Prepping for the Headliner

There are a number of things that you need to do to the interior roof of your vintage ride before you install the headliner. This is really important if you have the vehicle gutted as it's the ideal time to do this.

  1. Strip the roof - Typically there will be the old roof insulation hanging down and God knows what embedded inside. The older the vehicle, the worse the condition of the insulation, so you'll need to strip the roof. This is not a nice job!

  2. Remove any surface rust - Guaranteed that there will be surface rust on the inside of the roof. This is the time to sand off the rust. Wear safety goggles, protective suit and a respirator as you'll be facing upwards right into the sanding dust.

  3. Paint the ceiling - Use a good quality rust proof paint like Tremclad and take the time to paint the ceiling. This will preserve the ceiling for years to come. A small paint roller makes the paint process very fast!

  4. Apply sound deadner - I used black sound deadner tiles. They have the weight of a roof shingle but are in 1 foot tiles (without the grit on one side). They have a peel-off adhesive on one side to stick to the roof. I think that I would research a better adhesive because I had problems with a few of them having their corners peeled down. Maybe I didn't have the surface clean enough or maybe they were old? I glued them back up with silicone. They do make a huge difference in damping the overall "tinningness" sound of the vehicle when you hit bumps and close the car doors.

    You don't need to completely coat the roof, just enough to dampen the sound. I found that putting complete tiles in the center of the roof dampened the majority of the tinnyness and then cutting the tiles in half and placing them along the edge created the nice solid thump. You can test by just slapping the roof with the palm of your hand. The tiles were put about at least 12 inches apart.

  5. Install heat insulation - A major portion of heat inside the vehicle comes from the roof due to the sun shining on it. Putting a heat shield will help keep the heat out and help keep the interior cool. I used contact cement to apply the heat insulation on. Important: coat both the roof and the insulation with contact cement, wait until dry (about 15 min) then join together. You get one shot at applying it!

This is the roof already cleaned, painted, sound deadner installed and insulation installed.

Here's the roof almost completely covered in heat insulation. The sound deadner tiles are underneath.

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Copyright January 2012 Eugene Blanchard