Countless hobbies transcend any normal fandom to the point where the love becomes a lifestyle. One group that fits squarely into this category—and one that’s single-handedly keeping physical music media alive—are vinyl collectors.
For these music enthusiasts, it’s not enough just to hear music. In contrast to music’s digital revolution, they want to embrace the feeling of physically owning their music. In fact, vinyl sales have increased worldwide for the last 13 years. This proves that while streaming might be king, the vinyl community is expanding and will continue as an important medium.
With that said, this growing group of vinyl lovers need a place to properly store their records. Since records are fragile, yet also bulky and heavy, storage can be a challenging task.
So, whether you’re looking to store vinyl at your home, for an upcoming move, for the long-term or something in-between, follow these tips and your favorite music medium will be safe for a lifetime.
Prepping Your Records for Storage
Vinyl is extremely fragile and sensitive to the elements. Therefore, it’s essential to properly prep your vinyl before storage.
Stack Your Records Vertically
Never stack records on top of each other, especially in huge piles. The weight will cause the vinyl to warp which greatly affects playback quality.
Instead, store records vertically, like you’d arrange books on a bookshelf. This creates minimal pressure and preserves the vinyl’s integrity.
Vinyl Brushes or Cloth
Vinyl easily picks up static charges causing dust, pet hair, etc. to stick. While in storage, these particles will collect even more than usual. Once brought back out, any remaining particles can ruin your stylus and the overall sound quality.
Prior to putting your records in storage—and before putting them under the needle afterwards—give each record a quick brush to kill that static charge.
High-Quality Plastic Outer Sleeves
New vinyl records are usually sealed in shrink wrap when purchased. Some collectors leave it on in hopes of adding extra protection. However, though this might work for a while, the shrink wrap will pull at the packaging. This can lead to the album cover—or record itself—to bend or warp with time.
Instead, use plastic outer sleeves specifically made for vinyl record protection. Not only will they last longer and are designed specifically for vinyl records, but they’ll also protect the album art. Without them, the covers will rub together, causing scratches and scuffs.
At around $0.25 per sleeve, it’s a small investment with a high reward.
At-Home Record Storage
Choosing the Best Record Shelf or Cabinet
If you’re looking to store your vinyl at home, you’re going to need a good, sturdy shelf. It’s easy to underestimate how much vinyl weighs, and choosing a flimsy shelf will equal disaster.
IKEA or Bust
The Ikea Kallax shelf is one of the most popular—if technically unofficial—record storage cabinets on the market. Available in multiple colors and sizes, this sturdy, easily assembled shelf is an international record geek favorite.
Finding the Perfect Location
Vinyl needs to be stored in a clean, dry place where an optimal and consistent room temperature can be maintained. In short, don’t store your vinyl in your shed, garage, attic or basement.
By clearing up some living room wall space or finding a corner in an extra bedroom, your records will be safely stored—and you’ll get to show off your incredible collection.
Let’s face it. Records can take up lots of valuable home space. Sometimes, life makes it necessary to move them elsewhere for a while. Whatever the reason for the move, here are some tips on prepping your vinyl records for long-term storage.
Store in Dry, Climate Controlled Locations
Always keep vinyl records in a location that’s away from direct light and extreme temperatures—somewhere between 65 to 70 °F is ideal. Humidity and moisture can severely damage your records, so be sure to store them in a dry, safe place.
This is why many record lovers will happily pay more to store their valuable vinyl in a secure, climate-controlled storage facility. All it takes it one flood or a heat wave to destroy a beloved record collection.
Choose Proper Storage Containers
Due to the rising popularity of vinyl, there’s no shortage of vinyl-specific storage boxes and containers. Though many options exist, as long as you’re storing vinyl in a safe, elevated location, a cardboard box with a fitted lid will likely do the trick.
However, do ensure you choose sturdy boxes with a solid bottom. It’s easy to underestimate vinyl’s weight—and no one needs to see their precious records spill onto the floor as the box splits open.
Organize Your Records for Storage
If you haven’t already, prior to storage is the perfect time to create an organizational system for your records. Whether your preference is standard alphabetical, or you take a cue from John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity and organize autobiographically, pick a system that feels right for you.
After all, how a collector organizes their vinyl is a huge part of what makes a collection theirs. Just make sure it’s a system you honestly understand. Then, stack your records in that order.
For those storing vinyl in storage, always write the first and last record placed in each box in permanent marker on the box itself. For an alphabetical organization system, it would be something like ABBA to Father John Misty in the first box, Flaming Lips to Led Zeppelin in the next, and so on.
Also, whatever your system might be, notate what it is on at least the first box. That way you—or anyone helping you—won’t drown trying to figure out where everything goes.
Vinyl records aren’t the easiest things to store. Still, for record lovers worldwide, the hassle is a small price to pay for keeping them safe, clean and in optimal shape. But by following our vinyl storage tips and tricks, your record’s storage journey will be most enjoyable indeed.