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Panel Headliner

February 15 2010 at 3:54 PM
Scott Cadle  (Login scadle)


I am about to replace the headliner in Trishna (1969 38' Commander Express) and have decided to use panels... three of them across the cabin. I will deal with the vberth after the main cabin is complete. I would really appreciate your guidance before diving into this project.

First, I have seen many folks refer to "door skins" as the best material for paneling. I live in Vienna, Virgina and have been unable to find this product anywhere! Tart Lumber, Smoot Lumber, local hardwood supplier, big box stores, etc. Is it worth tracking down? If so, where would I find it? Oh... the widest portion of the headliner is roughly 8' 6", so this would need to be a 9' or 10' product or my design altered.

If not "door skins", then what? Fir plywood? FRP? What product, in your humble opinion, balances cost with performance? Why? I suspect folks differ on this one. I would be OK with replacing a panel, for example, if it were damaged by water and the panel material cost were cheap. Thickness (1/8", 1/4")? Type of wood/material? I'm down the rabbit hole with all these options...

I'm thinking about insulating behind the panels with XPS (or similar) rigid insulation. It looks like I can fit between 1-1.5" inches into the voids between stringers. Do you think it will help? Does anyone have real-world experience with this? I'd like to know if it's worth the effort.

My first mate strongly prefers the unperforated headliner. I'm ambivalent and intend to support her. If ventilation through the headliner is so important, why are there boats with unperforated headliners? If the headliner is not perforated, there's no reason to perforate the panel (or buy perforated hardboard, for example), right?

I've seen many recommendations to use foam-backed headliner when mounting to panels, and plan to do the same.

I'm planning on cutting three (large) panels. Beyond using the existing headliner as a template, are there any tips or tricks to marking/cutting the panels to a tight fit?

Once the panel is cut to shape, I'll stretch the foam/vinyl headliner over it, staple with monel staples and mount the panels with 3M duo lock. Finally, I'll trim around the edges and across the two seams - making the trim removeable where need be to simplify maintenance.


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