Bubbles in headliner

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My son is fixing up a 1987 Golf. He is rather detail-oriented and a few small bubbles in the headliner bother him endlessly. That and girls, who seem to bother him slightly less, is all he talks about anymore. I suggested he remove the headliner, peel off the old fabric cover, scratch laboriously off the old adhesive, buy new headliner fabric and headliner spray adhesive and do the job the right way. He wants to know if he can inject a fabric adhesive with a syringe through the center of a bubble, push down on the fabric and attach the loose fabric. What sayeth you?
 
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Originally Posted By: vavavroom
He wants to know if he can inject a fabric adhesive with a syringe through the center of a bubble, push down on the fabric and attach the loose fabric. What sayeth you?
NO. "injecting a liquid" will only make a huge mess and a "hard spot" in the fabric. You have to carefully cut each bubble with a SHARP razor blade down the middle, apply a brush on adhesive to the backing board only (NOT the fabric), then letting the solvents "flash off" before gently pushing the one side of the bubble up, working from the outside edges of the bubble towards the cut. Repeat with the other side of the cut bubble, carefully joining the two sides together in a "seamless cut" - now hidden Go to the wrecking yard and practice on a car there first.
 
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Pull the fabric off. Use a plastic scraper to clean the backerboard. Buy some thin upholstery foam and some fabric. A Ninja Turtles bed sheet would be pretty rad. Use 3M headliner adhesive or 77 and follow the instructions on the can.
 
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If you're that picky about a 1987 Golf either fix it right or replace the car with a new what ever. That thing is never going to be a classic!
 
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Originally Posted By: JohnnyJohnson
If you're that picky about a 1987 Golf either fix it right or replace the car with a new what ever. That thing is never going to be a classic!
Sure about that? Pretty common to see well cared for/modified MK2s up around $10k... Even the Mk3 is starting to creep in value.
 
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If it's foam backed fabric like most headliners, it is the foam that deteriorates and nothing can fix it. From my limited experience replacing headliners, my advice is don't cheap out on the headliner adhesive. I think 3m may make a "good" and a "best" level of adhesive.
 
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The foam backing is rotting away and it will continue to get worse. A good upholstery shop will know how to remove the headliner and fix it right.
 
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Had a guy (Phil's Auto Tops) in nearby Passiac, NJ who had an adequate stock of grey headliner fabric. Good prices, great work, no double talk etc. Went there last time and he was retired. Happy retirement Phil.
 

Kestas

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I agree with Trav. The proper materials don't cost a lot. It just takes a bit of labor to do it properly. Anything else is a short cut that will not bring the satisfaction of a job well done.
 

vavavroom

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Trav, that's what I've been telling my son, but he's 15 and likes to experiment rather than listen to anyone. So I'll let him do his thing. If it goes wrong, he can always do it by the book after failing. Failure is the best teacher.
 

vavavroom

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Originally Posted By: JohnnyJohnson
If you're that picky about a 1987 Golf either fix it right or replace the car with a new what ever. That thing is never going to be a classic!
I told my son he can have a slightly used and much safer car, but his heart is set on driving his grandpap's old Golf and I am not taking the choice away from him.
 

vavavroom

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Originally Posted By: Linctex
Originally Posted By: vavavroom
He wants to know if he can inject a fabric adhesive with a syringe through the center of a bubble, push down on the fabric and attach the loose fabric. What sayeth you?
NO. "injecting a liquid" will only make a huge mess and a "hard spot" in the fabric. You have to carefully cut each bubble with a SHARP razor blade down the middle, apply a brush on adhesive to the backing board only (NOT the fabric), then letting the solvents "flash off" before gently pushing the one side of the bubble up, working from the outside edges of the bubble towards the cut. Repeat with the other side of the cut bubble, carefully joining the two sides together in a "seamless cut" - now hidden Go to the wrecking yard and practice on a car there first.
Nobody suggested "injecting a liquid." Who are you quoting?
 
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The idea of injecting the adhesive doesn't sound that bad to be honest to just be done with it. I think the important thing that might make or break the result is maybe instead of him injecting the amount in one spot, have him do multiple injections in small amounts at multiple areas of the bubble, to "blend" the adhesive and not make it a single obvious spot.
 

vavavroom

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Here's an update on the bubbly headliner. My son ended up peeling back about 7 inches of the headliner fabric from the edge of the windshield all the way across from A pillar to A pillar. All the bubbles were in the visor area and near the front edge of the headliner. He then used 3M headliner spray adhesive and so far it looks fine. The bubbles are gone and the headliner fabric adheres so far. I have no idea how he managed to see what he was doing in this tight space between dashboard, windshield, and roof, but he is a 15-year-old contortionist.
 
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