If you’re about to press some vinyl records, you may wonder why choosing inner and outer sleeves are such a big deal when they’re just sleeves that’ll hold your vinyl records. However, let’s not forget that they do not just hold these vinyl records, they protect them from being damaged!
The inner sleeve is there to protect the custom vinyl record from dust and the possible damage dust may bring to the vinyl.
In some way, it also protects the vinyl album jacket.
It prevents the vinyl record from freely rolling inside the jacket which may cause rips on the seam of the jacket.
When you put album jackets on racks, these jackets may slide on the surface of the rack or slide with other jackets. The sliding may cause some friction and damage to the design on the jacket. Here’s where the outer sleeve comes in. The outer sleeve protects the album jacket from the outside, hence the name.
Now we know how crucial vinyl record sleeves are, allow me to give you some tips on how to choose the inner and outer sleeves for your vinyl records.
Below is a list of what to consider when you buy inner sleeves.
#1 Make sure it’s thick enough
There are many available sizes for the inner sleeves. There’s 12-inch vinyl sleeves, 7-inch vinyl record sleeves, 10-inch vinyl sleeve. All of these vary in thickness, depending on where you purchase them. In looking for the best inner sleeve, make sure you consider its thickness.
The thickness helps the sleeve last longer and prevents it from being worn out easily. It also provides a sturdy shape for the sleeve, which makes the sleeve easy to insert the vinyl records into. The ideal thickness of sleeves is 3 millimeters.
#2 Inside space matters
Some album jackets are tight and if you consider buying a sleeve, you will have to think if the added thickness to the record will be alright when you put back the vinyl record into the jacket. If you think that jacket has enough space for the thickness then you’re good to go.
If the sleeve is thick, then it surely has a long life. You have to consider this because if you picked sleeves that do not last for long you’ll have to constantly buy them and that’ll be a burden to you.
#4 Lets vinyl records slide with less friction
This is very important when you choose sleeves. When you slide vinyl records and there is too much friction, it creates static that could affect the quality of your music.
After reading the list of things to consider, let me introduce to you the different types of sleeves available today. This list is ordered in what I consider good to best.
- Generic Paper Inner Record Sleeve
This is the most basic inner sleeve you can have. It is a plain white paper with a cutout that allows you to see the label. This is not the best and is therefore not recommended especially with better sleeves available now.
This sleeve is mostly bought when you buy vinyl records in bulk and need temporary protection. However, this is not advisable for long term use because these sleeves tend to tear and turn yellow after sometime. Additionally, when you slide the vinyl record into it, it scratches which makes static and paper dust.
- Poly Inner Record Sleeve
Here we have a slightly opaque thin polypropylene sleeve. This sleeve is thicker which makes it durable and gives it shape. Some poly inner sleeves have rounded corners, to make it easier to put the record back into the album jacket.
Poly inner sleeve is a good choice for your vinyl records’ protection because these things are slightly transparent making it possible to not have a cutout for the label. Having no cutout prevents the dust from accumulating on the vinyl record.
- Paper with Poly Lined Inner Record Sleeve
Next is a combination of the first two types. The outer part is the paper which gives the sleeve’s shape while the inner part is the polypropylene which minimizes the friction when you insert the vinyl record. A disadvantage this type of sleeve has is that it is thicker than any of the other types. This makes it difficult for you if you have a tight album jacket.
- Audiophile Inner Record Sleeve
Last is a very thin inner sleeve made from either rice paper or high-density anti-static polyethylene (HDPE). This sleeve is very smooth both inside and outside which makes it easy for inserting vinyl records without scratching or static buildup. Since it is super thin, it does not need a cutout for the label, but it is a bit pricey compared to the other three.
Now let’s talk about what to consider when you buy outer sleeves. There’s really nothing much to consider when buying, all you have to consider is the thickness. As I’ve mentioned above choose sleeves which are at least 3 millimeters thick.
Disregard those 1 millimeter thick sleeves because aside from being thin it also does not hold its shape providing less protection. However, you have to keep in mind to replace them periodically because these clear plastic poly outer sleeves tend to become dirty and foggy.
Another expense? It’s better than having your jacket’s artwork dirtied and damaged right? The sleeves will be easier to replace than the artwork, I assure you.
I hope that after reading this you’ll pay more attention to the quality of vinyl record sleeves you choose for your records. Your inner and outer vinyl sleeves for your vinyl jackets and records should suit your taste and your budget but most of all, they should PROTECT them.
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12 inch vinyl record sleeves, 7 inch vinyl record sleeves, 7 inch vinyl sleeve printing, 10 inch vinyl sleeve printing, and so much more. Want to have your records pressed by us? Get an instant quote here.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.