vinyl warping cover photo

Vinyl Warping/Melting? Here’s Everything You Need To Know…

Introduction

The morning started like any other. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. The kids were running around, leaving the usual mess in their wake.

Where was I, you ask?

At the table, scrolling through my TikTok foryou page.

Again, the morning started out normal. But then a particular TikTok caught my attention.

In this video, creator “mattsvinyl2626” (Matt) demonstrates the effect of extreme temperatures on vinyl records. After leaving a record out during a heatwave, Matt captures its gradual warping and deformation, showing how a high enough heat could actually melt vinyl.

Naturally, after watching this video, I saw some recurring questions and ideas in the comments, so I thought I should answer them here.

At what temperature does vinyl melt?

Vinyl records can begin warping at temperatures as low as 140° Fahrenheit (60° Celsius), with the risk of melting at temperatures around 212° Fahrenheit (100° Celsius). Other environmental factors such as humidity, sunlight exposure, and improper storage conditions exacerbate the vulnerability of vinyl records to damage.

Vinyl records are primarily made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a type of plastic that can soften, warp, and eventually melt under excessive heat.

The specific temperature at which these changes occur varies, but generally, PVC starts to warp at temperatures as low as 140°F (60°C) and can begin melting around 212°F (100°C).

Common Scenarios Where Vinyl Records Might Melt

Heat and Sunlight Exposure

In every case of vinyl record warping, heat is the culprit.

So if you want to protect your expensive record collection from warping, AVOID HEAT.

In my experience, there are a few common instances of vinyl record warping.

First is the car. Reports from 2011 warn against leaving vinyl records unattended in cars during heatwaves, citing instances of record destruction due to the heat.

So, if it’s a hot day, do NOT leave your records in your car. Definitely don’t leave them in your car, under direct sunlight. That’s like asking God to warp your records.

an example of vinyl warping

Second, make sure your records aren’t under direct sunlight. I’ve seen some cases of warping while the record was still on the turntable, just because it kept getting hit by the sun. And the same thing applies to leaving your records on window shelves.

The main reason why sunlight is so harmful to vinyl is because of the black PVC material’s ability to absorb heat from the sun’s rays. So steer clear of those rays, please!

Third, make sure your records aren’t near heaters or radiators or any other sources of direct heat that can mess with their shape and sound quality.

As a final note, if you get a lot of your records from online, don’t let the package stay on your front door for too long. If it’s a hot day, it. Will. Warp.

So turn on your delivery notifications and make sure to bring the package inside ASAP!

Temperature Changes

Temperature changes are dangerous for your collection, especially because they’re missed a lot.

Transitioning vinyl records between extreme temperatures, such as moving from freezing to room temperatures, can cause your records to expand or contract. And over time, this stress can lead to warping.

So, as a rule of thumb, let your records sit in their covers for a couple hours before you expose them to new temperatures.

How to Prevent Vinyl Warping

Proper Storage

I get it.

You want your vinyl collection to look super aesthetic, and maybe this means neglecting a few beliefs in the community.

Just remember, these beliefs have lasted so long for one reason and one reason only: they’re true!

And I don’t care how “aesthetic” it is – Don’t stack your records on top of each other. Stacking them can generate heat through pressure, and thus increase the risk of warping.

the proper way to store your vinyl records to avoid any warping
The proper way to store vinyl

Lastly, make sure your collection is stored in a stable environment. Temperatures should be between 60°F (17°C) and 75°F (24°C). The environment itself should be cool and dry, away from direct sunlight and other sources of heat.

A store I visited last summer in Scotland — Fopp Glasgow — uses air conditioning throughout the store to help maintain optimal conditions for their records.

Of course, this isn’t some crazy breakthrough, but still, keeping the right conditions for your collection will go a long way, especially during heatwaves or fluctuating weather patterns.

Transport Precautions

Moving your records around can be stressful.  

The idea of moving your expensive and valued vinyl records can seem daunting, especially when you think about how easily they get damaged. However, with some simple precautions, you can start transporting your records completely stress-free.

If there’s another one you’re looking at, that’s fine, just make sure that it’s sturdy and that you can store your records vertically to prevent tipping or shifting.

Can a Melted or Warped Record Be Saved?

If your record has minor warping, there’s still a chance you can save it.

Try calling your local record store and see what they can do about it. Usually they’ll have a machine that can re-flatten records. If that doesn’t work, there are some products out there meant for this very purpose. Vinyl Flat is one that comes to mind, however it comes at a pretty steep price for something that’s not for sure going to work.

In the case that your record is significantly warped or melted, just go make a TikTok with it. It’s not going to offer much use beyond that.

Conclusion

After watching TikToks – or making them (for you owners of warped records) – we’ve all gained a better understanding of what warps and disfigures our vinyl.

Keeping this in mind, taking care of our collection doesn’t seem as stressful as it used to be, and that’s really what matters most at the end of the day.

Email us if you need any more help: info@popvinylrecords.com

FAQs

Will vinyl melt in heat?

Yes, vinyl will melt when exposed to high temperatures.

What temperature can vinyl withstand?

Vinyl can typically withstand temperatures up to around 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

At what temperature does vinyl burn?

Vinyl starts to burn at temperatures above its melting point, generally around 330 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Will vinyl melt in the oven?

Vinyl can melt in the oven if the temperature exceeds its melting point, which is around 330 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

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