How to Reupholster Car Doors

Written by brenda priddy
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How to Reupholster Car Doors
Replacing car door upholstery is a simple process. (car door image by Albert Lozano from

Many older cars used vehicle upholstery on the door frames as an alternative to vinyl or wood. Upholstery was inexpensive, and looked attractive for many years. However, at some point nearly all upholstery must be replaced. You can replace the upholstery over a car door easily with a few simple tools. This project will take about two hours per door frame.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Putty knife or utility knife
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Scissors
  • ½ inch thick foam
  • Spray adhesive

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  1. 1

    Find the screws holding the arm rest in place. Unscrew the screws with a screwdriver. Gently pull the arm rest away from the car door. Most upholstered panels were used in vehicles that did not have automated window levers, so it should be easy to pull the arm rest away from the door. Disconnect any wires, if necessary.

  2. 2

    Unscrew the door handle plastic from behind the door handle. Remove the plastic and set aside. You may have to break the bond between the handle and the door if it is glued. To break the bond, slide a putty knife or utility knife around the edges of the plastic before removing it.

  3. 3

    Pull off any door clips holding the panel in place. Use a screwdriver to release the clips. Unscrew any other screws holding the frame in place around the edges of the panel. Pull the panel away from the door.

  4. 4

    Remove the original upholstery from the door. You may have to use a knife or putty knife to break the adhesive bond between the door and upholstery.

  5. 5

    Lay the original upholstery over a piece of fabric. Cut around the outline of the upholstery with scissors. Cut out any holes for the door or armrest.

  6. 6

    Cut the foam to the same size as the upholstery. Glue the upholstery to the foam with spray adhesive. Tuck the excess upholstery fabric around the back of the foam and glue into place to hide the raw fabric edges.

  7. 7

    Glue the new upholstery around the door panel. Screw the panel back in place against the car door.

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