Ask Sail: Another Headliner Nightmare

All the headliners and sidewalls covering the inside of my 1984 Beneteau First 30 have fallen down. The foam backing on the vinyl liners simply disintegrated over time.
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Erhard Sudermann of Austin, Texas, asks:

All the headliners and sidewalls covering the inside of my 1984 Beneteau First 30 have fallen down. The foam backing on the vinyl liners simply disintegrated over time. I purchased a replacement kit from Beneteau, and after removing the old liner and carefully cleaning the hull and deck surfaces, I glued up a new liner in the forepeak using glue supplied by Beneteau. Three years later the new liner came down again. The foam separated from the vinyl liner was still stuck to the hull and deck surfaces, and disintegrated to powder when touched. In several places the glue on the liner was still sticky. I’ve decided the best approach would be to remove all the foam backing from the new liner pieces, and then glue the vinyl directly in place. The foam peels off the vinyl fairly easily. What do you recommend I use for glue to be sure the vinyl stays put?

Don Casey replies:

never been the adhesive, unless the solvents in it have contributed to the disintegration of the foam backing. However, it is equally likely the cause of the foam’s demise is heat, something you have plenty of there in southern Texas. In either case, abandoning the foam strikes me as wise. Headliners are generally glued in place with spray upholstery or trim adhesive. 3M offers a number of suitable adhesives, of which its Hi-Tack 76 Spray Adhesive is probably the most popular. However, if your vinyl is bare, with no fabric or scrim backing under the foam you’ve removed, then 3M 80 Rubber and Vinyl adhesive might work better, especially in a hot climate. Similar products are also available from other companies.

(Ed note: check out “Mounting Overheads” to see how one boatowner dealt with this problem)

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