how to store vinyl records flat or upright
Storage

Which Is Best: Storing Vinyl Records Flat Or Upright?

We understand the importance of taking care of your record collection. The need to do it properly is of the utmost importance to ensure that your records are kept in the best possible condition. 

Which is best storing vinyl records flat or upright? The best method of storing your records is upright in the supplied sleeves and outer jacket, preferably in a poly sleeve. If you do not store them upright, you run the risk of warping or damaging your vinyl records. Storing them upright in a poly sleeve also prevents ring wear to the outer sleeve.

Storing records the proper way is pretty important, but it is also pretty easy to do. We have tons of helpful tips to share with you that will answer your questions and help get you on the right track. We want you to understand why you should store your records upright as well as how to properly store them upright.

Storing Records Flat Or Upright

Unfortunately, most people do not even consider this when starting their collection. Sure, you figured out the perfect turntable, speakers, and amplifier for your setup. Now you are thinking “Time to buy some records!” or “Let’s dust off those old records.” Well, we think you should consider the appropriate method for long term care of your vinyl records before you do anything else. 

This does not have to be difficult, complicated, or expensive. All you need is a dedicated space or shelf that is at least 12.5 inches tall and 12.5 inches deep. We personally recommend a square container or shelf that is also 12.5 inches wide. This gives great structure to the vinyl collection and ensures that most are not leaning. Preventing tilting or leaning will also help them.

We usually suggest a square unit bookshelves such as this one or a larger one like this one. If you do not have space for a full bookshelf or really just want a space for a few records, you really can not go wrong with a milk crate. Sometimes you can even get lucky and ask your local Starbucks for ones they will be disposing of. Out personal favorite for storing small collections or storing high valued records separately from your shelf has to be this carrying case.

When you have an idea of the container or shelf you want to use, it is best to keep in mind that your records have to stand upright like a book on a bookshelf. This ensures that they will not warp over time from the weight. Be sure not to tilt the ones on the end to be aesthetically pleasing unless these are throwaways as they will become warped over time. Some people do not think of this or think that this is not a big deal. We prefer to err on the side of caution and store them upright.

Why Store Your Records Upright

We want to take the time to dive into the reasons why this matters as most people glance over it or worse disregard it altogether.

As someone who has a collection of well over a thousand records, I have spent a lot of time researching and making sure I have the proper place and space to put my records. A part of the space equation is making sure that you can store them upright. There are several reasons why this is the case. Here are a few:

  • Keeps records from warping over time
  • Ensures better airflow for the records
  • Reduces temperature between records as heat rises
  • Reduces moisture build-up
  • Reduces and helps prevent ring wear on outer sleeves
  • Lowers risk of outer sleeve corners bending

How Storing Vinyl Records Flat Damages Them

Nothing gets to me more than when someone says “Man, my dad has this huge collection of records check it out!” and there they are laying flat, stacked on top of each other. A lot of times they are not even in their inner or outer sleeves, but that is for another article. 

While records do not seem super heavy, you have to consider the weight of multiple on top of one another. As the pressure builds up, the records toward the bottom half of the stack can warp over time. If you throw in the heat or moisture from a garage, basement, or attic then you are certainly on track to permanently damage them. 

Another way they will be damaged that most do not consider is that the outer sleeves will develop what is known as ring wear. Ring wear is where you see a white circle on the outer sleeve from where the record has set for a long time. The added weight from storing multiple records flat will cause this to happen at a minimum. Since we consider the sleeves artwork, we personally do not like the look of ring wear and this greatly reduces the value the record holds.

What If You Have Been Storing Them Flat?

Well, this really depends on a lot of factors. If you have just been storing a few while listening to them, you will be fine and there is no need to worry. If you have been storing your whole collection flat and notice they have not warped, consider yourself lucky and begin storing them properly as soon as possible. If they are warped you will notice they sound a little strange when playing.

Can I Fix A Warped record?

There are mixed reviews out there on this. Some people say they have a way, and some say no. We personally prefer the prevention route. It’s cheaper and easier, in the long run to store your records properly than to risk warping them. If it’s too late and you have already warped a record that is worth a pretty penny or your favorite then give it a try. We would not suggest heating your vinyl as some others do and we would lean heavier towards just laying your record flat between two heavy books. Maybe even add an extra or two to the top and just wait it out. 

Can I Fix Ring Wear?

Unfortunately, there is no way to fix this issue. Ring wear discolors your outer sleeve and turns it white. There is just, unfortunately, no way to bring that back. The best thing to do here again is prevention. Store your records as upright as possible in a poly sleeve to reduce rubbing from other records.

How To Keep Vinyl Records Upright

As we mentioned earlier in this article, there are some great affordable ways to store your records upright. We know that sometimes the space may be too large for your collection. You may just have a few records, and you really do not want to warp them, so you do not want to tilt or lean them. Here are some of our suggestions:

  • The first and best option is… Buy more records! As if you needed another excuse. Personally, we believe the more you have, the better off you are.
  • Tall bookends such as these could be a great option for a bookshelf
  • A tall book followed by other books of any size is also a great option

Storing Your Records Vertically

To store your records vertically, we usually suggest a square unit bookshelves such as this one or a larger one like this one, as mentioned earlier in the article. If you do not have space for a full bookshelf or really just want a space for a few records you really can not go wrong with a milk crate. Sometimes, you can even get lucky and ask your local Starbucks for ones they will be disposing of.

Storing Your Vinyl Records Upright Is Always Right

We feel that we have given some great compelling reasons and solutions to solving the problem of storing your vinyl records flat or upright. If given the chance, do not fall for the flat laying record. Remember, the key to keeping your collection in the best condition possible and, therefore, the best value possible is to store them properly, and storing your records upright is the best way to start.

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