Vinyl Wrapping Old Interior Trim

As vehicles age interior trim pieces can become faded, scratched and sometimes if they are coated, start to peel.  Over the past couple years a trend has been growing and a new way to transform that old interior has emerged.

It utilizes a form of adhesive backed vinyl that becomes flexible when heated.  Major companies such as 3M have developed their own vinyl that is now known to be the go to product.  That being said there are other brands that offer a similar quality product at a cheaper price.  There are tons of color and texture options ranging from a simple matte black to purple carbon fiber.  If done correctly its hard to tell if the vinyl was even added, it looks that good.


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This 2000 BMW E39 M5 came from the factory with silver brushed aluminum trim pieces but as youll see it needs an update.   After 15 years of use the trim has started to fade, become scratched, and in some spots peel up.


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The vinyl I chose looks very similar to the original, it even has a texture which mimics the real thing.  If you didn’t know already, which one is the original trim?


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To start the process I removed all of the trim pieces, it is possible to apply the wrap in the car but for an ideal finish they should be completely removed.  BMW M5 trim is very easy to remove but it will not be like this in every vehicle.  Before you start go online and look up the proper way to remove the trim for your specific car, it will save time and reduce the risk of something breaking.


All of the pieces follow the same steps so I’ll walk through the vinyl application on the center dash piece which surrounds the radio controls and center display.



1. Clean the trim first using 400-600 Grit Sandpaper.  This will remove any dirt trapped on the surface.  Then spray a rag with PRE Painting Prep to remove any remaining contaminants.  Make sure to clean the edges and the under side of the piece because this is where the edge of the vinyl will stick.



2. Lay the piece face down and cut out a piece of vinyl with about 1/2″-1″ extra on all sides.  If the if the piece is rounded leave some extra material so it can wrap around the edges.

3. Lay the vinyl on a clean table with the adhesive side up and carefully remove the backing.  Set your piece down on top of the vinyl on the flattest side.  Make sure the grain is going the correct direction and is square.



4. After the flat side is pressed on lift the piece up and hold it in the air while trying to keep off of the adhesive side.  Use a Heat Gun on one edge at a time, get the edge hot and set the heat gun down, pull on the outer edge and form the vinyl around the outer curves.  Even after removing the heat the vinyl will stay soft for a few seconds, allowing you to pull it into place.



To speed up the process I utilized the Eastwood Heat Gun’s flat back plate with allows you to set it upright on a table while it is still on.  I could then use both of my hands to hold and form the vinyl.



5.  After the the vinyl is formed around the outer edge, trim off the excess and repeat the same process on the back side.  Wrap the vinyl around the back, sticking it to the under side of the piece, doing this will prevent the vinyl from peeling up.



6. To deal with the openings, run the Heat Gun along the edges of each while pressing downward.  Doing so will create a slight recess along the outside of the opening.



7. Next cut an “X” in the center of each opening with a sharp razor blade leaving about 1/2″ from each corner.  Heat and pull the center of each flap to form around the inner edges.  Trim and wrap around the back side like the earlier step.



8. Repeat this with the other openings to create your finished product.



With the rest of the trim completed it looks brand new and refreshed.  All this was done for about $20 worth of materials and the results pay for them self.

Combine this with Eastwood Plastic Resurfacer and your interior will look as if it just rolled out of the factory.


Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To’s, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

– James R/EW


One Comment

  1. Most excellent article! The only thing that seemed out of order was, the sanding should only come after thorough cleaning. Otherwise the dirt and contaminates are ground deeper into the substrate, rather than removed. After sanding, use a tack cloth and compressed air to remove any residue. (Using solvent again may result in solvent trapping and later cause swelling beneath the vinyl). Not finding fault. Just applying basic paint prep procedure to ensure proper adhesion.

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