Scroll to the bottom of the page for the headliner video
Looking for more information on how to make a Jeep Wrangler hard top headliner or wondering why would you want a hard top headliner for your Jeep? It might sound like a reasonable question, and most people would first think that it is just good for appearance. While I will admit that is one of the reasons I wanted one, there are a couple of other reasons as well.
After painting the interior of my Jeep hardtop black, I thought that making a custom headliner would give the cabin that nice, finished feel. I never liked the factory white finish on Jeep hardtops and thought it was distracting and clashed with the otherwise dark components of the interior such as the black plastic trim and dark seat covers.
Interested in painting the interior of your Jeep hardtop? Check out this video and companion post to learn how.
So, what are the other reasons that you might want a hardtop headliner? These are the most common:
Sound Deadening ■ Insulation ■ Audio/Acoustics ■ Somewhere To Stick Velcro Morale Patches
Sound Deadening & Noise Reduction
I run Super Swamper TSL/SX tires on my Jeep. Given the tire’s aggressive lug pattern they have quite a bit of tire whine, especially at highway speeds. I have had several people comment that the tire noise is audible while talking on my GMRS or Ham radio.
While the hardtop does help block out some of this noise (the tire noise is even louder with the soft top on), I figured that the 1/2″ foam insulation board that I used for the headliner panels would help with noise reduction as well. So far I can say (anecdotally) it does indeed seem to help quiet some of the noise within the cabin.
You can buy material that is specifically designed for sound deadening and noise reduction such as Dynamat, but it is often quite expensive. A package of 9 pieces or 36 square feet of the Dynamat material is $160. While the Dynamat may perform better for its intended purpose, when you compare it to the $12.94 that the foam insulation board costs the Dynamat may not be worth all the extra money. If you are interested in using this type of material there are several cheaper alternatives available on Amazon.
Jeep Hardtop Insulation
We all know that Jeeps are designed to be out in the elements, but if you live in an area where it can get very cold or very hot you may appreciate the insulation that a headliner can offer for better climate control.
The foam insulation board that I used is intended for building or home insulation purposes, but it is made of polyisocyanurate foam that is bonded to a thin aluminum layer of metal-type material on each side. Basically what that means is that the board is a rigid foam that is coated with aluminum foil that helps reflect warm or cool air off of its surface and back down into the cabin of the Jeep.
Audio / Acoustics
This reason was not really a consideration for me, but certain headliner and insulation materials have the ability to enhance audio sound and make it more natural and rich. There are also other mat type materials that are designed for acoustic enhancement and primarily work by reducing the noise entering the vehicle and vibration.
Buy Vs. DIY
There are a number of pre-manufactured hardtop headliners on the market from companies like Hothead Headliners, Boom Mat and even OEM ones from Mopar. In newer Jeeps (JK, JL, JT) these headliner kits usually consist of multiple pieces that are adhered to the hardtop panels. The factory white finish is still visible as well (unless you paint it). The pre-made headliner kits are expensive, starting around $200 going to to $500+ depending on the brand and model you select.
For comparison, the total cost of the materials I used for my headliner project was $112.54. Most of that cost was actually for the heavy-duty mounting tape that I used to attach the headliner panels to the hardtop. Watch the video below to learn more.
I knew that I wanted a charcoal or heather gray type color for my headliner material. I checked eBay and found a few listings for “automotive interior upholstery headliner fabric” but after looking at the images I wasn’t crazy about the texture that most of these fabrics have (they look “ribbed” in the photos).
Thankfully I didn’t have to search to far to find what I was looking for. I ended up using a “heather charcoal trunkliner” fabric from Sailrite. According to the page for this fabric, it is made from dyed synthentic fibers and is UV resistant to fade and also mildew and stains. More details are included in the list of materials below.
Before we get started I’d like to ask you for a favor. If you find this post useful please consider supporting this site by purchasing any of the items listed above through the links provided above. The links to Amazon are affiliate links, and the small commission that I may earn keeps this site running so I can continue to provide helpful information.
I used the following products for this project:
■ Sailrite Trunkliner Charcoal Fabric 54″ – Sailrite (2 yards)
■ Rmax R-Matte 1/2″ x 4′ x 8′ Foam Insulation Board – Home Depot (1 board)
■ Scotch Blue 1.41″ Painters Tape (Masking Tape) – Amazon (1 roll)
■ Gorilla Glue Heavy Duty Spray Adhesive – Amazon (1 can)
■ Gorilla Glue Heavy Duty Mounting Tape – Amazon (8 rolls)
■ Xacto Black Gripster Knife – Amazon
■ Fabric Scissors – Amazon
■ Straight Pins – Amazon
■ Kreg Multi-Mark Tool – Amazon
■ ECKWRAP 4″ Plastic Felt Edge Squeegee – Amazon
As mentioned above, the total cost for the fabric, foam insulation board, painters tape, spray adhesive and heavy-duty mounting tape was $112.54.
Most of this cost is actually in the Gorilla Glue Heavy-Duty mounting tape because it is around $8.00 per roll, and I ended up using 8 rolls with a little left to spare. Gorilla Glue also makes a “regular” mounting tape that is about $6.00 per roll, or you could also just use the spray adhesive to attach the headliner panels to the hardtop. I used the heavy-duty mounting tape for my tailgate table project and it has held up well, so I decided to use it for the headliner as well.
Prep – Overview & Materials: 0:43
Step 1: Measure & Cut Panels – 3:55
Step 2: Prep & Cut Fabric – 15:22
Step 3: Attach Fabric To Foam Board & Install – 20:30
NOTE: My Jeep is a 2004 (TJ) and the video demonstrates the steps for a Jeep TJ hardtop headliner, but I think you will still find the video useful as the general steps are the same for a JK, JL or JT hardtop (2007-current). The video also includes detail on how to fold the fabric around the edges of the foam board and upholster it in general.