Inexpensive door panel reupholstery technique
Rejuvenate tired door panels with this inexpensive, but efficient technique
Upholstery Journal | October 2008
story and photos by Marshall Spiegel
How often does a customer roll into your shop with a problem that he wants you to solve for practically nothing?
Whatever your answer to this question, the fact remains that this scenario happens too often.
Take door panels, for example. The average vehicle owner is convinced, based on his very limited experience, that you, the auto upholsterer, should be able to perform your magic on his almost irreparable door panels for just less than 13 bucks an hour to cover materials, labor and whatever profit to which you are entitled. By now, you should be smiling broadly and remembering the many times this has happened to you.
There are, however, techniques to economically repair some door panel problems. These techniques have evolved from vast experience in the industry and the unparalleled creativity of some trimmers and their willingness to “try anything.”
Such a situation happened recently at Bud’s Auto Upholstery in Long Beach, Calif. The customer brought his beautifully maintained 1995 black Audi 90 to shop owner Tom Benson to have the bedraggled interior rebuilt. Apparently, the dozen years of service and the damage done by several “washings” of the interior had left the foam and glue dried and crumbling. Although the vinyl fabric was still in good order, the door panel inserts were flapping in the breeze, and the interior was literally falling apart.
Pricing a rebuild like this with new fabric, new foam and hours of labor could make the average customer cry, especially those guys with that preconceived budget of $13 an hour. Fortunately for this customer, one of Bud’s star upholsterers, Max Chavez, is a 50-plus-year veteran of the upholstery industry and a very inventive craftsman. The accompanying photos and captions show how Chavez put the doors of the Audi back in shape beautifully, without destroying its owner’s pocketbook.