I saw this DIY modification on tacomaworld.com a while ago and I finally decided to try it. I also took a few pictures detailing the process for those of us here on toyotanation.com that might want to have a whack at it.
Before you get started, get your tools together:
Cordless drill with 3/8" bit.
Slotted screwdrivers, large and small
Xacto knife or some other type of sharp blade
Sharpie or some sort of marker
Spray adhesive (I used 3M heavy duty, but you may have a brand that you like better)
#10 x 1/2" panhead screws
Fabric of your choice (I used black vinyl)
I tried this mod because I am a dirty guy. I work on old cars all the time, and my dirty arms were destroying the factory fabric on the door armrests. I decided to put some vinyl in to make cleaning easier. You could use fabric to accent your interior, or add some contrast, whatever you feel like. As a disclaimer, I take no responsibility for your screwups. This mod requires actual modification to your door panels. If you don't know what you're doing, and you drill through your door panel, that's on you dude. All that said, here's what I started with:
You can see the stains, eew.
Step 1, remove doorpanels. You will have to pull things off that are snapped in. If your truck is brand new and you have never done this before, they will be tight. It can be unnerving to yank on plastic clips, but don't worry, you'll be okay:
You need to pull this piece off. It just unsnaps, don't be a girl, just yank it.
Then you need to remove the screw hiding under this panel. Use your small screwdriver to pop this open.
Then use your small scredriver, inserted in the small slot on the bottom of your door pull to unsnap it. Then remove the two screws hiding under there too.
If you have manual windows, this part is a little difficult. Use your large slotted screwdriver to pry between the window crank and the door panel. You will see a little gold colored clip. This holds the crank on the regulator and keeps your door panel from coming off. This takes a little finesse. I made a tool out of an old brake spring, but you could use a pick and hook set too.
This is the clip after being removed.
After doing all of that, you have to pop one little fastener in and then pry your door panel off. Start at the bottom, and using your large screwdriver, pop it towards you. This is the part that might scare you. After your done popping, lift up, and it will come off, hopefully.
Step 2, removing the armrest from the doorpanel:
Flip your door panel over and set it on something, a workbench, kitchen table, whatever. There is one screw to remove. You will then see a bunch of melt points, they look like plastic rivets. This is where there drill comes in:
Only drill enough to break these rivets loose. You want a little meat left on there to screw into later.
Gently pry on the armrest, and it will pop out:
No turning back now.
Step 3, remove the old fabric:
Umm, just pull it off. I started at the large end, and it should come right off:
Hang on to this, because you will use it to make a pattern:
Get your scissors out and your Sharpie. Trace around the old fabric, making it bigger than it was before. You will appreciate the extra later.
Cut this out, I shouldn't have to show you what that looks like right?
Step 4, affixing the new fabric:
Take your new pattern and your plastic armrest outside and spray on the adhesive. The key here is to follow the instructions carefully on your particular brand. Make sure to let it tack up. Then stick the two together. Start in the deepest part of the armrest and work your way out.
When you get to the corners, cut little slits to allow the fabric to bend.
Then trim off the excess so it looks like this:
Step 5, put it back together:
I forgot to take pictures of putting the screws in, but it's pretty basic. You screw them into the old melt points. The plastic is soft, so no need to pre-drill.
For those of us with manual windows, put the clip in the handle first, then it snaps on.
It looks like this when you're done. I'm happy with it.