The headliner of a car is basically the ceiling of the cabin. When you look up, you are looking directly at the headliner. As cars have evolved over the years, so did the headliner. The headliner is used to provide insulation from sound, protect the wires that run across the ceiling of the car, and cover the weatherproofing material. If you are restoring a classic car, then it is important to know what a headliner is and what fabrics you can use for an effective headliner.

Bow Headliner

If you have ever been in or owned a classic car from the 1960s or 1970s, then you may have remembered the headliner being a bit baggier than they are now. The original headliners were made using wooden or metal bows that helped the material to follow the contour of the car’s interior.

When you drive in a car with a bow headliner that has a rip in it, you can hear the headliner flapping in the breeze. Anyone restoring a classic car that originally had a bow headliner should retain that look using light materials. Vinyl or light leather are good choices, but avoid using heavy leather as that will sag over time.

Foam Formed Headliner

The new types of headliners are made of foam that has a fabric layer attached to it. The foam is fitted to the car’s ceiling, and is installed using adhesive, fasteners, or tucked under the trim that goes around the top of the car. A cloth or vinyl material is usually used as the finished look, and it can come in many different colors and textures.

Since adhesive is used to install some portions of a foam formed headliner, it is important to scrape all of the old foam off of the ceiling of your car before installing a new headliner. If you do intend to install a foam formed headliner into a classic car that did not originally have one, then be sure to utilize the professional services, such as the service we provide at All Glass and Upholstery, to perfectly fit the foam to the ceiling.

Headliner Materials

Just about any light fabric or material will do for a headliner, but there are certain materials that work better than others.


Vinyl is the preferred fabric for bow headliners, and it works good for foam formed headliners as well. Most shops buy just the vinyl and then cut it to fit the bows or the foam.

Synthetic Cloth

Synthetic cloth and cotton nap cloth are the other most common choices for bow headliners. This is a very light fabric that breathes well and is very durable. Vinyl has a reputation for tearing easily, while this fabric is much more durable.

Foam Back Cloth

Foam back cloth is the most commonly used cloth for newer vehicles that have foam formed headliners. This is a simple cloth that comes with the foam backing attached. You can install this directly to your overhead board to get the desired effect.

Foam Back Suede

If you are going for a bit of a luxurious look, then check out the foam back suede headliner. As with the foam back cloth, the foam back suede has the foam already attached and is ready for installation.

Foam Back Mossy Oak

If you like that natural look to your headliner, then go with the foam back mossy oak. This is a cloth printed headliner that gives a unique look to the interior of your vehicle.

If you want the right headliner installed properly in your classic car, then you should rely on professionals. All Glass and Upholstery has the experience and the tools necessary to give your car the finished and professional look that you want.