LP record storage – the ultimate guide to storing records properly and with style!

LP records – basic info or to store records

First things first – if you want to store something, you need some basic information about it, like dimensions and weight as well as fundamental rules you will have to cope with. So, lets get some basic knowledge here.

LP record dimensions

The most common formats for vinyl records are 12″ and 7″. There are a lot of less common formats, but these two are usually identified with LP (12″) and single (7″) records or 12 vinyl and 7 vinyl.

12 vinyl

  • Real dimensions. actual diameter for 12″ records is 11.89 in (302 mm)
  • Weight. The average LP record weigh about 120-150 gram. Cheap and light records can weigh as little as 80-90 grams, but some of them are much heavier than average. The fatties can have even 200 grams! It’s usually a sign of a better quality and durability. But generally speaking – LP records are heavy. Just imagine heaving a 100 records collection. It will only take about 12 in (30 cm) of space. But it will weigh around 15 kg! And we are talking without sleeves and cardboard! You can see that not every standard shelve is prepared for this.
  • The hole. The little hole in the middle is 0.285 in (7.24 mm)
  • Speed. The speed for 12″ vinyls is 33,5 rpm.
  • Length. The average playing time of 12″ vinyl record is 45 minutes on both sides. Interesting fact is that the average LP has about 1,500 feet (460 m) of groove on each side! Wow!

7 vinyl

  • Real dimensions. actual diameter for 7″ records is 6.89 in (175 mm)
  • Weight. The average single record weigh about 40 gram.
  • The hole. The hole in the middle is 0.285 in (7.24 mm) in the English standard or ~1,5 in (38,5 mm) in American standard records. To listen to this large hole records you will usually need a special adapter.
  • Speed. The speed for 7″ vinyls is 45 rpm for the American standard and 33,5 rpm for English standard.
  • Length. For American standard it’s about 9 minutes on both sides. For English standard it’s 14 minutes on both sides.

What are the main LP record storage rules?

How to store records? The most important No 1 rule of thumb is to never store your vinyl in stacks – one over another! This is the most important principle to follow and usually it doesn’t cost a dime to implement. So – just pick your LPs up and set them upright if you still got them stacked under the bed as my parents used to! 😀

Probably the best way to store your records is to use specially designed crates, cabinets, shelves etc. Some serious collectors even say about airtight containers. One way or another there is always one thing to remember:

  • The most healthy way of keeping your collection are rows of vertically set records. They shouldn’t be very tight – leave them some air, just enough to easily take them out and keep them vertical at the same time.

Even 45 degrees lean, when your records are supporting each other might be harmful for them. The possible result of keeping records in stacks or leaned rows is warping them. Especially if this way of storage is accompanied by bad environmental conditions. The typical symptom of warped record is when it starts to look a bit like a dish. It’s best visible if you look at it from the side. Badly warped LP is completely spoiled because warping might make your players tonearm skip and slide over the record.

Sleeves and jackets

When you buy a new record it’s usually enveloped in three protective layers:

  • The inner sleeve – usually made of paper or polyethylene. Paper sleeves are not good – they can scratch your LP. You might want to replace the inner sleeve with some anti-static, acid free mylar or polyethylene one. There are some very good rice paper sleeve available, but they are more expensive.
  • The jacket – in other terms the cover. This is the cardboard covering containing all the album graphics and information. They might be very valuable and beautiful pieces of art – keep them safe! You will need to replace them only if th original one is destroyed or lost.
  • The outer sleeve – it’s usually a thin tightly adherent manufacturers wrapping. You should remove it after bringing your new record home. This thin wrapping might shrink with time and distort your LP record. The best idea is to replace it with a thick outer sleeve made of mylar, polyethylene or polypropylene. At least 2,5 – 3 mil thick.

Recently I stumbled up on a good tip here. If you have a thick 3 mil outer sleeve you can keep your record, protected by the inner sleeve, not inside the cardboard jacket but behind it, both inserted into this outer sleeve. It will prevent your record from “cutting” through the nice cardboard jacket and spoiling it. Quite smart.

Environmental conditions

Probably most of you won’t build a special room with monitored temperature and dust level for you collection but there are some things to remember in terms of storage environmental conditions.

The following points will give you all you need to know for the start:

  • Keep your records away of direct sunlight.
  • Keep your records away of high temperature sources like: open fire, heaters, ovens etc.
  • Keep your records out of high humidity areas. Probably you wouldn’t want to store them in your bathroom anyway, but air humidifiers are also things to avoid in the closest surroundings. High humidity might also occur in a basement for example.
  • Try to avoid highly dusty places. I know – the dust is nearly everywhere, but there are circumstances that dust seems to like most. Usually a lot of books is a good dust attractor.

How to hold the LP record?

The LP record storage conditions are very important as you can see, but that’s not all. You will probably want to listen to your records from time to time, and you will have to take them, take the sleeves and jackets off and put it on the turntable. Do it with care of course. You wouldn’t want to drop it or scratch the surface. Hold your records only by the sides or the labeled center. It needs some practice to become natural. But it prevents your records from being contaminated by all those dirty oils from your fingers (yes, there are some dirty oils on your fingers, even if you don’t want to admit it ;D). These stains are collecting dust particles, which can cause scratches and lower playing quality.

As you can see there are main three harmful factors here:
  • Temperature – it can make your records warp or even melt if it’s very high. The optimal temperature is about 20-21 C degrees.
  • Humidity – if it’s high it gives good conditions to growth for mold for example. It’s mainly harmful for cardboard jackets and covers, which can be very valuable as well. The optimal value is 45-50%.
  • Dust – it’s your nasty foe, not only in records storage. A particles of dust can scratch your LPs and cumulate in grooves making them sound worse.

Just try to keep those factors under control and your collection will last much longer.

Cleaning vinyl records the safe and certain way

Unfortunately, unless you have a sterile, laboratory conditions in your room, you will have to clean your records from time to time. But that’s the case with nearly anything, isn’t it? There is a lot of talking about records cleaning methods in the internet. Different solutions have their devoted fans, who are arguing on many blogs and forums whether it’s better to use WD-40 or coconut oil. Well, to tell the true – I don’t know. If you want to jump it to those more or less experimental methods – search the net. You’ll find planty of them. If you will find and test a really good way of cleaning LP records – write to us! Maybe we will make a special part of this site about cleaning – who knows? One thing I know for sure – it’s very harmful for your records to play them while they are dirty. So for now I would like to give you just a few standard, safe and certain tips on cleaning vinyls.

  • First step is to remove dust. You might use Carbon Fiber brush, a glasses cleaning cloth or even a soft and delicate anti-static duster (Swiffer type).
  • Cleaning solution. The basic solution is just a warm water. Possibly distilled water because tap water might leave some mineral stains. For a not very dirty record a warm water and a soft, lint free cloth will do just fine. If it’s not enough you can add a bit of dish soap to the water.
  • How to do it? Just damp the cloth in the water, wring it and wipe it gently along the grooves on your record. Make sure to wipe off all the wetness. Repeat if needed. Just make sure that the water you use isn’t already dirty. If it is – change it.

If you feel you need something more, there are plenty of special tools and solutions to buy:

  • Special brushes and pads
  • Special vacuum machines for LP records
  • Special solutions

I will get to this subject in another part of this site.

Vinyl record storage ideas – choose the right one for you

As you now know for sure – vinyl storage is unlike storage of any everyday objects. There are some rules to meet and some special conditions to fulfil. You learned them in the previous part of this page. The criteria I took into account while choosing and evaluating individual products and ideas are as follows:

  • Dimensions. LPs, as have been already said are usually 12”, but without covers. With the standard cardboard cover and outer sleeve – about 12,20”. So it’s important to find units with at least 14” in deep and hight.
  • Weight. They are heavy. At least 15kg for about 12-15 inches row. It’s really a lot and not every standard container with shelves inside will manage to stand it.
  • Capacity. You need to know how many records you want to store, right?
  • Visibility. If you want your records to be visible you can’t hide them behind solid doors! Luckily there are some transparent possibilities.
  • Design. This is a very subjective factor. We all have different taste, we like different colors and styles. I will try to give you a very broad suggestions in this matter,  just to aim you in to the direction that suits you most.

When you are looking for the best solution you need to think about all those conditions. Now I want to show you the best and most proper methods and ideas for records storage I found. To make things more useful and clear I will split them to a few main types of storage solutions:

  • cabinets – As cabinets I consider units which you can close to add an extra protection for your records.
  • shelves
  • crates and boxes
  • racks and stands
  • bags

Cabinets – 4 great ideas for vinyl storage

As you already know – dust is your enemy. It can be very harmful for your records collection. The main thing you can do to get rid of dust is regular vacuume cleaning. Well – generally speaking it’s the kind of thing you should do from time to time. We all know that dust is everywhere in our houses and vacuuming is a must to keep them clean and tidy. But if you want to give your LPs collection  some extra protection, you can go for closed cabinets to store them.

It has been said here that solutions and units which have been made specially for records storage are the best choice. It’s generally true, but it significantly narrows you choice.

It’s not so easy to find something you like and which will meet all the needs. That is why I made a broad research for you and found some ideas and cabinets which are great for this purpose. Some times I had to get some direct feedback from manufacturer or users to make sure that the exact unit will be good.

But this is why this site have been made – to help you find best products, solutions and ideas.

Modular cabinets

The best thing about them is their modularity of course. Small cubes seem perfect to begin with if you are starting to build your records collection. You can develop more complex storage system with time. This is a very flexible solution – you don’t have to spend a lot of cash for a big storage system if you have only 60 records. You can get another part of the modular storage system later, when one box is not enough any more. The great choice in this group is Forremost Modular Door Cube Storage System.

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Foremost Modular Door Cube Storage System
Forremost Modular Door Cube Storage System
15"15"15"~70No$
MaterialSolid wood frame, PVC laminate, particle board.
Additional infoThey have a door-less option as well. You can choose between four different colors: Espresso, Honey, White and Black. Remember that they aren't made for wall mounting, you should stand them on the floor, one over another or on other kind of flat surface.

Vinyls storage cabinets

Units in this part are specially build for records storage purpose. Their dimensions and capacity is just right. Usually there is a special space for records and other items like cables, headphones etc. Sometimes there is a place to stand your records player on top. A good choice among them is Crosley Bardstown Entertainment Center Stand.

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Foremost Modular Door Cube Storage System
Crosley Bardstown Entertainment Center Stand
16"25.25"19.75"~100Yes$$
MaterialHardwood with venir.
Additional infoGlassed door makes your records visible and safe at the same time. There is a place for a player on top and additional shelf for smaller items inside. Four finishes to choose from: Black, Oak, Cherry and Paprika.

As you can see the design is something between modern and vintage, which is great for keeping records. A combination of minimalism and retro-style is very present in todays design. The idea behind this type of cabinet is to either expose the best part of your collection or the most frequently used records. The ones you need to have on hand, just under the record player. It’s also great if you only have relatively small collection, but you are listening to it and don’t want to keep it hidden.

Heavy duty steel cabinets

The heavy duty cabinets is are a whole special group of storage units that where made for, well – heavy duty storage. They are usually steel made and are able to take as much as 200 lbs. on one shelf! I have to admit that I really love the idea. It’s great that they are steel made and painted. It gives them this very trendy industrial look. And you can always repaint them if you want. Their storage capabilities make them perfect for LP record storage – they are big and strong enough. It’s even better if you’ve got one with wheels or glass doors!  I agree that they are not cheap. But I think that they are definitely worth the money if you are looking for something really strong and long-term. You are not buying some light particle board unit here! And this design! Did I mention it already? It’s just something that fits itself perfectly into the modern approach to interior design! Just imagine heaving such a cabinet in some fancy color! This one is called Sandusky Lee Clear View Series Mobile Cabinet.

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Foremost Modular Door Cube Storage System
Sandusky Lee Clear View Series Mobile Cabinet
36"48"18"~450Yes$$$
MaterialWelded steel, powder coat finish.
Additional infoThe cabinet has wheels and acrylic doors.

High quality A/V cabinets

Some of the A/V cabinets available out there will manage to store your vinyls as well. Usually they are designed to use as TV stands. But you can always hang your TV on the wall above the cabinet and use it as a record player stand. The trick is to find the cabinet which will be able to keep your records as well. There are quite a few choices if this is the way you like to go. The really high-end cabinet which will make the job is Salamander Synergy 237.

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Foremost Modular Door Cube Storage System
Salamander Synergy 237
65,75"20"21"~370No/Yes (perforated metal sheet)$$$$
MaterialAluminium "skeleton", solid wood (american cherry).
Additional infoVery high quality. There are few colors and finishes to choose from: black/silver, cherry/black, cherry/silver, maple/black, maple/silver, walnut/black, walnut/silver.

Shelves – your LPs exposition ideas

Comparing to cabinets shelves have got one disadvantage – they are opened, so the dust has no barrier and you will definitely need to take good care of tidiness. But at the same time they give you some advantages. Your records will be all viewable and easily available. If you don’t like the idea to close you collections behind the doors and would rather expose it for your very pleasure instead – shelves are a great idea for records storage.

I made some research again and found for you the best shelving solutions for records storage purpose. Again the biggest problem is weight. You can’t buy any average shelving unit spacious enough for vinyl records and expect it to be durable enough to hold your collection. Remember – over 15kg per 100 records! I heard and read enough stories about collapsed cabinets and shelving systems and records badly damaged thereby. That’s why a proper research is a must. I found some great ideas and I really want to share them with you.

Modular cubes

Exactly the same idea that’s stands behind modular cabinets makes this type of open cubes a really great way of storing LP records. You can stack them one on another and expand your system along with your collection. If you want to do it on cheap and the right way at the same time – this is your great starting point.

One of the highest rating in this genre goes to Foremost Modular Open Cube Storage System. This is the same system as Modular Door Cube Storage System I was writing about a few lines above in the Cabinets section. So you’ve got a great opportunity here to develop your storage setup from both of these units.

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Foremost Modular Door Cube Storage System
Foremost Modular Open Cube Storage System
15"15"15"~70Yes$
MaterialSolid wood frame, PVC laminate, particle board.
Additional infoThey fit along with Modular Door Cubes. You can choose between four different colors: Espresso, Honey, White and Black. Remember that they aren't made for wall mounting, you should stand them on the floor, one over another or on other kind of flat surface.

Another one to spot is Ubergreen Media LP Record Cabinet. The manufacturer claims that this is an eco-friendly product, so if you are into ecology – this might be a point for this one. This one is modular as well, but here you’ve got four cubes in one unit. They are made of solid wood, witch is also an important thing for a furniture piece.

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Urbangreen Media LP Record Cabinet
Urbangreen Media LP Record Cabinet
29"31"13"~270Yes$$1/2
Material Maple wood.
Additional infoSolid wood. Eco-friendly, comes to you assembled.

Next one probably doesn’t need any extra introduction :D. Ikea’s Expedit is one of the most popular shelving units used for records storage. I have to worn you about two things here:

1. The manufacturer says that the durability is a bit less then the unit should have to hold records. But on the other hand – there are hundreds of people using it that way without a problem. Even one of my friends keeps few hundreds of his vinyls in his Expedit and he is happy with it.

2. Buying it on Amazon is much more expensive than directly in Ikea store. The only real reason for doing it is when the closest Ikea store is really far away from your home (if such a remote locations even exist! ;D)

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Foremost Modular Door Cube Storage System
Ikea Expedit 4 Shelving Unit
31 1/8"31 1/8"18 3/8"~270Yes$$
MaterialParticleboard, Paper, Fiberboard, ABS plastic, Acrylic paint, Foil
Additional infoVery popular, Don't buy on Amazon if you've got IKEA on hand!

Heavy duty steel shelving

Steel furniture usually finds its place in magazines, basements and workshops because it’s often very durable and can handle really a lot. But present design doesn’t turn away from them. In fact industrial style is strongly present in modern flats, houses and offices. But anyway, the best part about metal storage systems in terms of vinyls storing is strength. Vinyls are really heavy and they need a decent capacity to be held safely. You won’t find any better and  sturdier then heavy duty shelves. And if they look stylish and cool at the same time – you’ve got the best way of LP records storage without a doubt. The shelves are usually coated, but you can always repaint them if you’ll get bored with the original color. I found some great examples and offers, checked if they will do the job and put them in the comparison chart you can find here:

LINK (working on it!)

About few most interesting of them you can read right below. Hope you will find it useful!

Sandusky Lee Metal Cubby Shelf

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Foremost Modular Door Cube Storage System
Sandusky Lee Metal Cubby Shelf with 9 Storage Cubes
46"52"18"~660Yes$$
MaterialWelded steel, powder coat finish.
Additional infoNice replacement for Ikea Expedit unit! And much more durable. A lot of colors to choose from.

This one is really cool because it reminds one very popular piece of furniture I wrote about above! You guessed – this is a steel version of Expedit unit! If I could have a little doubts about Expedit durability – here there are none. Each cube has 89 lbs capacity, which is more then enough and which makes it a great record storage solution. And in my opinion this a bit industrial look about it is much cooler then the well known Ikea’s appearance.

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Foremost Modular Door Cube Storage System
Sandusky Lee BM10361830-01 Red Steel Mobile Book Case
36"36"18"~340Yes$$+
MaterialWelded steel, powder coat finish.
Additional infoExtra durability, wheels, great colors.

This one may call itself a book case, but in fact it’s much more. The extra durability makes it a really great shelf for LP records. Sandusky is known for their wide colors chart – this one is bright red. But as this is made of coated steel – there is always possibility to paint it the way you want. And the best part – there are wheels! I love furniture on wheels. Although furniture usually just stands still, wheels might come in handy. Especially when the things you are storing are quite heavy – like records are. On wheels you can move it to clean up behind or just to refurnish your room. It’s also counter high, so you can stand your player on top.

To be continued – please bookmark the site and come back later for more. This is just a beginning! You can always contact me, using the form here!