Vinyl Ring Wear – How to Prevent Ring Wear on Records

Learn how to prevent vinyl ring wear!
This photo was taken by Michael for Devoted to Vinyl

It’s never fun when you pull out a record that you’re excited to listen to and notice that dreaded, ugly vinyl ring wear on the surface of the album cover.  It’s that big “circle of sadness” that destroys your otherwise great looking record jacket.  Well, if you’re tired of seeing ring wear on your album covers, I have three easy ways to prevent this from happening.  So let’s get started!

1) How to Prevent Vinyl Ring Wear – Fix #1

Now, the first fix is going to be the easiest change you can make, and I’ll progress to more clever solutions as we get further into this article.  But to begin, we have to quickly discuss what causes record ring wear in order to know how it can be prevented.

What Causes Vinyl Ring Wear?

A close up look at vinyl ring wear on an album jacket
This photo was taken by Michael for Devoted to Vinyl

Vinyl ring wear is when the impression of your vinyl record gets imprinted onto the front (or back) cover of your record jacket.  This results in a visible circle that’s permanently seared onto the cover, and it can become more pronounced as time goes forward.

Another way to think about ring wear is likening it to a coffee mug ring.  If you’re drinking coffee, and some liquid drips to the bottom of the mug, placing the mug onto a wood table (and leaving it there) can result in a permanent “ring” that’s impressed onto the table.

Learn how you can stop ring wear on vinyl record jackets.
This photo was taken by Michael for Devoted to Vinyl

So, how do we prevent ring wear?  Well, my first suggestion it to remove the immense pressure your records may be under. 

For started, give your records room to breathe in your collection.  If you have them in a record cabinet or carrying case or Ikea Kallax shelf, give your records enough “wiggle room”—don’t pack them in like sardines.  Doing so will increase the likelihood that the record jackets will slightly bend or warp around the vinyl that’s inside them, thus setting the stage for vinyl ring wear to rear its ugly head.

2) How to Stop Vinyl Ring Wear – Fix #2

When you stack records, you increase the likelihood of vinyl ring wear.

They next thing you should stop doing is stacking your vinyl records on top of one another—especially for any notable length of time.  Remember, these are vinyl records—not pancakes.

Similar to what I said before, you want to alleviate any extreme pressure the vinyl records place onto the surface of the vinyl record jacket.  And nothing is going to create more pressure than five or ten or even fifteen pounds of weight bearing down on an album cover.

Now, I understand that stacking records can be convenient at times.  Perhaps you’re rearranging your collection for a few hours, and it’s just easier to stack your records on top of one another.  Or, perhaps you just need to move your collection to a new area for a while, and you figure it won’t hurt to stack 10 to 20 records on top of one another.

Well, that would be a big mistake.  Your records, and record jackets, are made out of soft material.  You can’t stack them on top of one another like hardback books and expect a positive outcome.  And if you do it for a lengthy amount of time, you’re bound to get some ring wear.

3) Prevent Viny Record Ring Wear – Fix #3

In order to stop vinyl ring wear, you need to purchase and use both inner and outer record sleeves.
This photo was taken by Michael for Devoted to Vinyl

Now this is my favorite fix, and though it requires you to make an additional purchase, it is well worth your time.

What I highly recommend you do is go out and purchase some quality inner record sleeves and outer record sleeves.  Then, I want you to grab your record jacket and pull out the record itself.  Now, place the vinyl record inside the inner record sleeve (as seen above).

Next, grab record jacket and (without the vinyl inside) place it into the outer record sleeve (below).  Next, take your inner record sleeve (with the vinyl inside it) and place that inside your outer record sleeve—but BEHIND the album cover (second image below).

This photo was taken by Michael for Devoted to Vinyl
This photo was taken by Michael for Devoted to Vinyl

Now, what you have done is two things.  First, you have created much easier access to your vinyl record.  You no longer need to pull out the album cover to get your vinyl—you just need to pull out the separated inner record sleeve.

But, more importantly, you have fixed (or at the very least, significantly reduced) the nagging problem of vinyl ring wear.  Because the record itself is no longer inside of the record jacket, it’s now not going to be creating immense internal pressure on the inside of the album cover.  This essentially eliminates your concern for ring wear, especially if you store your album comfortably within your cabinet or Kallax shelf.  

Storing your vinyl records properly inside an Ikea Kallax shelf can prevent ring wear.
This photo was taken by Michael for Devoted to Vinyl

Give it a try.  You’ll likely be very happy with the results. For more help on this issue, I encourage you to watch my video below on finding and using the right inner record sleeves:

Vinyl Ring Wear Problem Solved

Hopefully you have learned some extremely helpful tips and tricks on how to prevent vinyl record ring wear.  I think if you can keep these steps in mind, and especially if you can begin implement Fix #3 listed above, you’ll go a long way to keeping your awesome record jackets looking like brand new.

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