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  1. #1

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    Darkroom Counter Top Question

    I am ready to start building my cabinets. What do you use for the countertops?

    Any ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. They have to be able to withstand water from the sink and look nice but still not cost a fortune.

    Thanks,

    Kev

  2. #2
    bmac's Avatar
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    Home Depot sells countertops made out of some plastic covered composite. I think they are fairly inexpensive. Me, I use plywood.
    hi!

  3. #3

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    I used plywood and varnished it with marine varnish. If it gets to look too scruffy I just rip it out and replace with another sheet of the same size.

  4. #4
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    I've built three darkrooms. In the first, I made the counter from formica over plywood. In the second, I used particle board with several coats of polyurethane varnish. Actually I really liked this - it had the warmth of fine wood, but was far less expensive. In this design, the enlarger was mounted on a small wall shelf, and the counter area under the enlarger was rigged with a drop shelf arrangement to permit bigger enlargements. (I had a low ceiling, and couldn't raise the head on the enlarger all the way to the top of its column.)

    In the most recent, the enlarger station was in a corner, and I used the varnished particle board for the area under the enlarger. I got around the enlarger height problem by building a recessed area in the ceiling above the enlarger to permit the head to go as high as it could on the enlarger column. Then, I put inexpensive commercial kitchen cabinets (from Lowes) on either side of the enlarger station, and commercial "postformed" countertops (actually, formica over particle board) over thsoe cabinets. We have a discount building supply outlet that gets odds and ends of countertops - simply selected on in a color that I liked, schlepped it home, cut in into two pieces, and mounted one on each of the cabinets.

  5. #5
    Jeffrey A. Steinberg's Avatar
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    I bought darkroom cabinets and counter tops from Kreonite Lab Systems. They are basic cabinets that are covered with a Wilsonart laminate. They hold up well with spilt liquids, etc.
    --Jeffrey

    ______________________________________________
    Jeffrey Steinberg, K2MIT
    Scarsdale, NY

    www.jsteinbergphoto.com (my avocation)
    www.reversis.com (my vocation)

  6. #6

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    The stuff Home Depot sells is called Melamine

  7. #7
    joeyk49's Avatar
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    Coincidentally, I just start the construction of mine, as well.

    Its located in a basement, so headroom is definitely an issue. I'm using a corner which will form an "L". The short leg will have my sink and the long end will be host to the "dry" area.

    Since it is an L, I'm seriously considering the pre cut formica counters that Home Depot sells. Quick, easy and relatively inexpensive. My other option is a 3/4" pice of plywood cut to the proper size. This will require cutting, fitting and finishing (two or three good coats of polyurethane). I think I just convinced myself of the formica...

    I would be interested in learning about spills on formica tops. Since the stop bath is acidic, I believe, does spilling on the laminate cause staining. I work in an environment which occasionally uses Potassium Dichromate and Sulfuric Acid...Now I know its not the same but that acid really chews up lacquered and painted surfaces when spilled; even when wiped up quickly.

  8. #8
    titrisol's Avatar
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    I would be more worried about silver/selenium/iodine stains than acid stains

    You are using sulpho-chromic solution at work, that thing is nasty!!!! Excellent to dilute any sort of organic (carbon-atoms) in metals, glass, nalgene, teflon, etc.

    acetic acid is not even close... but be aware of glacial acetic acid can cause pretty bad skin burns... once diluted is pretty much harmless.
    And you can always use CITRIC acid
    Mama took my APX away.....

  9. #9
    Loose Gravel's Avatar
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    Mine counters are melamine. It is just painted particle board and does not stand up well to moisture, but my counters are all dry, so it has not been a problem. Formica would be nice. Something smooth, no static, light color. Static can be fixed with staticide. Plywood with a sheet of mattboard over it would probably be fine.

    My enlarger baseboards are birch plywood that are varnished. These I recess to the same level as the countertops. If you can wall mount your enlargers and have one big seamless counter, this is best. Use plywood and paint it white.
    Watch for Loose Gravel

  10. #10
    galyons's Avatar
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    Hi All,
    I will repress my male ego and admit that after weeks of refusal, I let my wife and daughter drag me to Ikea. I had planned on Lowes or Home Depot for cabinets and counter tops, Ikea! It's just not MANLY. Well, I left Ikea after placing orders for cabinets and their hardwood "butcher block" counter tops. Cost was less than just the cabinets from Lowes or Home Depot. The cabinets are, IMO, better quality than the Lowes/Home Depot cabinets. The counter tops are dead simple to install. Three costs of matte polyurethane and they are pretty and indestructible.

    The advantage of the Ikea counter tops is I can trash them pretty badly, strip, sand and recoat and they will continue to look like new. The tops come in kitchen countertop width and island top width, so my sink area countertops are nearly 36" deep - very handy. You WILL appreciate the more "Manly", (Gotta cover myself here, I still shudder at the whole Ikea thing!!) , real estate that the extra depth provides.

    Check out Ikea. But unlike me, you don't have to tell anyone!!

    Cheers,
    Geary

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