We’ve all experienced the devastating blow of having a vinyl from our prized record collection become damaged beyond repair. Though this may be irreversible, there are some precautions you can take to prevent becoming the victim of another warped, scratched, faded or broken record.
Do your vinyl’s need protection? Avid collectors spend a substantial amount of time and money creating their vinyl record collection, so protecting them properly is a must.
Older releases and second-hand records tend to have damaged, worn-out sleeves that just don’t make the cut anymore. Surprisingly, new vinyl records aren’t safe from this system either. Consider upping your sleeve game to a silky and smooth material, such as delicate plastic liners to combat scuffing, static build-up and dust. Try to avoid paper-like sleeves at all costs, which can act as an abrasive substance, slowly wearing away at the surface of your vinyl records.
Pairing silky sleeves with archival storage is an investment that will enhance the longevity of your discs, ensuring they play the same now as they did the day you bought them.
Please do hold on to the original sleeves though as they will enhance the value of the record.
Keeping a group of records horizontally stacked may look like a cool way to show off your flashy collection, however storing records haphazardly on top of each other is one of the biggest causes of damage.
The correct way to store records is vertically. Storing your vinyl records vertically avoids putting unnecessary pressure and weight on your disks, preventing them from crushing each other over time, rendering them warped and unplayable.
This may not be a problem for only a few records, however, if you plan on stacking more than 10, you may wish to invest in a suitable shelving system.
For the best protection of your collection, it’s best to keep your records tucked away safe in an acid-free, archival box. It’s advised to avoid uncoated woods as a storage material due to its acidic and porous surface and to instead opt for something that will protect against acids, dust, UV light and pests.
IKEA’s ‘Kallax’ units are an example of a great storage option. It’s possible to fit 50-60 records in each Kallax cube and is available in various sizes, the largest one available holding up to 1250 records. With great value for money, these units are a great choice for storing your vinyl record collection and keeping them safe in the process.
Once you have found a place to safely store your records, it may be best to use a system to help with organisation. A classic solution is to purchase a set of record dividers which you can use for cataloguing by adding the alphabet, genres, artists or decades. If you plan on archiving your collection, a great way to do this is by purchasing heavy duty plastic boxes, strong enough to ensure your collection won’t be damaged whilst in storage.
Storing your records in an organised fashion will also help with aeration, another factor to keeping your records in perfect condition.
The environment in which your records are stored has a major influence on its longevity and overall performance.
Proper aeration helps to keep vinyl records in good condition as they’re vulnerable to deterioration from heat and dampness. Try to avoid changes in temperature and humidity which can cause mould to grow on your records if they become damp.
Sunlight will fade artwork on sleeves and extreme heat can warp vinyl. The perfect temperature for vinyl’s to be stored at is between 18C and 21C, so keeping your collection away from radiators or windows is essential. We also suggest avoiding cold external walls which with condensation, minimal light and minimal airflow becomes a haven for mould.
Due to this, garages and outdoor spaces are not viable locations to safely store your record collection, and you should instead pick a location inside with a stable temperature and good airflow, where there is no possibility for accidental damage.
Every time you remove your record from its inner sleeve you are exposing it to several external factors that can cause damage. Most of the time this won't be a problem, however, frequent mishandling will begin to have a large impact on the degradation of a record.
A common threat to records is small particles finding their way into the vinyl grooves. By touching the centre of your record you can create a buildup from the dist, dirt and oil on your hands. For this reason, every time you handle your collection you should take special care to always hold the record by its outer edges only.
If you do happen to accidentally touch the playing surface, it is best to immediately clean it with a liquid record cleaning kit before returning it to its sleeve. Though it may be tempting, under no circumstances should you clean your records with a dry cloth or piece of fabric. Even though it may feel soft, this will do more harm than good by moving dirt around causing more scuffs.
If you're in a rush and looking for a quick fix, keeping an anti-static brush to hand will help remove dust by discharging static, lifting the dirt with little to no contact and ensuring you don't damage the record.
Whether old or new, purchased in-store or through an online record store, every record needs a bit of TLC to keep it from collecting dust and developing scratches.
Vinyl maintenance is quick and simple, with some of the most common issues being the easiest to correct. For an in-depth guide on how to clean your collection, visit our article ‘How to Clean Vinyl Records.