If you’re a vinyl enthusiast, you’re probably wondering how to keep your precious records in good shape.
Apart from how you handle the records and how your record player equipment affects your record quality, the storage of your vinyl records is paramount to preserving their longevity.
In short, vinyl records should be stored vertically in a cool environment with protective sleeves. They should also be kept away from high humidity and bright light to prevent any damage.
With this in mind, we can jump into a few more details of how to realistically avoid any heartbreaking moments of a spoiled record.
Whether you need some tips on how to improve garage storage for vinyl records or if you want to know the difference between storing short term or long term, we’ve got you covered.
Most Important Storage Tips For Vinyl Records
Have you ever gone rummaging around for a record, only to find that it has been ruined by careless storage mistakes?
Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.
Nevertheless, it is something that can be intercepted by paying close attention to orientation, temperature, light, humidity and protective sleeves.
One of the age-old questions of storing records is how you stack them. Should they be placed upright and in a vertical orientation or should you lie them down horizontally on a flat surface?
Well, it’s safe to say that records should always be placed vertically unless they are currently being played on your turntable.
Stacking records next to each other in an upright fashion is the best way to prevent warping and damage. It is also important for ensuring that there isn’t unnecessary pressure placed on the record. If vinyl records are stacked on top of each other horizontally, the pressure piles and piles until the bottom record gets the brunt of the weight.
And sure, one record doesn’t seem like it’s particularly heavy but what about 10? Or even 20? Since one record typically weighs about 5 ounces, that would mean that the bottom record is bearing roughly 6 pounds, which is far from ideal.
Instead, one should aim to stack them straight and upright, making sure that they aren’t slanted at an abnormal angle. They should be spaced close to each other but not so close that they are squished and forced into place. Vinyl records should be treated with care and delicately handled, not roughly shoved into shelves.
The ideal temperature for storing records strays on the cooler side. In general, vinyl can withstand cold temperatures fairly well but it is the heat that is the real killer of dreams. However, don’t take this as a cue to stick your records in the freezer!
For general everyday use, records can be safely stored around 65 to 70°F. Nonetheless, they should be stored around 45 to 50°F for peak conditions. This means that people living in warmer climates may need to put in a little extra work to protect their records by implementing a climate-control system in the room that holds the vinyl.
Installing some sort of air conditioning setup just for your records may seem like overkill but if you truly want the value and enjoyment of your collection to last, it will likely be worth it. It can also be helpful to view the investment as something for your personal enjoyment as well.
Listening to your records while you’re dripping with sweat is hardly pleasant so doubling the storage room as the listening room could be a major value-add to your life.
This may not seem like the biggest threat to the health of your records. But if it isn’t something you are aware of, you could end up harming your vinyl. Exposure to direct sunlight is a recipe for damage since ultraviolet light can cause photo-degradation.
This means that essentially, the polymer chains in the vinyl can start to break down due to UV radiation. Not to mention, the heat that typically comes with direct sunlight also poses a risk of warping.
Serious light damage is fairly uncommon simply because most people store their records indoors but do be careful about leaving your records out in front of windows with high sun exposure. You and your plants might appreciate some sunbathing but your vinyl definitely won’t.
Much like high temperatures, high humidity can cause detrimental damage to your records over time. Ideally, you want to store your records at around 30 to 40% humidity. Meaning that anyone living in areas prone to high humidity such as coastal cities or tropical islands should be wary of how they handle storage.
In some cases, it may even be worthwhile to invest in a dehumidifier to not only protect your records but also to prevent mold from growing in your home. It’s a win-win!
As much as the environment is important for preserving your records, so is the casing. This includes both an inner sleeve that covers the vinyl disk inside the cardboard as well as an outer sleeve to protect the cardboard. Using both will give you the best shot of barring the accumulation of dust.
Bear in mind that the material you use for your sleeves will affect the condition of your records. We recommend choosing plastic inner sleeves over paper ones because the paper sleeves can be harsh on the vinyl and cause scratches.
Plastic outer sleeves are usually a great option but you can also opt to buy vinyl bags that seal at the top, where the plastic sleeves typically remain open.
In general, short-term storage is less demanding than long-term storage. If you have a few select records that are frequently in use and are being cleaned regularly, you can be a little more lenient with your storage choices.
Certainly, we recommend taking action on all of the points we have already mentioned, even when you are storing for the short term. However, it is long-term storage that suffers the most with dust building up and environmental wear over time.
So, for short-term storage, simply placing your records on a sturdy shelf or in a box can be perfectly adequate. Remember to keep the temperature below 70°F, stack vertically, be cautious of direct sunlight and monitor humidity. Besides these few points, you should be all set to enjoy your regulars without too much fuss.
With that being said, long-term storage is a whole other story. In this case, the temperature should be kept to a more conservative range of between 45 and 50°F. Sure, you may need to grab a fluffy coat to keep warm when you browse your records but at least you will be able to enjoy them for years and years to come. Also, be sure to track the humidity of the room.
Especially when stored in one place for a long time, vinyl records should be kept away from any bright UV lights and out of direct sunlight. If you thought that leaving a record out in the sun for a couple of hours was bad, just imagine the amount of photo-degradation and warping after months or even years.
At that point, you may as well just make a bonfire with the remnants because there won’t be anything worth keeping…
If you are storing on shelves, the strength of the shelves is of utmost importance. Imagine losing an entire collection if a shelf collapses under the weight! It’s enough to make any collector dig their own grave. A few things to consider are reinforcing the shelf, balancing the weight on shelves by storing the same size records together and creating dividers to help you categorize correctly.
It is highly recommended to use inner and outer sleeves to help manage dust collection in long-term storage. In particular, anti-static plastic inner sleeves are a much more reliable option than ordinary paper sleeves.
Most people tend to choose either basements, attics or garages for long-term storage. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea but do keep in mind that these parts of the house can be more difficult to control in terms of climate.
Typically, main sections of a home are better insulated than less-frequented rooms and they are more likely to already include air conditioning or dehumidifiers. This means that they are sometimes easier to regulate than a forgotten room that overheats in the summer and is prone to collecting a thousand layers of dust.
The final tip when storing records for the long term is to give them a thorough clean beforehand. If your precious music is going to be tucked away for a long time and exposed to the dust without any tender love and care, you want them to go into storage in the best possible condition.
This gives you the best baseline to preserve the condition of your collection. Check out How To Clean Vinyl Records Safely & Without Damaging Them for more information.
Now that we’ve covered everything, you can go forth and consolidate all the information into preventing any warping (or other damage) to your vinyl records. Through careful attention to stacking orientation, temperature, humidity, light, and protective sleeves, you can store your LPs like a pro.
Ensuring that you can keep the tradition alive and pass on the joy of music for years ahead.
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Simon is a music lover, musical instrument player and passionate audio afficionado. When he is not playing the guitar or listening to music he is either eating tacos or snoring too loudly.