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Lower Tailgate Lining Replacement

Applies to GXL or Higher
Spec 60/80/100 Series Wagons

By Craig Buckley

The Reason

In just 2 short years the carpet covered masonite lining on my 100 series tailgate has reached it's use by date and is need of replacement. While the carpet looks good when new, it gets dirty very easily when used as cooking table and the thin masonite underneath is not suitable for standing or kneeling on  when loading or unloading the car.

Even after a clean many of the stains won't come out

and underneath its buggered

Replacement Options

The objective was to decide on a material to replace the original  lining. Replacement material needed to be suitable for a camp kitchen work area and strong enough to stand or kneel on so had to be:

- Durable
- Water resistant

- Heat resistant
- Easy to clean
- Strong enough to kneel or stand on
- Not to hard on the knees
- Look alright
- Be a reasonable color match to the interior of the vehicle.
- Be stable (not swell, warp, crack etc)
- Easy to work without expensive or special tools
- Reasonably affordable
- Not have any adverse affect on the vehicle (drumming, corrosion, electrolysis etc)
- Be reasonably easy to remove to access tailgate components i.e. lamps etc.

It also had to be reasonably easy to work for someone with my skill set (Telecommunications Technician) and tools. Some of those that put forward ideas had access to Plasma cutters, computer controlled routers, Industrial workshops etc. I'm a bit more basic.

A summary of the ideas put forward and my perceived Pros & Cons is as follows.

Black widow powder coated alloy

Meets all of my requirements except reasonably affordable. Looks great, matches the car & comes as a complete kit with nothing more to do but fit it.

Only available for 100 series and new Hilux ute. RRP of $229 so if your budget allows, go for it.

3mm Alloy plate

Some places will cut to size if you provide your old tailgate as a template they can use to program their plasma cutter. Look for a place that will charge you by the square meter instead of making you buy a full sheet. Cost for the finished shaped sheet will be approx $100-120 with 40% of that being labor to program the machine.

You will also have to source X-Large Christmas Tree clips to fix as screws would protrude too much and rivets would make it too hard to remove.

Sorry No Picture

Alloy checker or propeller plate

Same as alloy plate above but harder on the knees and not really suitable as a work area. Looks cool though. More suitable for Barn doors.

(Thanks to M Barson for photo)

Stainless steel plate

Same as alloy plate but more expensive and harder to work. Now available as a kit from Out Of Town 4WD at Newcastle but at $280 RRP you would really have to like stainless.

Chopping Board Material (AKA High Density Polyethylene)

The most affordable material is called Polystone 300 and is available in black or white (Also Sold as Polystone G, Sanatec, Calask & Hostalen GM 5010). A single piece 10mm thick and large enough for a 100 series tailgate will cost $126. Add any costs associated with shaping and fixing the material and it's starting to get expensive. A full sheet (3000 x 1500 x 10mm) will cost $480 but should provide enough for 7 Tailgate linings at $68.60 each if you have 6 mates.

There is also a more durable material that is easier to work called Polystone 500 (High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) but it is about 25% dearer again and is only available in white. Unfortunately both materials only have a maximum temp rating of 80 deg Celsius so no hot billys etc.

Sorry No Picture

Varnished marine ply

Meets nearly all of my requirements and a 2400 x 600 x 6mm sheet cost $26 plus $24 for 500ml of marine varnish. Reasonably durable and a quick sand and another coat of varnish every 12 months will keep it looking good. Was unable to find a grey stain to match the car. Very time consuming as needed 4 coats of varnish.

Ply with Laminex covering

See above - This was actually high on my wish list but the min size for Laminex was 1800 x 750 and was $108. Will still need minimum one coat of varnish to seal underside against warping / swelling etc. Include glue and labour and cost is higher than alloy plate.

Sorry No Picture

Ply covered with Vinyl flooring

Sounds like a winner. If It's strong enough for the floor of a police station holding cell it should do the job if I you can find an off-cut of the industrial stuff. Not sure how well it stands up to hot billys etc.

Sorry No Picture


For now I have gone with Fijian 6mm marine ply with a 45 degree bevel around the edge and 4 x coats of Marine Varnish, screwed down to the tailgate.

Color doesn’t actually match the car but if a plastic wood grain dash is supposed to look good, then a real wood grain tailgate must look great. It meets nearly all of my requirements and a 2400 x 600 sheet cost $26 plus $24 for 500ml of Varnish. If I do come across a suitable Laminex or Vinyl flooring off-cut I can easily glue it on later. If not a quick sand and another coat of varnish every 12 months will keep it looking good.

Guide for Actually Doing the Job

Important Note All dimensions and instructions are for my 2004 100 series GXL wagon. If you have any other model car, please get the tape out & measure twice before ordering or cutting anything, look three times before drilling anywhere!!!

As always wear appropriate safety equipment for the tasks being performed.

Material size required for my 100 series was 415mm x 1360mm. Most materials come in minimum size sheets of 600mm or 1200mm x 2400mm so there is potentially going to be a lot of waste unless you go halves with a mate or find a supplier who will charge you for only the amount you need.

This guide is for Marine Ply so make allowances for other materials..

I used 6mm thick ply but would go for 12mm next time. Using 12mm will still allow the tailgate to close with no problems, make for a stronger surface and is easier to bevel with a router.

Step 1 Remove the existing lining.

On the 100 series it is held on by 16 plastic trim clips around the outside perimeter. Being careful not to scratch the paint slide a flat thin bar (or you can get a trim removal store from most car parts stores for around $5) or a screwdriver under the edge and lever up gently. Don't panic if some clips pull out of the masonite and stay behind. They can be easily removed with long nose pliers. (Clip positions for 100 series in photo below)

Step 2 - Use your old liner as a template to mark out the shape on your replacement material. Many materials including ply have a good side and a rough side. Try to mark and cut from the rough side so that any marks or splinters will end up on the underside and out of sight.

Note - The latest version 100 series has approx a 5mm-10mm gap between the upper lip of the tailgate and the original carpet (The original liner on my Sept 04 came to the edge). The protruding steel lip tends to dig into peoples legs when reaching into the back. If affected, cut your new liner a fraction wider so it meets the lip to fix this.

Step 3 - Using a jig saw carefully cut away all the bits that do not look like a tailgate. If using a thicker material it will look much better if you bevel or round off the upper edge with a router (Do this from the good side).  Then go round the edges with sandpaper just to clean up the rough edges.

Note - Make sure you use the right jigsaw blade for the job. To minimize splintering on timber use a fine blade. There are also special blades for alloy. Check with the supplier regards best option for cutting / routing plastic.

Step 4 - Decide how you are going to fix your new liner to your tailgate.

Most of the aftermarket kits use Xmas tree Clips that go into the original holes. This is probably the best option if using alloy plate. The holes are quite large so you will have to source extra large ones from an upholsterer or motor trimmer. Normal car parts stores do not stock ones big enough. If using ply or plastic, counter sunk screws work well but beware of where you drill. I would advise against rivets as on some models you may need to access the inside of the tailgate to change lamps etc. You should also decide how many fasteners you want to use (in case you think 16 is overkill) and decide which holes you are going to mark.

Step 5 - Mark the original hole positions.

Again using the original liner as a template, place it masonite side up onto the rough side of your new one. You may want to clamp them together so they don't move during the next bit. Using a centre punch or awl locate the centers of the holes where the trim clips were (see picture) and mark your new liner through the carpet.

If you have done it properly the original hole locations should now be transferred on to the rough side of your new liner.

Step 5b - For those using screws only

The original holes are much too large to use screws so you will need to drill new holes in your liner and the tailgate. Think carefully about hole placement. If you drill too close to the upper lip you can easily drill all the way through your tailgate. I used 20mm countersunk metal screws with the holes offset 8mm from the original centers used by the original trim clips. This ensure the screws go into a flat area with a void underneath and worked really well.

On your liner locate the marks you made earlier and using a square or ruler, make a new mark 8mm away for each hole. I suggest going 8mm toward the tailgate hinge for all of your holes except the 2 at the very far left and right. This will ensure that the screw heads at the bottom will be covered by the plastic hinge cover on a 100 series and that you won't accidentally drill all the way through the thin lip of your tailgate at the top.

Note - If you decide to use the holes at the very far left and right be aware that you will have to use short screws as the side lock mechanisms are located very close to the original holes.

Step 6a - Drill the holes (For Xmas tree clips only)

Drill the holes you have marked on the new liner with a drill the same size as the existing holes in the tailgate. If you have done everything right you should  be able to position your new liner on the tailgate and your holes should match up perfectly with the original ones. Don't worry if some of your holes are fractionally out. Just make the holes in the liner a fraction bigger. The large heads on the Xmas tree clips should cover any minor sins.

Step 6b - Drill the holes (For screws only)

Use a 3mm pilot drill (Assuming 6 gauge screws) to drill your offset holes from the rough side. Now position your liner good side up on the tailgate and lightly clamp or tape it to stop it moving. Through each of your pilot holes you should be able to see a flat piece of metal on your tailgate suitable for drilling into. Again using your 3mm drill bit run your drill through each of your pilot holes and into your tailgate.

This will ensure that all of your holes will line up perfectly. If you have done it properly there should be a 3mm hole located in the flat area next to the original holes you selected. After removing the liner, re-drill and countersink the holes in the new liner to the size recommended for the screws you are using.

Step 7 - Apply protective coatings (if required).

Even if covered with Laminex or similar, ply it will need at least one coat of varnish or similar on both sides to seal it. This will minimize cracking, splitting and warping. I used marine varnish thinned with 10% turps to seal it and 4 x coats undiluted on the work surface, lightly sanded between coats. I still have the option of covering with Laminex later if I wish.

Step 8 - Replace dust seal on tailgate.

I don't know if this is critical but suspect it would help minimize noise when using alloy plate as your lining. You will note that there was a ring of foam on the back of the original liner. A couple of meters of self adhesive weather stripping from Clarks Rubber or the hardware store can be easily fixed to the matching groove in the tailgate. I used some old stuff I had laying in the shed. You might also want to place a strip around the outside perimeter where the holes are to minimize metal to metal contact and possible electrolysis if using metal plate.

Step 9 - Fix your new Liner to your tailgate.

Position new liner on tailgate. If you used Xmas tree plugs push them in. If you used screws, screw them in. Stand back and admire.

This was my first attempt at a Tech page article and I hope it will provide some value to others on the list.

Thanks to all who contributed suggestions and photos. Any mistakes however are my own.

If anyone has any suggestions to make this article better please let me know. If anyone has photos of a tailgate lined with Laminex or chopping board liner, please forward them on.

Regards Craig Buckley

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