Best Headliner Adhesives: Neatly Repair Loose and Detached Headliners
Help your headliner hold up with these top headliner adhesives
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PUBLISHED ON August 16, 2019
A sagging headliner can turn any ride into an aesthetic nightmare. With the proper headliner adhesive, you can easily re-glue your headliner so it looks and hangs like new. Our buying guide offers some insights and helpful tips so you can not only find the best headliner adhesive but also make the DIY fix a one-time-only repair.
- Best Overall3M Super 77 Spray AdhesiveSummarySummaryWith an industrial-grade formula, this headliner adhesive from 3M bonds with a variety of materials for a lasting hold.ProsPros3M makes its multipurpose adhesive bondable to materials used in a variety of hobby projects. The low overspray mist pattern also cuts down on cleanup.ConsConsBecause 3M sells this can in a 16.75-ounce can, you may need more than one for a complete headliner, even if it’s just for a small sedan.
- Best ValueLoctite General Performance Spray AdhesiveSummarySummaryThis translucent, general-purpose adhesive dries clear and bonds a variety of porous and non-porous materials together.ProsProsLoctite’s headliner adhesive can be used for both temporary and permanent bonds and dries in less than 10 minutes.ConsConsThis is not the strongest formula Loctite offers, so for headliners that are heavier than normal, you may need to choose a different product.
- Honorable MentionGorilla Heavy-Duty Spray AdhesiveSummarySummaryGorilla is well known for heavy-duty bonding, and this adhesive product is no exception. Moisture-resistant for indoor and outdoor use, Gorilla’s spray adhesive provides an even application.ProsProsRepositionable for up to 10 minutes, this adhesive from Gorilla is also photo-safe. The non-yellowing formula and wide pad nozzle make it a strong alternative pick.ConsConsGorilla cautions customers to refrain from using this product on anything containing vinyl or rubber because it may cause an adverse reaction.
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Benefits of Headliner Adhesive
- Save time. You will save time by using headliner adhesive to repair your car’s existing headliner. You won’t have to worry about tracking down the right material, choosing the proper foam, or cutting it to the proper length and shape.
- It’s a cheaper alternative. Buying and installing a new headliner can be costly and time-consuming. Avoid the hassle by using headliner adhesive to re-stick the headliner that’s already in place.
- Use it on other interior materials. Headliner adhesive can also be used on a variety of other interior parts. If the cloth panels in your interior are sagging and need some help, try some headliner adhesive before you replace them completely. Headliner adhesives can also double as fabric adhesives to repair upholstery.
- It lasts a long time. This product provides a long-term solution to a droopy headliner. You won’t need to reapply the adhesive right away like you might need to with other, more temporary solutions.
- It’s an easy DIY project. Reattaching your headliner fabric is something you can easily do in your own garage, whether you choose to simply replace your headliner with a new piece or put up a custom headliner of your own.
Types of Headliner Adhesive
Most headliner adhesive is applied with an aerosol can. These cans range anywhere from 12 to 18 ounces and are equipped with even-spray nozzles that distribute the product over a wide area. Spray or aerosol adhesives are typically easier to use than contact adhesive because the nozzle takes care of providing an even layer, which helps ensure a cleaner, finished look. Some spray adhesives, however, may not work well when sprayed in the upside-down position.
Contact or Roll-On
Contact adhesives are also called roll-on adhesives. They typically use a roller or brush to coat the automotive material as you would if you were painting. It’s harder to get an even coating with a contact adhesive as you have to be more consistent with your layering to achieve a desirable finish. At the same time, you can be more heavy-handed in areas that need more adhesive and less with those that don’t. You might also hear contact adhesive referred to as contact cement.
Founded in 1902 and headquartered in Minnesota, 3M is well known as a superior brand in the automotive industry. Its HI-Strength 90 Contact Adhesive can be a powerful solution for heavyweight or thick car headliners.
Headquartered in Germany, Loctite was founded in 1956. Continuing to set the bar high with its above-average products, Loctite also offers its take on a High Performance Spray Adhesive. Search for and consider Loctite products the next time you’re working on your vehicle.
Based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, Gorilla has been in the adhesive business for over 20 years. If you’re looking for a tight bond as you work on your car, make sure you’ve got the Gorilla Super Glue Gel on hand.
Headliner Adhesive Pricing
- $5-$10: Most spray adhesives will be priced at this entry-level point. Typically found in 12- to 18-ounce cans, these spray adhesives can vary in strength. However, if you’re looking for the strongest adhesives, you’ll have to pay a bit more for the added security.
- $12-$30: Name brands such as 3M, Loctite, and Gorilla are common in this price range. These products are typically packaged in a spray can but can also be found in contact adhesive form. You may even be able to pick up multiple cans at this price point.
- Over $40: If you’re looking for a bond that will never let go, you’ll probably have to pay upwards of $40. Some high-strength 3M products can be found at this price point as well. Though most products around the $20-$30 marks should bond just fine if you want a one-time solution you may want to consider products in this price range.
Working on your vehicle’s headliner can be a pain in you know what. Fighting with an adhesive product should be the least of your problems. The best headliner adhesives will make it easy to not only spray or roll on the product but also to maneuver the materials into place and reposition them as needed before setting. An even spray pattern or even a roll-on application makes a huge difference as well.
This one’s a bit of a catch-22, but the best headliner adhesive products will allow you to reposition the materials as needed and then dry quickly. That way you can get on with your day and avoid the hours-long wait time that prevents you from using your vehicle during the drying period.
Long-Lasting and High-Strength
Repairing or replacing your headliner shouldn’t be something you have to do every time you get an oil change. You should only have to complete the job once, or at worst twice, in a car’s lifetime. The best headliner adhesives will do the job right the first time, so you won’t have to repeat the job. That also means they should be high-strength and bond the headliner materials once and for all.
You may buy headliner adhesive specifically to use on your vehicle, but the best car adhesives should also be useful in a variety of other situations. Whether you use the adhesive in or on other parts of your vehicle or in the garage, house, or shop, the best headliner adhesives earn their keep and solve a variety of problems.
- Repair Versus Replace: Though the best headliner adhesives will do a lot to revive even the most decrepit headliners, sometimes installing an entirely new piece is the best route. You won’t have to fight the old material, and you shouldn’t have to make the same repair for quite some time.
- Quantity: If you’re working with a small vehicle’s headliner, one 16- to 18-ounce can should get the job done. However, if your vehicle is bigger, you might consider purchasing two or even three cans of headliner adhesive, depending on the extent of drooping. As we mentioned earlier, headliner adhesives can be versatile, so there’s bound to be other instances where the leftover adhesive comes in handy.
- Professional Versus DIY: Headliner adhesive products help both the DIY enthusiast and professional upholsterer. However, you should ask yourself how far you’re willing to go to get the headliner repaired and/or replaced. Would you rather tackle the job on your own or pay a professional to get the job done right? Consider the level of effort you’re willing to put in before you take on this project.
Best Headliner Adhesive Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive
Most auto enthusiasts are familiar with 3M due to its reputation and a strong lineup of products that make a variety of automotive jobs less of a hassle and more of an adventure. We chose the 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive as our top pick for the best headliner adhesive for a variety of reasons, but we encourage you to check out the product for yourself as well.
3M offers a lot of desirable features with this Super 77 spray adhesive. Its industrial-grade gives away the high-strength formula hidden within the 16.75-ounce bottle. The experts at 3M engineered the product to have a low overspray mist pattern, so you won’t have to worry about a messy work surface. The Super 77 spray adhesive also has a low soak-in/yellowing effect, and the soft glue lines allow for a more even application for better end results. This product adheres to a variety of materials, from paper and cardboard to fabric, plastic, and metal. Bonding in anywhere from 15 seconds to 30 minutes, 3M headliner adhesive provides superior adhesion for when you need it most.
The only drawback we could find with 3M’s product lies in the quantity you receive. For most headliners larger than ones in an average sedan, you’ll likely need to purchase multiple cans to get the job done. However, 3M engineers gear their products towards beginners and professionals alike.
Best Value: Loctite General Performance Spray Adhesive
Loctite is a brand synonymous with a strong bond that you can depend on. Its spray headliner adhesive is no exception. The Loctite General Performance Spray Adhesive won our value pick for the best headliner adhesive because it provides you with a clear finish that improves the overall look of your final product. Keep reading to find out more about our value pick.
One of the biggest reasons Loctite’s spray adhesive caught our eye is its versatility. This product will bond to a variety of porous and non-porous materials, from foam and leather to fabric, foil, and metal. Loctite can be used in various quantities for both temporary and permanent bonds. The formula takes only 10 minutes to dry but is easily repositionable. Loctite bottles its adhesive in a 13.5-ounce can be equipped with a convenient nozzle and replaceable cap. For general purposes, including headliners, Loctite’s spray adhesive provides a good finish and superior bond.
The biggest concern that we have with Loctite’s General Performance spray adhesive is that it might not be the strongest when compared to its competitors. Headliners with particularly bulky materials may need a heftier formula to achieve the best bond. That being said, Loctite makes its product available to a wide variety of users with all experience levels.
Honorable Mention: Gorilla Heavy-Duty Spray Adhesive
We bet you recognize the gorilla on this spray adhesive can. Gorilla and it’s various gluing products have a reputation for strong bonds similar to many of our choices for the best headliner adhesive. We couldn’t complete our list of best headliner adhesives without it. This multipurpose, heavy-duty spray adhesive product is our honorable mention for the following reasons.
First and foremost, Gorilla makes it's adhesive clear and water-resistant. The 11-ounce can contain a product that works both indoors and outdoors, so even if your headliner gets wet, the spray adhesive should still keep its bond. Gorilla makes its product repositionable for up to 10 minutes after application, so you can achieve the perfect fit before the glue takes hold. The wide-pad nozzle aids in an even application. Gorilla’s adhesive is photo-safe and meets a volatile organic compound (VOC) standards to provide a non-yellowing, heavy-duty bond.
Our concern with the Gorilla spray adhesive is that you cannot use it on vinyl and rubber. For some headliners, this could be a deal-breaker. At the same time, Gorilla’s Heavy-Duty Spray Adhesive is a viable alternative that nearly anyone can use with success.
- When working with headliner adhesives, consider environmental conditions. Headliner glue can be extremely volatile and should be used in a well-ventilated area. You should also wear eye protection and gloves to prevent the glue from adhering to your body.
- If you're replacing your old headliner, don't throw away the headliner form. Use it to create a template for the new headliner. Depending on the fabric material you choose, you may need to cut the material shorter or longer to fit.
- Headliner adhesive can also be used as a carpet adhesive or to repair trunk linings or door jamb gaskets. Headliner adhesive doubles as interior trim adhesive, too.
- Many luxury automotive companies fit their vehicles with superior sound reduction panels in the headliner, among many other locations. If you're replacing your headliner and want to deaden exterior noise, consider including a panel of sound-reducing material.
- Headliners can be made of different materials that will react in a variety of ways. Extreme weather conditions may cause headliners to fail prematurely. Purchasing a high-temperature spray adhesive may go a long way in reducing this damage as the heat-resistant formula protects the adhesive's bond. Carpeting can react in a similar way.
Q: How can I dissolve or remove the old adhesive on my headliner?
A: Removing old adhesive can be a lengthy and often frustrating process. Once you have the headliner off the vehicle, we recommend using a clothing steam cleaner to separate the layers. This same process can be done within the vehicle, but you should take extra care to avoid areas where you don’t want to remove the adhesive.
Q: How long should I let the headliner adhesive set before I drive/use my car?
A: Read the instructions on the product as the manufacturer will typically include directions on set times. However, you should allow at least a day of warm temperatures to give the adhesive enough time to bond properly.
Q: Do headliner adhesives smell?
A: Most headliner adhesives are low in odor, but look for the low VOC content products if this is a characteristic you’re concerned about. If the odor is something you know will affect you, consider wearing a mask during application.
Q: Where can I take my vehicle to have the headliner professionally replaced?
A: Most professional body shops should have the ability to replace headliners. Each will have their own price and repair times. Though we encourage you to try repairing your own headliner before choosing the professional route, we understand it can be a large job for someone with little experience.
Q: Where can I find replacement headliners or order custom headliners?
A: Amazon typically stocks headliners for a variety of vehicles, new and old. If your vehicle is relatively new, your local dealership should be able to order and install a replacement headliner. Search custom upholstery shops in your area as well to see if they replace headliners.
We chose the 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive as our top pick. The combination of brand reputation and product ability makes this one a sure pick for any skill level.
Consider the Loctite General Performance Spray Adhesive if you’re watching your budget. This versatile product dries clear for a superior finish.