How to Flatten a Warped Vinyl Record

As a music lover, one of my favorite things to do is browse the used record bins at my local record shop. This sort of hunting usually pays off when you find an absolute gem of a record. Maybe it’s one you’ve been searching for for years, or maybe it’s a brand-new find that’s captured your attention. 

The worst part about browsing the used record bins is realizing that a used but in-otherwise-decent-shape record is warped. When this happens, you have a couple of options. You can dejectedly put the record back and hope that you’ll come across another copy in good condition, or if you’re patient, you could flatten the record by yourself. 

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Records can become warped due to a combination of heat and pressure. So if you’re storing your vinyl incorrectly by leaning them at an angle, stacking them on top of each other, or if you’re leaving your records exposed to direct sunlight or high heat, you could be inadvertently warping your own vinyl collection. Warping can affect the sound of your record, sometimes even rendering them unplayable. 

If you want to flatten your vinyl records yourself, we’ve got some suggestions. For more music tips, here are the best record players of 2024. If you prefer to listen to music digitally, here are the best music streaming services of 2024.

Use pressure — and time

If you don’t want to risk reheating your vinyl (we’ll get to that later), you can flatten your vinyl using two books and a whole lot of patience. 

What you’ll need to do is take your warped vinyl and place it in between two heavy books (think large, hardcover books). You’re also going to want to make sure your record is clean and free of debris.

According to House of Marley, a turntable retailer, this method will take a great deal of time. If you pursue this method, you’ll be waiting weeks or even months to see any results, assuming all goes as planned. 

Buy a record flattening machine — or just pay a professional 

Other safe options are to shell out for a record flattening machine or pay a professional. Record flattening machines can cost you a pretty penny, with prices ranging from as much as $3,000 to just under $200. Alternatively, some online services will flatten your records for a fee. Perfect Vinyl Forever is one such service. 

I recommend calling local record shops to see if they can flatten your vinyl for a fee. In my experience, used record shops tend to have a way to flatten out warped vinyl, and it can be a great chance to support your local shops. 

At great risk, you can flatten it in your oven

If heat and pressure are the cause of the warps on your vinyl in the first place, it only makes sense that heat and pressure can flatten it right back out. This is a very high-risk, but potentially high-reward method for returning your discs to the proper alignment. This is a pretty nuclear option when it comes to flattening a warped record, so be warned that you could ruin the album permanently by doing this.

First, find two panes of glass measuring at least 12 by 12 inches that will fit in your oven. Each of these panes will go on either side of your warped record. Again, ensure that your vinyl is clean and free of debris. 

Preheat your oven to its absolute lowest temperature, and once the oven has reached that minimum heat reading, put the glass panels with the vinyl in between them into the oven, then set the timer for 30 minutes and wait. 

Once 30 minutes is up, carefully remove the glass and vinyl from the oven and let it cool to room temperature before removing the disc from between the panes of glass — we’d recommend an hour to be safe. Then remove the record from between the glass, cross your fingers and put it on your turntable to see how it sounds. 

For more, here’s why the AT-LP60XBT is the perfect beginner turntable.