How to Repair Damaged Record Covers

How to Repair Damaged Record Covers

Resale Value Is Partially in the Eye of the Purchaser


Record collectors love wax for its warm, organic, perfectly imperfect sound -- but in addition to being a treat for the ears, records are works of visual art. If you doubt us, consider this: Can you listen to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon without visualizing its iconic cover with a prism splitting a beam of white light into a spectrum? And what 1960s Beatles montage would be complete without the image of the Fab Four in their jewel-tone military-style suits on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?


Aesthetics aside, there's also a practical reason to keep your record covers in tip-top shape: to protect your album and preserve its resale value. If you're looking to trade your vinyl for cash, the closer it is to mint condition, the higher the price it will command. So, from seam splits to clean splits and inner splits, here's how to repair your roughed-up record covers.


Gather Your Supplies

It's not brain surgery, so you don't need a scrub tech and surgical instruments. But you do need a clear area and a few tools: a small knife, cotton swabs, a binder clip, a heavy weight (stacks of hardcover books work just fine), scissors, a razor blade, clear glue (some collectors swear by Elmer's stick glue, Super Glue, or Titebond Wood Glue), and blank album sleeves (or 200-gram stock card paper).


DO NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to mend a seam split with tape. Tape does not hold up over the years. Even worse, when it inevitably splits and peels, it takes the art with it. Avoid at all costs! Another don't: Don't try this for the very first time on a prized album. Practice makes perfect, so before you take your record sleeve to the operating room, make sure to practice on the musical equivalent of a cadaver: a busted-up, worthless record from the thrift store or church rummage sale.


Assess the Damage

The severity of the damage determines the strategy you'll use. Does the cover look as though it has come unglued at the seams and is coming apart? If the cardboard sides have separated but are otherwise intact, you have a seam split, and it's a relatively easy fix. Swipe a small amount of glue onto the top half of the seam split and press the sleeve together as you move along its edge. Scrape up any glue drips with the knife. Finally, apply pressure by placing the glued sleeve under the books, or, if it's a small split, clamping it with a binder clip.


If you're dealing with a rough split, which looks more like a tear than a clean separation, you might need to do the equivalent of a skin graft. (Sorry to continue the medical metaphor -- records are like our babies). Measure a piece of card stock or the extra record sleeve and cut a long, narrow patch of cardstock so that it's 2.5 inches wide, and an inch longer than the split. Fold it in half lengthwise, spread the exterior with a thin layer of super glue, and use it to patch the tear from the inside. Hold it tightly in place for a minute while the glue dries.


Once the patch has dried, you can also glue the exterior part of the sleeve down over the patch. This is also the best way to fix a very common problem: the inner, central, or side-seam split. Run a thin layer of glue across the split, pinch it closed, and hold for about a minute. That's it!

Finally, now that your vintage vinyl is in great shape, take it to Mushroom New Orleans to sell it or trade it for something new! Kidding ... sort of. We'd love to check out any unwanted records you may have on hand and swap repair tips. See you soon!

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