If you treasure your record collection, you know that the biggest downside of vinyl is that it can be easily damaged. So the question becomes how to store vinyl safely and still enjoy having a large collection which makes you happy.
If it’s a truly significant album library, it is bound to get in the way of other needs that your family has. This can cause friction between you and your spouse, partner, family or roommates.
The living room may seem like a good storage space until someone complains about how much room the records take or how all of the shelving is occupied. You certainly can’t leave records on shelves where small children can pull them down.
You may be forced to relegate your vinyl to the attic or garage. That puts them in danger of warping due to prolonged heat or rapid temperature changes.
Maintaining your collection may be a challenge, but the good feeling it gives you cannot be underestimated. Perhaps there’s a rare find that will someday provide a return on your investment.
So here’s what we’ve learned in the storage business about how to store vinyl safely.
The Basics of Storing Vinyl Safely
The first and most important rule of storing vinyl is never to stack your albums. Vinyl is delicate and prone to cracking and warping. The weight of other records can do irreparable damage. Instead, store your albums sideways so each one stands on its edge. Do not cram them in next to each other, either – give them room to breathe.
The next rule is controlling temperature and humidity. For starters, you don’t want to expose the records to direct sunlight. High heat can cause records to warp. For the same reason, the best temperature for storing records is room temperature or slightly below. However, be advised that extreme cold can make records brittle and more likely to break. (In case you are interested, the recommendation for storing archival recordings is between 46 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Storing Vinyl in a Climate-Controlled, Safe Space
Clearly, you can’t relegate your vinyl to your hot garage or attic. Western U.S. heat waves would quickly warp the vinyl. The answer is to find a well-controlled, spacious area where you can keep your valuable collection safe.
At home, you may not have the right shelves. In a storage unit, you can add shelves that are specifically for your record albums. It won’t be about how they look because no one will be there to complain. Plus, you won’t have to worry about toddlers or teens pulling records from your collection.
Vinyl is thin and it can be easy to underestimate its weight. For every foot of shelving, you should figure about 35 pounds of weight. It may be more if you are storing 78s. Placing dividers every four to six inches on the shelf will keep your collection as close to upright as possible. Records that are stored at a slant can warp.
If you utilize a unit at Storage West, you can get a walk-in space which you can design for your collection. You’ll have unlimited access during business hours to access your private library of remarkable albums.
Four More Suggestions for Maintaining Your Albums
Beyond storing your collection safely, you will want to focus on keeping every album safe. Here are some cleaning and storage guidelines to help ensure that your precious vinyl will sound great for years to come.
- Never leave your records out of their sleeves for longer than necessary. Dust and other particles can accumulate in the grooves and cause permanent damage. As soon as you are finished with a record, put it away to keep it safe.
- When you return a record to its sleeve, never drop it in. Doing so can cause a jacket or sleeve to split open or tear, exposing your record to the elements.
- Go through your record collection and identify any records with torn or cracked covers and sleeves. Do not use tape to repair them. Tape has a tendency to dry out and yellow. When it does, the record may end up being exposed to the adhesives on the tape as well as to dust and dirt. Instead, place the record and cover into a high-density polyethylene sleeve.
- When cleaning your records, never use your t-shirt or a towel. Instead, use a record-cleaning brush, which gently removes dirt from the grooves as the record spins. In the event that a record needs a deeper cleaning, buy a vinyl cleaning solution and use a microfiber cloth to wipe your record clean.
As long as you follow these steps, your vinyl records will remain in pristine condition, providing you with enjoyment for many years to come. And who knows? Some day your albums may provide you with an unexpected windfall when a wealthy collector pays you for a hard-to-find album in mint condition.