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Old 08-17-2022, 12:10 PM   #1
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DIY Saloon Headliner Installation

I have benefitted for years from TFers that have posted their projects. This is a relatively minor improvement project, run on a budget, that may constitute a little help to someone.

This project started with the addition of a Garmin chart plotter/radar installation. I added a mast (I just don’t like radar arches for no particular good reason) aft of the saloon for the radar. This resulted in needing wire runs through the saloon overhead to the flybridge. The original fabric headliner, still in good shape, needed to be removed to accommodate the wire runs. 28,000 staples later, it was removed, leaving this:
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Old 08-17-2022, 12:12 PM   #2
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Following the radar installation, the replacement overhead covering needed to be addressed. In the future I wanted to be able to access the overhead for maintenance/additions. This drove the need to have reasonably easy to remove system. Further, whatever material needed to accommodate the curvature of the overhead deck. I looked at the idea of Velcro attached upholstered panels like some newer Hats and Vikings use but rejected that as just too fussy and spendy. I also wanted to add an overhead handrail – this was sadly lacking in the original configuration. This deliberation went on for a good while – think months.

Then I ran into a guy in my marina who owns a beautiful “picnic” style 32 footer with everything aft of the helm station covered with a hardtop. Beautiful boat, all brass hardware, and in perfect shape, built in the 80s. I can’t recall the boat brand. Similar concept boat shown below. He gave me the tour and I noticed the interior overhead of the hardtop – exposed to weather – no side curtains – was a glossy white hard surface with teak battens. I inquired as to the material and was stunned when he told me it was Masonite. He had just replaced one panel due to a leak and challenged me to find it. The rest were original to the boat, lasting 30-40 years. Unbelievable. I contacted the yard that did the replacement and inquired where they found the material – Lowes. Precoated 4x8 Masonite – identical to original.
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Old 08-17-2022, 12:16 PM   #3
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I’ve just completed my headliner replacement. Couldn’t find anyone willing to take my coin so I had to do it myself. I’m not overly happy with the job I did but it’ll have to do until I find a better solution.
Hope yours turns out better than mine!
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Old 08-17-2022, 12:18 PM   #4
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After removal of the original headliner, the exposed saloon overhead/flybridge deck showed that it was supported by transverse, tabbed in, plywood ribs. The lower elevation of the ribs extended about ¾” to 1¼” below the deck elevation. The camber of the overhead deck further added to elevation changes. My solution was to install, using dreaded 5200 and judicious “jacking” from below, treated wood to adjust all elevations to the 1¼” mark. By the same method, longitudinal support for the handrail was added.

Lighting was another issue. I had replaced, years ago, the original light fixtures with some pricey Alpine units. While they worked fine, they just didn’t “fit” with the reno. They are saved for some future use. I needed eight LED fixtures, white and red, to evenly install in each overhead panel – I want to be able to “rig for red” for night running. It turned out that Defender (?) had a close-out sale with six fixtures that fit the bill at bargain prices, so we adjusted the lighting plan. The fixtures have individual “on/off” as well as “white/red” switches. Wiring was run to allow a master on/off switch as well.

This led to the thought that the 1” or so deck to finished elevation gap could accommodate aluminized sheathed sheet foam insulation between deck and panels. I went with ¾” to allow a little margin. The pics below show this assembly in progress, with wiring between the insulation and deck underside.
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Old 08-17-2022, 12:22 PM   #5
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Finally, the panels were cut to accommodate the structural batten layout as well as the installed centerline supports. These dimensions varied at each location, requiring individual layout and dimensions for each panel. Openings for each light fixture (as applicable) were cut in individual panels.

The panels were then installed, using SS wood screws, to the structural battens. The panel joints were then overlayed with decorative teak battens, also attached with wood screws. The centerline handrail was like wise installed. The finished work is shown below.

I’m quite happy with the result. Now we’ll see how it holds up in the Gulf environment.
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Old 08-17-2022, 12:26 PM   #6
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Greetings,
Mr. s. VERY nice! How has the insulation changed the environment (noise, temperature etc.) in the saloon?
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Old 08-17-2022, 12:27 PM   #7
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Tang - it took me several years of no headliner to finally arrive at this.
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Old 08-17-2022, 12:31 PM   #8
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Thanks RT. I don't have any objective data, but the saloon is noticably cooler since the insulation was added. No noise benefit - I replaced fabric with the hard surface masonite - probably works adversly for noise - the mains are directly under the saloon floor.
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Old 08-17-2022, 12:42 PM   #9
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Very nice work. I like the panels and battens. You’ll enjoy your handy work every time you step aboard.
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Old 08-17-2022, 12:49 PM   #10
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Great job! I started to plan out the headlining with lightweight composite board and stapling the headlining to it and fixing it with Velcro, but couldn’t find a way to hide the gaps between the boards in a modern aesthetic. In the end I went with the pleated headlining to match the original.
I’ll definitely look at a hard ceiling next time. I’ll start planning it out for 2047!
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Old 08-17-2022, 03:49 PM   #11
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Looks very nice. You will love the insulation.
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Old 08-17-2022, 10:14 PM   #12
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This was my GB 42 done by me in 1995 in Formica. I did all three cabins and added an inch and a half of rigid foam insulation over it.
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Old 08-17-2022, 10:33 PM   #13
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SBU22 & RGANO. How did you attach the panels to keep them from sagging?

Great looking BTW
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Old 08-17-2022, 10:44 PM   #14
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The Formica was stiff enough that it did not sag over the widths and lengths I used. I would put several small screws through the Formica and into the wood framing just to hold it in place before installing the teak strips which forced the Formica evenly up to the framing.
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Old 08-18-2022, 07:38 AM   #15
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No sag issue with the spans involved.
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Old 08-18-2022, 07:41 AM   #16
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Masonite screwed into the structure at 8-10" intervals along edges. The teak battens are separately attached over the masonite seams.
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Old 08-18-2022, 08:59 AM   #17
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Sounds like a perfect retrofit solution.
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Old 08-20-2022, 12:20 PM   #18
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Looks fantastic. Great job. Headliner refurb can have a drastic effect.
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Old 08-21-2022, 12:19 PM   #19
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Don't know if it's perfect, but way improved over original with 40 years age on it. or a couple of years without.

Rich - did you use the formica "skins" or was it backed? Almost did that, but concerned about pillowing between supports with the skins. The 0.035" thickness of the laminate alone was concerning to me.
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Old 08-21-2022, 12:35 PM   #20
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Great Masonite Headliner Solution

I have two headliner challenges that your masonite solution might solve.

1) I have a 9'x11' custom built aluminum cover over my aft doghouse. I have installed foam insulation but haven't found an adequate headliner material to finish the job. I will get a lot of UV reflection off of the water onto the aluminum cover's headliner. Is the masonite resistant to UV? Is there a clear coating that would improve the UV protection of the masonite?

2) I have a large main salon with a vinyl headliner. Over the years, the roof (floor to the upper helm) has sagged about 1". I plan to remove the headliner, jack up the roof to the correct curvature, and craft laminated "rib" like trusses running 10' from port to starboard, until the roof is strong enough to support the upperhelm's weight. I was dreading reinstalling vinyl headliner and love the classic look of your masonite approach.

Any thoughts about these two challenges would be appreciated.
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