Installing a new headliner into your Mustang is probably your first step when restoring your vehicle. Use this “how-to” guide to help during this installation process. I have installed many headliners and used to install headliners using clamps until I came across a new trick of using cut up pieces of windlace instead of clamps. I’ve found that this way is much easier and tends to yield better results. Installing a headliner should not be intimidating. You can save a few hundred dollars by doing the installation yourself, while at the same time fostering the pride of completing this task all on your own.
- Sharp Scissors
- Razor Blade or Sharp Knife
- 3M Spray Adhesive
- 32 Pieces of Cut Up OLD Windlace (cut into 2″ pieces)
- New Windlace Strips
- Bow– the metal rods that hold the headliner against the roof of the car. Mustang Coupes generally have four bows, while Mustang Fastbacks generally have three bows.
- Windlace – the long plastic trim cap that runs alongside the door glass seal on the body.
- Moonskin – the texture of the headliner material.
- Roof Rail – the part of the roof frame where the headliner bows insert into.
For best results, remove the windshield, rear window and weather stripping channel in the door openings. It is VERY difficult to tuck and secure a headliner without removing the glass (besides, it will look horrible and have wrinkles if this is attempted).
- Before starting, lay your new headliner flat to remove any folds or wrinkles. It may help to lay it in the sunshine to make it more pliable.
- Completely remove the old headliner, while taking note of exactly where the headliner bows are placed (this information will help you when installing the new headliner). SPECIAL NOTE – it is important to know that each bow may vary a little in length and curve. It may help to number the bows as you remove them and assign a numerical number from front-to-rear, while laying the bows in the order that you will insert them again into your new headliner.
- If the old insulation pad is still intact and in good condition, you may reuse it (depending upon your degree of restoration, you may choose to reuse the pad or purchase a new one). If the pad falls apart, find a new insulation pad and securely glue it in place by spraying both the pad and the roof with 3M Spray Adhesive.
- While using your metal headliner bows that you have numbered from front-to-rear, begin with the forward-most bow piece and slide the metal headliner bows into the forward most sleeve of the new headliner. Repeat the same steps with the other numbered bows, continuing to work from front-to-rear.
- After all bows have been inserted and CENTERED into the headliner sleeves, trim the excess sleeve material back, exposing about two inches of both ends of all the bows. When trimming, just trim the excess SLEEVE material…DO NOT TRIM THE MOONSKIN YET!
- Next, begin to insert the headliner into the vehicle, starting with the rear bow. Insert the rear bow into the holes of the roof rail. Then insert the other bows into their corresponding holes of the roof rail. Your headliner will be “baggy” and hanging at this point. The bows are hanging downward.
- Beginning with the front bow, rotate the bow so that it is snug against the ceiling of the vehicle. Repeat this step, working from front-to-rear, until all bows are snug against the ceiling of the vehicle and are no longer “baggy”. The bows are now upright and in the correct position.
- Working with the rear bow, hook the center of the bow with the two springs that connect to the rear window opening (you probably noticed these two springs when you removed your old headliner). SPECIAL NOTE – If the two springs are in poor condition, find a suitable replacement (I have actually used spring steel wire and cut and bent it to fit as a replacement).
- Now it is time to begin to stretch your headliner. This is where the old cut up pieces of windlace comes in handy! Starting in the center of the front windshield opening, pull the headliner material gently through the windshield opening, holding it on the roof, and secure it with a few pieces of windlace. This is done by pushing a piece of windlace (using the channeled groove) onto the sheet metal edge of the window opening. This will hold the headliner securely to the sheet metal. Repeat this step at the rear window opening, again using windlace to secure the headliner to the sheet metal. Best results are achieved when using approximately eight pieces of evenly spaced windlace at both the front and rear windshield areas.
- Next, continue to stretch and secure your headliner to both door window openings. Again, use approximately eight windlace pieces per side. Thus, you have now used 32 pieces of windlace. SPECIAL NOTE – for a Mustang Coupe, the rear pillar has a metal tack strip that holds the headliner in place. You’ll achieve better results if you keep stretching and re-securing the rear pillar portion of the headliner. This needs to be done carefully, as the headliner may begin to tear. I have found it helpful to cut a piece of window screen, spray it with adhesive and stick it to the back of the headliner where the tack strip will puncture the window screen. This aids in preventing any serious rips in the headliner.
- Do a visual check of your headliner to locate loose or wrinkled areas. If these areas are present, continue to work your way around the vehicle, removing windlace pieces and gently pulling the headliner and re-securing the windlace pieces. The headliner should be wrinkle-free, but not too tight.
- The headliner is now ready for adhesive. Remove 3 or 4 pieces of windlace from one area (I usually begin with the windshield area opening). Spray adhesive on the headliner backing and on the metal window opening edge. DO NOT ATTACH THESE TOGETHER YET! Allow a few minutes for the adhesive to dry before re-securing the headliner to the metal window opening edge. This is the recommended method of the spray adhesive (see the adhesive can for further instructions). Once the adhesive is ready, re-secure the headliner to the metal window opening edge. Repeat this step until all edges are glued.
- Now the headliner is ready to trim. DO NOT REMOVE THE WINDLACE PIECES YET. Using a sharp razor blade, carefully cut the excess headliner from the front and rear window openings. Leave about 3/4″ of headliner material so the rubber window seals will cover them when later installed (REMEMBER, DO NOT REMOVE THE CUT WINDLACE PIECES FROM THE FRONT AND REAR WINDOW OPENINGS UNTIL THE GLASS IS TO BE INSTALLED).
- For the side window openings, have your brand new windlace strips ready. Remove one windlace piece at a time, while pressing your NEW windlace strip in place. Doing it this way will prevent any headliner movement. Do this to both window openings, installing both NEW strips of windlace.
- Now the sides of the headliner are ready to be trimmed. Simply run a razor blade along the outside edge of the new windlace strip. Do not leave any extra headliner material hanging on the outside edge of the windlace strip (installing the weatherstrip channel will hide the outside edge of the windlace).
- The headliner is almost complete. Now, you’ll need to finish the inside windshield pillars. Locate the screw hole for the trim piece that covers the seam and cut the headliner so that the trim piece will hide the edge of the headliner material. This may require some adhesive. Repeat this step with the rear window opening (that is, if are installing a Fastback Headliner). SPECIAL NOTE – For a Mustang Coupe (referring back to STEP #10), re-stretch the area if necessary. The rear pillar of a Coupe is the most challenging area to achieve wrinkle-free results.
Congratulations! Your headliner installation is complete.
We hope these steps have been helpful, especially using the tricks with the cut up pieces of windlace. If you are an experienced headliner installer, perhaps this guide offered you some new tricks to try during your next headliner installation.
Copyright 2007: FastbackStack, LLC