We’ve all been there. You’re getting ready to play one of your favorite vinyl records. You pull out your disc and set it on your record player and notice it looks kind of funny. Upon playing, the needle moves up and down as the record clumsily skips along. Uh oh, you’ve got a warped record.
You might be thinking this is the end of your album as you know it, but don’t throw in the towel just yet. In this guide, we share six different ways to fix warped records, both at home and through special services. Let’s take a look!
So, what options do you have for fixing a warp vinyl record?
I’ve compiled a few of my favorite methods for fixing warped vinyl. Some of these can be done DIY with everyday household objects, some are a little more advanced and require the use of heat, and others are dedicated products or services.
The weight and wait method
Good for fixing smaller warps without adding heat
We’ve coined our first method the “weight and wait” method because it involves placing your vinyl record in between two heavy objects and waiting for an extended period of time.
Firstly, make sure your record is covered in its paper sleeve. Place the record in between two large books or similar objects on a flat surface.
If possible, add additional weight to the top of the book. This can be anything from additional heavy books to a dumbbell weight. Keep the weight under around 20-25 pounds so you don’t inevitably add excessive pressure.
Leave your record in between the books for an extended period of time. We’re talking a couple of weeks at least.
After two or more weeks, remove the heavy objects from the top of the vinyl record and give it a test. Can you play the record without any skipping now?
If not, you might want to try one of the more aggressive methods mentioned later in this list.
The glass pane and oven method
Good for fixing warped records quickly
A popular way many people fix a warped record is with the glass pane and oven method. This method involves using pressure and heat to soften the vinyl just enough to where it’s malleable and can sink back into place.
Firstly, make sure you have an oven, oven mitts, and two glass panes larger than 12 x 12 inches (which can be purchased at most local hardware stores).
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Fahrenheit or 80 degrees Celsius.
- While the oven warms up, it’s a good idea to clean the glass panes with Windex. It’s also a good idea to clean your vinyl with a record cleaner solution to ensure no dust or debris gets pressed into the grooves.
- Place the record evenly in between the two pieces of glass (mmm, viny & glass sandwich, my favorite).
- With oven mitts, insert the glass into the oven and place it on an oven rack in the center of the oven.
- Heat the vinyl record for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, remove the glass from the oven. Again, be sure to use oven mitts as it will be hot!
- While the glass and record cool, place a heavy object on top of them to increase the pressure. Heavy books like encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc. work well for this. Be careful not to add excessive pressure, otherwise, you could break the glass and/or damage the vinyl.
- Let the glass cool for 60 minutes before removing the heavy object and glass.
If everything was done properly, your record should be noticeably flatter!
Use a record weight
Great for small warps
Sometimes the best way to fix a warped record is to not actually fix it at all. What I mean by this is a record with a slight warp can often be reduced by just using a record weight while playing it.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a permanent fix for the warped record, but if you’re nervous about applying heat to your vinyl records this might be the best option.
Vinyl Flat record flattened
Good for fixing more server warps at home
Vinyl Flat is a product built specifically to fix a warped vinyl record. It works the same way as the glass pane and oven method mentioned above but is more reliable.
The Vinyl Flat has a center hole with a screw, allowing you to tighten and add much more pressure than the two panes of glass method. Additionally, flattening can be done with or without heat.
We would only recommend this product if you have a more seriously warped record or a valuable record you are wanting to be more cautious with.
Use a record flattening service
Best for valuable vinyl records you want to be sure come out right
There are companies out there that offer professional vinyl flattening services. Instead of using a DIY method with glass and an oven, these services have multi-thousand dollar machines they use to properly flatten warped vinyl records.
Of course, these services do come at a price, but the cost is less than you might think, coming in well below $20 per vinyl record at the time of writing this.
For expensive vinyl records that you want to be sure come out flat, we recommend using a professional record flattening service to fix your warped vinyl record.
3 Tips for preventing vinyl warping
As you continue to accumulate more and more records, it becomes increasingly important to take proper care of them to prevent them from becoming warped. Here are a few tips on how to do this.
Avoid excessive heat
Heat and vinyl records do not mix well. Vinyl begins warping around 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 degrees Celsius (source). Because of this, it’s important to store your record in a temperature-controlled environment. Be careful of exposure during prolonged periods in cars on a hot day, direct sunlight, or even receiving shipped vinyl records during the hot Summer months.
Store your records vertically
Just like how the “weight and wait” method worked above, improper storage methods such as vinyl stacked on top of each other is a big no-no. Over time, gravity will begin warping the records with the most pressure on them. Always store your records vertically like you would with a book. This ensures your records aren’t subject to unnecessary pressure over the course of time.
Handle your records with care
Pretty obvious, but be careful while you handle a vinyl record. Always be gentle so as to not bend anything.
Warped records FAQs
Here are a few frequently asked questions that we see floating around online.
What causes a warped record?
A warped record is caused by unnecessary weight, excessive heat, or prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Vinyl records are sensitive and begin warping at temperatures around 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 degrees Celsius. Keep records stored upright in temperature-controlled environments to prevent warping from occurring.
How do you tell if a record is warped?
You tell if a record is warped if it looks visibly bent, sound quality is distorted, and the record skips during playback. Warped records can happen for a number of reasons such as exposure to heat, leaving the record in direct sunlight, or storing them incorrectly.
How hot does it have to be to warp a record?
Most vinyl records will begin warping at temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, vinyl records begin to melt at 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius.
Is it safe to play a warped record?
It is not safe to play warped records. Warped records can cause damage to your record player stylus in addition to scratching the record itself. Additionally, because warped records often sound distorted, this has the potential of damaging your speakers as well.
At this point, you should be ready to fix your warped vinyl record. While every method isn’t for everyone, there should be something in this guide to help you flatten your record.
We hope you learned something today. Thanks for reading!
Lead Editor / Owner
After beginning his career in the video and audio recording industry, Andrew started HiFi Hippo to share his knowledge and passion for vinyl and vintage audio with other readers.