The Door Panel Backing Board is a vital part of any of your Mustang’s interior. If these are old and worn out, you can have loose panels, and they can cause excess sagging. In the shop, we have our 1990 GT that we will be working with. We will also cover some of the critical points for the earlier 81-86 models as well.
Overall this one should take you a few hours per side and some of the tools you will need for this one will include the following:
- Assorted picks
- Socket set
- Assorted trim removal tools
- A staple gun and plenty of staples
- Spray Adhesive
- And some general cleaning supplies
- First, let’s remove the door panel from the car. Please check out our 81-86 door panel removal or 87-93 door panel removal if you are not familiar with this process. Please be aware that the lower section will vary from year to year due to not all of the 81-89 year models coming equipped with the map pockets.
- Moving to a clean work surface, flip the door panel over with the vinyl side facing the table. If equipped, make sure to remove your sound deadener. We noticed that a repair had already been done somewhere down the road on this panel, and it was put back together wrong. We will make sure to address this later in the article.
- You can remove the speed clip here if this is still in place on the door pull section.
- Fold up the retaining tabs located on the map pocket area at this time. If the map pocket has retainers, you can use some side cutters and a flat head screwdriver to remove these.
- Now you can remove the map pocket from the car. As mentioned earlier, this lower section will vary from year to year. 81-89 year models do not have this map pocket.
- Using a pick or a flat-bladed screwdriver, remove all of the staples from the door panel’s outer edge.
- Also, make sure to pull the staples out from the door pull area.
- Once removed, you can carefully peel back the vinyl from the door panel’s outer edge.
- Next, you can remove the speaker grill if equipped.
- Slowly peel back the vinyl and padding from the existing door panel board. Take your time here and try to avoid any excessive tearing of the material or the foam. You will separate this going up to the metal portion only.
- You will find the tabs for the panel’s upper carpet area on the upper portion of the door. This will be held in place by a series of tabs. We found that just releasing the lower tabs will help you out in a later step for alignment. Go ahead and release just the lower tabs at this time.
- Now we can separate the backing board from the metal frame. As you can see here, the board was placed wrong, and it was on the top side of the metal. The board should be located in between the metal and the outer material of the door panel.
- Work your way from end to end and separate these parts. Do not worry about this step if the existing board breaks; just make sure everything is entirely removed from the panel.
- Make sure to clean all of the metal tabs and any leftover material from the board.
- For the 81-86 Door Panel, you will need to remove the lower carpet section by using a razor blade. Make a straight cut across the top side of the carpet where the vinyl meets the door panel.
- Now we can get our new backing boards ready for installation. Take this time to go over the boards and knock out any of the perforated cutouts. This can include the pushpin holes, map pocket, carpeted area holes, the speaker grille, and inner door switches if equipped.
- Take this time to clean your work surface of any residual material left over.
- Now we can locate the new board to the metal plate. Again, make sure that this one is placed between the metal and the vinyl material. Take your time here and check over all of the alignment to the vinyl and the backing board.
- Roll back all of the outer edges of the vinyl to allow the backing board to sit flush.
- Moving to the topside of the board, place one staple on each side a few holes from the end to help hold this in place.
- Now you can fold down the tabs on the carpeted area of the board.
- Lift and separate the board from the vinyl at this time so we can start the gluing process. Spray both the foam and the board surfaces with a few light coats of spray adhesive. Make sure to read over the instructions of the adhesive you are using for the tack time. This is usually around 5 min.
- Once you have let this dry, you can go ahead to start placing the material back in place. Ensure that all of the vinyl’s outer edges are clear, so you do not get any excess glue on these. Press down firmly and double-check alignment on all of your holes.
- Once the glue is set, take a few minutes to go ahead and clean the vinyl material if any adhesive got on there.
- Now we can place the map pockets in place. Fold all of your tabs straight and align all of the holes on the backing board. Pass these tabs through, and then you can fold them on the backside to set the map pocket in place.
- If you are working on the 81-86 models, this would be the time you will want to glue the lower carpet area in place. Starting on the top edges, make sure the carpet is straight and aligned to the vinyl material. Once aligned with the flaps folded over you can clamp each side down.
- Using your staple gun, you will want to pull back the vinyl edge between the carpet. By doing this, you will be able to hide the staples from being seen. Space these out evenly across the panel.
- Now you can spray a few light coats of adhesive on this section. As we showed in the previous steps, make sure this is tacky enough to stick down.
- Lay this in lace and work out any wrinkles and fold over the edges on the backside. Make sure that all of the outer edges of the vinyl are pulled tight across all sides.
- Now you can spray the edges on the backside of the panel. Once this is tacky, you can start to seat the vinyl’s edges to the backing board. This is a perfect time to go over any areas of the panel and reglue any loose areas.
- Support the lower side of the board with the palm of your hand, and slowly roll your thumb over to set these together. Again, make sure to take your time here and work out any excess wrinkles that are present.
- We would like to note that before you do all of your final stapling, do a few test staples to ensure that you are not using too long of a staple. You do not want this to pass through the vinyl on the other side.
- Now you can fully staple all of the outer edges of the vinyl to the board. Just make sure to space these out evenly across the panel a few inches apart from each other.
- For the 81-86 carpeted area, once this is complete you can staple the end flaps to the back of the board.
- Once you have the outer edges completed, you can move to the section where the board and the metal meet. We chose to put a couple of staples in each one of these holes. Just make sure that everything is tight and secure.
- You can also staple down the carpet for the inner door pull area at this time.
- We also took this time to staple down all of the tabs for the map pockets. This can help prevent any lifting of the pocket down the road.
- We opted to use new door panel hardware. Check out LMR.com for your year model-specific kit. We also noticed that we did have to make one modification to this board. There are four locating holes for the speaker grill. One of these holes was missing. We used a ¼” drill bit and drilled out this hole from both sides to ensure the tab would pass through the board.
- Now you can seat the speaker grill in place and use the supplied pal nuts on these tabs. We found that using a 5/16” nut driver made life easier when installing these.
- Now that the board is completed, we chose to install a new set of our 5.0 Resto sound deadeners to the door panel. Center these in place and then apply a few light coats of the spray adhesive to set these in place. Following the same process as before, ensure that you allow proper tack time.
- Make sure to reinstall all of the hardware. This will include the door panel push pins and any speed nuts for the panel. Repeat these steps for the other side and reassemble your door panels back on your car.
- Now you can admire your restored door panels and refreshed interior!
We hope that this article has helped you and you have a better understanding of how to install these door panel boards.
As always, make sure to keep it here with the Real Mustang Enthusiasts at LMR.com.