How to Fix A Sagging Car Headliner Without Removing It (8 Easy Options)

how to fix a sagging headliner without removing it

Wondering how to fix a sagging car headliner without removing it?

Over time, the glue that holds the headliner foam and fabric together starts to dry out and causes the headliner to sag.

Not a pretty picture.

Unless the headliner is significantly damaged, the average person with the right tools is capable of repairing a sagging headliner without removing it.

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8 Ways To Fix A Sagging Car Headliner Without Removing It

Headliner SolutionProsConsSupplies & Cost
Insert sequin pinsSimple, fast, budget-friendly
Could look like a patch job if not done well
Might fall out over time
Sequin pins
Under $10
Use twisty pins– Easy to use and inexpensive
– Less noticeable because they have a clear head
– Unlikely to fall out because they’ve been twisted in
Could be a bit awkward to twist in depending on the angleTwisty pins
Under $10
Headliner fabric adhesive sprayWill keep the headliner fabric secure, and looking originalWill only work if you can get under the headliner fabric from the edgesHeadliner Fabric Adhesive Spray
Under $20
Apply adhesive glueEasy, cheap, fastOnly good for small areas around the edgesAdhesive Glue
Under $10
Use thumbtacksEasy, cheap, fastUnattractive solution & easy to fall outThumbtacks
Use a steam cleanerWill create a smooth, seamless headliner repair if done wellWill only work if there is some stickiness left in the glue
More expensive if you don’t own a steam cleaner
Steam cleaner
Under $50
Staples & HairsprayCost effectiveStaples will leave holes if removed, not a common solutionStaple gun
Under $20
Double-sided carpenter’s tapeBudget-friendly and good for minor repairsOnly suitable for small headliner repair jobsDouble-sided carpenter’s tape
Under $20

If you decide that your car headliner is too damaged and beyond repair, replacing the headliner might be your best option.

1. Insert Sequin Pins

Sequin pins are a cost-effective way of repairing the headliner without removing it.

Before using any products on your headliner, look at the roof so you can get a good idea of how to place the sequin pins before you start.

If you aren’t concerned about the placement of the sequin pins, you can go ahead and put the pins wherever you want. The pins will fix the sagging roof lining, but it may not look exactly as you hoped.

However, if you want to try to ensure that it looks good when you’re done, it’s a good idea to think through where you will place each sequin pin. You could use a specific pattern such as a diamond or square. Mapping it out on a piece of paper, before you begin is a good idea.

You should also understand that, unlike other repair methods, you might need to reattach these pins to ensure that the headliner doesn’t sag again. 

2.Place Twisty Pins

Twisty pins are specially designed for use with upholstery. These clear-headed twisty pins will hold the headliner in-place because when you push them in, you’re twisting the pin which will hold the fabric better than a straight pin or tack. And they’re less visible than other pins.

3.Spray Headliner Fabric Adhesive

Attach the headliner to your roof using a spray-on fabric adhesive, a type of glue but in a spray.

This is an easy, cost-effective solution but keep in mind that you’ll need to remove lights from the roof of your car and likely the sun visors. so it’s easier to spray onto the back of the fabric. Although using a spray adhesive is one of the best methods to repair your sagging headliner, it can be tricky.

Pull down headliner material that is sagging, spray headliner adhesive glue in 2 – 3 uniform coats, and allow 5 minutes between applying coats. If you want a stronger bond, apply it to both surfaces.

Remember to use uniform pressure to eliminate air pockets. With most spray adhesive, curing will take about 24 hours but ensure you read the instructions before starting and remember to put the lights and sun visors back.

Read more about the various adhesives that will work well for a headliner repair job.

4.Apply Adhesive Glue

If you notice parts of the headliner lifting around the edges, use adhesive glue. This strategy will work well if you only have a few parts of the headliner that are sagging or pulling away.

Another option is to use a glue gun with glue sticks. The glue from a glue gun will be warm and there might be a better chance that it will do a better job of holding the headliner in place. Remember, this is only going to work, if you can reach the area that’s sagging, with the glue gun.

5.Use Thumbtacks

Thumbtacks are another, very budget-friendly option for repairing a sagging headliner. This is not the most attractive solution but it is easy on the wallet, simple, and fast. And really, is anyone going to be looking that closely at the lining of your car roof?

5.Steam Cleaner

One cause of a sagging headliner is that the original glue can start to break down and become less adhesive, causing the layers of the headliner to separate, and sag.

A steam cleaner is another option for repairing a sagging headliner and if you already one, then that makes this a very inexpensive option. But, if you don’t own one, you can buy one for around $40 which is still a lot less than having a professional repair your car roof lining.

Do a test to determine if the glue is still sticky enough to be re-adhered to the roof. Find a small section, and run the steamer along that area and see if the heat will melt the glue. Place the steam cleaner close enough to the headliner so the heat seeps through.

As you’re using the steam cleaner, follow with a paint roller to smooth out the headliner fabric and help minimize bubbling and wrinkles.

It’s quite possible that the headliner will sag again, given that the glue has already lost some of its effectiveness.

6.Staples & Hairspray

This seems like an unconventional solution and I’ve never tried it, but some car owners report that this is a great solution that works well when repairing a sagging headliner.

If you opt to use staples for the headliner, a staple gun will work better than a simple stapler. 

After putting in staples, apply hairspray to melt down the adhesive on the headliner. 

If you don’t mind the look of the staples on your headliner, you can leave them but it will likely look better if you remove them.

7.Use Double-Sided Carpenter’s Tape

Using double-sided carpenter’s tape is the easiest and quickest way of repairing a saggy headliner. 

It’s straightforward since all you have to do pull back the removable backing and put the sticky side on the areas of the headliner that are sagging, and then firmly press the fabric back to the car roof.

If the roof lining is sagging around the edges, carpenter’s tape is a great option for repairing those specific areas. However, if your car’s headliner is sagging more in the middle, this option won’t work because you’ll have no easy way of reaching the loose fabric.

What is a headliner?

The headliner is the fabric that’s secured to the roof of your car, also referred to as the car roof lining. It has many advantages, including providing the car roof with a smooth texture, maintaining moderate interior cabin temperatures, and absorbing noises.

Headliner fabric is cut to fit the shape of your roof and is typically made of three layers:

– polyurethane foam (glued to the interior roof)

– cardboard, or fiberglass,

– and then the top layer is usually vinyl, leather, or cloth

It’s this third layer that typically begins to sage over time.

2 Causes of Headliner Sag

There are 2 primary causes of a sagging headliner:

1.Glue naturally dries out over time so in older vehicles, dry glue is the most common reason for the roof headliner to sag.

2.If the headliner polyurethane foam or fabric gets wet, it will pull away from the car roof and start sagging.

How To Prevent A Headliner From Sagging

Over time, the glue that holds the foam and fabric in-place begins to dry out, causing the foam to pull away from the fabric. This is a particular problem with cars that have old foam because the glue naturally dries out over time. When a vehicle is regularly exposed to heat, the glue will dry quicker. Here are 2 tips that will help prevent the glue from drying out:

1. Use a windshield sunshade. I love this option because not only does it prevent the sun from beating down into your car and heating it up, but it also helps prevent the fabric from fading and helps keep the interior seats and steering wheel from getting scorching hot.

2. Park in the shade, whenever possible. Yes, this seems obvious and isn’t always possible, given the sun moves. But, parking in the shade, a garage, or a car park, are great options when available.

Summary – How To Fix A Sagging Car Headliner Without Removing It

If you aren’t comfortable with any of the methods above when it comes to headliner repair, it’s best to pay a professional to repair your sagging headliner.

Speaking with an upholstery shop is a great option and they should be able to give you an estimate for the cost of the headliner repair.

Or, if your vehicle’s headliner is sagging a lot and not in the best condition, it might make sense to pay a professional to get the old headliner replaced with a new headliner. Doing this will give you a better chance that your car’s interior will look new or at least better than it previously did. Again, an upholstery shop should be able to give you an estimate.

Whether you repair your existing headliner or get a new headliner, it’s something that is worth considering and doing well if you want to be sure your car interior looks good.

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