How to Vinyl Wrap Interior Panels

Updated July 19, 2017

A lot of cars use vinyl on some or all of their interior panels. Vinyl gives the appearance of leather at a lower cost and is easy to clean. Over time, vinyl-upholstered panels can become scratched, faded and damaged. If the panels are very damaged, the only way to make them look new again is to reupholster them. This can be done with the right tools in a few hours.

Remove the part to be wrapped from the interior of the vehicle. Interior panels are held on in a variety of methods. On older and classic cars, the panels may be screwed on, in which case the screws can be removed with a screwdriver so the panel can be pulled off. The panels may also be held on with clips, in which case you can slide a plastic tool between the panel and the door and gently pry it off. Consult a workshop manual for your vehicle for additional instructions, as this can vary widely from car to car.

Remove the old vinyl from the panel if it was upholstered. This can be pulled off and discarded. Clean the surface of the part with degreaser and a clean, dry rag. Wipe the panel down with white spirit and clean rag before gluing on the vinyl.

Lay the part face down on a piece of vinyl that is larger than the panel that is being covered. Make sure the surface of the vinyl that will be exposed is facing away from the panel.

Draw a pattern onto the back of the vinyl around the edge of the panel with a sharpie. Make the pattern about an inch or so larger than the panel so the vinyl can be pulled around the edge of the panel and glued onto the back.

Cut the pattern out of the vinyl with a pair of upholstery scissors. Vinyl is often thick so a larger pair of metal scissors will make the job of cutting the vinyl easier.

Lay the cut pattern face down with the side that will be glued to the surface of the interior panel face up. Spray a coat of upholstery adhesive onto the vinyl. Consult the directions on the adhesive for detailed instructions. Many spray-on adhesives work best when applied in several light layers. Allow the adhesive to dry for a minute or so until it is tacky.

Place the interior panel face down onto the back of the vinyl where the glue was sprayed on. Carefully turn the piece over and smooth out the vinyl against the panel, ensuring that the vinyl is pressed firmly against the glue.

Turn the piece back over. Pull the extra vinyl over the edge of interior panel. If necessary, apply additional glue to the vinyl. Press the vinyl onto the back of the panel and hold it for a second to ensure that it sticks. You can also use small upholstery clips to hold the vinyl to the panel while the glue dries.

Cut small triangle sections out of the vinyl at the corners of the panel before pulling them onto the back of the vinyl. Be sure to leave enough vinyl so it can still be pulled over the edge of the panel. Cutting out small triangular pieces will help minimise the vinyl bunching up at the corners.

Allow the glue to dry for several hours. Reinstall the panels in the opposite of removal. If the panels are held on with screws that go through holes in the panel, use a small punch or screwdriver to carefully make holes in the vinyl for the screwdriver to pass through.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdrivers
  • Miscellaneous tools (depending on the vehicle)
  • Degreaser
  • Rags
  • White spirit
  • Sharpie
  • Scissors
  • Spray adhesive
  • Vinyl
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About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.