The most rewarding aspect of car audio is that so much can be done at home with standard tools, but what separates the DIY work from the Professional job is the presentation. Once you’ve completed your custom subwoofer enclosure (using our handy enclosure building video tutorial) you might want to take it to the next level with custom trimming. You can use car carpet or vinyl, both require the same procedure.
Just remember, vinyl covering is like most things; the first time is the hardest but will get easier with practice. Just take it slow, measure twice, cut once and you’ll be fine.
Materials & Tools:
– Raw subwoofer box
– Contact adhesive
– Cheap Brush
– Glue speading blade
– Staple gun & staples
– Vinyl or Carpet
– Heat gun
– Box cutter or Razor knife
Advice for an easier time:
1. Buy a tin of contact adhesive instead of spray on. It will grip better and last a lot longer
2. Get the cheapest brushes and spreaders you can find, they’ll just get ruined once the glue sets
3. Paint scrapers make excellent glue spreaders
4. 6mm staples are ideal for stapling MDF, anything bigger simply wont go in !
5. There’s automotive grade vinyl which stretches more and lasts longer in a cars hot interior, try and use it instead
6. Sharp blades give clean edges for a better fit and finish
Lets get the party started !
Ok so you’ve got your tools and materials, lets get started ! Work in a clean area, clean work spaces give clean results.
Cut a piece of vinyl that’s about 3-4 inches bigger around each side than the item you’re covering. This gives you something to grab onto for pulling the vinyl tight, allows you to get glue right up to the edges and allows for a bit of messing up.
If doing the complete enclosure, use enough to wrap around the entire enclosure with 3″ of overlap at the ends.
Note: Align the vinyl so the meeting edges are on the Back or Bottom of the enclosure, where no one will see them.
Lay the vinyl out and pour down a generous amount of contact adhesive. Spread it out evenly using your glue spreader. Avoid getting lumpy built up areas as these will give a lumpy, wrinkled appearance to the finished job.
Set the vinyl aside and leave it to “go off”. The adhesive is ready to use once it has dried enough that it no longer stick to you fingers when touching it.
Using the paint brush, cover the side of the enclosure with contact adhesive as well. Apply and even coat and allow 2-3 minutes for it to “go off” and be tack free. Dont worry, “dry” contact adhesive will readily stick to itself on contact. Hence the name.
As above, place the vinyl (glue side down) onto the enclosure.
Use the edges to pull the vinyl tight to remove wrinkles. Use the heat gun and a piece of wood to help remove bubbles and stubborn wrinkles.
Be careful with the heat gun, use it at a distance of 12″ or more, and on low heat to avoid scorching or even burning the vinyl.
Fold the side edge over the side of the enclosure, pull it tight and secure with staples along the edge with 1″ spacing between them.
Now continue around the rest of the sides. If you get wrinkles at corners, simply remove the staples and trim the vinyl in the corners, so they meet at a 45 degree angle, and re-staple.
Make sure all edges are straight and flush, for a good final fit and finish. Once the entire enclosure is wrapped you need to clean up the two ends where they overlap. Using a straight edge steel, cut across the width of the enclosure. Now align the other side to be flush, and using the straight edge again cut the excess. Use the brush to apply additional adhesive if necessary to stick down both sides.
If done right, the seam will be almost undetectable. If not, arent you glad you hid the edge on the bottom where no one can see it ?
Now for the sides you have two options.
Use the straight edge and razor to clean up and cut the overlapping sections for clean edges meeting on a 45 degree angle. This is the prefered method when using Carpet.
Beauty panels. If you intend to use insert panels, you need to account for these when building you enclosure. These panels are MDF panels cut slightly smaller than the end recesses to accomodate the vinyl wraping.
1. Cut the vinyl back to fit under the recessed edge. Glue and staple into place.
2. Trim your insert panel as per the above instructions.
3. Test fit panels, the glue into place using Silicon Caulking.