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I was data mining on how to do a headliner removal and thought I'd bring it across to the new boards.
Here's the end-all way to replace a sagging headliner, but it involves some labor! The reason headliners fall down in the vans is not because the adhesive fails, but because the layer of foam between the fiberboard and the headliner fabric dry rots and falls apart.

You gotta get the fiber-board panels out of the van; to to this, you gotta take all the plastic trim off from around the side panels, remove your sun visors, your overhead console, and dome lights. To remove the plastic trim panels, you must remove all the coat hooks, window latches and other stuff that's screwed to them. The most annoying one is the plastic trim around the sliding door. Most of the plastic trim is held in with metal clips that simply hold them with friction into the sheetmetal underneath. The headliner fiberboard itself is fastened to the sheetmetal crossbars that hold the roof up. There are little velcro pads there. DO NOT attempt to pull on the headliner, or flex it too hard...the fiberboard will tear and break easily. Put your hand up above the headliner and work the velcro pads loose with your hand. Sometimes, a really long flathead screwdriver helps in this job too.

Once the headliner fiberboard is out, remove the old fabric and expose all that funky black stuff that used to be foam. You must get all that stuff off if you expect your new material to stick. I placed the fiberboard vertically and scraped it with a puddy knife. It doesn't take much pressure to knock it off, but you must rub it several times to scrape it clean. Fiberboard is a yellowish color.

Measure the size of your fiberboards, so you'll know how much fabric to get. Go to a fabric store that sells upholstery fabric or other fabrics made for automobile use, and pick out a style / color you like. Then, head to the hardware store, or the automobile parts shop, and buy yourself several cans of spray adheasive. I used 3M Super 77, and mine's held out great for about 4 years now. One of the interior shop recommended contact cement, which I used on the last, short panel in the back. It didn't work too well...it soaked through the fabric, and it's now sagging again. I'm gonna take that one out soon, and super 77 it. Contact cement is cheaper, but I guess you get what you pay for!

Place the fiberboard in an "upside down" position on some saw horses. In other words, with the part you'll be looking at in the van, facing up. Spread the fabric out on the surface to test fit it, and cut any necessary holes you may need, cut as necessary to work around contours. Work small pieces at a time. Spray a little on and smooth the fabric down in that spot. Leave some weight, like small blocks of wood on the spots you have done. Fold the edges around the fiber-board and glue down on the back side. IF YOU'RE DOING MULTIPLE PANELS, MAKE SURE THE GRAIN OF THE FABRIC IS THE SAME ON BOTH PANELS. This is not all that noticeable outside the vehicle, but will be very obvious once installed!

Before you re-install the headliner, now's a good time to install some insulation between the headliner and the ceiling. This will do a few things: first, it will keep your van a little cooler without all that heat radiating down through the metal roof into your van. It will also help keep the adhesive from failing (I think this is the reason for my success!) And it also makes the van a little quieter inside too. You can use foam or fiberglass. Fiberglass isn't as effective as foam, but will last forever...or you could go with the expensive Dynamat stuff if you have deep pockets.

Re-position the headliner in the van. I have found that it is the easiest to do with the rear seats installed in the van actually. This is because I can take one end of the headliner and work on positioning it, while the other end is resting on the top of the seatbacks. Get the headliner in position, and then mash the velcro pads back together. Install your overhead console, and some dome lights, these will help hold the headliner in place, while you install the rest of your plastic trim around the edges.

You can now go drive your van around and show off your new custom headliner to all your friends!

Expect to spend a good part of a Saturday doing this, primarily for the dis-assembley / re-assembley procedure. With most of the interior disassembled, it's also a good time to pull wires inside the trim, install insulation, and do any other work "behind the scenes" you've been meaning to get done!
***
 

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Thanks for posting this...I just bought a 1990 Astro AWD that is starting to sag...not bad yet, but why wait? I am going to try this and see how it goes....now to deceide if I should go with stock looking material or something differant, like maybe glove leather? or? or? I am deffinatly going to sound deaden the roof while it is apart, not sure if I will use dynamat or something else, but will sound deaden it And then insulate it...quiet AND cooler......this is a good thing!
 

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I know this is an old thread, but I felt the need to reply. I do this kinda thing for a living. If you live in a hot or humid ( or both ) area, Super 77 is good, but contact cement is what you need to use. The key to it........... you CAN'T try brushing it onto headliner material, it has to be sprayed onto both surfaces.Once it's sprayed on, ( you don't have to pretend you're painting,but you don't want wet patches ) let it tack up till you can touch it without it feeling wet. Once it's at this stage, ( this helps with 2 tables and 2 people, but it can be done front to back halved by yourself) easily move the material over the headliner board, make sure it's situated where you want it, and start GENTLY pressing it down , inside center , to outside. Try not to leave handprints or swipe marks.Small imperfections can be steamed out with a clothing steamer. BTW, pollutants, smoking, and the body oil from people touching the headliner are the main causes of it falling to begin with, it decomposes the foam backing under the color layer of material.Age will eventually cause it anyway.I use plain old DAP laminate adhesive ( available at Lowes or Homie Depot ) when I'm out of 3-M top and trim adhesive................ it's the same stuff with a different label. Don't get the gel....... you need to be able to spray it out of a cheap spray gun.Hope this helps some folks, feel free to ask any more questions.
 

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since it's already a sticky.....here goes, they're pretty much in order, and the previous post gives the steps :D
edit** I left out the finished shell...once the cement sets up the last few bubbles get rubbed down.
 

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Great write up Rev.

I wasn't sure whether or not someone would want to strip the old stuff off. I'm kinda new to this interior stuff.

But now that I see, and it does look good, I might give it a try. (one day)

Thanks, Jim
 

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astroturf said:
Great write up Rev.

I wasn't sure whether or not someone would want to strip the old stuff off. I'm kinda new to this interior stuff.

But now that I see, and it does look good, I might give it a try. (one day)

Thanks, Jim
Jim, if you just want a change,and the original material is in good shape, you can cover over it. If the material is deteriorating, ( caused by body oils, pollution, smoking, etc) you need to remove it all. I use a soft bristle hair brush, and just keep brushing it until it's all off. It's extremely messy and a bit time consuming, but imperative for good results. When you're recovering an old one like that, it's also better to get the thicker 1/4" headliner material, the thinner material shows more of the imperfections that are going to be left. Unless you REALLY like self abuse, stay away from the woven headliner material too, it's very difficult to stretch into the contours, especially the depressions for handles, etc.
 

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Astrofan said:
I have a 1987 Astro cargo van with no headliner at all, nor plastic trim. I have been unable to locate a source for a headboard. Has anyone redone a cargo? Any suggestions or sites?
Thanks
Typically a cargo van will have only a partial headliner , from windshield to dome light, unless special ordered , you can find a good full length headliner in a salvage yard for about $10 and recover it with new material
 

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Will that turn into some disaster?

Any tips on what sort of paint?

I painted some fake-leather new-balance cross trainers black with "fabric paint" from arts and crafts store(need comfy all black shoes for couple weeks) and it seems Ok but flakes off at points of movement, and because the shoes are 'plasitc' and not real leather. That was sort of pricy paint....$5 for 4oz.

Maybe I'll let you know how this turns out.
 

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For insulating the area between the headliner and the metal roof has anyone tried the foam products I see out there. Not sure of the density is enough to offer sound deading or not. BTW - I'm new and haven't gotten my pictures posted as yet. (Sorry) But I love all the information I'm finding here. Thx! :D
 

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Update to my own question about foam insulating for sound and climate......

The spray type foam from a can is a BAD IDEA!!! DO NOT DO THIS......WARNING......BACK AWAY FROM THE EXPANDING FOAM!! :naughty:

I found some 1/2" and 1" foam in sheets from a company here locally call ACH Foam Products, Kansas City, KS. I'm doing some work for them and I seen it in their plant stacked up in the corner. I asked and was granted a few sheets to take home and try out...FREE!! It's black and very plyable and appears to have great insulating and sound deadening. I'm going with 1/8" luan board covered in stock material instead of the formed headliner that came in the van. This will allow me to use the 1/2" material inbetween each rib in the roof. I have use some of the 1" material in areas like the rear doors and around the wheel wells and fuel hump. I took out the carpet and scraped off the jute rag backing and then proceeded to wash the carpet on the back deck with some laundry detergent and a hose. Hung it out to dry for a day in the sun and it's fresh and clean! To replace the jute rag padding I'm going to use the 1/2" foam material under the carpet. It seems dense enough to hold up well. Same goes for the passenger area up front this weekend. Pull out the carpet, scrape off the nasty stinking jute rag padding and get the Tide and the water hose.

While everything is out and I'm in the interior skeleton I'm going to install a couple extra 12v outlets in key places. Looking for a am/fm antenna to install and get rid of the whip up front. Clean up the lines of the van just a bit. Updating the speakers and adding an AM/FM/CD and looking at a roof mount DVD unit.

Off topic just a bit I ordered a HeadLite Conversion Kit. The headlights will converted over to HID Projector type headlights @ 8000 lums. Now I can see the deer in time to avoid a collision.....maybe. :doh:

Gonna do a wrap in my company product and if MaMa says it's ok, I'm gonna get me some of those SS Rally Sport Wheels I've seen on Ebay to complete the look. Oh yeah!!! Photo's will be posted when some reasonable progress is made.......kinda a before and after thing.

More to come............ :chevy: :swerve:
 

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I have a 1999 cargo van and a completely striped interior other than the partial headliner above the front two seats. I am in the process of converting the van into a home on wheels and need to insulate the back of the van being that it was a cargo van. Anyone have any ideas on how to accomplish this, making a new headliner and covering sides of the interior?
 

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just went to the upholstery shop to see about getting my head liner redone and they quoted me $475.00 for a short astro van. you can buy a kit and do It yourself for less than $75.00, or can go to the fabric store and buy the fabric for about $30.00 and a can of 3m super 77 spray adhesive for $9.99 and do it your self for about $40.00 total. there is some labor involved as you can see from these post, but no where near $400.00 worth of labor..

I think calling or going somewhere to see how much it cost to get someone else to do it for me just motivates me to get off my butt and do it myself. I usually do it better than the pro's cause I care about what im doing.
 

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If you don't want to do it yourself, look on CL for a better deal they are dime a dozen most places.

I had the headliner out recently but couldn't find foam backed headliner upholstery wider than 60" which isn't wide enough to cover the Astro headliner without resorting to a seam line so passed on it doing it for now.
 

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Great post randyre...nicely covers all the steps to solve the saggy ceiling.
My 99 Safari has the short headliner over the front seats, from the windshield to the back of the overhead console. The fabric started to separate from the foamboard at the windshield and then one day the wind coming in the side windows got under the fabric and started stripping it back further and further.
I pulled that foamboard and fabric section, stripped the fabric off with a light pulling action. There was a lot of dust caused by the failing foamboard and the original adhesive. I scratched off the loose dust and debris with a fine Scotch-Brite pad and vacuumed to remove all the particulates. I was uncomfortable to attempt to apply the 3M Super 77 spray adhesive directly to the foamboard before replacing the same fabric. Wasn't sure whether the Super 77 would eat the foamboard or not or it might just soak in. I brush coated the foamboard with an acrylic (water based) good quality primer for two coats and allowed them to dry for 24 hours. This process sealed the dust of the foamboard and provided a very strong adhesion to the foamboard. The acrylic coating also seems to be forgiving to handle vibrations and minor flexing that occurs in a vehicle. Then the Super 77 was sprayed over the newly primer coated foamboard and allowed to "tack". Two of us held the fabric sheet and lightly sprayed the inside of the fabric, then gently lowered the fabric down onto the foamboard. Let the Super 77 continue to tack and set up for about 5 minutes, then you can smooth the fabric to finally bond it against the foamboard surface (without causing the adhesive to bleed through the fabric). Four years since this repair was made and still looks like a new original headliner. I think the primer coat has contributed well to maintain the adhesion.
Hoping I never have to do the much larger headliner section from behind the front seats back to the rear doors.
"Always remember to have fun"
 

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Well....got to this post too late. $100 and the local upholstery shop already covered my headliner. However, its been sitting for months waiting on me to finish the wiring for a new overhead console! My question......any tricks on getting the A pillar plastic off? The metal clips that are center of the doors that hold the plastic won't release. I've got the passenger side handle off, screws out, and the clip in the middle is all there is.
I got frustrated and thought "perhaps its just tension and I need to pull harder...." Whelp.. you guessed it...it grenaded. Pieces everywhere. Luckily I just found another at a bone yard. To remove it, I cut and destroyed the headliner in the donor and took out the philips holding the clip.

Suggestions or tricks? They seem inaccessible with the headliner in and me not wanting to destroy it.
 

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Hi,

Not sure what question you are asking. How to get the A Pillar Vinyl/Plastic off the (2) retainers?

Our Van is a 92 and it was tough, but they came off without destroying anything. Seems the later years' Astro/Safaris have "Cheaper" polymers, etc. for cost savings.

A proper tool avail. at most LAPS will help. Knowing where the darn things are helps too for good pry leverage point. I have photos of where mine are - but, again, it is a 92.

Mije
 

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Hi guys, this is an awesome thread! And great advise! I have 1 QUESTION for you guys tho.. the backer board for my headline looks like pressed material and fiberglass much like the photos above.. I bought a few yards of sueded knit fabric from a local upholstery store.. unfortunately it has no foam backing but it had alot of stretch.. it's 91% polyester and 9% spandex my main concern is applying the spray adhesive with out it bleeding thru any tips? Also I have a sunroof to cut out for.. and also noticed lines of glue around the opening on the side you can't see when installed.. is this a specific type of glue if so what is it? And as for sound proofing and preventing rattling from my 12" sub.. what are you guys thoughts on using a spray foam much like the stuff used in residential construction? Would it with standard the heat and if so would it reduce rhe rattling sounds? Thoughts and advice much appreciated, cheers!
 
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