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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As some of you may know, I've been hunting for a pair of leather door panels to upgrade from my cloth ones.


As you can see, they're pretty awful. So I went out, picked up some microsuede fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics (try doing that on Labor Day sometime...women extravaganza :huh:); 1.22 yards for $10.83 (it was on sale - w00t!). I had some 3M spray glue from a home renovation a few months back, so decided to use that. I think it's around $5 / can. Can't remember though exactly.


First, I removed both door panels, as well as the tear drop. Door panels are held on by screws, you just twist the caps off first, then use a Philips head screwdriver. There are 4 of those, then there is a plastic "christmas tree" screw at the front-bottom corner. You move the panel towards the rear and it unhooks from a final retainer and velcro.


Next, I pulled the "christmas tree" screws off the back of the panel to separate the tear drop. This takes alot of effort as they do not want to come out. I later learned you can just slide the tear drop and it removes it from a latch system.



It took ALOT of courage to take the plunge, but I started cutting the suede material to shape, then matched it against the panel to make sure it would fit. Make sure you leave plenty of room on all sides, as you want to wrap it behind. I would say 2"-3" is good. Leave more room at the bottom front corner. Next I sprayed about 10-12" of the door panel :)panic:) with the 3M glue, then started smoothing the material onto the door. Make sure you only do small sections at a time, as you need to re-align it as necessary. I would assume if you've put on stripes before it is similar.


I don't have pictures of this process because my hands were filthy from touchy the glue, then the suede. If you accidentally get glue onto the suede, just use some Goo Gone and it wipes off easily. The most difficult portion is the front-bottom corner, as it is a sharp corner and you can tell even Lotus has trouble with this as they had to use a new piece of material to handle it. Final product below:




Cut the screw holes onto the suede material as well as cut out the center part (so you can smooth the material into the grooves), snap the tear drop back in place and you're ready to reassemble onto the car.

I think it makes a HUGE difference, and is much better than paying $250+shipping from Lotus (if they even carry it any longer) or $150-$200 at a local upholstery shop. What I should have done, is started with the passenger side first, then figured everything out and made the "better" side the driver's side. Unless you have lots of passengers, then you can hide your mistakes ;) I wouldn't say it gets any faster, but it definitely is a *little* easier once you do one side and know how to lay everything out.

Requirements:
4 hours of time
$10.83 for material + 3M glue (~$5) or equivalent
Box cutter
Phillips head screwdriver
Flathead screwdriver to remove the plastic screws
Goo Gone
Good pair of scissors
 

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Looks wonderful.

I have some experience wrapping a speaker baffle with microsuede. Two things I learned:

1. Where the panel you are wrapping curves, cut slits in the material that wraps around the back side of the panels. This allows you to wrap around curves and stretch the material properly so that everything lies flat on the front.

2. After you spray on the adhesive, wait a few minutes for it to become tacky.
 

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Creative! :D Nice custom work... and at such a reasonable cost. :clap:
1st photo looks really good when you see it blended in with the rest of the interior. :up:

There are so many creative individuals here... it's great to see the variety of mods that are on display. There should be a category just for all of these mods done by members.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Looks wonderful.

I have some experience wrapping a speaker baffle with microsuede. Two things I learned:

1. Where the panel you are wrapping curves, cut slits in the material that wraps around the back side of the panels. This allows you to wrap around curves and stretch the material properly so that everything lies flat on the front.

2. After you spray on the adhesive, wait a few minutes for it to become tacky.
Good call - esp on #2, as I didn't learn that until halfway through and had glue that wasn't "sticky" onto the door panel yet all over my hands.

Creative! :D Nice custom work... and at such a reasonable cost. :clap:
1st photo looks really good when you see it blended in with the rest of the interior. :up:

There are so many creative individuals here... it's great to see the variety of mods that are on display. There should be a category just for all of these mods done by members.
Ha - what's funny is from far away the cloth in pic#1 doesn't look *that* bad. When you're sitting in the cockpit it's another story though...it irritated me to no end :panic:

If this 3M stuff doesn't stick very well (it's made for drywall after all), my next visit to this will be to get the stitching near the door handle in somehow (wife? ha) in white / orange to match the car. I also thought I was going to do TheViper's AC mod today...definitely didn't get to that. Another 3 day weekend I suppose :)
 

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Nice

Wow that looks mighty nice to me. I also learned to let the adhesive set a few minutes before applying the material down to stick. I did the "Extra seat padding Mod." and yep it took alot of 'Courage" to pull the leather seat inserts off in order to place the extra thicker padding and adhesive down. Thanks alot for showing us your creative side and yep it is a whole lot cheaper to do these DIY mods on our cars... just don't be afraid to try like you surely found out. Great job and thanks for the superb photos. :bow:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Very nice! Looks real good. You should do your dash.
Ha what's funny is that as soon as I did it, I went for a drive to "revel" in my results and thought, "wow, the rest of the plastics around the door needs something". I'm thinking the stormtrooper look: http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f92/stormtrooper-elise-not-56k-friendly-55150/#post982675

I would definitely need to protect my side sills though!

Wow that looks mighty nice to me. I also learned to let the adhesive set a few minutes before applying the material down to stick. I did the "Extra seat padding Mod." and yep it took alot of 'Courage" to pull the leather seat inserts off in order to place the extra thicker padding and adhesive down. Thanks alot for showing us your creative side and yep it is a whole lot cheaper to do these DIY mods on our cars... just don't be afraid to try like you surely found out. Great job and thanks for the superb photos. :bow:
Thanks much; I think I'm going to tackle the AC mod next, then maybe try to re-upholster the cloth Elise seat somehow...or just take it to a professional. But saving so much money is hard to pass up -eek-
 

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Discussion Starter #8
BTW: if anybody is interested in the Lotus OEM Microsuede:
A117U0475J $142.40
Panel-door trim LH black (microfiber)
A117U0472J $142.40
Panel-door trim RH black (microfiber)
So it looks like more incentive for those thinking about trying this out ($285 vs. $15)
 

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Looks good but I'd be concerned later that the adhesive may not hold up. I've replaced a headliner on an older car that was perfect till the summer heat set in. Time will tell, but if it needs to be redone, it can be done even better. Anyways looks good.
 

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Do you think it would be difficult to wrap the side sills? One starting down this road though, the rest of the interior is likely to look even worse.
 

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Looks nice. I've seen it mentioned on other boards that the microsuede from the fabric stores looks great at first but deteriorates rapidly from the sun. Might be something to keep in mind. Not that it would be easy to keep them out of the sun, I suppose.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Do you think it would be difficult to wrap the side sills? One starting down this road though, the rest of the interior is likely to look even worse.
The side sills would be a piece of cake, compared to the door panels, as there are no sharp angles / dips in contour (slight). You just need to take them off, cut and go to work. It'd be better too, since they are a hard plastic material, so worst case scenario, you can use Goo Gone to wipe off all the glue if you didn't like the results / decided to go back to stock.

Looks nice. I've seen it mentioned on other boards that the microsuede from the fabric stores looks great at first but deteriorates rapidly from the sun. Might be something to keep in mind. Not that it would be easy to keep them out of the sun, I suppose.
Good point; I didn't even think about what the effects of sun damage would be. Good thing is this is on the door panels, which don't see alot of sun compared to the dash / seats / etc. I'll be sure to post back in a few months and see what it looks like after. Does anybody have any advice to keep it from deteriorating?
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
is microsuede same or similar to alcantara?
I would say it's very similar. I had the competition package on my E46 M3, and it came with an alcantara steering wheel. I would say alcantara is probably better in terms of feel / performance, since it is made from an animal hide (it's a leather), whereas microsuede is made from plant (cotton?) fibers. It looks pretty much the same, and is still a marked improvement over the cloth interiors. I would say most people couldn't tell the difference.

Alcantara is a bit more work too, as you need to use lemon juice + damp cloth to rejuvenate the fibers when it starts to look worn. The good thing is you can "bring it back", whereas you cannot do that with a fabric very well. All of this type of stuff originated from needing more grip in the steering wheels / seats / shifters of race cars, and from that perspective, microsuede does the same thing. Hope that answers your question.
 

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is microsuede same or similar to alcantara?
Yes. I think alcantara is a brand name like Kleenex. Alcantara seems to be a bit nicer though than what I've seen at local fabric stores.

BTW, cheungms is right, you get lots of odd looks being the only guy in the fabric store. :p
 

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Looks great! Just a little correction-although it feels like suede, alcantara is actually a man-made fiber (68% polyester, 32% polyurethane)-that's why it stands up well to water.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Looks great! Just a little correction-although it feels like suede, alcantara is actually a man-made fiber (68% polyester, 32% polyurethane)-that's why it stands up well to water.

Tom
Ooh - my fault. Sorry for the misinformation! I thought I had heard it was an animal skin for some reason...my bad!
 

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Good work - just my 2c - I use E6000 glue. It holds up to anything (original purpose was repair of factory conveyor belts), is just slightly flexible like rubber cement, and stands up to mother nature.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Good work - just my 2c - I use E6000 glue. It holds up to anything (original purpose was repair of factory conveyor belts), is just slightly flexible like rubber cement, and stands up to mother nature.
$3.99 from KMart - not bad! I hope my stuff doesn't sag anytime soon but I'll pick some up just in case. Would this work for the seat padding Air2Gel mod as well?
 
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