A well-kept vinyl record is a pleasure to behold; they sound great, they’re free of excessive surface noise, and the cover is a piece of art. A poorly kept record, on the other hand, is not so appealing; there’s background noise, plenty of pops and clicks, and the artwork is scuffed – it might even be unplayable due to some nasty surface scratches. The good news is, avoiding the latter scenario is actually very simple. All you have to do is store your records correctly, and they’ll reward you with a lifetime of enjoyment. In the following article, I will outline how to store a record collection properly.
Inner sleeves are the most critical component in proper vinyl storage, as they’re the only product that will come in direct contact with your precious records. Most new records are shipped with standard paper inner sleeves, which transfer paper flakes onto the surface of your record and can even cause surface wear over time. The safest option is to replace the standard sleeve with a higher-quality polyethylene inner sleeve that will protect against static build-up and contamination.
To protect your artwork, and prevent airborne dust contaminating the record when stored, you also need to invest in outer record sleeves. Traditionally, you would use thick plastic PVC outer sleeves; however, there’s currently a lot of debate and concern among vinyl collectors about the potential for contamination when using PVC-based products. The theory is, because vinyl is also made from oil, the two products can actually merge given the wrong climate. The result is a misting effect on the record, which is audible as hiss. One alternative to traditional PVC sleeves is Polypropylene outer sleeves. The thinner alternatives are less attractive, but potentially much safer according to archivists. They’re not as pretty on the shelf, but would you take the risk?
Vinyl Record Shelving
Now that your favorite records are packaged up in their protective layers against airborne nasties, you’ll need somewhere to store your collection. The fundamental rule about storing records in any unit, is they must by stored vertically. Stacking records flat in piles will lead to warping over time.
You’ll also want to avoid any excessive pressure on groups of records, even when stored vertically. Small compartments designed to help break up record collections are your friend in this instance, and I highly recommend buying a specialist unit. Ikea make a number of great shelving units that are perfect for LPs (13″ w x 13″ h x 15.5″ d). As they’re broken into small compartments, you can easily avoid excessive leaning, which can cause damage over time.
Vinyl Storage Boxes
Hard-case storage boxes are a great way to store records for long periods of time or even transport records. If you’re storing records to move house, for example, I highly recommend you invest in a few hard carry cases. For example, this rock-solid flight case safely stores between 60 and 70 LP’s.
Record Divider Cards
If you’re lucky enough to have a rather large collection of vinyl records, you might find it beneficial to invest in some divider cards and labels. These heavy duty divider cards are perfect for organizing your records, and will save you potentially damaging album sleeves when digging for that one evasive album.
The Magic Vinyl Display
Looking for a way to display your vinyl as art? Try the Magic Vinyl Display. This new record wall storage product has now met over 100% funding through their crowdsourcing campaign on IndieGogo. Once produced, the Magic Vinyl Display will allow owners to store, and easily access, up to 7 12″ records per unit. The display is made from a single piece of acrylic and allows collectors to display beautiful vinyl cover art while still being able to play each record.
For obvious reasons, it’s important not to display vinyl records on a wall that receives direct sunlight, but when used on a shaded wall under stable temperatures, the Magic Vinyl Display promises to bridge the gap between storage and display. Check out the video below and their crowdfunding page for full details.