Headliner Replacements


I recently completed the replacement of the almost 40 year old headliner on my I36 "Islander". Based on previously posted experiences of replacing headliners, I tackled Islander's headliner this past winter. Here are the details of my experience as I thought they may be of value to other owners contemplating this project.

Stripped out the old headliner and soft foam insulation.
Pulled countless staples and sanded the resulting rough areas.
Attached with screws and epoxy a 4" wide x 1/2" piece of plywood running down the centerline of the cabin top to attach a teak grab rail to. Additionally this strip served to determine a 90 degree angle for the strips running across the cabin.
Attached two layers of 2" wide by 1/4" thick exterior grade (but not marine grade) plywood using West System's six10 epoxy and 1/2" stainless flathead screws. The screws held the strips in place while the epoxy cured. Two layers were used to easily conform the strips to the cabin top curves.
Under the side decks where the aft lower shroud plates are I needed three layers to compensate for the added thickness.
The Reflectix insulation was glued to the boat between the plywood strips with a commercial grade 3M spray adhesive.
FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic) panels were cut to fit the various sections and mounted to the plywood strips with 5/8" flathead SS screws.
Instead of purchasing pre-made teak battens for the trim, I was able to locate enough recycled teak to be able to cut down and make my own battens (roughly 200' of 1/4" x 1 1/4") but this resulted in several different tones being added to the cabin. The trim wis finished with a semigloss water-based varnish before mounting.

Additional comments:

The whole project took a lot longer than I had expected and was about twice as expensive (about $950.00 total).
There are more staples than you can imagine and they leave a very rough surface that if not covered will need serious refinishing.
I used epoxy rather than 3M 5300 as I find the 5300 to be very messy and has a long curing time. The six10 epoxy, while expensive, was much easier to use and dried faster.
Buy the SS screws in bulk as you will use a lot of them.
Plan on making quite a few pieces of irregularly shaped trip for places like the companion way, the mast and in the head.
The added grab rail has definitely increased one's ability to move through the cabin in a more secure manner when heeling under sail.

Photos of the project are attached in a PDF format. Islander - Headliner Photos.pdf

Please be aware that I am more of a wood butcher than a woodsmith and I am sure that others could do a much better job of joinery than I.
Fair Winds,

Mike Reed, nwislander@comcast.net
Bellingham, WA



I am replacing my headliner with fiberglass panels instead of the Naugahyde that was originally there. I am concerned with insulation. I want to use something more that the thin foam that was there originally. Does anyone know about a good product? What about the vapor barrier? Should there be one? I don't want to cause condensation between the insulation and the cabin top. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Lorraine Hillman, lmhillman@yahoo.com



We couldn't decide whether to use panels, vinyl, insulation or what . . . so we had the entire cabin top faired and finished, then painted it all an off white. Sure provides easy access to topside hardware fasteners, etc. Brightened the interior and looks more modern.

Two-Can is a '74 I36. In addition to having the cabin top faired and finished, we had the cabin sides done the same way. We had tried an RV type fabric on the upper cabin sides, on top of the ruined veneer, but opted to remove it and finish everything smooth. Just need wood mouldings where the top and sides meet to finish. Our cabin top through bolts all have acorn nuts and SS fairing washers.

OK! Attached are jpegs of interior (cabin-top & sides), as well as the exterior, which has been 'modernized' by removing eyebrow moldings (big leak source) and teak rails (to be replaced yet). Cost was $2,500. Note the cabin-top to side moldings have not been done yet. We plan to finish carpet for the sole, so that and cushions should dampen sound somewhat. Hope this is helpful, we love it like this.

From Dan Knox: "This is just what I wanted Bill. Excellent shots. I am glad you like it, that's the important thing. It will definitely reduce the maintenance and $2500 is a lot cheaper than getting a new headliner. And look how easy it is to get to all the deck hardware. That's just great. But removing the eyebrow? I love that eyebrow!"

OK! Attached are jpegs of interior (cabin-top & sides), sending in batches. Cost was $2,500 and it took three weeks.

Last two, including our I36 w/o eyebrows. Also has been totally LP'd.

Bill & Ann Mottinger on the Two-Can, billmott2@charter.net

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Two-Can 1
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Two-Can 2
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Two-Can 3
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Two-Can 4
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Two-Can Dockside


We are interested in finding out what is being planned for headliner fixes. On Serenity we were looking at possibly doing cloth covered panels. We had to remove our headliner for access and it self destructed in the process. Since we have an early model (72), I think it would be difficult to fair and finish the overhead. The lateral trim pieces seem to make panels an obvious choice. We are in the process of looking for someone who can do the work for a reasonable price at this point. The fiberglass panels sound like and interesting option. Where are you getting the panels?

We are also looking at doing the aft lowers so information on what has worked for you would be appreciated.

Greg Mueller



We are in the same boat - so to speak. I'm thinking of using 1/8" plywood for the panels, covered by either a formica or even a carpet-type material (saw it at a boat show. Looked really cool.) held in place by teak battens.

We actually have some wet core that has to be dried out. Anyone else have a problem with this? Is the plywood core pretty resistant to rot? The cabin-top side veneer also needs to be replaced. Anyone done this?

Mike Finch, Willow, RCYC, Portland, OR, mfspike@aol.com



I used a product called Thinsulate bought at Home Depot for best price. Ca. 1/4" thick with an R-rating of R16 (very high). Strips (ca. 2' wide) of thinsulate were secured to underside of deck in between stips of yellow cedar battens (1"wide by 1/4" thick) with contact cement and stainless staples.

The thinsulate is basically bubble wrap with aluminum on both sides. The thinsulate keeps the boat's interior cool in summer and holds in the heat in the winter. The headliner was finished with yellow cedar tongue and groove strips running the full length of the cabin as well as two stips of teak for accenting.

The above was also done on the underside of the side decks above the seettes and the V-berth. I always get lots of compliments on the headliner. The above project was done after I decided I didn't want to replicate what SWAN have for headliner. I took pictures of the project but have yet to figure out how to post them as well as sending the above message to other Islanders. If you could be kind enough to forward to other members that you think would be interested it would be appreciated.

Hope to have helped you.
Fred Doujak, bawagner@uniserve.com
Cinnamon Girl




We replaced our headliner with Sequentia (fiberglass & polycarbonate panels) from Home Depot $30.00 for a 4x8 panel. We used the white with the rough side showing. They also come in off white, tan, and grey. 1/4" plywood strips(X2, one on top of the other = 1/2") were used for underneath the seams, for the outer wood trim to screw into and allow space for air and insulation. (1/2" plywood is not flexible enough to curve that is why the 1/4" X 2) 5200 was used for the plywood and a couple of very small screws just to hold until the 5200 was dry so we didn't have to go through the cabin roof.

For the insulation we used Reflectix. Orchard Supply carries. Great product and very easy to work with. R value of 8. Comes on a roll about 36" wide, approx. 1/2" thick. The insulation is tacked onto the underside of Sequentia and held in place by the outer battens and molding that are screwed into the plywood. 3/4" oval head ss screws with finishing washers on battens and trim make the panels easy to remove.

We used to have a lot of condensation on our boat (1975). We used the Sequentia and Reflectix as a liner, secured with 5200, in our lockers and storage areas. It has cut down the condensation a lot. Our clothes don't get moldy anymore.

Hi Cheryl and fellow 36'ers - a big "heat wave" how-arrrgh-ya from Minnesota (it's above freezing today!)

I responded to Lorraine's query as well about using Reflectix "bubble wrap" for insulation. Pretty snazzy stuff for sure.

I was curious though about your post regarding the Sequentia fiberglass / polycarbonate product. Any chance that you could post a picture or two of the finished install? The area I'm most curious about how you finished is the ceiling around the companionway entrance. As you likely know, the original vinyl headliner was stapled all around this perimeter (with approximately 12,000,000,000,000 little tiny staples, closely placed. Talk about a PITA to remove, especially when most were badly rusted and broken off!) ANYWAY, I'm curious how you finished the edge where the Sequintia edge went around the companionway entrance. The clearances and installation options in this area are particularly.....vexing.

Hal Newell,
Excelsior, MN
1977 3I6
Mariah in extensive refit.

Wow, what a response. I don't have a pic yet, can you believe that...but I will get one for you all tomorrow. Yes, we remember all the kazillion rusted staples! Ha! I will be sure to take a pic of the companion way, as well as the hatch area, as they were both creative and simplified. The battens run abeam.

These are the pics of our headliner for Dream Catcher. We used flex trim (West Marine) for the area around the companion way and part of the forward hatch. The forward area of the forward hatch we used hull striping tape. It is about 7 years old. We recently took the headliner off as our deck was painted and it was easy to take off and put back up. The hull striping tape was replaced.

Cheryl Lawson, asklepios8567@sbcglobal.net

S/V Dream Catcher

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Dream Catcher-1
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Dream Catcher-2
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Dream Catcher-3




We replaced the smelly composting old original headliner in FROLIC in summer '06. The new insulated headliner is white masonite cut from 4X8 sheets and trimmed with teak. Our steps:

- stripped out the old stuff & pulled the countless staples
- primed the cabin top
- screwed plywood frames to ceiling (ss screws) to support final headliner
- added wiring for new ceiling lights in salon and galley
- varnished (well, cetoled) interior wood and teak trim
- contact cemented reflective foil insulation
- installed precut white masonite (ss screws)
- installed custom teak trim (ss screws)

We hired a local pro cabinet maker to make the masonite and teak trim cuts, and to modify the companion way molding. See photos attached.

We've been very pleased with the result:

- No more moldy smell or moisture buildup despite rain, Baja HaHa activity, etc
. - easy removal for maintenance/modification/addition of deck hardware/ceiling wiring. We since pulled the mast to have the boat trucked and spars repainted, and everything went back together without incident!
- much more pleasing to the eye

A lot of work and $ but we wish we'd done it sooner!

Rick - Feel free to use the attached images in the web site. Note they also show some new FROLIC features:

- a new shelf we installed above and fwd of the chart table for radar and fluxgate compass
- the six new beckson opening ports we bought as part of the I36 group buy
- mid-ship ceiling grab rail for security underway

Steve & Susan Hodges, hodgmojo@cox.net

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Head ceiling understructure
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Main salon half & half
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Mast detail
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Port understructure
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Salon finished


Here are some more pictures from John Melton's Freedom won.

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Freedom Won # 1
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Freedom Won # 2
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Freedom Won # 3

----- Original Message ----- From: MDusanic@aol.com To: islander36-list@sailingsource.com Sent: Friday, January 18, 2002 1:13 PM Subject: Headliner Replacement
It's beginning to look like the headliners on my '80 I-36 are about to go. The original liner was held in place with plastic molding strips that had staples imbedded inside (so nothing shows) and the staples are rotting out in places. In other places the zippers are disintegrating.

Has anyone had experience in replacing the headliner?
Replacement ideas?
Did anyone use a shop that might still have patterns?
Did anyone try using strips of teak as replacements for the original plastic molding?


Matt Dusanic
Some Day
San Francisco




I think Mark Plastics either has to can direct you to a headliner replacement. I had gotten one (in 1987-88) from the old Go Industries, which became Mark Plastics.

The stripping is actually easy to put on, but get some Monel staples from a shipyard or order through West Marine. They take much, much longer to rust (they aren't supposed to, but after 20 years mine have rusted a bit.)

Be sure to get the insulation foam to put between the headliner and the cabin top - it's only about 1/8 or 3/16, but important. I was told to staple the center seam to the overhead first, then stretch each section fore and aft to the next seam and staple it, then snug down the port and starboard sides between each section. Repeat until you're in.

One big caution - you will have to remove (at least on my boat) the hand rail below the cabin ports, and the wire covers. You will have to find and dig out the wood plugs where the screws are. Because these were screwed up into the fiberglass, they will be tricky to re-install. DO NOT try to put in longer screws, and if you drill new holes (which I eventually did) be VERY careful not to drill up through the deck. The cabin top is relatively thin at that point, and I've got probably six spots where the drill and/or screw end came up through the deck.

I know Tenacious had a yard to their work - and I think it wound up costing a lot more than they planned.

As for the zippers - forget about replacing them. The part that zips corroded away long ago on my boat, so I simply took needle and thread and did a basting stitch along the zipper track to close it up. Doesn't take long and no one notices the difference. Of Course, if you replace the headliner, you can start over, and I guess the new zippers should be plastic and last longer.

Hope that helps. Keep us posted, and send along some pictures and details for the web site!

Clear Sailing,



From: ed weber [mailto:ewsailor@hotmail.com]
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2002 10:52 AM
To: grsalvo@pacbell.net








That is automotive headliner material. I just replaced some of it myself. Check
with your local auto upholstery shops. I had to call several before I found one
that would order it for me. If you can't find a local source, I have one in

Good luck.

Steve Schneider
707-745-0404 weekdays 9am-4pm

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