How to Remove the Upholstery on Door Panels

Written by brenda priddy
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How to Remove the Upholstery on Door Panels
Removing car door upholstery is a simple process. (car door handle image by robert mobley from

Older cars often used regular upholstery, vinyl or leather as coverings for side door panels. Over the years these panels will decay, become mouldy or fail to match replacement interiors. When this happens, it is necessary to replace the door upholstery with new fabric, vinyl or leather. You can hire a professional to remove the old upholstery, or you can complete the process on your own. This project should take less than a day.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Razor
  • Wrench
  • Ratchet set
  • Old towels
  • Small bucket or container
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Assistant
  • Plastic sheeting or cardboard

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  1. 1

    Open the car door. Locate the wiring connecting the power windows and mirrors to the interior of the car. Disconnect the wiring from the car door so that you can remove the door from the car. You may have to use a flathead screwdriver to pop out plastic pieces covering the wiring connectors, or a Phillips screwdriver to unscrew the door panels to reach the wiring connections. Place any loose screws into a small container so you don't lose them.

  2. 2

    Locate the bolts and hinges holding the door in place. Find the right size ratchet to fit over the bolts. Unscrew the bolts with the ratchet. Have a friend or assistant hold the door in place so that it does not suddenly fall from the car after you loosen the screws. Place the bolts inside the container.

  3. 3

    Spread some old towels out to cushion the door when you place it on the ground. Gently lower the door on top of the towels.

  4. 4

    Cut into the edge of the door upholstery with a razor blade. Make sure not to cut into the cardboard or plastic sheet under the upholstery protecting the door mechanisms and metal. Pull the upholstery away from the door. If it is glued down, this may require some force.

  5. 5

    Cut around the edge of the upholstery, leaving about 3/8 inch on all sides so you can glue the new upholstery into place later. Gently pry the upholstery from the door panel. Try to leave the upholstery in one piece so you can cut the replacement piece to the right size.

  6. 6

    Inspect the cardboard or plastic sheet for damage. If the plastic or cardboard is damaged, cut a replacement piece. Remove the old cardboard or plastic and replace it with a new sheet. You can order replacement sheets from an auto bodyworks garage.

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