Paint for darkroom?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by nsurit, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    After having celebrated 63 birthdays, I have the good fortune of building my first new home and my first wet darkroom. Oh, I've had homes in the past, just not one I had built for me. The darkroom is the first I've had that I could call my own. The walls will be sheetrock and I'm wondering what paint anyone might suggest. Obviously I'd like something that would hold it own against a little moisture and perhaps the occasional chemical splash. The standard treatment for sheetrock is a bit of texture applied after installation. This would seem to me to be a not so good idea in a darkroom. So any ideas of texture/no texture and type of paint for the walls? Bill Barber
     
  2. Frank Szabo

    Frank Szabo Member

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    I'd say 'no' to any texture and paint it any color you wish as long as it's flat black.
     
  3. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    The paint can be any colour you wish. There is no real need in a true darkroom to paint the walls black. Some people do take some precautions by painting a strip of wall in line with the enlarger or just the neg carrier in black.
     
  4. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Any colour you like as long as it's white. It will be black when the lights are off, and orange when the safe lights are on.
     
  5. david b

    david b Member

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    There is sheet rock that is made for bathroom areas and is somewhat moisture resistant. I would suggest that.

    As for paint and color, my darkroom is white except around the enlarger, which is painted black, including the ceiling about the enlarger.
     
  6. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    I would suggest a HIGH QUALITY paint. Like Pratt and Lambert - it's super thick and quite gloppy (almost like a gel) but you only need HALF the coats you would with something like that home depot behr stuff. It has a super high quality pigment too - that's just more pleasing to the eye. I used a matte surface - and it wipes off great. It's real latex!

    You don't need ANYTHING SPECIAL as far as sheet rock goes. 5/8" type x firecode works just dandy. The protection's all in the paint. Just use a good primer.

    As for color - I did my darkroom in a deep yellow, my easels are red (i.e. floor vacuum easel) - since I figure this way - it keeps the ambient lighting with safelight bright enough to see what you're doing - but reflections get the blue component removed and are thus not detrimental to the print - provided you're not doing any RA4 prints...
     
  7. Marcust101

    Marcust101 Member

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    Use a good bathroom paint, It'll wipe better and resist moisture more effectively, Colour's are all in the eye of the beholder,, what about a nice 18% grey?
     
  8. Stephen Frizza

    Stephen Frizza Member

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    I used black board paint, best thing i could have done its matte black so if there is any chance of a stray beam of light its going to be eaten by the wall rather than dispersing and possibly causing an issue on a white wall.
     
  9. mmcclellan

    mmcclellan Subscriber

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    In a DARKroom, any light that is in there by definition should be SAFE. Therefore, you will probably want to have the best reflectance possible in the wall paint to make the room as bright as possible. In every darkroom I've had over the years, the walls were always white, usually glossy latex so it could easily be wiped down -- especially around the wet area. In the dry area, it does not matter if it's matte or glossy.

    But I would definitely go with pure white unless you just have a burning desire for a particular color. Keep in mind, of course, that under safelights the colors will all change anyway, so white is a safe bet and any reflectances will still be the same color as the safelight.

    The only place I would ever use matte black is right around the enlarger, but unless your enlarger is really throwing off a lot of light or it's a communal darkroom and people are close to each other (with little enlarger booths), I would not even use black around the enlarger. The amount of light thrown off by the enlarger will have to be quite substantial to fog your paper during the exposure when the paper is actually out.

    Easy way to test for that, though, is to put a sheet in the easel, lay a coin or two in the middle of it, cap your enlarger lens, and turn it on for a minute or so, then develop the paper and see if the outlines of the coins are visible.

    Congratulations on getting the darkroom! You've waited quite a while for this, so use it well! :smile:
     
  10. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Don't worry too much about it. That's what the architect is paid and responsible for. He or she, if properly trained, experienced, and worth his or her weight in salt, will either know what specs to call for in a home darkroom, or be able to easily reference them in a variety of texts, and/or tap other sources (colleagues, professional photographers, etc.) for the info, and then communicate this effectively to the building contractor. There should be a darkroom section in any architectural standards book published in the last 50 years of the last century. I can see working with the architect on the basic water and storage requirements, and basic layout of the space, but I wouldn't go so far as to tell him/her what paint you are going to need.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2008
  11. catem

    catem Member

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    Agree about white paint - the more 'safe' light bouncing around your darkroom, the better. As long as the safelight itself is at the recommended safe distance you will have no need to worry. I did paint the wall directly round my enlarger black, including the area where I cut paper, but agree it's not always necessary - a test should prove whether or not.
     
  12. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Some enlargers spill light more than others,
    sometimes the appurtenances that reside near the enlarger reflect light,
    so black paint behind the enlarger is always in good taste.

    White everywhere else.

    In my college days, I printed for the bio-physics department.
    Scientists, naturally they painted the darkroom black.
    During a long, long session,
    in the large black box with pools of orange light in the ceiling,
    which switched off during an exposure,
    I became disoriented and walked full stride into an L-138
    and went out like a light.

    When I went back to work, it was to a big white room with Thomas safelights.
     
  13. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I painted mine "Kodak Yellow." Next time I might try something akin to "safelight orange."
     
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  15. Lopaka

    Lopaka Member

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    In spite of what some of the high-priced paints say about not needing a primer, for a darkroom I would suggest using a good oil-based primer like Zinsser Cover Stain. The smell will go away in a couple of days, particularly after its painted over. Look into a high quality waterborne enamel with ceramic or porcelain components like Muralo Ultra. A bit pricey, but makes a super hard finish.

    Bob
     
  16. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Smooth, next textured. Textured catches dust.

    Most darkroom walls are never black, you want a light color to reflect the safelight.

    Just as our world on average is 18% gray, the universe's average color is beige.

    We have standard beige walls in the darkroom at the college where I teach. We had standard beige walls in the darkroom at the college I attended. We had beige walls in all the newspaper darkrooms I've ever worked, from The Billings Gazette to USA Today.
     
  17. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    My darkroom is white with the lights on, and black when not. The wall behind is green board whichis the dry-wall required in most cities for bathrooms especially behind tile on shower walls.
     
  18. Trevor Crone

    Trevor Crone Member

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    Mine is black around the enlarger (relatively small area) in case of light spill. The rest is pale green and pale grey......well I like it:smile:. Nice bright place to work in when I'm not doing darkroom stuff.

    Use a good quality matt or vinyl emulsion paint. Oooops should have said vinyl matt or indeed vinyl silk.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2008
  19. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Well, if you REALLY want a FLAT BLACK, may I suggest the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M) Optical Coating Flat Black Type 101-C10.

    In the area where I had my optical bench, they painted the walls with Parson's Black paint; the darkest thing available from the regular paint store. It was darker than Cadillac Black. They painted the metal boxes with the electrical power for the area with the 3M coating.

    After allowing a suitable period of dark adaptation, with only the red "Power Available" lights from the equipment under the bench glowing softly inside the area, you could see the darker rectangles of the electrical power boxes at the other end of the 20 foot long bench.

    Warning: The 3M Company has one of the world's finest stables of attorneys on staff in their legal department. Their prices reflect this.

    Enjoy;

    Ralph Javins
     
  20. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    You will get a lot of opinions about this, but listen to me:

    Neutral white glossy paint on non-textured green board.

    Glossy paint is easy to dust and clean. The glossy white reflects a safelight well and makes for a "bright" darkroom.

    I did paint the area around my enlarger gloss black. Matte black is a nuisance to clean. An alternative to black paint, which is a nuisance to overpaint, is to use sheets of black foam core attached to the wall with blue tack. I do this in some areas around the baseboard.

    Colored paint is pleasant but can distort neutral viewing of prints. All black is overkill and unpleasant. A combination of black, white, and gray can be pleasant and offer a more "finished" look.

    Equal to paint color is adequate lighting and appropriate safelighting. Certainly if you paint your room all you need more light than for a white room.
     
  21. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My darkroom has concrete walls. I painted them red. Just as good as black as far as paper is concerned. looks nice in the light and looks like Satan's den in the safelight.

    Gets me the chicks.
     
  22. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    I like black behind the enlarger and everything else white. When the white lights are on to view prints I don't want colored walls tinting the light.
     
  23. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I painted mine white, with flat black surrounding the enlarger. It was the right choice. The enlarger, at least mine does, spills quite a bit of light and every little bit helps. I made a little skirt of black construction paper to go around the join of lamphouse and negative stage to control it a little better.
     
  24. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    Mine is also white, with a semi-gloss finish that is easily wiped.

    Around my sink area I glued a large piece of medium grey Formica. Its very easy to clean and stands up to all the chemistry I use.
     
  25. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    A great thing to cover your walls with is "Frost White Board" It is the same coated 1/8 in masonite that some dry erase boards are made of. It comes in 4X8 sheets. Just cut to fit and you can make notes on your walls and erase as needed and it stands up to chemicals.
     
  26. Stephen Frizza

    Stephen Frizza Member

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    Ive never worked in a pro lab with white walls. Enlargers and Neg carriers do have a habit of small light leaks if an exposure is particularly long light will bounce more off a white wall and cause base fogging in your material than a chalk board black wall. Also when printing 50 inch murals long exposures with white walls just wont work. white walls just arnt as good as black walls, my old associate wanted white walls, He said if the walls are white you can read newspapwer print in the darkroom! under safe light. I told him if hes reading newspapers and not printing he can piss off.

    ~Steve