A scratched surface, faded artwork, a warped record — we have all been there before.
Despite being one of the most durable physical music formats to date, records can be subject to poor playback sound quality if they are not properly stored. Plus it’s not just about the records — without proper protection, the covers (with their original artworks and detailed sleeve notes) can also get creased, bent or damaged.
To prevent the risk of excessive wear or abrasion, Neo-Online explains what measures you can take for keeping your records in mint condition.
Why You Need to Replace Original Sleeves
Usually, records come with their own inner sleeves but they tend to get musty with time and collect dust and mildew. The original sleeves are also typically made of low-grade paper, which are abrasive and can gradually scratch away at the surface of the vinyl. Apart from providing protection when the record is taken out from or slid into the jacket, these do little else otherwise to actually save it from damage. Hence, it is important to replace the original inner sleeves to preserve your vinyl records. They should ideally be thin enough to avoid snagging when the record is being inserted in the outer sleeve, yet thick enough to protect it from external elements.
However, an unprotected sleeve can become frayed or split after a certain amount of time — which is why you will also need to replace the outer covering that keeps the inner one safe from harm. Additionally, it can also make it easier to slide out records from a box/case, shelf or any other storage space, thus reducing friction between the covers.
Why You Should Get Plastic Sleeves
It is highly recommended to buy plastic outer sleeves to completely shield your vinyl records. Not only do they help keep the covers in good shape for longer, but they also serve as an additional, solid barrier against light and dust.
However, it is important to note that thick plastic coverings, when compressed, can also stick to the record and peel off its artwork. Hence, be sure to purchase a plastic sleeve of the appropriate size for the specific type of record you are storing. For instance, you can choose a soft, snug sleeve for a single record, but a more spacious fit for a double LP or box set.
You can enhance the effectiveness of plastic sleeves by getting those that come with flaps — these can fully enclose the record and protect it from dirt and moisture.
Other Things to Consider
The following is a list of additional guidelines on storing and preserving vinyl records:
- Always clean the records first before putting them away.
- Avoid storing them in places of extreme heat e.g. an attic or garage.
- Store your records vertically instead of horizontally; they can become misshapen if laid out on top of one another.
The Bottom Line
Vinyl records require careful preservation and maintenance, and plastic sleeves are an effective solution for that. You can check out a range of options at Neo-Online for quality covers and sleeves.