Monday, October 25, 2010

DIY: replacing fabric on door panels

17: how old I was when I bought my DA
18: years this car's been on the road
19: g's I've spent on the damn thing!

kidding.. in my dreams! Which is why I can't get enough of cheap little projects like this! Recovered, custom door panels for less than what it would cost for a QUOTE at an automotive upholstery place :)

I had most of what I needed in the shop, spent $12 on the fabric, spray glue included you're still under $20. I don't really recommend just doing this for shits and giggles, it will depreciate the value of your car (even if done perfectly,) and if you arent careful with the clips on the bottom and break them, your doors will rattle until you fork over more $$$ for new clips. I did this to my car the first summer I got it, took the stock fabric off and replaced it with a layer of batting, grey velour and red velvet piping around the fabric. Looked great.. for a month! So first, here's what NOT to do... ;)

Don't skimp when you cut the fabric. Excess can always be trimmed but if you cut it too short there's no fixing it.
Don't use thin fabric!! If the glue bleeds through it your doors will look like shit. I used black fleece, worked out perfectly!
Don't assume it's easier to clean the overspray from the spray glue than it is to tape off the rest of the door. Take a few minutes before you start and tape off the rest of the vinyl with blue painters tape& newspaper

-Chalk/Paint Marker
-Spray glue
-Philips AND Flathead screwdriver
-Painters tape & newspaper

First you obviously have to remove the door panel,  a screw by the vent towards the front of the car, one  by the handle with your window switch, one by the handle to open the door(not pictured) and one in the bottom of the "cup" handle. Undo the clips to free the bottom and pull up (NOT out!) Once it's detatched if you have power windows separate the connector and do the other side.

From the backside undo the 5 or 6 screws holding the plastic handle on, keep them organized so you remember which metal piece goes where and in which direction. Now you can take the old fabric off. 

Lay down your old fabric over the new and use the chalk to trace a border 1-2" past the edge, cut it out and lay it over your bare panel. I test fit mine first, using a flathead to push the fabric into the groove and trimming as I helps to spray a tiny bit of glue in the curve of the door, and use that to hold it in place while you get the edges lined up. Make sure there's no loose fabric in the curve when test fitting! If the fabric isn't flush you'll rip the fabric out of the top the first time you or your passengers lean on the door. Don't ask me how I know. It helps to leave some extra fabric on the edges so that the material essentially holds itself inside those grooves.

Once your fabric is cut you can start gluing! Spray some adhesive onto the panel and wait for it to tack up, smoothing the fabric down while its still wet will cause the glue to bleed through, and I know you don't want to go through the cutting and test fitting again just because you were impatient. Take your time and do it right the first time.. pay extra attention to the curve where your arm would rest, I glued that first and worked my way out. The fabric might bunch up at the edges by the corners but smooth it out so the ridges get pushed towards the grooves.

...finished product coming soon!

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