How to store your record collection in 8 steps

How to store your record collection in 8 steps





Despite being one of the most durable physical music formats around, neglect your records and you risk introducing surface noise, scratches, even warping. With these perils in mind, our tech guru Paul Rigby outlines how to store a record collection properly. 

Words: Paul Rigby

For many years now, the top issue brought up by the anti-vinyl brigade is the noise that vinyl makes when it is playing. The snap, crackle, pops, the background hiss, the clicks and more. People who dislike vinyl point their fingers at this issue as if its a design flaw.

It’s also an old chestnut that ignores many factors which largely result from a lack of basic cleaning and proper storage. If you don’t store your vinyl properly, then it will affect playback sound quality very quickly. Its easy to prove the point yourself. Just buy yourself a clean, new vinyl record, hear the silence from the first few plays then leave the record, out of its sleeve, open to the elements, pick it up with dirty fingers, use it as a frisbee and a beer mat and, well blow me down, you’ve got yourself one noisy record. It’s not rocket science, is it?

That’s not all, of course, if you don’t store your records properly, you also open up the possibility of excessive wear, warping and abrasion. The record itself is not the only target. Part of the joy of buying vinyl is the sleeve, often holding beautiful artwork plus readable and informative sleeve notes. Without correct storage, your sleeves can be bent, creased, affected by scuffing, water damaged and more.

You pay a lot of money for a new piece of vinyl. Take care of it and it will reward you with a lifetime of pleasurable use. So how should you store your vinyl?


Step One: Inner Sleeves

Recommended product: Analogue Studio 12″ Inner Sleeves
Price: £15.99 [50 pack]

The inner sleeve is the only item listed here that will regularly come into contact with your precious vinyl. Hence, it is absolutely essential as a storage medium. The worst kind is made from pure paper. Move your record in and out of a paper inner and, over the years, it will act like a fine grain piece of sandpaper, adding surface noise to your record. Recommended inners arrive in two flavours, either as a delicate plastic liner within a paper inner or as a round-bottomed plastic-only variant. The latter is useful because you don’t have to struggle to get the corners of a paper inner into the card sleeve, which causes folding and creasing.


Step Two: Outer Sleeves

Recommended product: PVC Outer Sleeves
Price: £17.50 [50 pack]

You will need an outer covering to accompany the inner. This will protect your vinyl’s card sleeve but will also prevent dust finding the record (and abrading it over time). Be careful here. Don’t buy the heavy gauge plastic samples and feel smug about it. When compressed, these thick plastic covers can eventually stick to the record sleeve and pull the artwork right off. Stick to the soft, roomy and much cheaper sleeves. You can find outers for both 10” records and 7” singles too.

Vinyl Bags

Step Three: Vinyl Bags

Recommended product: Mylar Sleeves
Price: £32.99 [pack of 100]

While we have talked about the outer plastic sleeve for your record protection, we have yet to mention a new variant on that theme. The vinyl bag. Made from high quality 2mm thick Myler, it fits snuggly like a standard outer sleeve but the top of the bag has a large flap and an adhesive strip on the outside. So, while a standard plastic sleeve remains open on one side, the Mylar bag protects the record but also keeps the air and any airborne rubbish out.


Step Four: Shelving

Recommended product: IKEA KALLAX
Price: £85

Now that your record is encased, where do you put it? A shelving system is essential. One of the best, in budget terms and flexibility, is the IKEA KALLAX. It can be bought in varying sizes – the illustrated example seen here is the largest model available – while variants have insets to hold baskets and boxes or space for a TV. This model holds around 2,300 LPs. Great value for money. One thing, though, if you buy this model and pack it full of records, the accumulated weight will make it lean to one side and collapse like a pack of cards. You need to add strength so invest in metal brackets of some sort to firm up the overall structure. For example, L-shaped brackets to strengthen each shelf which can cost a couple of pound for a pack of two or even fit metal cross bars on the rear.


Step Five: Record Dividers

Recommended product: Kate Koeppel Record Dividers
Price: from £150

Once you have stuffed your IKEA shelving with records, you probably won’t have a clue where anything is. The classic solution to that is a set of cheap plastic record dividers on which you can scribble the alphabet or music genres, to provide a sense of cataloging. Cheap but messy and definitely tacky. Kate Koeppel is a US-based designer who has launched a collection of restrained, high quality, laser cut wood record dividers as an alternative. The collection of typographic wood panels include: two tab styles, horizontal tabs for shelving and vertical tabs for record boxes; two sizes for 12” and 7” records; two typographical versions, a full twenty-six panel A–Z set for large record collections and an abbreviated six panel set (A-D, E-H, I-L, M-P, Q-T, U-Z) for smaller collections and two lettering styles: engraved or stencilled.


Step Six: Archive Storage

Recommended product: Really Useful Plastic Storage Box 19 Litre
Price: £12

If you are looking to store your vinyl in an archive for long term storage and stacking where quick access is not a priority then a top down box (as opposed to a side storing shelf) is the answer. Cardboard boxes are not strong enough. Heavy duty plastic is the answer. The Really Useful Box range is ideal. This illustrated 19 litre model stores around 50 records, making easy transport possible. Vinyl can become too heavy for safe lifting beyond that. The handles are strong with a pattern on the lid that allows for sturdy and stable stacking with other boxes of this type.


Step Seven: Mobile Vinyl Box

Recommended product: Citronic CVA50
Price: £40

Storage doesn’t have to be for static purposes. You can store records for mobile reasons. What happens if you want to transport vinyl? How do you protect them? This Citronic box is just one of many ‘flight cases’ out there. You may have your own favourite. This example is a strong, aluminium variant that holds up to 50 LPs. It arrives with internal padding while, on the outside of the case, there are chrome plated steel corners giving additional strength and protection. You also get a padded carry handle and lockable lid catch.


Step Eight: Vinyl Bag

Recommended product: UDG Bag
Price: £35

The record bag is another type of mobile storage but is distinct from the flight case type. This example offers a main compartment that can handle 40 vinyl albums. It’s useful for vinyl fans or DJs who might want to keep their precious or valuable discs close to them at all times or for transporting discs to a friend’s house, for example. More expensive models feature additional pocket and storage options, while their larger wheelie bags for DJs with more time to fill are also a solid choice.

Illustrations: Abigail Carlin

Comments (28)

  1. Roman Orlov 4 years ago

    I’m gonna spend my money on records instead.

    • Paul Rigby 4 years ago

      You’re a rebel, Roman.

    • Here4AHS 2 years ago

      True! Especially since I love the sound of an old vinyl before and after the song! Rather get myself more 2nd hand 33s

  2. Thibaut Allender 4 years ago

    Any Australian shop recommendation for the outer sleeves? Shipping from UK would cost me an arm and a leg

    • Paul Rigby 4 years ago
      • Thibaut Allender 4 years ago

        Thanks but no, thanks. More than $1 a sleeve? This is just insane.

        • Paul Rigby 4 years ago

          I’m sure you would have more luck in finding more competitive prices if you looked for local outlets using Google, Thibaut.

          • Thibaut Allender 4 years ago

            I’m sure I wouldn’t lose my time asking for advice to humans if a robot could give me a better solution, quicker.

          • Renata Zelazna 3 years ago

            Have you checked eBay?

          • andm369 2 years ago


  3. Guest 4 years ago

    You’re a rebel, Roman.

  4. Kate Koeppel 4 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this Paul, cool round up, and I love the illustrations! I have one addition to this list: Simple Wood Goods makes some very minimal, modular record crates for storing vinyl. They ship internationally as well!

    • Paul Rigby 4 years ago

      Lovely – thanks Kate

  5. Drbryant 3 years ago

    Please do not buy PVC outer sleeves. PVC leaches gas as the plasticizer used to make it flexible degrades. This can happen very quickly or take years. Once it begins degrading the gas penetrates outer sleeves and causes permanent damage to vinyl.

    • Paul Rigby 3 years ago

      Are you referring to those very thick sleeves, Drbryant?I find that they also stick to your sleeve art too which is promptly ripped off when you take the sleeve out after long term storage. I prefer the very soft plastic sleeves myself.

  6. Maj 3 years ago


    I have some sort of an advice to ask for. I have bought outer poly thick sleeves for my vinyls, and have them stored in inner paper/poly sleeves and their original artwork. I also have a Magma 100 trolley.

    Because of the vinyl’s being in their inner sleeve, original sleeve and outer poly sleeve.. this takes up a lot of space. So i was thinking of just storing them in inner paper/poly sleeves and outer poly sleeves. Would this provide a good enough protection? Or is it better to also keep them in their original artwork cover.

    Any tips and explanation would be of great use.


    • Maj 3 years ago

      I would leave the one’s with special artwork also in their original sleeves. But for those which have a plain black original sleeve i would store inner poly/paper and outer poly only.
      If! this doesn’t impede the protection in a large way.

      tips please :)!

      • Paul Rigby 3 years ago

        No, that sounds fine, you might want to store the card sleeves carefully, for future use or sale, though. How will you tell which is which? New labels on the outside of the plastic sleeve?

  7. Rudy™ 3 years ago

    The mylar sleeves with the resealable flap are terrible. I’ve had more than one flap stick to the record jacket while using it. I’ll stick to standard sleeves which don’t destroy my collection, thank you.

  8. Arno 2 years ago

    Filotrax make great record dividers too.

  9. Adrian Luvdup 2 years ago

    The discussion about the thick plastic outer sleeves has got me running scared! My entire LP collection was stored in them and I’ve now just taken all 2000+ off my records! Is the general consensus that this is the wise thing to do? I didn’t have any problems although some were quite difficult ro remove… There’s a lot more room on the shelves which has made me realise just how tightly packed they all were. If I’m careful with my beloved vinyl are outer sleeves of any sort really necessary at all do you think?

    • Paul Rigby 2 years ago

      Outer sleeves protect the artwork, Adrian, and restrict dust entry into the sleeve. I would go for polythene sleeves. You can buy different gauges but I would go for the heavier type.

  10. Horace Morris 2 years ago

    Give me some sturdy file boxes any time…

  11. Wyatt Afterglow 2 years ago

    I put them in lists but the picture frame seems to be pressing the lp flat 🙁 I gave the lp and the cover its own frame so the lp lines wont get pressed into the case

    But now the case goes flat and ofc the sides start to wrinkle

    Im thinkin about putting cardboard in the case to prevent this from happening anyone any ideas?

    Is the pressure of the glass frame to much for the lp?

  12. Ken Neiley 1 year ago

    I have 15,000+ records, some of which have been stored since the 1970’s. These were securely stored in cardboard boxes and various types of sleeves and liners. What I have found is that the originals from the 60’s up to the 70’s the original plastic liner was still fine and did not affect the record or cover in any way.stuff from the 70’s did not do as well the original outer plastic shrank and was very tight on the record, I had to remove literally thousands of the outer plastic sleeves. Many of the outer heavy plastic outer sleeves that I used in back in the 90’s, had shrank enough that they needed to be cut off. I did not note any significant issues with the plastic sticking to the lp sleeves. for the inner sleeves I purchased approx 4,000 quality sleeves as many of the older ones were discoloured likely due to the acid/whiteners used in the paper back then. There was no significant deterioration in the vinyl quality. My findings and observations were 1.) outer vinyl should not be used for long term storage(likely a great idea for those being played on a regular rotation). 2.) paper sleeves are likely the best bet for large scale storage as they are less likely to stick to the lp surface. 3) not using vinyl outer sleeves severely reduces the weight and volume on large scale collections. 4.) cull your records occasionally, they due have a risk of being destroyed with improper treatment. 5.) treat your lp’s with the care and respect they deserve and you will be rewarded with decades of listening enjoyment.6.) small boxes from U-haul are cheap and measure 12 5/8 by 12 5/8 by approx 16 1/2 inches, they will hold approx 100-125 records and limit loss should a box get destroyed, if packaged properly minimal damage to records will be caused. Note the boxes are thin so they also must be treated with care when handling, however you will develop some muscles. 100 boxes x 60 lbs = 6000 lbs or approximately 3 tons. 7.) Choose your storage location carefully humidity is important, I just disposed a few thousand due to improper storage and mould/mildew issues. 8) of 13,000 I have disposed of literally less than ten due to warping.9.) I own 5 or 6 thousand cds and some times listen to some of them in the car but they are mostly in storage as well. I still prefer the sound of lps when at home. I also still have about 4-5 thousand cassettes which I very seldom listen to any more although the car glove box is full of them 10.)Enjoy what ever format you like, the key is enjoy what you like listen to the music not the people arguing over which format is better. I simply suggest that lps which were out of print for some time and span multiple decades still have a pretty strong following.
    11.) last but not least please stop calling them vinyls, all it does is confirm you are close to being illiterate and makes hard to take you seriously. Keep spinning and rock on!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Our privacy policy has changed - please go here to update your preferences.

Privacy Policy