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Thread: Restoring door panels

  1. #1
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    Restoring door panels

    I read through 10 pages search returned about door panels. And no one did what I'm thinking about doing. So far the best was done by GregT53 when he restored cards with Alcantara. Re-gluing existing upholstery seem to be unsuccessful.

    I took 2 driver side door panels out and carefully examined them. What it looks like - they can be reupholstered no problem except for front door tops.

    1. Cards is not a problem at all. I'm going to repeat what GregT53 did and have mine done with Ultrasuede I used for pillars/top

    2. Bottoms of the doors can be recovered in vinyl, no problem from what I can see. It's just vinyl stretched over carcass. Mine is in very good shape(carcass).

    3. Rear door tops is also just a darker vinyl stretched over carcass and can be easily replaced/reglued.

    So.. Main questions is. Where do I get proper material? For door bottoms it's not that important as it will be 100% replaced, but only tops of rear doors can be replaced and I need to find good match with front doors.

    Any source for materials like this where I can match texture and color?
    Last edited by katit2; 09-24-2017 at 12:31 AM.

  2. #2
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    It will be difficult to find material that matches color and grain of the vinyl used on the card tops. I would replace all four with a darker shade of the ultrasuede you are using for the rest of the interior.

  3. #3
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    I will document damage with images so we know what we talking about. See pictures of front and rear panel. I named parts as 1f, 2f, 3f, 1r, 2r, 3r. "f" stands for front, "r" stands for rear. I also marked places where vinyl shrunk and unglued.

    Here is what I'm thinking about doing:

    1. #2 will be replaced/recovered with Ultrasuede I used for top. Same as Greg did.
    2. #3 will be replaced completetly on all 4 doors. Will find something close to what it is now. It shouldn't be a big problem if material stretches better than Ultrasuede
    3. #1r is just a vinyl wrapped around carcass, so it is easy to replace.
    4. #1f is not simply vinyl. It's some kind shaped mold with foam under it. And it's not damaged at all. It's dirty on driver door (not a problem) and like new on passenger door).

    Now to the problem. Greg says #1f-r can be recovered with darker ultrasuede. It's OK, but there is 3 issues with that:
    1. Ultrasuede won't match dash. And dash is like continuation of this part.
    2. It will get dirty, etc as it's a place where I like to rest elbow and it get's touched a lot.
    3. I don't think covering front one will allow for proper door closing/gaps. Taking front vinyl doesn't seem feasible (see molded comment above)

    So, I tend to do following. I will try to find best match and do just #1r. Fronts(#1f) is in like new shape and I will leave them as is. Seats will be breaking visual line and even if rear tops will be shade off - should not be a big deal.

    Thoughts?

    door_panel_front_old.jpgdoor_panel_rear_old.jpg

  4. #4
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    Quick update: World upholstery sells BMW vinyl's. Just ordered samples from them. From phone conversation I learned that vinyl will be thinner than original (the one on cards) but should be good color match. Cost is $40 per yard 51 inch wide. From what I understand I may need like 3-4 yards of light and 1 yard of dark to do this. Stay tuned..

  5. #5
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    You could also respray the vinyl with Classic Leather Dye. Color #5400 (silver gray) is an excellent match. I have used it on my own interior and was very happy with the result. You could even respray the dash if you did not like the match. Check the Classic Dye website; you might find the prices a bit lower. If you want to refresh the lighter color trim pieces you can use #5415, Hell Gray. I have resprayed the bottom seat trim and the insides of the door storage pockets. Again, dead on match.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregT53 View Post
    You could also respray the vinyl with Classic Leather Dye. Color #5400 (silver gray) is an excellent match. I have used it on my own interior and was very happy with the result. You could even respray the dash if you did not like the match. Check the Classic Dye website; you might find the prices a bit lower. If you want to refresh the lighter color trim pieces you can use #5415, Hell Gray. I have resprayed the bottom seat trim and the insides of the door storage pockets. Again, dead on match.
    I already got their stuff for seats and plastic. Here on doors I need to replace vinyl anyway. So, no point in respraying (and it's extra work) if they will match color properly..

  7. #7
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    You may find it easier to repaint than recover. In addition, if the new vinyl does not match the dash then you would still have the same problem. You'll know more as soon as you get the sample. Let us know how it matches; it would be good to have this alternative if it works out. Car looks great. Keep up the good work.

  8. #8
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    I think we talking apples/oranges here For doors there is no choice - they have to be recovered. And ideally, I won't have to repaint. Repainting won't fix delaminated vinyl. Old one have to go. New one have to be glued on. Color is step #2 (hopefully not required)

    You got me confused with color #s though. I start thinking I'm color-blind Paint I ordered for leather is #436 Dove Gray. I plan to use it on seats and seat plastic pieces (belt trims on back and front seat bottoms) only.

  9. #9
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    The color is light silver gray (silbergrau hell) not dove gray as is often used. In images you have posted it looks like silbergrau hell. Sometimes World Upholstery sells the same color under two different names and numbers, which is confusing. Maybe they changed the names; the numbers have changed from the last time I visited the site.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregT53 View Post
    The color is light silver gray (silbergrau hell) not dove gray as is often used. In images you have posted it looks like silbergrau hell. Sometimes World Upholstery sells the same color under two different names and numbers, which is confusing. Maybe they changed the names; the numbers have changed from the last time I visited the site.
    I think you right In which case I ordered wrong color. I will try on a back and see how much different. I don't think I'm going to order another one at this point. I just want nice uniform color, not necessary exact historical match..

  11. #11
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    Driver's door done. Vinyl came from World Upholstery, end result is great. I used same suede material(as I used on headliner) for insert. One spot was hard to get perfect, on a picture. Next door will be better. Rear doors will be recovered completely and should be easier. Pictures look good, but it wasn't as easy as it looks
    IMG_1684.jpgIMG_1690.jpgIMG_1692.jpg

  12. #12
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    I'm really loving the images. Please keep it up. How are you affixing the insert back to the panel? What glues are you utilizing? I'd love to do this on mine.
    CURRENT:
    Racecar: '81 e21 320i Group2. GT28 @ 25psi, MS2, e28 M5 suspension/brakes underneath, forged, cammed, 400bhp, 2190lbs, etc, etc...
    Daily: '95 e34 540/6. DUDMD tuned, vogtland/koni, Schnitzers, other minor touches.
    Project: '94 525iT. Manual swapped, Eibach/billy, Mpars, clean machine.

  13. #13
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    I use Weldwood Landau HHR spray grade for pretty much everything. But I don't spray it though. I buy LOTs of chip brushes and use those instead.
    I used 3M spray to attach foam to card and Ultrasuede to foam. Only reason is because I already had this can and because I can't really brush on foam. I also didn't care about how well it attaches because edges is wrapped and glues with Weldwood on a back anyway. It won't sag I'm sure.

    Those L shaped inserts were made from scratch. Impossible to take out old ones without breaking. Old inserts is 1.6mm or 1/16 MDF which is unobtanium in USA. I used 2mm cardboard from Hobby-Lobby. I'm glad I did because it would be a pain to cut otherwise (if I went expensive 2mm plywood for example).

    So, those inserts built as sandwich. Cardboard, foam(bought some headliner stuff $15 delivered from eBay), ultrasuede. Then glued to the door with Weldwood.

    Some more images of all this in making..
    IMG_1682.jpgIMG_1683.jpgIMG_1686.jpgIMG_1691.jpg

  14. #14
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    This is fantastic. More details and pics, please! I love the ingenuity... I wonder how long this will hold up?
    CURRENT:
    Racecar: '81 e21 320i Group2. GT28 @ 25psi, MS2, e28 M5 suspension/brakes underneath, forged, cammed, 400bhp, 2190lbs, etc, etc...
    Daily: '95 e34 540/6. DUDMD tuned, vogtland/koni, Schnitzers, other minor touches.
    Project: '94 525iT. Manual swapped, Eibach/billy, Mpars, clean machine.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dangerwillrbnsn View Post
    This is fantastic. More details and pics, please! I love the ingenuity...
    What pictures do you want to see?

    There is nothing "ingenious" here I didn't like how originals done in vinyl and I had ultrasuede leftovers so I borrowed idea from GregT53 and decided to do those inserts like this. I couldn't find thin foam so I bought cheap remnants, what's a difference, right?

    I wonder how long this will hold up
    That's a good question. I guess I have no idea. This glue is the best out there, professionals using it. It's not for "home owner" and it's got skulls all over it with warnings so I assume it's a good stuff

    Why original inserts start to break and unglue? Because main vinyl cover unglues with time/temperature and start lifting and breaking insert(seen on original picture). I guess if I did a good job and vinyl will stay in place - there will be no reason for this insert to come off because it's glued to perfectly flat surface. It's light, it's got 100 % support everywhere so cardboard doesn't really make a difference.

    If you will pour liquids over this ultrasuede insert then I guess cardboard will start to disintegrate, etc. But I don't plan on pouring liquids over it I think there will be no issues with this during my ownership.

    EDIT: Original insert comes apart because they used foam-backed vinyl. Foam falls apart and vinyl come out. In my case foam is only in front, ultrasuede glued directly to cardboard.
    Last edited by katit2; 11-28-2017 at 04:10 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by katit2 View Post
    Those L shaped inserts were made from scratch. Impossible to take out old ones without breaking.
    These inserts can be removed intact by using a heat gun on the inside of the panel and gently working it off with a wide blade, plastic putty knife. I have a heat gun that allows me set the temperature in 10 degree F increments, and for this application I use 350 degrees. Do not work on the finished side as you run the risk of melting the plastic covering. Even if you plan to replace it, an intact covering makes for a nice template from which to cut a new piece. If you decide to use a new backing board I wonder if luan board would work. It's inexpensive and easy to shape with a jig saw, and has good stoutness.

    Great work, by the way! Keep those photographs coming. Your work could be documented with step-by-step details to make a nice DIY for the forum archives.
    Last edited by GregT53; 11-28-2017 at 05:03 PM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregT53 View Post
    These inserts can be removed intact by using a heat gun on the inside of the panel and gently working it off with a wide blade, plastic putty knife.
    Yes. I agree with that. But in my case (see first post) - they were broken already.

    And you see other picture where I cut vinyl off the old one to make template

    I didn't want any plywood or luan because with moisture it is more prone to warping than MDF. Also, original material is 1/16 MDF. There is nothing of this thickness that I can find. So yes, cardboard is probably not ideal but it's best I was able to find. I found 1/16 MDF on UK ebay, but they can't ship anything bigger than 12 inch

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by katit2 View Post
    Why original inserts start to break and unglue? Because main vinyl cover unglues with time/temperature and start lifting and breaking insert(seen on original picture). I guess if I did a good job and vinyl will stay in place - there will be no reason for this insert to come off because it's glued to perfectly flat surface. It's light, it's got 100 % support everywhere so cardboard doesn't really make a difference.

    EDIT: Original insert comes apart because they used foam-backed vinyl. Foam falls apart and vinyl come out. In my case foam is only in front, ultrasuede glued directly to cardboard.
    Not just that... I've read somewhere that BMW used a somewhat crappy glue... Supposedly that was the best "not kill you in one sniff" glue available during that era, when stricter environmental regulations came up.

    Also, the problem is worse on early production cars, which have the rear portion of the armrest as part of the door card. Armrests on E28s and E23s were the same as on late E34s (one piece for the whole armrest), so I don't know why the hell did they change them to such a dumb design...

    (of course, I have a '91 )

  19. #19
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    I was doing front passenger's door card. There was lot's of confidence
    All steps pictured(first 5 steps).

    1. Clean old glue with acetone. Sand. Clean with acetone. Fill hole with epoxy (someone punched hole through)
    2. Show off german color-matched vinyl, positioning.
    3. Marking first step, decided to glue in stripes from bottom going up. My thinking was that it's most visible open part and it's easier to get it straight when you start gluing from there. First door I glued left-right starting from middle
    4. First glue on.
    5. Wait 5+ minutes and vinyl on



    f1.jpgf2.jpgf3.jpgf4.jpgf5.jpg

  20. #20
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    6. Unfold vinyl,
    7. Measure and mark second step, see how I wanted to go only "up" on handle bump. I also knew that it won't stretch right above pocket so I left it for the later
    8. After 5-10 minutes press it on.
    9. Glue all up to trim line.
    10. After 5-10 minutes press it on. See how many wrinkles?? But it's not a big deal in that spot.


    f6.jpgf7.jpgf8.jpgf9.jpgf10.jpg

  21. #21
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    11. Getting closer to "trim line"
    12. Pulled all out

    Result wasn't good
    Can you guess what happened??

    This is just to show that it's very detailed work.. Not everything goes so well.


    f11.jpgf12.jpg

  22. #22
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    So sad to see considering all of the work. What happened?
    demet
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  23. #23
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    You can kind of guess from picture #10. I will give an answer tomorrow

  24. #24
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    Ok, problem was very stupid.. When I reached out to top I realized that I didn't give enough vinyl and after gluing it - I ended up about inch short on top right corner, on right side...
    I bought 3 yards, it looks like it will be enough even with this mess up. As long as I don't screw up again

    Anyway, front passenger door finished. Here is all of the details so you see that it's not as perfect as you would want. But I'm happy with outcome!!

    Pictures and steps is continuation of what I did before, I followed same steps after cleaning card with acetone.

    13. This is how it went. Same way started from a bottom but left edge where pocket is kind of loose so I can maneuver it later
    14. Some detail on how corners glued around.
    15. This time I decided to make cuts on door handle "bump" in order to reduce stretching and deformations.
    16. You can see how I had to cut folds flat and they are visible between trim and top gray.
    17. Simply stuck piece of vinyl under wood trim to fix that.


    fg1.jpgfg2.jpgfg3.jpgfg4.jpgfg5.jpg

  25. #25
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    18. Fixed. Can't see anything.
    19. Sand plastic pocket where hot glue goes, glue back.
    20. Just a view of pocket. It's a tricky place to fold vinyl so it looks good.
    21. The only visible seam, placed it where it won't be seen too much.
    22. Ready door!

    Front doors done!


    fg6.jpgfg7.jpgfg8.jpgfg9.jpgfg10.JPG

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