By Stephanie Hyland, Storage.com
Vinyl record collectors of all ages take pride in the records they’ve accumulated. But a large collection takes up much more space than today’s iPod, which means they can crowd already cramped living spaces. Fortunately, storing your vinyl record collection in a self storage unit is a sensible solution to keeping your home organized without having to sacrifice your old-school music.
How Climate-Controlled Storage Protects Your Collection
Since vinyl records are an aging technology, it’s difficult and expensive to find replacements. That’s why it’s extremely important that you find a storage unit that will protect your collection during its time in storage.
Rand Cabus, owner of Mojo Vinyl Records, has been a vinyl record lover for the last 35 years. His independent record store in Roswell, Ga., buys and sells new and used records, audiophile turntables, art, and other music memorabilia, so he knows a thing or two about keeping vinyl records in mint condition. One of his recommendations is climate-controlled storage, which isn’t a requirement for storage, but it does preserve records longer.
“I’ve uncovered perfectly well-preserved records in simple sheds, and I’ve found ruined records in similar scenarios,” Cabus explains. “The key is a stable climate [with] low to no moisture and heat.”
Cabus adds that it’s the moisture you have to worry about when storing your record collection, as too much can cause mold and mildew growth inside a record sleeve. If the sleeve gets wet, it will disintegrate, which ruins the value and fun of owning a vinyl record. Heat can cause permanent damages as well. In fact, too much heat can cause the record’s plastic to warp until it won’t play anymore, which also diminishes the record’s value.
“Cover and vinyl conditions are equally important to vinyl collectors,” says Craig Moerer of Records By Mail, which sells vinyl records worldwide to collectors. “Records in Florida and the Deep South [in particular] are frequently marred by foxing—cover spotting that almost looks like rust.”
“A climate-controlled environment solves [these issues],” adds Cabus, mentioning that vinyl record collectors in areas of the country with high humidity and hot temperatures should definitely invest in this type of storage.
Properly Packing Vinyl Records for Storage
Record experts say that, as long as the collection is left in a dry, moderate climate, cardboard boxes will work for moving and storing records. Plastic storage bins can also be used, but Cabus says that it can be difficult to find plastic storage bins that are the correct size and have square corners.
“I have found many cupped records that were stored in plastic tubs because the sides and corners are not perfectly square,” Cabus says. “The record can reshape itself under its own weight if not supported well.”
If collectors can’t find a plastic bin that works for their collection, Cabus suggests using a small moving box. “It’s perfectly sized for 100 LP (long playing) records. The advantage is being perfectly square and exactly sized to hold 100 records. They stack really well, too.”
Marc Weinstein, one of the owners of Amoeba Music in Hollywood, Calif., the world’s largest independent record store, says it’s important to seal cardboard boxes with clear moving tape along any seam where dust could get in.
“If dust gets into the record sleeve, it can cause a lot of damage to the grooves of the record,” says Weinstein. “Also, by using extra cardboard in the box, it can add extra protection to the edges of the records. LPs are hardy, but the edges can be fragile.”
When packing records into boxes, never stack them horizontally. “Records that are stored horizontally will ‘dish warp’ over time,” says Moerer. “You don’t want to be able to eat cereal out of a record bowl.”
Weinstein adds that collectors should turn the record sleeves up instead of sideways. “If you’re packing for long-term [storage], turn the record away from the opening. That will keep a lot of dirt from getting in there.
There’s a delicate balance that needs to be achieved when deciding how many records can fit into a single box, too.
“You’re trying to turn the box of records into a brick, which will help them stay in good shape while they’re in storage, but you want the records inside of the box loose enough that you can pull a record out of it,” explains Weinstein. “You shouldn’t be able to pull it right out, but you also don’t want to be able to barely pull the record out either.”
Moerer agrees with Weinstein on the importance of not allowing the records to lean against one another while they’re in storage. “Whether cardboard, plastic, or wood, it’s critical that LPs are stored tightly and not allowed to lean. Over time, loosely packed LPs will warp.”
By keeping these expert tips in mind when moving your vinyl record collection into a self storage unit, you can ensure that your records will last a lifetime.