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Old 13-09-2010, 17:09   #1
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Fixing Headliner with Screws and Washers

In my experience, fixing sagging headliner is extremely difficult, dirty, and time-consuming. Has anyone had success with a method that didn't involve removing the old liner and the foam under it? How about the following method: Use small screws and big washers at regular intervals to hold the liner in place. Then cover the screws/washers with some thin strips of decorative teak. Some of my liner already has strips of decorative teak on it so I was thinking of just putting screws under that and then regluing the teak. Would that work?

Can someone recommend what type of screws I should use? I've had problems before getting screws into fiberglass, because it is so much harder than wood, it tends to break screw heads and drill bits. How long should the screws be? I don't know how thick the hull or ceiling is. Is there a better way to hide/cover the screws rather than my plan above?

Any advice would be much appreciated. The headliner is coming off in both cabins and in the head. I suppose an alternative would be to take down everything, clean the fiberglass, and get new headliner made and replaced, but that seems like it would take many days or cost a lot of money to have a professional do.
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Old 13-09-2010, 17:14   #2
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If you want it to look decent, I'd recommend that you take down everything, clean the fiberglass, and get new headliner made and replaced.
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Old 13-09-2010, 17:21   #3
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Why don't you think my plan would work? I could see how it might still sag on the ceiling between the screws, but on the walls, shouldn't it look fine?

Would you have an estimate as to how much it would cost to have new headliner made for say two cabins and one head? How many days to clean the fiberglass? How much would it cost to have a professional do all of this?
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Old 13-09-2010, 17:37   #4
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Be careful with those screws. I saw a boat that had a bunch of screws that cracked the gelcoat and were eventually exposed resulting in rotting core.
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Old 13-09-2010, 18:12   #5
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My boat has plywood gussets epoxied into the cabin top underneath the headliners. The splices on the head liner are then covered with teak strips that are screwed into the plywoood gussets. It looks good and if you choose screws that are as thick as the plywood there is no chance of them going into the fiberglass.
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Old 13-09-2010, 18:39   #6
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I think it would depend on how the old one was installed. Some are glued in with contact cement, others are screwed into strips of lumber attached to the skin. Screwing into one that was contact cemented would look bad and as mentioned possibly damage the core if it penetrated to the outer surface.

I too would suggest ripping it down and redoing it completely. You will be happier with the result.

I am currently doing new ceilings on a steel boat so I have wood strips and a wood ceiling.

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Old 13-09-2010, 20:07   #7
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It's a fiberglass boat. The old liner had a foam backing and the foam was glued to the fiberglass. There are no wood strips as far as I've seen so far. As the foam disintegrates, half is left on the fiberglass, half on the headliner. Is there a place where I can mail the old liner to have something of exactly the same shape made?

How long is it taking you to do the ceilings?
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Old 13-09-2010, 20:18   #8
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The problem is that almost all foam rubber is made by pouring "pancake batter" into a mold and letting chemical reactions generate gas to expand ("foam") the rubber. Eventually the byproducts of that chemistry usually embrittle the foam or break it down into a tarry goo, and even good vendor have problems with this because you don't really know until a decade after you've bought the foam. Or you use a top-dollar vendor for it.

So the foam breaks down and the headliner falls, in boats and cars alike. The only real way to fix it is by stripping it, cleaning the old adhesive and foam particles off, and gluing in a new headliner, hoping you'll get at least another decade from the new foam that you didn't buy from the cheapest source.

Other than that, you can screw battens over (under) the headliner to hold it up. You'll use fewer screws than if you used buttons all over to hold it up instead.

If you can remove the old headliner without pulling and distorting it, any upholstery shop should be able to cut and sew new vinyl to match. Another option is to buy "exercise" "yoga" or "camping" mat, made of ensolite or other closed-cell durable foam, and glue it directly to the underside of the deck. No foam layer, no vinyl, just trim neatly and glue it up.
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Old 13-09-2010, 20:36   #9
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Thanks Hellosailor. Suppose I want to try the battens approach over the old headliner first. What battens do I use/where do I get them? What type of screws do I use? Is there a way to hide the screw heads so that they're not visible in the battens?
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Old 14-09-2010, 08:25   #10
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I agree with the sentiment to pull it out and take it to an upholstery shop for "reconstruction." If you get it out in relatively decent shape the panels could be also be used as a template.

However, to expand on the current idea.

You can buy bulk snaps - like used on canvas. The male part screws in and the female part can be mounted through the battens.

Location and alignment would have to be spot on but the idea would be to screw the male parts through the vinyl. Then assemble the female parts to the battens. The battens would then "snap" on and have smooth chrome buttons showing.

Batten material could be any number of things from Formica to wood strips.

I personally would be loathe to drill holes in the ceiling.
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Old 14-09-2010, 08:33   #11
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Old 14-09-2010, 08:56   #12
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Joe, once the foam backing starts to deteriorate, it is essentially 'game-over' for your entire headliner. However, any decent auto-upholstery shop can install a new headliner at a 'reasonable' cost (shop around); and, you can save money by tearing out the existing headliner and removing the foam that has adhered to the overhead. Don't worry about saving pieces for templates - the vinyl will have stretched to the point that the used pieces will be useless.

Having said that, putting screws into the underside of a cored deck is not as risky as others have suggested. If you ensure that the screws are the correct length (they should not contace the outer skin) you have no real risk of delamination, or damage to the exterior gelcoat. There are other solutions - I am personally a fan of embossed frp panels glued and, where appropriate, screwed into the overhead. However, it is a VERY time consuming job to epoxy in wood strips to eliminate compound curves and then make templates, etc.

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Old 14-09-2010, 09:17   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Southern Star View Post
Having said that, putting screws into the underside of a cored deck is not as risky as others have suggested. If you ensure that the screws are the correct length (they should not contace the outer skin) you have no real risk of delamination, or damage to the exterior gelcoat.
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I agree with this completely...

If you have wood cored decks...Personally I see no need to pull yours down if it has a nice appearance and is just sagging...I would personally pre drill the teak strips( or whatever wood) and let the heads of the screws show...use say a SS square drive pan head screw every 24"..I think it would look nice. Especially if you added matching accent trim to the edges and around hatches, etc.

If getting through the glass overhead into the wood core is problematic for the screws get a depth set for your drill bit, hold everything up tight in place and pre drill each one as you go...I would not trust tape on the bit as a marking method in this case as a mistake will put you through the deck.

I will pass on a trick JamesS recently shared with me...

I have the exact issue as the OP with a non cored decked boat Im trying to sell...we agreed the need to strip down the old liner and adhering wood strips to the overhead for future attachment by screws of the new overhead...His Tip was to use hot glue every two or three feet between the 5200 as a means of instant bonding allowing the 5200 to cure..
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Old 14-09-2010, 09:37   #14
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Great suggestion, Stillraining (and avatar!!!!).

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Old 14-09-2010, 13:20   #15
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... I will pass on a trick JamesS recently shared with me...
... His Tip was to use hot glue every two or three feet between the 5200 as a means of instant bonding allowing the 5200 to cure.
indeed.
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