If records aren’t looked after properly, they start to sound terrible and their financial value begins to decline – any serious record collector will tell you this.
General wear and tear will leave cardboard jackets looking shabby, while paper inner sleeves can become torn, yellowed, sun-bleached and downright dirty over the years. Disks themselves are delicate creatures and suffer easily from scratches, sticky fingerprints and dirt ingrained in grooves. Records also attract a huge amount of dust due to static build up, if not regularly cleaned with a specialist product.
The materials designed to protect your records can actually cause them harm, particular with older disks. Stock paper inner sleeves can shed small shards of paper onto the surface of the record, when it slides in and out of storage. These can scratch the fragile surface of the disk, causing damage as they’re brushed off with your sleeve, or wiped away with a less than pristine cloth. Many record collectors find these paper inner sleeves annoying and throw them away, leaving their disks to rattle around in the outer cardboard jacket.
With records no longer mass produced, and rare titles in high demand, it’s never been more important to preserve your collection – after all, you could be safeguarding your retirement fund!
Many collectors are now wising up to caring for their records, investing a little in specialist cleaning products and protective sprays that can prolong the life of their disks. It makes little sense to keep your records clean, however, if they’re left to fester in dirty, damaged cardboard sleeves.
Luckily, specialist replacement or protective sleeves are available in a range of different materials, sizes and designs – so there’s no excuse not to look after your precious vinyl collection.
It’s important to do your research and buy the best quality record sleeves you can afford. Without adequate lining, for instance, sleeves can actually damage rather than protect records. Our guide to what’s available should help you make the right decision for your needs and budget.
1. Basic paper sleeves
These are a budget solution – a basic paper square with a round cut-out through both sides, in order to view the record label inside. Paper sleeves act as a replacement for lost or heavily damaged originals, and are better than nothing, but don’t offer much in the way of protection.
We don’t recommend or sell this type of sleeve.
2. Poly inner sleeves
Slightly opaque, thin high density polypropylene sleeves known as ‘poly inner sleeves’ are a better bet than paper inserts, as they’re more durable, holding their shape rather than flopping around when you insert the record. They won’t shed paper onto your disks, and there’s no cut-out, so less dust will get inside the sleeve as it’s totally sealed.
Some have rounded corners to make inserting the disk easier, while others are square and require you to bend one corner down to place the record inside.
Poly inner sleeves tend to be priced in the middle of the range and last much longer than their paper counterparts. They are also ideal to insert into original sleeve liners.
3. Paper with poly lined inners
This style combines a paper outer sleeve with a poly lined inner, combining a rigid shape with an anti-static lining that prevents friction and guards the record from damage, as it’s inserted. The poly inner also helps prevent the static build up that attracts dust, keeping records cleaner for longer.
Our most popular sleeve offering superb value for money.
4. Poly outer sleeves
While it’s most important to protect the record itself, you may also wish to protect the valuable artwork on the cardboard jacket of your record with an outer poly sleeve. These come as a standard, flexible plastic square with a self-adhesive closing. The only discernible difference is in the thickness of the plastic. Make sure you chose a sleeve that’s at least 3mm thick, as anything other than this will be too flimsy to hold its own shape and won’t provide much protection. Various sizes are available, allowing you to protect anything from a 7” single up to a double LP or box set.
Outer sleeves are reusable, but do suffer from wear and tear over time, so you may need to replace them every couple of years.
Ready to protect your precious collection?
If you’re ready to invest in a set of protective sleeves, the AnalogueWorks sleeves have been specially designed and produced exclusively for our customers and offers a range of excellent choices.
We offer two sleeve ranges, Katta and AnalogueWorks – both of which are practical and affordable.
The Katta range
Carefully produced in Japan, using high quality materials, the Katta range of clear plastic sleeves are great value for money and are sold in boxes of 25-100.
The range consist of both inner sleeves to cover your record and paper insert and outer sleeves that protect the record, inner sleeve and cardboard jacket. The size range also caters for singles and LP sizes.
All Katta jackets are:
- Ultra-thin, yet tear resistant
- Effective at protecting against dust and dirt
- Wrinkle free
- Super lightweight
The AnalogueWorks Range
Analogue Works are specially made for Divine Audio in Germany and are a fuss free option, hugely popular with customers worldwide. They’re made from thickened paper that’s tough but flexible, allowing for movement. The inside of each sleeve is coated with anti-static plastic that allows records to slide in easily, with no paper shedding. Our HDPE poly inner sleeves are made in Japan and are available in packs of 50 or 100 offering superb value for money.
Each sleeve is also:
- Ash and acid free
- 12″ Vinyl
- Strong enough to hold records up to 200g
- Available in black or white paper
- Made from sustainable source
Our range of sleeves are made in the same factories, using the same materials, as more expensive branded sleeves. As we order direct, and have slightly modified the sleeve design, we’re able to pass on huge savings to our customers. You won’t find this type of sleeve anywhere else at a cheaper price!
How to use your protective record sleeves
To use any protective sleeve, simply hold it open and slide the record in with one hand. Never let the disk drop down into the sleeve, as this will eventually rip the seams. Make sure that the open edge of the record sleeve isn’t aligned with the open edge of the protective sleeve, as this is where dust and debris will enter. You need the opening of your record sleeve to be on one of the sides, creating a double layer of protection.
A final word of warning…
Whatever sleeve you choose to protect your disks, NEVER throw away any of the original sleeves or artwork that arrive with your record. Collectors expect to see these items present when they buy records and will pay less if they’re missing. They’re also little pieces of musical history to be cherished, not binned, so treat them with respect and one day, your grandchildren will thank you for it!