Wow...this is a lot to read. Thanks everyone.
I'm in a similar situation. I just got the bid to do the framing on my circa 1949 1 car garage to turn 2/3 of it into a darkroom, and the front 1/3 into a retreat with a revolving door inbetween, and no entrance from inside the house. First thoughts that come to mind are:
Air Supply (the concept, not the group) is an issue. In my case, we've got a higher capacity home HVAC unit than we need for the house specifically because we anticipated venting air to the garage-turned-darkroom. My current thought is to vent supply air only into the darkroom, then vent it out through an exhaust vent near the sink level to the outside. I'd keep the vent fan running on low when the darkroom is unoccupied, medium or high when it is occupied, and high when I'm doin chem mix. Occasionally, we turn off the AC or heat in the house and open the windows when it's a nice day. What I haven't gotten an answer to yet is if having that exhaust fan pulling air from the AC/Heater when it's shut down will pose a problem.
- moisture barrier on the floors and walls (like Tyvek) You're getting a raised subfloor, right?.
- NO florescent lights in the darkroom. They continue to emit fogging light outside visible spectrum for a while after they're turned off.
- room for at least 2-3 people to co-exist comfortably. As a darkroom owner, you'll want to share the experience.
- Maybe put your (primary) enlarger on a big, sturdy rollaround cart with the biggest, heaviest industrial wheels you can find so if you get a hankering to make huge prints, you can tape or magnet the paper to a wall and move the enlarger back and forth on the floor.
- keeping your enlarger off the same circut as laser printers (their cycling makes voltage drop), or where other folks in the house are likely to plug in things with motors like vacuums. I'm probably getting a dedicated circuit.
- outlets in the ceiling to power safelights.
- use the thickest sheetrock you can afford with lots of insulation so (a) you can keep out as much of the outside noise as possible and (b) when you've got the stereo cranked up to 8 at 2am and you're having a good session, no one will call the cops 'cause of all the noise you're making.
- place your enlarger where passing trucks or kids running around in the house or doors slamming aren't likely to cause vibration during printing.
best of luck in your garage darkroom, David.
I got to this thread late, and most of the good advise has already been given. The only reason I'm jumping in is that my darkroom is my garage, and it's worked out very well.
Somebody must have mentioned lightproofing already. That was my biggest concern, to the point that I had a new garage door installed, which turned out to be the most costly part of the whole operation. Even the plumber was cheaper. (I still need to use the garage door occasionally, even though both cars stay in the driveway.)
Yes, it's a lot of space. I still use about 1/3 for storage, and yet have room to set up strobes when I need to do a little studio work.
The worst part is winter (in Tennessee). Space heaters get WAY expensive. Dean
As for heat and cooling, I am installing baseboard heaters that run on a separate thermostat and the house hot water heater and will be using a rolling a/c unit for the summers.
I am also having an electrician come in to install about 10 sockets on each wall plus 3 safelights overhead.
Thanks to everyone for the advice. I will post pictures in May when the space is done.
I am so worked up, I'm heading to home depot right now.
Air purification. something to suck dust from the air while processing and drying film.
Stop trying to get into my mind, There is nothing there!
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I built a dark room last year coincident with the construction of my new home... I'll try to add on to the list above which I think is pretty good.
Originally Posted by kwmullet
That's some of what I did....
- I put in a good ventilation system with an exhaust fan that is roof mounted (they can be outside wall mounted). I have a lower light tight ventilation system below my counter top to create flow
- Place shelving for note books and manuals (I have shelving above my sink for chemicals as well).
- Put in a nice "soft floor tiling" to stop fatigue; or buy fatigue mats
- You can't have enough out lets I have about 8 (have 2 mounted high on the wall for clocks)
- As Susan Revy said, put in a sink larger then you think you need (don't put in a mixed heating system like the Sink II; I have that one and I wished that I had a spigot with separate hot and cold so that I could mix myself. Make sure that there is storage shelving beneath the sink; my sink is 6ft and I wish I had put in a 10 ft.
- I put in a kitchen counter top as my work space. It is too high for me. I wished my dry side work space was no more then waist high to me so that I can look down easier on the enlarging easel... this would have been a custom job but well worth it
- Don't forget that you have to have a drying line across the sink for haning film and prints (if you do RC). I do fiber base so I have a rack for my drying screens
- In my counter I have plenty of drawers and places for lenses, paper, and other dry side tools
- Since you are doing it in the garage, think of a floor drain if it is not too expensive (or include the one that may always be there); this will make it better for mopping. Hell, you can bring in a hose if necessary to spray down the floor
- NO WINDOWS ANYWHERE (this will make it easier to make it light tight)
- I put in (2) 200 watt capacity sockets for overhead lighting... you can always put in lower wattage bulbs.... I love the amount of light I can generate in there when I want to view prints. I have one switch on the wall next to my enlarger where I turn off. I have a 2nd switch on the right side of the sink where I turn the lights on after the fixer.
- Save wall space for spec sheets etc... At my age, I often for get my weights, measures, developing times and mixing ratios. I have them all on 8X10 cards hanging on the wall.
- Paint the walls any color as long as it is the brightest white you can find.... It really helps reflect your safe light. I have a Zone VI safe light and when I turn it on, it's like a mild evening light and you can see everything clearly.... paint should be flat
- Place a lock on the door to prevent a well meaning family member from letting "the dark out".
Often wrong, but never in doubt!
A big trash can!
A humidifier or dehumidifier, or both (as circumstances require).
A built in vaccum, with the central unit a ways away.
A light box for transparencies and negatives.
Storage for things like extra bulbs for your enlarger and safelight.
A computer monitor copy holder makes a good instruction sheet holder for your sink; I have mine screwed into the plywood sink and my instructions laser printed out onto heavy card stock in big, sans-serif type face, housed inside plastic sheet protectors. Keep them in a spiral note book until needed.
For your utility portion of the darkroom sink, avoid ultra cheap faucets that use old fashioned valve faces, as they are LOUD and can drive you crazy with their high-pitched screeching as you throttle them back; they also generate irritated comments from other family members who are trying to sleep. Try for a ball-valve or similar type faucet that doesn't make as much noise.
If I had it all to do again, I would segregate the utility side from the processing side of the sink and put in two drains; try to avoid cross contamination issues that crop up because chemicals tend to back up onto the entire surface of the flat sink when trays are dumped and so on.
Put raised runners on the bottom of the sink to allow water to drain under trays and tanks, rather than puddle-up and possibly trap chemicals.
Build a peg bar sheet over the sink edge to drain/store graduates after washing or spend inordinate amounts of time washing, drying and stacking graduates after each session; the last thing you want to do at 3 am.
Sounds like you are working with much more space than I am, but still be aware of your space limitations and don't over crowd the room with equipment, making it uncomfortable to move around. I have had to rethink my layout and install a set of shelves in another room with my overflow equipment, expendables and other extra
"stuff", bringing in and taking out from the darkroom as need dictates. Not as ideal, but a workable compromise...
Put in an intercom and a phone extension.
Set up your fan to blow filtered air into the darkroom rather than suck air out. The positive pressure will result in less dust entering when you open the door. Measure different size trays before you build your sink. Then size it accordingly. There is nothing more frustrating that discovering that if only the sink were an inch wider you would be able to get that extra tray in. Put in a set of small spotlights on a dimmer above the area where you want to examine wet prints. When you have a finished dry print with just the right amount of shadow detail, take it into the darkroom, soak it in a water bath, put it on an angled surface under these lights for examination, and then adjust the light intensity such that you perceive the shadow detail the same way you did on the dry print.