So, you have all of your records ready to go, and you have even made sure to set up your entire stereo system as per the express specifications of the retailer; everything is ready to go. But what use is such a pristine setup and listening environment if you are not going to look after your collection if you are not going to engage properly with the medium and learn the art of storing records?
This is an all too easy aspect to neglect, one that can leave you having to replace certain chunks of your collection over and over again for having damaged them for whatever reason. Thus, today, we will be showing you what properly storing records looks like.
Table of Contents
- How Might a Record Get Damaged?
- Storing Records Correctly: Preventing Damage
- Using a Vinyl Storage Crate
- Using Plastic Vinyl LP Sleeves
- Storing Records on a Shelf
- Final Tones
- FAQs Storing Records
How Might a Record Get Damaged?
There are several different reasons for adequately storing records, though many of these tend to circulate around improper storage. This is an imperfect medium; there are no two ways about it. The vinyl record is an incredibly sensitive thing, prey to many debilitating minutiae. Keeping your vinyl in shape with suitable cleaning kits might prevent some of the following.
Heat tends to be one of the main factors for a damaged record, a vinyl disc so affected as to literally change its shape. These discs tend to be made from vinyl plastic, crude oil shaped like a frisbee. Anyone could tell you that such material is sensitive to heat, and they would be right! You wouldn’t put a piece of plastic crockery or cutlery on a radiator, would you?
The same logic ought to apply here, for this is plastic in the most real sense. Exposed to heat, the plastic becomes softer and thus starts to mould to whatever shape it is being pressed into. Since they are so thin anyhow, it does not take much to force them into a new shape. Other aspects of the climate of a space can have an impact on a vinyl record disc’s structural integrity too, not least the humidity of a given room.
A vinyl record disc can be sensitive to direct sunlight, also, so it is best to always replace a disc in its corresponding sleeve as soon as possible, making sure of your adequately storing records. The light can play tricks on the grooves of the disc, melting them and moulding them to another shape, or else blunting them entirely and erasing the details carved within.
The same very much goes for the sleeve itself, in fact, as a sleeve’s exposure to direct sunlight or other light sources is one of the main reasons for them being weathered and bleached, such as those you might see at a yard sale or in a second hand store. Needless to say, then, that at every stage, properly storing records is absolutely vital.
Storing Records Correctly: Preventing Damage
The only thing more helpful than methods helping to fix a damaged record would be methods for you to prevent the damaging of your records altogether, methods that encourage safely storing records. As previously mentioned, the vinyl record is a sensitive and fragile thing, scarcely able to maintain its structural integrity throughout its lifetime, and certainly not without being kept in the right conditions.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
The first step would be to keep the records away from direct sunlight, much like a succulent. The heat, no matter how negligible it might feel to us humans, can have a significant impact on the structural integrity of a vinyl disc.
The sunlight can cause various damages to the sleeve and the record itself; the slow exposure to heat can eventually warp a record beyond recognition. Keep the records away from windows and heating. You’ll also want to make sure you don’t leave your records in the car on a hot day, a hot car being so much like a greenhouse.
Avoid Stacking Your Records
Another seemingly obvious method of preventing a warped record which can be easy to overlook, is to avoid stacking them. A record on its own might not feel heavy, but its weight certainly adds up (just try lifting a big pile or box of records, and you will know exactly what we mean). Not only can this contribute to an excess of pressure on the records, but can also exacerbate the presence of any dust or dirt in the sleeves. Pressure is exerted on these grains of dirt, forcing scratches into the surfaces of these records.
Avoid Humid Places
Less common, though by no means less important to consider, is the humidity of the space in which your records are kept. The humidity of a basement or attic room is likely to cause some serious damage to your record collection if left unchecked. Try to find a space you can use that isn’t overly humid, though if a basement is your only choice, you should consider installing a dehumidifier to provide a safe place to store your records.
Using a Vinyl Storage Crate
No vinyl record collector’s set up is complete without a place to hold their collection and to learn the proper way of storing records. This will ideally occupy pride of place in a record collector’s den, a place for each collector to exhibit their collection for all visitors to see. Very often, however, a collector’s collection will simply be too large for the space it occupies. Finding a middle ground between proudly exhibiting one’s collection and economically storing it all away can be a real pickle!
It is also a pickle trying to find a product that strikes this middle ground! Cue a wooden vinyl record storage crate. There can be found storage crates made of solid wood, made for the strict purpose of giving the record collection in question the just protection it deserves. The materials used mean these are usually built to last and will be more aesthetically pleasing the older they get, thanks to the real wood finish.
This strength goes hand in hand with the robustness offered by the inbuilt wheels that they often come with. Unlike other consumables for enthusiasts, these crates can often hold up to 100 LPs, even if they are equipped with plastic sleeves for extra protection. This is a massive weight to burden one’s back with, a strain that the inbuilt wheels can completely negate.
This kind of crate will not only allow record collectors to stylishly store a larger collection but will also lend credence to the oft-touted term ‘crate digging’. The owner of this fine wooden crate will indeed be crate digging every time they go looking for a record of theirs to spin.
Using Plastic Vinyl LP Sleeves
This way of storing records ought to be ubiquitous among all record lovers. While some accessories can be more concerned with the sanctity of the disc itself, these kinds of plastic sleeves are more concerned with the preservation of the sleeve itself, as well as keeping dust out of the business of the jacket and disc.
This is an aspect oft neglected in the world of vinyl record collecting. Far too often, you will receive a record in the post or out in the wild, whose disc will be perfectly preserved but whose sleeve will look more like rags. So much of the experience of listening to and appreciating a record is in these sleeves. Listening to a record properly, sitting back, and holding the sleeve aloft like art. For that is what it is, and why album covers are referred to, by some, as album art.
Here is where these plastic sleeves come in. You might have seen similar accessories on some or all of the records in your local record store. Too often, however, those used in record stores are murky and almost opaque. Fair enough, it would be pretty expensive to deck every record in the store with such high-grade plastic sleeves. But that is precisely what newer sleeves offer, bearing crystal clear transparency.
In this way, you can easily and economically preserve the quality of the album art without sacrificing the act of marveling at it from time to time. The crystal is clear and wrinkle-free polypropylene also boasts protection from UV radiation. All too often, a record sleeve will be marred by distortion and fading, having been overexposed to the sun’s light.
Storing Records on a Shelf
It is far better to store records upright than flat for reasons pertaining to the sanctity of the disc. If utterly necessary, a record can be stored flat, though it should be avoided as much as you can help it. A record on its own might not feel heavy, but its weight certainly adds up (just try lifting a big pile or box of records, and you will know exactly what we mean).
Not only can this contribute to an excess of pressure on the records, but can also exacerbate the presence of any dust or dirt in the sleeves. Pressure is exerted on these grains of dirt, forcing scratches into the surfaces of these records. Typical solutions to this conundrum have users and enthusiasts leaning their collection up against a wall, with the records coming outwards from the wall towards the user.
Others include similar situations where the wall is used and leaned against. There are more commercial and consumable methods that involve purchasing a dedicated crate (a la crate digging) or weights which keep the records in place, though it is not at all necessary to involve yourself with such methods if you have a perfectly good wall free around the house.
So, there you have it! Hopefully you have been able to find within the folds of this fine article some pertinent advice on how best to go about storing records, advice that has enabled you to sort out your own collection and preserve for years to come!
FAQs Storing Records
How should you store records?
When storing records you should make sure to take several factors into account and to keep them in the balance. The temperature is vital to consider. Heat tends to be one of the main factors for a damaged record, a vinyl disc so affected as to literally change its shape. These discs tend to be made from vinyl plastic, crude oil shaped like a frisbee. Humidity, too, can have a similarly drastic effect on the polyvinyl chloride that houses your favorite recordings. Likewise, direct light is an important factor in storing records, not simply for the heat it can impart. The Ultraviolet light transmitted by the sun onto a record can significantly damage the grooves of a record, the common currency of sound on a vinyl disc.
Is it OK to store records flat?
If utterly necessary, though, it should be avoided as much as you can help it. A record on its own might not feel heavy, but its weight certainly adds up (just try lifting a big pile or box of records, and you will know exactly what we mean). Not only can this contribute to excess pressure on the records, but can also exacerbate the presence of any dust or dirt in the sleeves. Pressure is exerted on these grains of dirt, forcing scratches into the surfaces of these records.
What temperature should vinyl records be stored?
There is not necessarily a single temperature that will guarantee the sanctity of your precious vinyl collection. Simply making sure that the collection is kept at a reasonable temperature will, however, ensure that certain issues like warping and such will be avoided altogether by means of heat. A cool and collected temperature kept stable will be ample for a record collection, not too hot nor too cold. Both these extremes can have a severely detrimental effect on the records as a whole and singularly.
How do you keep records upright?
Typical solutions to this conundrum have users and enthusiasts leaning their collection up against a wall, with the records coming outwards from the wall towards the user. Others include similar situations where the wall is used and leaned against. There are more commercial and consumable methods that involve purchasing a dedicated crate (a la crate digging) or weights which keep the records in place, though it is not at all necessary to involve yourself with such methods if you have a perfectly good wall free around the house.