How to upholster a dash

Written by rhonda gilmore
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Everyone enjoys a shiny car both inside and out. The sun beating down on the dash can cause fading and cracking. A dash that looks old can make a car look far less attractive and reduce its value. A newly upholstered dash will show that you take pride in your car as well as help maintain the car's value.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Vinyl fabric
  • Spray adhesive
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Silicone
  • Razor knife
  • Detergent
  • Scrub brush
  • Clean rags

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  1. 1

    Remove the dash and trim. Using a razor knife, clear away any loose vinyl and rotted foam. Trim the edges to prevent curling. Lay the dash out on the driveway and clean it well with detergent and a scrub brush. Rinse the dash with a garden hose and dry it thoroughly.

  2. 2

    Fill any cracks and holes with silicone. The silicone needs to reach the bottom of the holes and continue to the edges. When the silicone is completely dry, cut off any excess silicone, following the contours of the dash. A small imperfection in the repair will not be visible through the new fabric, but pay close attention to imperfections around areas of the front dash and ashtray area, as these will be visible once the dash has been completed.

  3. 3

    Place the fabric face down and put the dash top-down onto it. Mark the indented areas of the dash with a fabric pen. Trace the outline of the dash onto the back of the vinyl. Wrap the fabric around the dash leaving 2 to 3 inches of excess for gluing, and trim off extra fabric. Turn the dash over and spray everything down with the adhesive. Avoid spraying outside the outline and the marked indentions. Once the adhesive has cured, turn the dash over and place it on top of the fabric, lining it up with the previously made marks. Stretch the fabric over the dash, smoothing out any wrinkles and bubbles. Work from the centre out. Set the dash aside and let the adhesive cure to the top.

  4. 4

    Start working around the front and back edges of the dash, once the top has cured. Apply adhesive in these areas, and let it cure and stretch the fabric around. Be sure the fabric stays smooth and free of wrinkles by applying tension. Use epoxy on inside curves since the adhesive will not adequately hold.

  5. 5

    Finish by stretching the fabric around the dash edges and glue to the underside of the dash. Trim away excess fabric and cut "V" slots in certain areas of the fabric. Mix up a little 5-minute epoxy and spread a thick layer on the underside of the dashboard. Press the fabric onto it, smoothing out any wrinkles and bubbles around the edge. Hold the vinyl in place while working until the epoxy sets.

  6. 6

    Clean any stray adhesive with a clean rag and rubbing alcohol. Working one indention at a time, spread epoxy on the surrounding area; press and hold the fabric so it conforms to the contours, and allow to dry. Once dry, cut out the holes with a razor knife by making an "X" that extends almost to the corners of the larger holes. Stretch the flaps of the fabric around the bottom of the dash and glue into place.

  7. 7

    Reinstall the dash carefully and with patience. Do not force it into place because this may cause puckering of the vinyl or gouges in the dash. Reinstall any trim that was previously removed.

Tips and warnings

  • Let your dash dry in the sun.
  • It may take up to two days for the dash to completely dry.

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