Vinyl warping is a nightmare for many a vinyl enthusiast, but we’re here today to help you prevent it, and maybe even fix warped vinyls yourself!
Prevention is always better than cure, however, so we’ll be going over how to make sure that you avoid having to deal with warped records in the first place and trying all sorts of ways to get them fixed. After all, it typically takes a while to really warp a record, and putting any bad record-keeping practices to a stop can be done pretty quickly.
The reason why we’re talking about record storage here is because the conditions in which you store your vinyl records will affect them in the long run. They’re made of plastic, a material that, while fairly durable, is also at risk of being bent and warped over time if exposed to the right conditions. When keeping records, you need to watch out for the following:
How to Prevent Vinyl Warping
With those 3 factors in mind, let’s get into how vinyl warps as a result of those factors in the first place.
Vinyl Arrangement has to do with how you store your vinyls. Leaving them to lean onto each other messily or even squeezing them into confined shelves or record boxes puts undue stress on the records. Leaving vinyls to lean can cause the middle to slowly sag over time, and jamming your records into boxes and shelves too small for them can cause them to push into each other and warp their grooves; thereby compromising sound quality. Arranging your vinyls in the wrong configuration will spell disaster in the future as you find that their sound quality is progressively worsened over time as a result. The best practice is to arrange them vertically and with ample space that doesn’t result in obvious leaning or squeezes them too tightly together. We recommend getting book ends like the 9” Acrimet Jumbo Premium Metal Bookends or the STEELMASTER 10-Inch Bookends to help hold them upright if you have vinyls that don’t take up the full shelf or box space.
That being said, many also ask if they should be storing records vertically or horizontally: the answer is always store records vertically! Horizontally stacked records put unnecessary weight on each other that will warp them over time. And, if you’ve got a large library, I don’t even want to imagine the heavy stacks that are flattening and warping the poor sods at the bottom! Always, always, always store your vinyl records vertically and upright!
Temperature and humidity are sort of interlinked with each other. The temperature of the room you keep your records in can warp your records if it gets hot enough. For those of you living in hot climates or dealing with searing summer seasons, you’ll want to make sure that you keep your records in a room that doesn’t get too hot during the day. A quick Google search says that the best temperature to store vinyls is 18 to 21 degrees Celsius, but if you’re living in a similar region to mine and have been dealing with 33 degree Celsius weather for the past few weeks, the ideal isn’t so realistic for you. My solution is to keep my records in a room that has a lot of shade, and keeping the curtains mostly closed to avoid sunlight exposure.
Humidity, on the other hand, doesn’t cause warping quite as much as the other factors, but needs to be taken care of. Make sure to place a moisture absorber in the back of the shelf like the Vacplus Moisture Absorber to avoid mildew and mould growth. It’s bad enough if you have to replace your record sleeves that provide some protection for your vinyls, it’s even worse if the mould gets into the grooves of your vinyls and causing difficulty while cleaning.
Covered shelves like the Way Basics 2-Shelf Cube Book Case are my preferred choice that I also recommend to anyone living in sunny and hot climates since they provide ample shade for your records. This way, you avoid potential heat-related warping that will mess up sound quality. The following video also has some great tips on how you can make store your vinyls safely.
How to Fix Warped Vinyl records
This bit a lot trickier, mostly because wrapping a record is a lot like squeezing toothpaste out of a tub. It’s a lot harder to reverse the process, and requires a lot more patience and dedication than it’s worth.
There are 2 methods you can use to fix a warped vinyl record: 1) Putting pressure on your vinyl for multiple days and 2) Using heat and pressure over a shorter period of time.
1. Straightening it out by Putting Pressure on your Vinyl Record
For this method, you’ll need a flat, heavy object or a flat object and something heavy enough to put a bit of weight on it. Place your vinyl on a clean surface then place the heavy object on top of the vinyl. The goal here is to put a consistent equal force on the record to flatten it back out over a few days. This will, of course, take longer (even up to weeks) if the record is severely warped, so patience is a good thing to keep in mind.
Additionally, make sure that your vinyl record is clean before arranging your set up. This ensures there aren’t any contaminants that will press into the record’s grooves over the days or weeks you’ll be leaving the record in this set up.
2. Applying Heat and Pressure to flatten the Warped Vinyl
This one’s a little trickier. You’ll need 2 sheets of tempered glass and a heavy object. Preheat an oven to 80 degrees Celsius. Then, put the vinyl record between the two sheets of glass and place it in the oven for 3 minutes. Keep an eye out for your record to make sure it doesn’t melt. After the 3 minutes are up, take out the glass and vinyl and place a heavy object on the top glass to flatten out the record. Repeat as necessary if the record isn’t flattened out as needed.
DISCLAIMER: This method is a little risky, as there’s a chance that the record’s quality will be off after being heated up and flattened. On top of that, there’s also a risk of the melting plastic giving off toxic fumes. If you smell anything strange during the process, stop immediately for your own safety.
This video offers a visual aid to help you through the repair process.
And that’s our guide to preventing and fixing your warped vinyl. We hope we’ve managed to help you get started on saving your other records and recovering any warped one that you might have. If you’ve got some of your own tips for preventing and fixing vinyl record warping, share them below!