How to Fix a Warped Vinyl Record

There are 3 ways to fix a warped vinyl record. You can do it by applying pressure on the vinyl with weight. Another way is using heat as well as pressure. The last one is buying a machine that will do it for you.

Vinyl records brought a boom in the music industry when they arrived as they gave a cheap and reliable way for people to listen to music wherever they want. Even though everybody thought they are going extinct with the digitalization of music, many avid listeners cared to listen to music the old way on the gramophone, leading to revival and a steady LP market all around the world.

Vinyl warping can be for different reasons and in different ways, but sometimes, even extreme cases can be repaired. No one will guarantee you a refund or replacement, not even for a scratch, so, it’s important to know how to fix this issue in the first place.

Option 1: Using pressure

The easiest, but also the longest way to repair a warped vinyl record is to get that record under pressure.

This is the cheapest way to do it, but it’s also the longest by far. You’ll need to wait for at least a couple of days if not even weeks. The point of this method is to use pure pressure from the weight to unwrap and straighten the curves on your record.

To do this properly, you’ll need some large heavy objects which are big enough on the surface to cover the whole of the record (think really big books). If you don’t have these or don’t want to use them, you can always use two pieces of glass (glass sandwich) or other flat surfaces as a cover. Glass is the best option if you can manage to find it – inexpensive, cheap, and has all of the qualities you’re looking for.

So, these are the steps:

1. Wipe the record clean, to prevent further damage

2. Put the record in a paper sleeve, or in between two papers – no plastic, please

3. Put a sleeved record in between the two surfaces of your choice and weigh it down.

You should note that the whole of the record has to be covered when weighing it down as you can very easily break the record if you weigh it down improperly. You should put your weight in the center of the record if it’s not able to cover the whole of the record (like if you’re using glass panes instead of a book).

Option 2: Pressure and heat

The other way to fix a warped record is to use pressure and heat. This way you’ll get your results in a matter of minutes, not days, but because there’s heat involved you need to be careful so as not to melt your record to being unusable.

In the DIY manner, you’ll need two glass plates, some paper sleeves, cardboard, and an oven. As with the previous option, you need to get your records cleaned before you put them in paper sleeves and in between the glass plates.

There are several different ways in which you can do this thing, and in this video, you can see one of the safer options:

As for the steps:

  1. Clean your record
  2. Clean your glass plates
  3. Place your record inside of a paper sleeve (definitely do not use plastic!)
  4. Put your glass plates inside the oven which was preheated to approximately 70 degrees Celsius.
  5. Keep your glass plates inside until they get hot
  6. Take them out and place the records between the glass plates for as long as the glass needs to cool down to room temperature and voila! Repeat the process if there are more severe warps.

You can also find that some people put the record inside the oven with the glass, but that is a way riskier way of unwarping the records. Also, as glass doesn’t do well in temperature change situations, you should never put cold glass in a hot oven as it could shatter, and you can easily get hurt or damage your oven. You can also put a smaller weight on the top glass panel to help make the vinyl flat.

Option 3: Buying a machine

If you don’t want to be bothered with DIY ways of preventing damage to your records, you can always turn to the industry for a solution. But, minor record warps can be solved easily at home as minor warping is not a huge issue.

Several different machines can help with the warping problem, most of which work on the same principles listed above, using heat and pressure. The problem with these is that they are really expensive, but if you don’t want to be bothered with work (or have a lot of records to recover) you’ll want to get one of these to help you out.

What causes a record to warp?

Vinyl is essentially a type of plastic. As such, it’s quite flexible, but at the same time, this is the exact thing that causes records to warp. If the heat is applied, these thin pieces of plastic will melt very easily, causing the record to lose its original flat shape.

To prevent this to happen there are two things you must think about. First off, never store your records on top of one another. This will create pressure on the vinyl and the bottom records will have a huge amount of pressure on them, causing them to warp or worse, crack. To prevent this, you should always store them upright, as if they were books in the library. This way you’ll minimize the pressure these records are feeling.

Secondly, do everything you can to avoid heat. This means also that you shouldn’t direct your records to direct sunlight, as it can damage them if they are being directed daily basis. You should store them at room temperature in a shade, to help them keep their sound quality and looks intact.

How do you tell if a record is warped?

The vinyl record should be straight as an arrow. Since warps are not usually gigantic, there can be a problem to notice one. The easiest way is to put a record on a gramophone and let it spin. If there is a warp, you’ll definitely be able to notice it looking to the side of the record while spinning. At one moment, you’ll see the line of the record going up or down, depending on where the warp is.

How long can a record be played?

The answer to this depends on the way you keep your records and on what equipment you’re playing them, as well as how much you’re playing them.

If you store your records properly and use quality equipment properly, you’ll be able to play a single record many hundreds of times, meaning that you’ll probably be able to play it for decades. Keep them away from dirt, dust, and a close heat source, and you will avoid a significant issue like irreparable damage.

Summary

The best way to prevent the warping of vinyl records is to make sure they are stored upright, at room temperature in a shade. To ensure the quality of your records it is recommended to use high-quality equipment while playing them. As long as you don’t implement improper storage, they can be played for decades.

Warps are usually not gigantic and the easiest way to notice them is by placing a record on a gramophone and letting it spin. If there’s a warp, it will surely be noticeable when looking at the side of the spinning record. If you use the methods in this article you will have no problem. It can be a devastating thing, especially if you have new vinyl records, even old records, but even new records can be repaired.

Brian Clark is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer. He is passionate about practically all areas of music and he particularly enjoys writing about the music industry.

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