Written By Car Bibles Staff
Published May. 30, 2019

If there’s one thing that can make your car look old fast, it’s a sagging headliner. There is literally nothing worse than a peeling headliner above your head as you drive. There are many reasons why a headliner can start to sag; perhaps you took a road trip in a hot area or there’s dampness in your vehicle? The good news is that a damaged headliner can be relatively easy to fix with the right type of headliner glue. It’s a simple and cost-effective solution that can transform an old-looking headliner almost immediately.

There are quite a few different types of headliner adhesives on the market that vary in price and quality. In this article we look at the best value-for-the-money options to fix your car. Our buying guide helps you choose the best products and answers your most commonly asked questions.

The Best Headliner Adhesive

The 3M 3880 Headliner Adhesive makes a good choice for those who are looking to fix sagging or damaged headliners. This particular brand provides exceptional strength and can bond heavyweight materials in your car. The formula itself is super versatile and can be used to bond fabric, plastic and foam to metal, so you will be able to find multiple uses for this product. Not only can you use this headliner adhesive for headliners but other fabrics in your car too such as carpets. The aerosol can distribute a nice even layer on surfaces to create a nice even coat that looks both professional and neat. Another feature that we liked was that the formula dries in around 30-60 mins depending on the amount of spray that you have used. So this is perfect for fast jobs.

Key Features
  • Fast drying formula
  • Sprays evenly
  • Can bond fabrics to metal
Specification
  • Brand 3M
  • Model 38808
  • Weight 513g

This is a professional quality fabric adhesive which is perfect for car headliner repairs. What we liked about this particular brand was that it claimed to be high strength and high temperature and so it’s particularly good for repairing automotive headliners that are sagging or damaged and torn. This spray adhesive has been specially designed for repairing the interior of cars/trucks, SUVs and more. It’s perfect for loose fabric that has become detached and needs smoothing back with an even coat of glue. When used correctly, this spray will go on nice and evenly and dries clear too so your repair jobs look neat and clean. The glue itself is resistant to extreme weather conditions so you can feel confident that it can handle damp, cold, heat and water. The high temperature formula means that it can maintain its bond in high temperature – which is perfect for those that live in hot countries. This is a super versatile product that can be used to fix headliners, trunk linings, carpets, door panels, foam, fabrics, rubber and plastics.

Key Features
  • Versatile formula suitable for range of materials
  • High temperature solution
  • Water resistant
  • Easy to use
Specification
  • Brand Permatex
  • Model 27828
  • Weight 1.39 pounds

This well known brand offers excellent quality when it comes to headliner repairs. This is a spray adhesive that is super easy to use – in fact it should only normally take around 5-15 seconds to apply the upholstery glue to your headliner and then a further 5 mins to dry. This can either be a good or bad thing depending on how confident you are with repairs. The potential problem with super fast drying adhesives is that they don’t give you much time to fix the fabric in place. A feature that we liked about this particular product was that it was super versatile and can be used to fix a number of different materials in your car. Not only can it be used for headliners but you can also use this spray to fix carpets, plastics, trunk linings and door panels too – so this is a handy item to have in your garage and really good value for money too.

Key Features
  • Application time – 5-15 seconds
  • Drying time  – 5 minutes (air dry)
  • Versatile
Specification
  • Brand Loctite
  • Model 37312
  • Weight 1 pounds

When looking at the best headliner adhesive it was impossible not to include a Gorilla product as this brand has such an excellent reputation. This heavy duty adhesive is no exception and is really simple to use. It has a wide pad nozzle that produces a fine mist that is easy to control. It dries permanently and can bond wood, metal, fabric, foam, glass, leather and plastic. This spray adhesive has a non-yellowing formula too and one of the highlights of this particular brand is that it’s repositionable. Some other fast drying products don’t allow you much time to fix and position your fabric in place but with this Gorilla adhesive you have 10 minutes to position the fabric perfectly before it dries permanently.

Key Features
  • Repositionable formula
  • Non-yellowing formula
  • Versatile
  • Dries permanent
Specification
  • Brand Gorilla
  • Model 6314407
  • Weight 14.2 ounces

If you are looking for an extra-strength 3m headliner adhesive then this product might just be what you need. This product is a fast acting aerosol which provides a high strength adhesive formula. This is the perfect product for automotive repair and restoration projects and can create a very secure bond between insulation, foam, padding, vinyl and rubber to materials such as metal. The most common use for this fabric adhesive is installing headliners. It’s a strong formula that is resistant to heat, moisture and plasticizing oils. This adhesive is easy to use and fast too. You will need a few coats of adhesive to form the strongest bond and they dry quickly too.

Key Features
  • Heat resistant formula
  • Moisture resistant formula
  • Versatile
  • Fast acting
Specification
  • Brand 3M
  • Model 3004.7885
  • Weight 1.55 pounds

Those that are looking for a high strength adhesive will not be disappointed with this product which promises to bond a variety of materials including foams, fabrics, trims and more. The headliner adhesive dries super fast and forms a water-resistant bond which is clear when dry. One of the unusual features that really made this product stand out was that is has an adjustable valve which allows the user to fully adjust the spray pattern – this makes the glue super versatile as you can alter the spray pattern to suit the particular job at hand. The adhesive is also heat resistant up to 160 degrees which means it’s perfect for hot cars.

Key Features
  • Heat resistant formula
  • Forms water tight bond
  • Ideal for use with dei heat screen & boom mat materials
  • Fast drying
Specification
  • Brand Design Engineering
  • Model 010490
  • Weight 13.6 ounces

This headliner glue has been specially designed to bond with a variety of common materials such as trunk and door moldings, carpets, headliners, cut gaskets, vinyl tops, vinyl upholstery and more. What we liked about this product was that it has been designed to withstand extreme temperatures and is resistant to kerosene, anti-freeze, gasoline and most solvents too. This headliner adhesive is simple to use and fast drying too so perfect for quick jobs.

Key Features
  • Fast drying
  • Versatile
  • Can withstand extreme temperatures
  • Resistant to gasoline, kerosene & more
Specification
  • Brand Permatex
  • Model 81850
  • Weight 5.9 ounces

This particular adhesive spray has great reviews and we felt that one of the major selling points of this product was its versatility. The Scotch Super 77 Spray can tackle many different types of materials and is particularly effective with cushion foam, paper, plastic, metal, wood and cardboard. You can use this product on any lightweight materials and so we felt that it made a good choice for headliner repairs as it’s fast drying and effective. If you are looking for a product that isn’t too expensive, easy to use and can fix your headliner fast, then you won’t be disappointed with this Scotch Spray.

Key Features
  • Use on variety of lightweight materials
  • Forms strong, durable bond
  • Dries fast
Specification
  • Brand Scotch
  • Model 7716
  • Weight 14.8 pounds

We included another 3M product on our list because they have such a good reputation for being the best in the business! This aerosol provides a clear adhesive that can take on the job of headliner fixing no problem at all. This particular product has been designed for attaching lightweight trim such as trunk liners and upholstery cloth to other surfaces such as metal – so it’s 100% perfect for headliners. Another feature that we really liked was that the adhesive can be repositioned. Anyone who has ever tried to fix a headliner will know that super fast drying headliner adhesives can be tricky as they don’t allow you much time to fix the fabric in place. You won’t get that problem with this spray as you will have time to fix it into place perfectly. The spray also dries perfectly clear with no-yellowing so again it’s perfect for automotive repairs where it will be seen.

Key Features
  • Dries clear
  • Attaches lightweight trim materials
  • Repositionable
  • Perfect for headliners
Specification
  • Brand 3M
  • Model 08074
  • Weight 12.8 ounces

This product may not be an aerosol but it still will do the trick when it comes to headliner repairs. The Tear Mender is a natural and non-toxic formula that promises to form a permanent and flexible bond that is extra strong and waterproof too. The product promises to have over 101 different uses and is most commonly used to repair fabric, leather and vinyl. Due to its weather-resistant composition it’s perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. We recommend this glue for torn headliners and carpets which need to be fixed fast and easily.

Key Features
  • Dries clear
  • Forms waterproof bond
  • Non-toxic formula
  • Flexible bond
Specification
  • Brand Bish’s Tear Mender
  • Model TM-1
  • Weight 2.4 Ounces

Best Headliner Adhesive Buying Guide & FAQ

There are two different types of automobile owners in this world; those who pay large amounts of money to have their cars fixed and those who choose to take on the challenge themselves. If you are reading this guide then you have no doubt decided to fix your own headliner and let us tell you – you will save so much money doing this yourself! Below we have written a guide outlining what you should look for when it comes to buying a headliner adhesive and answered your most commonly asked questions.

Things to Look for When Buying a Headliner Adhesive

You can completely restore your car’s headliner when you use the right type of headliner adhesive. The trick is to know what to look out for as some adhesives could end up making your headliner look significantly worse and therefore cost you big dollars to fix!

Here are our top features:

  • Temperature Resistance

A question you may need to ask yourself before buying a headliner adhesive is this: is your car mostly hot or cold? If you live in a very hot or very cold country then this feature will be particularly important but regardless to the outside temperature, one of the most important features that you will want to look out for in the adhesive is temperature resistance. A standard rubber-based adhesive may not cut it when it comes to fixing your headliner as it may melt under the temperature of your car. Look out for an upholstery glue that can handle temperature changes for the strongest hold.

  • Ease Of Use

There are several types of headliner adhesive on the market: aerosol and liquid. Take a look at the repair and take note of its size. If you have an extensive area to cover then a headliner spray may be more effective than liquid. If it’s a small tear that needs fixing then liquid is usually adequate.

  • Repositionable

We think this feature is pretty essential as it allows you extra time to fix your headliner. If you have a super fast drying adhesive and a large surface area to fix then you’re not going to allow yourself much time to fix the fabric in place. With a repositionable adhesive it allows you a little extra time to make sure that everything is in place and looks neat and tidy.

  • Permanent Hold

This might sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many people use standard glue to fix their headliners then have to keep repairing the same spot again and again. Make sure you buy a permanent adhesive that has been specifically designed to handle headliner repairs. This was you won’t have to keep repairing it whenever the glue begins to lose its strength.

  • Compatibility

Always makes sure that the glue that you buy is 100% compatible with the fabric that you intend to fix. Otherwise you might find yourselves with a mess on your hands!

Why You Should Use a Headliner Adhesive

A headliner serves multiple purposes in your car. Not only does it make your car look better but it also provides essential insulation and protection. When the glue under your headliner wears away over time you may find that your headliner begins to sag and can even tear. Moisture and damp can also be very damaging to your headliner as it can soften the glue and again, make your headliner sag and deteriorate. If you don’t fix your headliner as soon as you see the problem then you can end up with a very expensive problem on your hands. It’s always advisable to fix car problems as fast as possible and with the adhesive being inexpensive and easy to use, you have no excuses not to! It’s also a good idea to look at the root cause of the problem too. If moisture or damp is causing problems in your car – maybe it’s time to fix this too? Otherwise you may find yourself fixing the problem again and again.

Types Of Headliner Adhesive

The problem many people make is to try fix their headliners with standard super glue. If you don’t use the right type of adhesive then you are only going to give your car a temporary fix that might cause you more problems in the long-run. You should always look out for the best quality headliner adhesives and make sure that the glue has been specifically designed for this purpose. There are several types of headliner glues on the market, let’s talk a little about what they are and how they work:

  • Liquid

Solid headliners adhesives work in the same way that aerosols work in that they are both compatible with fabric. You can use these types of adhesives alone or with a spray gun for ease of use and to cover larger areas.

  • Aerosol

This type of headliner adhesive is thought to be much easier to use as it comes in a can ready to be sprayed. You won’t need a separate spray gun to use this, just simply spray and event coat and then you’re ready to fix the headliner into place.

How To Fix a Falling Headliner

Fixing a broken, damaged or sagging headliner does not have to be a difficult job and you will find that it will greatly improve the look of your car or van. Not only is a damaged headliner ugly but it can be super dangerous too as parts can fall off and land on you as you’re driving. The first step in fixing a headliner is to choose the right headliner adhesive. Take a look at our guide first so you can decide which product is right for you.

  • Small Repairs

If you have a small tear or a little sag in the headliner material then this can be fixed in a matter of minutes. Otherwise you will need to read the following steps:

  • Clear Headliner

In order for you to fully repair the headliner and do a professional job that will last years then it’s best to remove the headliner entirely. You will need to remove the pieces that are attached to it such as screws etc use a flat head screwdriver to unscrew the headliner and then you’re ready for the next step.

  • Remove Lights

You will need to remove the dome light on your roof so you can then pull the headliner off gently, salvaging as much of it as possible, Place the headliner onto a flat surface and remove torn headliner fabric.

  • Remove Glue & Debris

You will need to prepare the surface for the new layer of glue and so it is essential at this stage that you try to remove as much old glue as possible as well as any debris or loose parts that are sticking to the surface. You should wear gloves to protect your hands.

  • Add Glue

At this stage it’s important that you ensure that the surface is totally clean and dry, this way you are going to get a stronger bond. Apply the headliner adhesive using nice even strokes (don’t ever glue the fabric), and create a nice even layer.

  • Apply The Fabric

This stage will be easier if you have used repositionable adhesive as it will allow you more time to fix the fabric into place. You will need to stretch the fabric over the headliner, ensuring that you smooth out the fabric to remove any wrinkles. Allow time for the adhesive to dry before installing the headliner back in place and reattaching the things that you have previously removed.

Best Headliner Adhesive FAQ:

Q: What is a Headliner in a Car?

A headliner is the material which is used inside your car and adhered to the inside roof. It’s normally manufactured from non-woven face fabric or foam backing. A headliner is usually composed of several layers of composite materials which are brought together. The look and feel of a car can change significantly with different materials. Another feature if a headliner is to create sound reduction in your car – imagine driving fast without any padding above your head!

Q: What is a Headliner Adhesive?

Headliner adhesive is the glue used to attach headliner fabric to the headliner in your car. You can buy liquid and spray adhesives and they all vary in quality and price. Headliner adhesive is used to fix headliner fabric that is sagging or damaged. Liquid adhesives are used with a spray gun whereas aerosols can be applied directly from the can. Using a headliner adhesive can greatly affect the appearance of your car as a sagging headliner is not only dangerous but looks ugly too! Popular headliner adhesive brands include: Gorilla, 3M and Scotch. Many people try to use standard glues as an alternative to headliner adhesives but they are not a good replacement as they tend to not be water-resistant or temperature resistant.

Q: Can I Paint Over Headliner Adhesive?

There should be no reason to paint over headliner adhesive as the sole purpose of headliner adhesive is to form a bond between the headliner and the headliner fabric. If you are looking to paint over a spot as there is a hole in the material then this shouldn’t be a problem as long as the adhesive is dry.

Our Top Pick

Our favorite headliner adhesive from the list was the 3M 3880 Headliner And Fabric Adhesive which is simple to use and fast drying. This is a well known brand that provides exceptional strength, bonding heavyweight materials to your car easily. We liked that this particular brand was so versatile and could be used to bond fabric, plastic and foam to metal, so you will be able to find multiple uses for this product. The aerosol is simple to use and can be used to distribute a nice even layer on surfaces that looks super professional and tidy! This formula dries in around 30-60 mins which was fast but not so fast that you don’t have time to reposition the fabric into place.

Sources:

  1. How to Remove Glue From Fabric – HowStuffWorks
  2. What Glue Do I Use for Upholstery Fabric? – Hunker

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