As the number of records in our collections grew we started facing a few conundrums: Do we want all our records on display or tucked away? Do we want easy access to all of them or only a select few? How to store masses of them without risking any damage or warping? And most importantly, how to avoid making it look like an abandoned archive? We have been faced with this question from many people around us and never found a single source of information that brings it all in an actionable guide; so we put one together ourselves.
A well-placed record player and a few records can breathe life into any room, but, with many external factors potentially impacting the longevity of a record, storing vinyl records is as much of a science as it is an art. In this article we cover both:
- Vinyl Storage Tips
- Vinyl Storage Ideas
Vinyl Records Storage Tips
Though fragile and delicate in nature, if stored and handled correctly, there is no reason why your vinyl treasures can not be preserved for years to come. Vinyl records’ storage does not have to be necessarily difficult either. Once you know how to clean, handle and care for your vinyl properly all that’s left is for you to store it safely; keeping it away from water and dust, not having too much weight resting on it and avoiding anything that can impact its longevity. Here, we break down the conditions needed and those to be avoided when storing your record collection.
Preparing for Storage
Before popping your records into whichever place you are storing them in, it is important to ensure that there is nothing on the record that can result in elevating the risk of their condition deteriorating. Here we include the key things to look out for:
Dust is fidelity’s worst enemy. It results in a static noise that can stand out when playing your records. If it isn’t removed regularly it can also provide the perfect spot for mould to breed on your record further deteriorating the quality of its sound. It is, therefore, paramount to ensure that your record is dust free before you store it. To do so, it is important to use a lint-free cloth and an antistatic brush to clean your records before popping them into their sleeves. Also, when playing your records, the static generated from the stylus rubbing against your records makes them quite the magnet to dust and debris so take the time to pop your dust cover on when the record is playing.
Another important element to eliminate from your records is oil. everytime a record is touched with your bare hands, oils are deposited onto its grooves. This not only is detrimental on its own but it results in dust and debris being trapped even when cleaned. To resolve this, use finger clots when acid free sleeves to ensure handling the record. Alternatively, ensure you don’t touch the record on its plating surface and only handle it through its edges.
An intact inner sleeve is crucial to the preservation of your vinyl records; sleeveless records collect dust and static, and are more likely to scratch when they’re slipped back into their sleeves. If you are serious about making your collection stand the test of time, it is worth investing in heavyweight, alkaline and acid-free sleeves.
Any other foreign matter, whether it is ash or splashes of drinks should be removed via thorough cleaning of the record, we have a detailed guide on how to clean your records here.
Choosing the Right Location
Now most of us start by storing our records next to our record players. But soon enough, we hoard enough records that an overflow storage is needed and sometimes it will be in a different room altogether. The perfect condition for vinyl storage is: cool, dark, dry and stable. Here we explore those different factors in an environment and their influence on the lifetime of a record. We also highlight places to be avoided.
Heat is one of the major elements that influence a record’s life. Like anything else, vinyl records expand and contract as temperatures increase and decrease. In environments where the temperature fluctuates aggressively, this can result in noticeable deterioration to the record’s fidelity. Additionally, at high temperatures (typically 140°F / 60°C), records will warp with negligible force. Therefore, storage should be in a cool place with little fluctuations. Storage away from fridges, ovens and radiators is therefore highly recommended. Furthermore, if you tend to travel with your records, make sure you don’t leave them in the boot of a car for extended periods in the summer.
Just like your skin, vinyl sleeves are extremely sensitive to UV light as it breaks down the pigments in the inks used on the artwork resulting in a faded look. The storage should therefore be away from direct sunlight and windows.
Windows should be further avoided due to the likelihood of leaks from rain. Water and humidity are microbial and mould growth;s best friends as they supply it with the nutrients it needs to thrive. For this reason, it is also important to avoid attics, lofts and garages due to the high fluctuations in humidity as well as ventilation issues which further support the growth of mould.
Just like it is wise to not store your vinyl records in your garage next to your chainsaw and boxes of nails, it is important to avoid sources of vibration that can, overtime, result in stress on the records. These include loudspeakers, dryers and washing machines.
Last and not least, records should always be stored in an upright position. Stacking records on top of one another or storing in a slanted position will result in them warping due to the uneven pressure applied to each record. This will notably affect the records fidelity and how it sounds and is one of the harder, more expensive issues to fix.
Vinyl Records Storage Ideas
Now that you know what to do and what to look out for before storing your records, we can move the fun stuff, choosing your records storage. There are plenty of options when it comes to housing your records and each fulfil slightly different purposes. Whether you are looking for putting records on display next to your turntable, storing your most played records in neat, easy-access units or looking for ideas for the overflow records you hoarded over the years we cover it all. Depending on the space you have and your needs, you may want to combine two or more of the options we outline below.
Single Record Displays
When buying a vinyl record, not only do you get the untainted original music, but you can also get some breathtaking 12” artwork on the jacket to go with it. What a better way to make a corner in your room stand out than have some of those remarkable artworks bring life to it?
Record ledges are our favourite way of storing a record. Not only are they the cheapest, they are a minimalist and simple way of putting record jackets on display. Unlike record frames, they can be used with different size records and they also offer the flexibility to play the records on display or swap them for a different choice. They also come in different sizes themselves so you can rest multiple records on them or position them into an arrangement that fills any pace you have.
Single record stands offer all the benefits of wall-mounted ledges without having to ruin your walls. They can fill in any shelf space you have and be centrepieces to bare cupboards or shelving units. They can be sourced easily and cheaply from Amazon or Etsy, though we do love this minimalist one offered by Prather.
Record frames are a common way to store vinyl records. They come in varieties that allow the records to be stored with or without their jackets. Due to their inflexibility, we prefer to use them for records that you buy merely for their artwork or those that are too valuable to play too often.
Now most of us won’t have enough wall or shelf space to get all those 12” on display. For that, we need to start looking at multi-record displays. With multi-record displays, you can still have a record on full display and also easily flick through and see the rest of your collection, though adding one too many multi-record displays risks your room looking like a record store (not that we mind!)
Record holders, bins and racks are a great way to store and display a small selection of records. They can be put on shelves, countertops or straight on the floor. You can also find some that are wall-mounted if you want to make the most out of your space.
Record racks are a great way to display records and give you that real selector feeling as you flick through them. They are perfect for those few records you play the most as they can easily fit around where your record player. You can also use them for those record where the artworks are just way to good to have them hidden away.
For fitting a lot more records, whether that’s around your record player or for those overflow records in an altogether different room, shelves and cabinets are the most suitable choice though the options within are endless. Here we explore some of our favourites:
This record storage unit from Symbol is a favourite of ours. The seamless pop out design of the cabinet storage ticks all the right boxes; having your records protected in a closed cabinet, the pleasing aesthetic of natural walnut, and the easy access and flicking through all your records.
We can’t have a cabinet storage article without featuring the almighty KALLAX. The Ikea cabinets are infamous amongst many vinyl enthusiasts for their versatility as they come in as little as single cubes to 5×5 builds. Add to this the fact that they can fit vertically or horizontally and the opportunities are endless. From under stair storage to full on Kallax beds, the sky’s the limit. They can feature open shelves or cabinets to suit your needs
Portable Records Storage
For some of us, being able to move our records is a must. Whether you crate digging for records when travelling, are a DJ, or you are just moving houses, having a safe portable storage for your vinyl treasures is a must.
This bag from record player pioneers Technics has everything you need to protect your records on the move with sturdy carry handles and backpack straps. It also holds 50 LPs which makes it perfect for the next long back to back record playing sessions you are invited to.
Record crates are perfect for flexible storage. Not only are they convenient for moving the records around the house or into short ventures outside, some can also be stacked neatly on top of each other to form a full on record cabinet.
There you have it, everything you need to know to store your vinyl records like a real pro. If you haven’t already check out our complete guide to cleaning your vinyl records. We would also love to hear your feedback or questions so pop us a comment down below if you have any