Darkroom door/curtain.. best way?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by f/stopblues, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    I'm getting pretty darn close to finishing my darkroom, finally. I still haven't quite addressed the door situation. It's a rectangle room about 9'3" on the long end and about 5'6" wide. There's a workspace on the outside for stuff that can be done in the light (wash, drymount press, storage, etc.)

    The end of the rectangle is just open and I need to figure out how to close it off. I was thinking of a double curtain just for simplicity and the fact that I can open it up really wide when needed. An actual door will require work since one wall is concrete. Take a look at my crude MS Paint drawing and let me know if you have any ideas that won't require a major construction project.

    Thanks for your help!
    Chris
     

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  2. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    i vote for the curtain, as you will need space to move equipment in and out, and at sometime that is going to happen (if not, your really amazing and should go down in the guiness record book :smile:)

    If other people are going to be useing the "light " area then a door might be much safer, but if you have control of that area as well, i wouldn't think a door meaning a physical shutting door is that important.

    Of course , watch the type of material you would be using with this option.
     
  3. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    I suggest a set-up of three curtains, two attached to one wall, the middle attached to the opposite wall to create an "S" shaped gap. The gap doesn't need to be big enough to walk through like a tunnel, just overlapping so light doesn't leak in.
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i too suggest a curtain.
    i've been using black canvas that i bought
    at a fabric store for cheap. it hasn't let me down ...
    the fabric is sandwiched between lathe and screwed to the top plate.
    nothing fancy, they just block light and fall to the floor
    if i get really serious i put something on them on the floor ...
     
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  5. VaryaV

    VaryaV Member

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    Hi f/stop - I have a similar setup as yours with a studio and skylights going from my d/r. I have a door but over that, I also have velcro strips running along 3 edges of the outer edges of the door and a piece of thick black plastic cut several inches larger than the door, with velcro running along it to attach it. It keeps the bright sunlight of the studio out when I need it completely dark. It is also removable or can be partially pulled back. cheap, easy and works beautifully.
     
  6. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    One other thing to consider is ventiliation. I wanted to close my darkroom off to the rest of the house to provide positive pressure in the darkroom.....keeps the dust down and I can get the fumes outside. That does mean a door.....or a lighttight cloth with velcro as Varya suggested
     
  7. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    I have a pocket door. If I have to move the wet bench out, I will have to unframe the door, but otherwise it works. I have a raised threshold (for a light proofing channel) which may not suit everyone.
     
  8. MarkL

    MarkL Member

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    As long as you're looking at options you might make use of folding closet doors, the type that fold vertically. They don't require the room that a full size door needs to swing open.
     
  9. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Mark, you bring up a good point about the ventilation. I planned on running some duct with an inline fan out the door area. The space outside the darkroom is 800+ sq.ft. of unfinished, unwalled basement. I suppose only having the outlet vent will create negative pressure. With a curtain is that a concern?

    The curtain is sounding like the way to go. I especially like the three curtain idea. Keep them coming, though! Effective, elegant simplicity is great!
     
  10. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    I don't know if this would fit but the nicest darkrooms I have used have been easy to get in and out of.

    Assessing prints in normal light is of great benefit

    A curtain is needed to block all stray light when you are processing film. Alternatively it could be replaced my a sliding door.

    Good Luck with the project

    Martin
     

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  11. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    , Martin's idea is the way I would go. Depending upon how "permanent" you want it, you might consider light lathes and black mylar sheeting--the kind used for plastic mulching. The heavier stuff is completely light tight.. I made many a "permanent" darkroom that way out of walk-in storage spaces in apartment basements.
    Using Martin's idea, you could make a complete maze entrance.
     
  12. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear f/stopblues,

    Just looking at the layout, I can't tell that a door is necessary. If there is only one person working at a time you can survive with just turning off the light in the work area.

    Neal Wydra
     
  13. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Hi Neal,

    The north side of the basement is only halfway underground and has windows, so some sort of light buffer is necessary.

    I like Martin's idea, but the entry to the basement is in an unfortunate spot for that plan. Check out the updated drawing I attached.
     

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  14. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Any possibility of blocking light at the windows so that you could just leave the space open? That would probably be cheaper and would give you flexibility to move equipment as stated earlier or expand/contract the size of the wet/dry sides as needed.

    If not, I would start with the curtain (or double curtain to ensure it is light tight). The curtain option is more flexible. If you design is so that the curtains can be open then you can improve ventilation and light in the room when doing things like toning or mixing when you don't need darkness.
     
  15. picker77

    picker77 Subscriber

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    I've seen several rotary darkroom doors pop up on the auction place in the past for $250-$300, in fact there's one on Craigslist right now in my area (Oklahoma City) for $400. Not cheap, true, but probably the ultimate deluxe solution. I've never looked at one up close, though, so don't know what you'd do if you needed to move something heavy or long in/out of the room. Maybe they pop off the tracks or something?
     
  16. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Its a shame you aren't near State College, Pa., someone's giving a rotary darkroom door for free. Saw it on Craigslist. I have a black curtain that I hang over the door with velcro when I'n using the DR for processing, normally its off for all other functions and ease of ingress and egress.
     
  17. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Subscriber

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    As do I. Some simple weatherstripping felt stapled around the edge of the light-trap (simple wooden 1x1) makes a very tight seal for light and air. I have my air intake louver in the door.

    I'd suggest a pocket door opposite the enlarger, there should be plenty of room for the mechanism.
     
  18. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    What about light-proofing the whole basement: a few windows should be easy to cover up, and if there is a door to the basement stairs then some weather stripping will light-proof it.

    I did this with an apartment - rather than trying to lightproof the kitchen area I just had black-out drapes over the apartment windows rather than the customary 'sheers'.
     
  19. jerry lebens

    jerry lebens Member

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    Nicholas Lindan
    I'd take this approach, going for the 3 curtain solution if it isn't possible. Curtains work, but in my experience they sometimes pick up chemistry and can be the cause of cross contamination if you have to brush through them - especially if you to share your darkroom with sloppy people. Cloth curtains may also harbour dust and plastic ones can attract dust through static.

    The idea of viewing prints in natural light is attractive, I'd prefer a nice big viewing slab under a consistent light source.
    By opening up your darkroom, you'll benefit from a more comfortable working space in which you can move about freely. (Someone on another post pointed out that working in a cramped space can actually be more tiring and I suspect that's true).

    A larger space would also allow you more options regarding ventilation - enabling you to move a larger volume of air more slowly and to place the supply further away from the enlarger as possible - minimising dust and vibration.

    Regards
    Jerry