Well, like most of you I’m frugal with my cash. Which means I want to ensure they are still in “mint” condition decades from now. If you consider how many years it took to collect some of my records and how valuable they are to me and not just the Discog values, but sentimental value also. I’m going to take out an “insurance policy” to protect them. That means putting outer and inner sleeves to good use.
Inner sleeves are my first line of defense against mother nature and humans. A nice thick inner sleeve can save a record from the bumps of movement or abrasion of other materials. If a thick inner sleeve isn’t in your budget, then at least have some sort of inner sleeve (even paper) to protect the record from the abrasion of sliding the record in and out of the album jacket, at a minimum.
Now I think everyone knows my opinion regarding paper sleeves or paper poly lined sleeves. They are abrasive and induce paper dust. They also have a sawing action on the jacket if you store your record inside of the jacket. Now it will take many years to notice the effect of using them. If you are satisfied with paper that’s fine.
So I pretty well have rethought this whole section and I know greatly prefer the crystal clear inner sleeves for almost all of my records. The convenience of being able to read the record labels without touching the record can't be overstated. 3 mil inner sleeve HDPE afford what I believe is the min. protection needed at a low cost. High Density Polyethylene is a very neutral material with great impact resistance and won’t promote the growth of mold or bacteria in high humidity climates. 4 mil is obvious better if you can afford to buy them, use at least on new heavy weight records. I use the inner sleeves with a flap for high rotation records, to minimize cleaning and the crystal clear sleeves are used on all color records.
Outer sleeves are important to protecting the aesthetic value of the jacket because it’s part of the art form of a vinyl record and since most people are attracted to vinyl records for both the sound and sensory touch of holding and reading a jacket, it’s also part of the value. Discogs doesn’t rate the media and sleeve just for the fun of it, it’s extremely valuable as a whole package. If not for resale, at least to have your insurance company properly assess its value if something unfortunate was to happen to your collection. I have been slowly changing my records over to the new 4 mil dual pocket single tuckable flap, as I hate the resealable tape and having the flap outside, that can catch on another album when shuffling records in and out of storage and the aesthetics are simply amazing with this product when mated with clear inner sleeves.
This is how I sleeve my records:
Single album or gatefold (that I don’t want to open) with 1 or 2 records, with little to no resale value and it’s easy to replace: typically, I will use a 2 mil dual pocket. This affords enough protect to the album jacket, while still letting me put the records in the second pocket. I will use a 3 mil inner sleeve as min. protection from bumps.
Single album or gatefold (that I don’t want to open) with 1 or up to 3 records, with significant resale value or it’s difficult to replace: typically, I will use a 4 mil dual pocket, tuckable or resealable. This affords great protect to the album jacket, while still letting me put the records in the second pocket. I will use a 4 mil crystal clear inner sleeve for protection. This is where I have been primarily using the 4 mil dual pocket single flap sleeve.
Gatefolds with 3 panels that I want to have the ability to open. For these I always use the 2 mil dual pocket, as it isn’t very bulky and they allow me to join several them together.
Option 1, close one panel and just use two sleeves;
Option 2, slit the end of a third 2 mil sleeve and slide it into the middle panel and then connect the sleeves together;
Option 3, if there is pages inside. I also use the single pocket 2 mil resealable outer sleeve on the inside pages for this purpose.
For inner sleeves, I use 3 mil for inexpensive records. 4 mil crystal clear for heavy weight new or rare records and color or picture discs.
I hope you find this helpful, as I know there are tons of options out there. Remember, it’s all about preference, but please do sleeve your records, regardless of where you buy them. A future generation inheriting your collection will thank you for it!