4 Car Headliner Alternatives (Explained)

A car headliner has more uses than just beautifying the interior. It also acts as insulation for noise and temperature. Without a headliner, the temperatures outside would be easily transferred to your cabin, which would interfere with comfort.

Secondly, the interior would be very noisy. Even though car headliners are one of the most durable parts of a car, they can start to sag or get damaged after several thousand miles. If that happens, you are usually left with one choice: replace the headliner.

If this is your second or third time replacing the headliner, you may be searching for a more permanent alternative. The same applies if you are interested in a much cheaper option than replacing the headliner.

Below we will go through some possible headliner alternatives and whether they are worth spending time and money on.

car headliner alternatives

What Are Some Car Headliner Alternatives?

1. Foam Backed Alcantara

You can be as creative as possible regarding the material to put on your car headliner. One of the materials we find an excellent alternative is a foam-backed Alcantara.

Now it’s available on Amazon and other popular e-commerce stores. It comes in a wide range of colors. Therefore, that means you have the option to mix and match with the interior.

Foam-backed Alcantara is very easy to install. All you need is quality glue. Please ensure that the glue you choose is designed to work with Alcantara.

If it doesn’t, the roof could start sagging after a while. The installation process will be hectic because you must measure and cut off any excess Alcantara. This material is durable, and if installed correctly, it can last very long on your car roof.

2. Carpet

Another headliner alternative is a carpet-like material. Carpets can be used for more than just decorating homes. They are great alternatives to car headliners.

They may not look as good but will get the job done. When buying a carpet for your car, ensure that you get the one built for automotive or marines. It’s lighter, stronger, and more resistant to mold.

Since carpets are very flexible, they are easy to install. You have to make sure you buy it in excess so that certain parts are not left uncovered.

3. Vinyl

When looking for car headliner alternatives, prepare to come across some interesting ideas. For instance, there are car owners who think that vinyl would be an excellent alternative for a headliner.

According to our expert opinion, using vinyl as a headliner alternative is a viable idea. However, you will have to find the lightest vinyl on the market.

Vinyl is quite heavy and can’t be compared to the fabric you see on headliners. Getting vinyl to stick using spray adhesives will be tricky. You may have to result to using epoxies.

However, before proceeding with using vinyl as a car headliner alternative, please check and confirm that this is the best-looking material for your headliner.

4. Applying Thick or Bedliner Paint

As mentioned above, not every alternative is the best option. There are a couple of car owners who have considered thick paint or bed liner as an alternative to a car headliner.

If you go with this option, you would have to remove everything on the roof, sand it, and then paint it. Depending on your skills, it could look really good or very messy.

The good news is that if it doesn’t look pleasant, you would buy headliner material and install it over it.

Is It a Good Idea to Consider Car Headliner Alternatives?

The above three are some of the possible car headliner alternatives. While you were going through them, you obviously had some question marks, didn’t you?

Everything in this world has an alternative, but that doesn’t always guarantee it will be better or more effective than the original.

Most of these car headliner alternative ideas aren’t worth spending time on. For instance, when you decide to replace the headliner with paint. You should forget about sound and noise insulation. Also, there is a huge chance that your car’s interior may not look good.

Likes of vinyl, this material is heavy, and getting it to stick to the roof of your car won’t be easy. The only alternative that seems doable is the foam-backed Alcantara.

Irrespective of your reasons for looking for car headliner alternatives. You need to understand the risks and drawbacks that come with these alternatives.

It would be best if you then compared them against what it would cost you to perform a normal headliner replacement and retain a nice-looking interior, noise, and heat insulation.

Can You Make Your Own Headliner?

As you can see, there are several headliner alternatives. That means you can make your own headliner. All you need to get access to is a quality fabric or material. You will need to be crafty and creative.

It’s important to add some foam insulation between the roof and the headliner material. That will insulate heat and sound.

Making your own headliner is a bit hectic and complex when you consider the fact that there are headliner kits sold on the internet. All you have to do is get one and perform the installation.

Is Headliner Repair or Replacement Expensive?

It’s important to know how much headliner repairs and replacements cost to determine whether it’s worth channeling your resources into the above alternatives. You have to understand that headliner repairs are not very expensive, and so are the replacements.

Professional headliner repair costs range from $150 to $300. With this option, you get a new headliner that has been installed by an expert. Also, a professional installation ensures better aesthetics and performance in terms of insulation.

If this seems too expensive, you can buy a headliner replacement kit for $50 to $100 and install it yourself. This latter option is more appealing to DIY enthusiasts.

When you compare these costs, there is no need for you to engage in odd alternatives such as painting the roof of your car with a bedliner or gluing vinyl.

When you also compare options such as carpet and foam-backed Alcantara, the costs of the raw materials for such a project are almost the same as those of buying a new headliner kit.

Car Headliner Alternatives vs a DIY Headliner Installation Kit

If your headliner is sagging or damaged beyond repair, you will eventually have to choose between an alternative or an installation kit. Between these two options, we recommend a DIY headliner installation kit.

We have already established that from a price point of view, whether you choose the alternatives or the kit, the cost will be the same. Therefore, there are no monetary savings with either option.

With the above in mind, a headliner installation kit is the best option. It contains the ideal fabric and foam backing used in a typical car.

All you have to do is follow the correct installation requirements, which will look as good as new. Even though carpets and foam-backed Alcantara does a similar job, they may not look better. Also, they may not give you the best insulation.

Does a Car Need a Headliner?

As we explore headliner alternatives, it is also important to emphasize the importance of a headliner. Rarely will you see a car without a headliner.

Even though most people don’t give headliners the importance and relevance they deserve, driving a car without one can be quite uncomfortable.

Headliners insulate the roof of your car and prevent heat from passing through. Without it, your car would be very hot. They also soundproof the vehicle and minimize noise.

These are crucial factors that determine your and your passengers’ experience in a car. Don’t also forget that headliners beautify the cabin. Your car would look odd without a headliner.

Can You Use Any Material for Headliners?

Absolutely not. If that were the case, we would see all sorts of materials on the roofs of cars. The best material for a headliner should offer advanced insulation, and it should also be light enough to sit on the roof without sagging.

Heavy materials tend to come off pretty easily. Headliner fabric should be light and aesthetically appealing. Don’t also forget to consider durability.

If you choose a material that degrades quickly, you will always be repairing your headliner. Therefore, as you weigh various headliner alternatives, ensure they meet the above criteria.

How Long Do Car Headliners Last?

Car headliners have a relatively long lifespan. Did you know that a factory headliner can last for 12 years? Most people don’t even own the same car for 5 years, let alone 10.

With such a lengthy lifespan, it’s best to ensure any repairs or replacements are done professionally. Most backstreet headliner alternatives don’t last very long. You may end up fixing them all the time.

If you have a headliner that keeps sagging, inspect for leaks or use a stronger adhesive. It’s also crucial to know that the type of adhesive used heavily determines the longevity of the headliner.