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Jeep Wrangler - Restoration & Custom Outfitting
All photos, diagrams, and text on this page Copyright 2013 - David Todeschini - all rights reserved - see Copyright Terms

 

Custom Carpeting

 

While it is possible to replace factory carpeting in a Jeep (or almost any other car or SUV) without removing the seats, in a Jeep or other vehicle that has been off-road (or you plan to take off-road), it is probably prudent to remove the seats, do a thorough cleaning, paint any rusted parts and (at least) hit the floorboards with a coat of Never Wet Spray Rust-Oleum. Better still, for a few more bucks, you could coat the floorboard with Rhino Lining. If you are replacing the carpet, you don't want to put new carpet over a dirty floor, so a few hours spent removing the seats and center console (if you have one), and cleaning underneath is time well spent; after all, if your Jeep has had a few previous owners as mine did, you never know what you'll find in the places you'll never otherwise see.

 

Before you replace the carpeting, consider applying Rhino Lining or other protective coating, and after that, do some inexpensive sound-deadening / rustproofing. Your wallet won't be much lighter for the effort, and if you plan to keep your Jeep for a while, then by all means do all three: Rhino Lining, Sound Deadening, and replacing factory carpets in that order.

 

You can't say "I didn't tell you".... just be prepared. My '97 Jeep had 3 types of bolts holding each seat to the floor. The carpet was factory, and so I believe it was built that way because each seat had the identical set-up. I found I needed a Torx wrench, a 1/2" socket, and a 13mm socket. The worst thing the USA ever did was allow Metric fasteners into the country. Now instead of a standard SAE toolkit, you have to have every six-sided, double-fluted, poygogonal hermaphrodite in God's creation.

 

The seat bolts are not easy to get to, either. The driver's seat rear, left bolt on my Jeep was seized in the captive nut (rusted from the bottom). After fighting with it for 15 minutes, I broke the captive nut loose, and had to cut the bolt off with a Cut-Off Wheel on a Dremel Stylus Tool fitted with a Keyless Chuck to get the seat out of the Jeep.

 

NOTE: Disconnect the plug from the seat belt switch on the right side of the seat, and pop off the cable retainer on the seat base before lifting the seat out through the passenger door.

 

After you've removed the seats and  the old carpeting, a good scrubbing with mild soap and Lysol Disinfectant Spray removes the dirt and the stink of old carpet (and whatever else died and is rotting under there). Wash thoroughly with cold water, sucking up the dirty water with a Shop-Vac. Allow the floor to dry completely before doing Rhino Lining or installing the carpeting.

 

If you are using pre-formed carpeting, the job should go easy. However, if you're up to it, you can get much better carpeting for the job, but you'll have to do a bit more work to install it. You can get a length of industrial-grade, rubber-backed carpeting at your local carpet store for about the same price you'll pay for the "pre-fab" carpet, and cut it to fit. If you do, you can use a 1/4" thick felt pad underneath the carpet in the front to add comfort and further deaden vibrations and road noise. Get carpeting with a rubber backing (not Jute), and bends easily. A Heat Gun can be used to gently warm the backing on the carpet to coax it to conform to the bumps and curves in the floor. If you use industrial carpeting, it is almost impossible to install it in one piece. I measured and cut the carpet so it covered the front of the Jeep, ending under the rear seat (see photo). I also had to cut-in two other pieces about 12 inches wide and 18 inches long to cover the wheel wells. Carpet over sharp curves was secured with Liquid Nails Construction Adhesive.

 

The wheel wells are a challenge to do with straight carpet, so before you consider your choice, consider that straight carpet will not easily be formed over the curves of the wheel wells, and that you will have to cut the carpet to have it fit. Joining it at the cuts will not be easy, so consult with a professional carpet installer before opting NOT to use one of the Pre-formed kits shown below.

 

I like the challenge of doing things myself; so I opted for the better quality industrial carpeting. I bought a 6 x 12 foot roll of carpeting for about what it would cost for the least expensive pre-formed carpet. I had put a new carpet in my 1969 Mach I Mustang "back in the day" (1974), and that worked out well, so I figured I'd do the Jeep the same way. It was a lot of work I won't deny it. Doing a Jeep Wrangler carpet "from scratch" requires you to be a bit of a contortionist, but persistence wins in the end.

Custom carpeting cut to fit around parking brake lever.

The industrial-grade carpeting should be laid so that there is a minimum of openings cut into it. The rubber backing on this particular carpet is waterproof, so that any water entering the cab can be easily vacuumed out with a Shop-Vac. If any leaks out into the tub, it can be drained via the drain holes. Before laying a non-prefab carpet, install all the seat bolts so that holes can be found easily and cut for them when the carpet is finally in place.

Rubber-backed carpet in Jeep Wrangler - fits nicely over countours in the tub floor.

In the photo at the left, the carpeting has been laid and positioned, secured under the shifter console, and openings cut for the parking brake lever. You will note the shift lever-mounted spotlamp flash button (green arrow), The orange thing protruding into the right of the photo (red arrow) is a Nite Ize Gear Tie hanging from the passenger dashboard handle above the glove box. There is also a flashlight clip (blue arrow) that I mounted to the console to hold Toll Booth tickets.

Carpet installation view from Jeep driver's side.

This photo shows the two mounting bolts (red arrows) for a locking center console that will be installed once the carpet installation is completed. The carpet is cut around the jack mount (under the passenger seat). Note that just enough carpet is cut to maintain function of the protruding components. The front seats are bolted through the carpet, whereas the factory installs the carpet AROUND the seat mounts.

Note the bolts protruding from the Jeep floor - ready to mount center locking console.

This is the passenger-side view looking towards the back seat. The Locking Console mounting bolts (yellow arrows), and 18 inches of carpet which will be formed under the back seat (red arrow) and seamed with the cargo area carpet, and a moving blanket (green arrow) which was on the back seat's dog hammock when the photo was taken.

Rear cargo area of Jeep with rear seat removed. Carpet looks great.

Rear view of finished carpeting (rear seat removed). Locking Console (red arrow), Dog leash hanging from Roll Bar (green arrow), Rear Seat bolts (purple arrows), Cable Lock (to secure toolbox) (blue arrows), Clips for Tailgate Net (yellow arrow). The end of the carpet at the tailgate is secured with self-tapping screws and finish washers.

Two parts of carpet are joined under the rear seat where screws and joint can't be seen.

The carpet is installed in two major pieces. The front part ends under the rear seat, and is secured to the Rhino-Lined bed with #8 x " Stainless Steel V-head, self-drilling sheet metal screws and finish washers (available at Home Depot). Adhesive such as Contact Cement or Liquid Nails PolyAdhesive can be used to secure the carpet to curves in the floor and wheel wells. Carpet seams are secured with Gorilla Tape, which sticks tenaciously to a rubber backing.

Carpet seam under the rear seat isn't noticable

The rear seat brackets will fit snugly against the wheel wells when you attempt to re-install the seat with thicker carpet than what you started with. If you have any left over carpet, you can do the bottom of the seat if you wish.

Form carpet to wheel well curves and screw / glue it into place. 

This photo shows the wheel well hump on the driver's side where the front and rear carpet sections join. I used Gorilla Tape to join the ends of the carpet together, and Liquid Nails PolyAdhesive to hold the carpet to the curves and contours of the wheel wells.

The edges of the carpet (where they meet) are carefully glued together. When you do this, you must be careful NOT to get any adhesive on the carpet. Use a piece of wide, sticky masking tape to keep the glue off the carpet.

In the photo you see two self-tapping metal screws and finish washers used to hold the carpet to the dimple in the wheel well hump. When the glue dries, these can be removed if you wish. If there are small gaps where the seam can be seen, apply a small amount of adhesive to the seam and poke some loose carpet pill (threads) on top of the adhesive.

 

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