How Do Records Get Warped

After an extended listening session of music, I have been known not to store my records correctly. When you come to store them correctly, and you pick the vinyl up, and it just feels different. You don’t know what it is that is giving you that different feeling until you look, and your vinyl has warped. It is not a pleasant feeling and the reason we should always store our vinyl correctly.

But why and how do records get warped?

Vinyl records warp because of two main elements. The extra weight that is applied that bends the vinyl slowly. External heat most commonly from direct sunlight heating the vinyl beyond 140°F (60°C), at which point the vinyl becomes pliable and warps.

Ok, let’s tell you more about the extra weight and external heat. As in most cases some simple tips can avoid you vinyl from becoming warped.

How Can Extra Weight Cause My Vinyl To Warp?

The process that happens when you add weight onto your record is the same when a carpenter bends wood. It’s a slow process that takes time to happen. In our case, we don’t want it to happen. However, the process is the same, and knowing this can help you prevent it from happening.

The added pressure upon the vinyl slowly bends the record and over time it will leave it warped. Just like wood if you bent it quickly it would snap and break.

When talking about weight it doesn’t take much around five to ten record stacked can lead to your records to become warp. So it’s important to get out of the habit of stacking you records.

We have all done it staked a pile of records we want to listen to that night. Leaving them on your sideboard and next thing you know it’s been a week and you have some warped vinyl.

Vinyl warping by added weight is not a quick process to happen, around 24hours and you may start to see a bend. So don’t despair if you left a stack of records out overnight they should be fine.

Best practice is don’t stack your records and don’t add any other objects on your vinyl and you shouldn’t have a problem.

How Can External Heat Cause My Vinyl To Warp?

First, it’s important to know what the temperature is that vinyl becomes pliable. PVC has a maximum operating temperature around 140°F (60°C). Beyond this point distortion can happen this is when your vinyl warps.

Important note is that the “V” in the word PVC stands for Vinyl and is the same thing.

So know we know what temperature the vinyl become pliable and can warp. What can give off this heat?

The sun will be your enemy in most cases, leaving your record on the coffee table that’s in the window. Seems innocent but if you have the sun glaring thought the window this can heat up any surface beyond the 140°F (60°C) range. If your record is on the coffee table you may come back to a warped record.

Picking up a record from a local store? Great, However if it’s a hot day think before running into a shop for your lunch. A friend purchased a new record placed it on his front seat and run for lunch.

It was a hot and sunny day; he gets back to the car and sees the sun has been beaming down on his new record. He knows about heat and vinyl but makes a rookie mistake and pulls it out the sleeve.

Disaster it has got that hot that hot it flops in his hand. This leads onto heat and extra weight nicely and how we can take a lesson from my friend.

Extra Pressure and External Heat

So, we know that extra pressure and external heat can cause your records to warp. Mix the two and you can not only get warping but damage to the vinyl.

If your record gets beyond or you suspect it gets beyond the 140°F (60°C) range. Carefully move the record out of the sunlight. Avoid putting any pressure on the face of the record with your hands.

As we know the vinyl becomes pliable beyond this temperature. The groves that make the sounds also become pliable and the pressure of your fingers can crush the groves.

This will lead to poor sound quality maybe even making the record unplayable.

So, if you have a record that has been exposed to heat carefully moves it away from the heat and allow it too naturally to cool down.

Now, back to my friend the day in the car if it hand not have flopped around his hand like it did. I am most certain that the heat from the sun and in the car pulling it out of the sleeve would most likely have damaged the playing quality.

What temperature to prevent warping?

To stop your records from warping, the perfect temperature is between 65° to 70° F. We have a full guide on How to Store Vinyl Records if you want a complete in-depth guide.

Despite giving this number and it being the perfect temperature. I don’t have a thermometer in the room I store my vinyl. Just make sure you keep them out of direct sunlight and stored correctly and you will be good to go.

Hint – Pay attention that you have no mirrors in the room that can bounce the sunlight onto your vinyl. Sounds a little strange but this can still cause the vinyl to heat up and become warped.

Can I play my warped Vinyl record?

If you have a warped vinyl there are two things you more than likely want to know. Can I still play the vinyl now it’s warped or can I fix it?

Let’s go with the first one can we play a warped vinyl first.

Yes, if your vinyl lies relatively flat on the platter then it should be fine to play. However, don’t expect the same sound quality.

Will a warped vinyl damage the stylus? If the vinyl is only slightly warped it should not cause any damage to the stylus and you should be fine to play it.

With all this said, if you have a badly warped vinyl, it will not be playable and could damage the stylus.

Now to the second question is there anyway of fixing a warped vinyl? Yes, it takes a little more than a simple one line answer so we dedicated a whole post on How to Fix A Warped Record.

Wrapping Up

I hope that I have showed how records get warped and some simple tips on stopping them from becoming warped.

Following some simple storing practices and remembering vinyl plus heat and vinyl and weight don’t mix. You are doing to be good to go and have very few warped records apart from that purchase from the thrift store. However, if you read our other post, you will be able to straighten that out back to new, I hope.