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Old 09-02-2008, 10:20 AM
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Fabric Covered Window Molding Tutorial

I have talked in the past about covering door window moldings with vinyl, leather, or Ultraleather to match the rest of the interior work. Here are some pictures showing the process.

First of all, just like painting, the surface being covered needs to be clean to accept the contact adhesive. This particular front door window molding had a lot of wear on it, so it was going to have to be painted or covered anyway because it had a lot of flaking paint which the rest of the moldings did not have. I once again used the wire wheel on my bench grinder to remove any loose paint, rust, etc. Also, pay attention to the areas around the screw holes used to attach the molding. I also use the wire wheel on the back of the molding. After the wire wheel, which is very fine, I blow away any debris with an air nozzle, and then clean the molding front and back with mineral spirits and let it dry.

After drying, the molding is ready for contact adhesive. I use DAP Weldwood Landau Top and Trim Adhesive. The gun I use is a cheapy from Harbor Freight. It is an HVLP external mix type gun which has a 2.0MM nozzle. The HF item # is 43760, and it sells for $16.95. Glue does not come out smooth, it has kind of a pebble-like texture to it. Make sure it's over 70 degrees when you spray, or you may have trouble getting the glue to go through the spray gun.

The fabric here is dark blue Ultraleather. I cut a piece of it 3" bigger than the outside dimension of the molding, and also cut out an inner piece which left 3" on the inside also.

This particular molding has an angle to it at the bottom, so to start with, I only sprayed glue on the bottom of the molding and the bottom area of the Ultraleather. After letting the glue set up until it was dry to the touch, I applied the Ultraleather to the molding as smoothly as possible. You don't need to stretch it, just lay it on smoothly. Depending on the fabric, if you stretch it too much side to side, you may lose some give top to bottom. Lay it on loosely at first, don't press down on it until it's exactly where you want it to be. If you make a mistake, remove the fabric, re-glue both pieces, and start over. Don't wait, because this glue gets stronger the longer it sets up. You can see where I had to make relief cuts in the curved corners to allow the fabric to go around the inside corners. Next,repeat the process by spraying the rest of the molding and the fabric with glue. This fabric was not very stretchy, so I had to do a lot of jockeying to get the fabric to lay down on the molding. This job is a lot easier with fabric or leather which stretches more.
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Last edited by DanTwoLakes; 09-02-2008 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:35 AM
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Once you have the fabric smooth on the outer surface of the molding, you can turn the molding over to glue the back side. Do NOT make your relief cuts too deep, or the whole piece may have to be redone. Spray your glue on the frame and on the fabric, let it dry, and glue the fabric to the frame on the inside. You can spray all of it at once, but it's a little easier to finish the one side (either outer or inner perimeter) first before you do the other side. This prevents accidentally having the fabric get glued to itself or the frame the wrong way while you're working on the other side. Also, trim away as much of the fabric as you can before gluing the fabric down to the metal. (It's better to leave the fabric on the inside corners longer so you have more to pull with.) This just leaves less trimming after you're done gluing.
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Last edited by DanTwoLakes; 09-02-2008 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:37 AM
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After you're completely done, lightly clean the surface with mineral spirits, which is the solvent for this particular contact adhesive. That's all there is to it. Work slowly, take your time, be patient and you can do this no problem. Here's the finished door window molding. You can see where all of the mounting screws go because I pushed in on the fabric in those places to make it easier to locate the screw holes. Now I just have to do the other seven moldings.
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Last edited by DanTwoLakes; 09-02-2008 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 11-15-2008, 02:54 PM
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Nice work Dan but show us some closeups stretching that material in the corners. I can't seem to get that down right.

Vince
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Old 12-05-2008, 12:14 PM
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Vince: The secret is to not try to pull the fabric very tight when you first start. Just basically lay the fabric onto the frame with no stretching at all. Some of these window moldings are hard to do, like this one which has extremely tight corners, and right angles all around. These problems are further compounded by the fact that this Ultraleather does not stretch very much. When you get one like this, you need to do it in small steps, and really take your time. You can see where I marked just the area on the fabric that goes on the inside of the frame, and then only glued that specific area.
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Old 12-05-2008, 12:26 PM
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The next step is to get just that part of the frame glued to correspond to the glue on the fabric. I then laid the fabric upside down and put the frame on top of it. Then I carefully worked the fabric into the corners and got it situated on just that part of the frame. If I tried to do it all at once, it would be next to impossible. After that, I glued the front of the frame and stuck the fabric to that area and finished by doing the back. Just stay patient, and if something doesn't come out right, take the fabric back off in the areas that don't come out, and try again.
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:04 PM
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Occasionally, you might run into a molding that absolutely can't be done with one big piece of fabric. Then you will have to make a pattern and cut the fabric in 2 pieces with a seam at the bottom corners. Vince's (302 Z28) moldings were like that, which is the reason he was having so much trouble doing them himself. Here's how I covered his three moldings. They all were basically alike, made of fiberglass and coming to right angles at the bottom outside corners. The first pic is obviously the unfinished molding. The second pic shows the cardboard pattern I made that fit the corner. Then I just measured in between the corners and added a 1/2" seam allowance. The vinyl stretches side to side, so I cut it about 3/4" shorter than full size to stretch it into place. The 3rd pic shows the seam from the outside. The 4th pic is the seam I sewed from the inside. The last pic shows how closely I cut next to the seam so there would be no bulges in the corners.
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Last edited by DanTwoLakes; 10-26-2009 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:19 PM
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In order to sew a really tight seam, I used a smaller needle than I normally use, a size 18 instead of a size 22, and set my machine to sew 12 stitches an inch. This is a terrible idea for any other sewing of vinyl, leather, or Ultraleather, but because this was being glued down, it worked out fine. In the picture, the needle on the right is the larger size 22 needle and the other one is the size 18. You can see how much finer a needle the size 18 is.

Then it was time to glue the fabric on. I only sprayed glue on the section of the molding between the uprights. On the first molding I sprayed glue on the complete circle of fabric. After that, I found it was easier to only spray glue on the flat bottom section of the fabric. After letting the glue dry, I laid my framing square on the horizontal part of the molding to keep the glued fabric from contacting the molding. I fit the vinyl into one corner, and pressed it in place just an inch on either side of the crease. Then I stretched the vinyl over to the other corner and did the same thing on the other side. Once the two corners were set, I removed my framing square and pressed the fabric down on the middle section of the molding. I let that set up, and sprayed glue on the uprights and the upper part of the frame, but only on the inside. After that was dry, I set the fabric in place smoothing it out up each upright and finally across the upper part. This piece also I cut shorter to be able to stretch it into place.
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Last edited by DanTwoLakes; 03-12-2009 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:36 PM
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Once the fabric was attached to the inside of the molding frame, I could finish gluing the vinyl on the back of the molding just like I did with all the other moldings in this tutorial. Here are the finished moldings.

This was not an easy job, and I would caution you to think twice about trying something like this on your own if it's the first moldings you are attempting. You will get glue all over the fabric, but don't worry, it will come off easily with mineral spirits. Wipe the glue off as soon as possible, it's a lot harder to remove after it has completely dried and cured for a while.
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Last edited by DanTwoLakes; 03-12-2009 at 03:42 PM.
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