Vinyl Records come protected in their sleeves, but they still should be handled with care both when playing as well as storing.
There are many factors to consider when storing. If you’re looking to buy in bulk at a car boot sale/job lot on eBay or you are looking to store your vinyl collection away to clear some space with the intention of getting it back out when the kids fly the nest, or you get your own room of zen to play them all to your heart’s content, then this blog is for you.
We look at everything you need to know when storing your vinyl records as well as some common mistakes found. Following our advice will ensure you keep your vinyl record collection in the best possible condition for years to come.
Where to Store Vinyl Records
Space isn’t a luxury for everyone so you may have to make the best out of a bad deal here. The main thing to do is consider a few key things before you make the decision. If you have the choice between two spaces, for example, a loft or a shed, then you can make an informed decision based on the below to decide where to store your record collection.
Correct Environment For Storing Vinyl Records
Without going too much into the science, the environment matters when storing your vinyl collection. There are three elements you should be looking out for:
This is the most important element. In the UK we don’t have to worry too much about extreme heat, but other countries do, especially if you are storing in one of the hotter parts of the house such as the loft.
Vinyl records don’t like heat, causing warping to the records, especially over a period of time. They also don’t like the extreme cold, so a cold cellar or basement, or shed isn’t ideal.
A temperature-controlled self-storage unit is always a good option, but we don’t all have that to hand, it’s also expensive for long periods of time.
The best option here is a well-insulated loft/attic – Ideally one that has been semi-converted so there is some insulation around the boxes when being stored.
Over time exposure to high humidity, similar to heat can cause warping to the records. A room that has been finished in terms of having drywall, insulation, etc would again be the best place. A basement that is habitable is a good option, similar to an attic conversion.
The main thing here is just to make sure you don’t sit the records next to a heat source.
Usually not something we have to consider in the UK. Light wears out album covers, it also doesn’t help with the top two issues i.e. usually high light exposure can cause an increase in temperature as well as humidity, so light is something to look out for i.e. does the room have windows and will the records be in direct sunlight for periods of time?
How to Store Vinyl Records
Once you’ve assessed where you are going to put your records you can now look at how to store them. What’s best for both short-term and long-term storage, how to organise your collection as well as how to pack them to ensure they stay protected.
Short-term vinyl record storage
Actively building a collection that you play from time to time? You’ll probably want access to these without having to trot off to the loft/basement each time to grab a new record.
Most furniture shops do modular cubes/storage boxes. These often fit record players on top of them. So you could look at these for storing your records under your record player for easy access. In most instances, these can be stacked as well which means they take up less room than just having a single cupboard.
If you are really lacking space look up to the ceilings – Similar to shelving you could create a line of record storage to keep the records that are most played in arm’s reach whilst not taking up huge amounts of floor space.
Protecting your records when storing
If you are looking at short-term storage we would advise against getting a good cleaning brush – ensuring you clean the records before and after use.
We would also look to get both inner and outer protective sleeves. These are relatively cheap and just store both the vinyl record itself from getting scratched from the inner paper sleeve as well as the album cover from picking up scratches/becoming warn as records are put in and out of the collection.
Long-term vinyl record storage
If you are looking for a longer-term solution it’s key to look at the elements below. As mentioned vinyl records aren’t the most robust item and so many times we see poor storage has led to many vinyl records losing their album cover art, or the record itself becoming unplayable.
Below is a list of key things you should look for:
Vinyl records are heavy when they are stacked up. If you are taking them individually they are typically 200-400g. If you stack these vertically with 25-50 other records the one at the end is being leaned on by quite a large weight. This can cause damage to the records over time.
The best advise here is to next stack one on top of the other, and always stand upright. When putting in a box make sure you add enough records in there that the pressure is evenly distributed / the records can stand up without too much lean on the others.
Shelving is great for keeping the records off the ground which can be cold / gets wet from flooding, leaks etc. Elevating your records just helps to keep them away from those unexpected incidents.
Shelving also helps to organise your collection so you can easily keep track of where all your records are.
Wood is a better option than metal as it helps prevent static and dust build-up.
Storage boxes are great for protecting from the elements. These would usually be purpose-built, wood or plastic. The best thing about boxes is the dust-free, anti-static, humidity protection, and air pollution that is present in most storage places (lofts, sheds, attics).
Big retailers such as Ikea, Amazon and Argos (in the UK) – Will offer a solution here. Just make sure the dimensions fit the album cover. We’d still also recommend getting outer sleeves to again just protect the album cover from scratches over time.
If you cannot fill your boxes or your shelves you want to make sure you have some good dividers. These are just to take the pressure off the records as discussed above. This could be something similar to book ends, chunks of thick wood etc – Placing them in the box to keep the records upright, or every 4-6 inches on the shelves to relieve the pressure will ensure your records stay protected and safe for many years.
It’s a good idea before you put your collection into long-term storage to clean the record. This ensures it’s dust free when it goes into storage protecting the record from scratches that might incur during the move or when stored.
Common Mistakes When Storing Vinyl Records
We’ve gone through the main elements to look out for when storing your short- and long-term records. We’ll now look at some common mistakes to avoid.
Storing records on their sides
Records are made for upright storage only. Storing them flat may cause pressure to build up. You’ll also find it hard to get to LPs in the future meaning you’ll end up moving everything around a lot more.
Long term it’s not great to keep them in cardboard boxes, especially if this is coupled with the shed/attic. Cardboard is prone to dampness and rot. This can damage the vinyl records over time if left.
Vinyl is heavy when there are a lot of them. Make sure the shelving being used is strong. If storing using wall shelving make sure you use the correct wall plugs and that you are drilling into a wood stud/brick.
Not keeping a record
Write down what you have and where it is. Add some organising and order. It means you’re not searching around for that one LP you can’t find. It also means you can continue to grow your collection as you know what you do and don’t have.
Relying on the sleeve
Record sleeves are usually paper. This is cheap and eco-friendly. It can also cause issues with the record over time. Paper isn’t smooth and over years this can act like sandpaper causing micro scratches on records. This is both in short-term and long-term storage. Our advice is always to get protected inner and outer sleeves. This ensures longevity and means your collection remains in the best condition.
Summary – How to store vinyl records
- Pick a cool, dry, and free from natural / UV lights
- Use shelves/boxes to keep records protected
- Always use inner and outer sleeves
- Don’t stack or lean records