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How To: Install a Truck Headliner

Project Overview

In this video we're going to replace a headliner in an '81-'87 GM pickup. Replacing your headliner is a great way to improve the interior of your truck. It's also a relatively easy job that can be accomplished with only a few tools.

Project Difficulty
Estimated Project Time
2.5 hours
Required Tools
  • Single Edge Razor Blades
  • Flat and Phillips Screwdrivers
  • Cordless Drill
  • Acrylic Hammer
  • Mechanics Wire
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • 2-inch Rubber Roller
  • Awl
  • Scuffing Pad
  • Ratchet & Socket Set

Video Transcription

I'm Kevin Tetz working with LMC Truck to bring you somehow to videos that we hope are going to make your truck restoration project even better.

In this video we're going to show you how to replace a headliner in an 81 through 87 GM pickup. Now a headliner project, well let's face it, is not that complicated. On a scale of one to five it's about a one. There's thirty screws and you're in and out, but we're going to show you some tips along the way that it are going to make it even easier.

Now the headliner fabric can be replaced but look at the fiber board this is the original stuff. Even though this pad is in great shape the fiber board it's deteriorating so you can do better, you can do it better with LMC Truck. This is a vacuum molded ABS headliner board with the pre-attached foam headliner cloth to make the project even easier and it just looks great. It's a better way to go.

Now you can replace every bit of trim in your cab through the catalog or we can show you how to color match your existing pieces. You can upgrade things like your rear view mirror, dome light with LED light, and a new lens for better illumination or enhance your stereo system with these aftermarket a pillar pods with a tweeter that's built-in. Sun visors, sun visor hardware, it's all in the catalog and you may not need every single piece that we're talking about but isn't it nice to know that LMC Truck has got you covered regardless of the trim package that your truck has.

Now, like I said tear down is super simple but it was a good idea to label everything as you take it off just in case you have to think about this in six or eight months and always bag and label your fasteners. Now the dome light is much easier to work on outside of the cab. Don't cut your wires, here's a body shop trick that I learned a long time ago that will help you get this and the wires out easily. This is our dome light harness. I'm going to release this clip. I've got some mechanics wire that I'm going to wrap around this is going to allow me to pull this whole wiring harness through. I can work on it on a bench top.

LMC Truck offers a new dome lamp wiring harness but for this truck ours is in good enough shape for us to reuse it. Leave your wire there and install it same we took it out. Now this is simple you just pop your bulb out, and you compress the ears on the wiring and the bulb retainer and you just got to push it through. Show a little patience here so you don't break anything this will happen fairly easily. There's that one... that's it. Put our LED bulb in ... we're done. With your wire attached you just feed it back through just like you took it out. And that can sit there until the headliner comes in. You go through the headliner and we are done.

Upgrade... we're going to use peel and stick sound deadener we got from the catalog to deaden the roof skin. The roller ensures proper adhesion and easy installation with the two-inch wide rubber roller... there it is...that's dead perfect. Pick yourself up some single edge razor blades. They really come in handy. If working by yourself you and you only have two hands use a couple of bungee cords to support the front of the headliner that way you can get this done single-handed. This will help support the backside. Good enough for now...

Installing the support pins for the sun visors is a bit of a challenge. They'll need to be tight so they don't fall into your line of sight. Tapping on them with an acrylic hammer works great, but you might try a little glass cleaner as a lubricant to get the job done easier. Finding the screw holes for the Sun visors can get frustrating use an awl or a tiny screwdriver to locate the holes and start each screw before tightening them all. Your sun visors will then hold the front of the headliner up. There we go.

Here's a quick tip: we're reusing our trim screws for the inside cab panels and look they're full of schmutz and they're dirty that’s not rust, because they’re stainless steel here's an instant way to revitalize them. Look at that. This is a scuffing pad. Rub the head of the screw, it just cleans the dirt off and makes them look like they're brand new. I extended by speaker wire that I can rundown behind that way I don't have to take this off again when we install a new audio system. This is a bit fiddly but you just got to take your time and not stress the plastic and it drops right in.

We want to keep our cargo light switch in the cab it's just kind of cool. LMC Truck makes it easy. All we got to do is drill out a couple of little holes and they're pre-marked in here taking the guesswork out. Test fit...I think we're good to go. Yep...we're done.

I'm going to use my seat belt anchor to hold everything in place. Alright...Now we can put this in. We opted for using the original shiny screws, but LMC Truck has black screws available in the catalog for a more stealthy and modern look. Rear upper cab molding...bam. I want to remind you again to start every single screw first then once you know that you found all the holes and got your screws seated go back and tighten them all up. You've got 5 sheet metal screws across the front molding... and that's it.

Whenever you're doing any kind of are finish project with its color matching interior or painting the exterior of a vehicle you want to make sure that everything that you're working with this clean. The interior pieces while they're always bathed in some sort of a silicone product tire dressing leather conditioner just to make him look a little bit better you want to make sure that is off of there because it will interfere with the paint adhesion and the way it looks. Now that we know our surface is clean I'm using a scrubbing pad, put a little bit of abrasion on the part. Ours isn't rusty, so we don't need to worry about that aspect of it. But you got to make the paint stick and we are ready ... to paint... ColorBond dries in seconds and won't fill up the original grain pattern. Lot of light coats is important you don't want to overpaint. The ColorBond becomes part of the surface and won't crack or peel off. Give it one more coat after it dries and we can put it on. Give that a few minutes to dry and we'll install it. That's it...we've got one last piece of the puzzle ... our dome light lens.

So now we can test the new led dome light and clear lens. Cool that's bright. Now we could test the cargo light good still works. Oh more last thing.

Got to put a new mirror on. Celebrate the Bowtie. This project is amazing the addition of the new trim pieces Sun visors and led dome light give this interior some great new detail and the bowtie rearview mirror well it's just plain cool. All in all this project refurbishes another aspect of our interior that we can be completely proud of. Man I'm very happy with the results that it was in a simple project we hope we passed on some tips and tricks to make your head liner installation even easier just remember that if you're working on a project where you have to find and hunt for existing screw holes and awl a pick or even an old test light could be your best friend.

Make sure you check out the LMC Truck catalog or go to for ideas on how to make your truck project even better. I'm Kevin Tetz. Thanks for watching.