why the fabric did not stick?

  • #2
    Re: Replacing headliner in a 1988 Caprice Classic.

    With the 3M trim adhesive, this looks like a contact adhesive - so you would apply glue to both surfaces, ie the shell and the foam
    wait 5 - 10 mins ( or until the glue is tacky ) then press the surfaces together, ie foam to your shell.

    The bond will be instant.

    Moisture is not ideal, but it sounds as though you were just applying adhesive to one surface ?


    • #3
      Re: Replacing headliner in a 1988 Caprice Classic.

      Yes, I was only applying adhesive to the shell.

      Should I go back and re-sand the first layer of glue off of there that I applied last night or would it be ok to just apply another layer of glue over the first one? I sprayed on the first layer quite even...

      Thanks for the help. I am not really inclined for this type of stuff.


      • #4
        Re: Replacing headliner in a 1988 Caprice Classic.

        Ah I see what u are asking now.

        My gut feeling is it would be fine to reapply over
        the previous layer, however adhesives and curing
        can be a funny thing, I would suggest giving the
        3m technical hotline a call and checking with them.

        I would be interested to know their answer.


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