Record collectors the world over raged and wept when IKEA announced the death of Expedit, which for 19 years had been a favourite record storage solution for organizing and displaying our beloved LPs.

IKEA Expedit (right and left) in 5 x 5 and 4 x 2 configurations, with an upcycled standard
IKEA Expedit (right and left) in 5 x 5 and 4 x 2 configurations, with an upcycled standard bookshelf in between. This latter unit was inadequately braced, so suffered sagging. The Expedit units performed flawlessly for years. Photo: Robert Stuthridge

In my own music room I had filled a 5 x 5 to overflowing and used a 2 x 4 to house my most prized recordings and the equipment on which I played them.

IKEA LP Storage
IKEA Expedit works equally well for LP storage and for audio equipment support. The 4 x 2 units may be used vertically or horizontally. Photo: Robert Stuthridge

I’d lugged these heavy cases from IKEA in West Chester, Ohio to home in Indiana and spent the next few hours unpacking them, assembling them and filling them. I ran the gamut of flat-pack-builder emotions, from impatience, through frustration to smug satisfaction. I know it helps if you read the instructions, but where’s the adventure in that? Of course, failure to do so can have catastrophic results…

Expedit collapse
his collapsed Expedit had been oriented on its side (90-degrees from how it should have been used), with disastrous results. When positioned correctly, IKEA shelves will never do this! If in doubt, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. Source of image: http://www.vinyle-actu.fr/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/ikea-expedit-s-effondre.jpg

Within a couple of weeks of moving from the USA to the UK in 2013 I set off for IKEA in Bristol. I returned laden with packs of beautiful red (2 x 4) and grey (2 x 2) glossy Expedit, I had left my main record collection and vintage audio equipment behind in the States, waiting for the chance to bring them over to my new home. These red and grey Expedit units would be put to good use in the meantime with my UK vintage setup and my small but growing “emergency” record collection. Expedit works so well because it is strong enough to take the weight of thousands of albums, is uncluttered in appearance, is smooth-surfaced, so minimizes shelf-wear to covers, and provides a great, stable surface for turntables, tape decks and amplifiers.

Expedit 4 x 2 in glossy red
My glossy red IKEA Kallax 4 x 2 unit. Photo: Robert Stuthridge

For my part, I am okay with Kallax, IKEA’s replacement shelving system, provided it will keep its shape and strength like Expedit. Some Kallax units are available for a modest extra cost in glossy, vivid colours, with all sizes being offered in birch-effect, black-brown and white. Watch IKEA.com for more colour options in the future.

kallax-shelving-unit-turquoise__0244000_pe383249_s4kallax-shelving-unit-red__0243986_pe383243_s4kallax-shelving-unit__0243969_pe383237_s4kallax-shelving-unit-brown__0243963_pe383234_s4kallax-shelving-unit__0243961_pe383235_s4kallax-shelving-unit-white__0243965_pe383236_s4

In the USA, Kallax prices start from $59.99 for a 4 x 1 to $139 for a 4 x 4 unit (January 2015). That’s very hard to beat, price-wise, which also explains why IKEA units are so popular with record collectors.

Demise of the 5 x 5?

Expedit was offered in a 5 x 5 cube configuration, whereas Kallax is only available (at present) in a maximum of 4 x 4. For those of us with large LP collections this 36% reduction in maximum shelf capacity is a big deal, because it will mean buying additional units. That will make Kallax less cost-effective than its predecessor, at least for serious LP collectors and/or hoarders. I envisage a buoyant second-hand market for 5 x 5 Expedit units! Not sure whether IKEA will fill this gap in due course – watch this space for updates!

Home Made Storage

If you want something different, IKEA is not the only option when it comes to storing records. There are “specialist” record storage systems to suit most tastes, aesthetically-speaking. Some carry a high price tag that puts them beyond the budget of many record collectors, but there are notable exceptions. In the UK, for example, the I-Cube modular record storage system is reasonably priced, comes in a wide range of natural and painted wood finishes and can be wall-mounted,

I-Cube LP storage system: www.i-cubes.co.uk/
I-Cube LP storage system: www.i-cubes.co.uk/

“Handy” people can make great and unique storage units by upcycling old shelves or pieces of furniture. The key thing is to make sure the shelves won’t sag – records are not individually heavy, but a hundred records will surely distort a weak or unbraced shelf, or even collapse, with potential damage to your precious vinyl and/or covers. That’s something no collector needs.

This cool and functional storage unit was designed and built for my friend Meghan by her husband Damon - and I like the result! (Meghan also has great taste in music, which helps).
This cool and functional storage unit was designed and built for my friend Meghan by her husband Damon – and I like the result! (Meghan also has great taste in music, which helps).
Meghan's upcycled LP and audio storage unit. Nice lava lamp! Photo: Meghan Alexander
Meghan’s upcycled LP and audio storage unit. Nice lava lamp! Photo: Meghan Alexander

Expedit braced each shelf at 35 cm (13.7 in.) intervals, which is a good rule of thumb. Each Expedit cube accepts around 75 LPs in covers, which will weigh in the region of 16.5 kilos (36.4 lbs), so a filled 4 x 2 Expedit will carry 132 kg (291 lbs) — bear that in mind when opting for a do-it-yourself or upcycling storage option.

VHFSE Facebook Group member Mike Anderson made great use of some old speaker cabinets for his record storage. Clever thinking, Mike.
VHFSE Facebook Group member Mike Anderson made great use of some old speaker cabinets for his record storage. Clever thinking, Mike.

It’s possible to construct LP and equipment storage using threaded steel rods, nuts, resilient washers and wooden or MDF shelves. The advantage of this design is adjustability and being able to precisely level each shelf. It also has a great “tech” look.

Threaded rod audio shelving system. Excellent for audio equipment and allows precise levelling of the equipment. Open-ended shelves are not ideal for LP storage. Photo: Ashley Caviness
Threaded rod audio shelving system. Excellent for audio equipment and allows precise levelling of the equipment. Open-ended shelves are not ideal for LP storage. Photo: Ashley Caviness

It’s an excellent adjustable solution for supporting vintage audio gear, as shown here, but would be an expensive (and less than ideal) way to go if you primarily wanted to store LPs.

Crates

Square crates, whether wood or plastic, can work well. Rough finishes on a wood crate can cause shelf wear on the base of your album covers, though, unless you have protective clear polythene/Mylar covers (which adds to weight but is highly recommended to keep your covers clean and un-scuffed).Crates can be stacked (within reason) and are easy to add as your collection grows. Finding crates of the right size is not always easy, though.

VHFSE member Jonathan Elder uses Peaches brand record crates to make good use of space beneath this antique table which doubles as an equipment stand.

Peaches brand record crates. Photo: Jonathan Elder.
Peaches brand record crates. Photo: Jonathan Elder.

Crates specially made for record storage are not cheap, and collectively will cost much more than Kallax as your record collection grows. They are not suitable for supporting equipment, either, so if space is at a premium for your gear and collection, I’d suggest one of the aforementioned solutions, which will safely handle both.

Design Sponge DIY record crates look great if made with care. Follow this link to find out more: http://www.designsponge.com/2012/01/diy-project-record-crates.html#more-126590
Design Sponge DIY record crates look great if made with care. Follow this link to find out more: http://www.designsponge.com/2012/01/diy-project-record-crates.html#more-126590

Design Sponge shows a step by step method to build your own record storage crates, which is going to save you money and is a great way to personalise your listening room.

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Share this article on your preferred social network.

Leave a comment below.

Don’t forget to join our mailing list.

 

Receive free email updates!

No spam guarantee.

Record Storage in a Post Expedit Age

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *