I installed the closet type shelves in my darkroom. They have been up several years with no rusting issues. I can set graduates on them upside down to dry, and they don't cast shadows from the ceiling lights.
I also installed the anti fatigue mats similar to Ann's, though mine were 3 x 3 foot sections that are perforated with holes. Once a year I take them outside and hose them off really well, and while they are drying in the sun I mop the concrete floor.
My darkroom is in the basement. The only real trouble I have had is from dust and from mold that grows in the damp environment.
The dust I keep down by wet mopping the floors and vacuuming the cobwebs and things on a frequent basis. I dry mop then wet mop every time I finish a session. Dust has not been a problem since I started this routine.
The mold was tricky but I figured it out. First I washed the walls and the floors with hot water and detergent. Then I followed with hot water and Clorox Bleach. I finished off by washing the floors and walls down with a saturated solution of hot water and borax. (Don't rinse off the borax. Mold will not grow in the presence of borax.)
I also got a dehumidifier to keep the moisture level down. It's been a year, now, and I haven't had a problem with the mold coming back yet.
Nice darkroom. A few pointers I learned in my ongoing quest to build my man-grotto.
- As said the floor should be level and also not of bare concrete. It will kill your feet standing on.
- The floor must be moppable. Dust and I are having an eternal battle in my darkroom. So far I am behind 2-1 but still fighting.
- I painted a black square with matt colour on the wall behind the enlarger. The rest of the walls are matt white. Now, after using it for a month I have found that I need to either add some matt black to the walls beside the enlarger and the ceiling above. Or I might just get some black cloth and make drapes.
- Electrical outlets. You Can Not Have Too Many. My relative who is an electrician and wired up my darkroom laughed at me and asked what I would do with all my outlets. Now almost half of them are already occupied. Enlarger, radio, exhaust fan, safe light, hair dryer, flasher, white light, one more safe light, one more white light, fridge, light table...... And I still don't have a micro wave for drying prints. Nor a Jobo processor. Nor a ....You will need more than you think.
- Safe light. I bought a red 4' fluorescent light with a sleeve and end plugs. The light itself can be replaced with a normal tube. As the safe lights are wired in to my timer I'm looking to get an other light also with a bulb. The tubes don't like being switched on/off as happens now when I'm doing a test strip or taking a measurement.
- White light. I have a fluorescent light as main light in the ceiling and a normal 75W lamp sitting on the wall. The incandescent light is better for judging highlights.
- Work space. Same as electrical outlet. Get all you can. Both dry and wet. I thought my wet area was big enough at approx 2,8 m but I could easily use more.
-Water. I have hot and cold water and a normal faucet with a mixer. It works but the temperature is not stable. Especially when running low volume of water, washing film, it tends to get colder and colder. Also if I need a bigger amount, +2L, of 20C water it tends to shift while the water is running. My biggest problem now is washing FB prints. Prints up to 8x10 I can wash in my sink but for bigger ones I must use trays. It's a PITA because they take up a lot of space and are messy. If I have several bigger prints going I must leave them in a water bath until I'm finished and cleared the bench of other trays. But even then it is difficult to get a flow going without it spilling out over the bench and on to the floor. I'm looking for a Kodak siphon (hint, hint everybody) as a short term solution and when finances allow a Nova print washer.
- Print drying. At the moment I am fully classical and using washing line + pins. I will build myself a drying shelf out of some mosquito net over a frame. I plan to hang it from the ceiling over the wet side. Out of the way and the prints can dry lying down.
- Cupboards. Install them. I have a mix of old and new. A friend was renovating his kitchen and I got the old cupboards for free. I then bought some additional ones from IKEA. It is really nice to have a lot of space to store stuff away. Chemicals, tools, manuals......
- Shelves. The more the better.
- Radio. Must have.
- Fridge. I got an old fridge from a friend and have it in the darkroom. No beer inside but all my film and paper. Wife really happy when she reclaimed two shelfs from the freezer in the kitchen.
Did I mention IKEA? It's a drag walking through it but they have a lot of nice little sundries that you can use in a dark room. Hooks, lights, shelves, sieves, funnels, containers..... A day at IKEA is almost bearable when you can play the "Can I use this in the dark room" game while wandering around waiting to get to the meat balls.
Hope you can make some sense out my ramblings and good luck with your project.
PS. I forgot to mention ventilation. If you are going to do toning inside the dark room you must have ventilation. I have a small exhaust fan over the wet side and an intake over the dry side. The intake has a filter and a light trap that I built myself out of plywood. It works.
PPS. One more thing. Once you get it done. Wait till noon on a sunny day. Take a chair and sit down in your new playground with all lights off. Sit for 5 minutes to let your eyes adjust. It was a real shocker for me to find out how much light was coming through the cracks at the door.
Check at a flooring supply, there is a rubber floor product(dont remember name)that looks like wood planking, yet is impervious to chems and is mopable. It is used in beauty salons to cushion the feet of stylists and wont discolor when solutions are spilled on it. I had some leftover boxes of it from installing a beauty shop years ago, put it on our master bath floor. My wife loved the stuff.
I have a very, very similar size and limitations.....and I am up in Highland Park. If you are interested, I'd be happy to show you what I did and what I should have done
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Just a couple of suggestions in addition to all the others: a bar stool - a chance to sit while a print is being processed and to cover the door cracks - a couple of "L" hooks above the door and a blackout fabric stapled to decent diameter dowel sticks at both ends, hook over the "L" hooks and the bottom stick weights it down, when not in use roll it up like a scroll. Windows can be treated similarly.
You can use a self leveling compound (used under tile) to give you a flat surface. Then use a resilient tile over that. Even self stick tiles might work OK. I think you would still want some sort of mat with "give" for comfort.
Over my concrete floor, I used a very heavy duty rubber mat (approx 4x6) intended for livestock in trailers, etc. Very durable, impervious to all kinds of stuff, and inexpensive. Seems to have just barely enough "give" over concrete. You might have to import one from Wisconsin though.
"Far more critical than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know." - Eric Hoffer
I second that proposal. A black curtain left and right of the enlarger is an additional option.
Originally Posted by MattKing
There should be a law against fluorescent lighting in darkrooms. There are nothing but unnecessary trouble. The only reason to have them is when non-darkroom work has to be done, such as cleaning.
Originally Posted by Mats_A
- safe light. Get a few small safelights with 15W bulbs and place them where you need them most (not in the middle of the ceiling, but above work surfaces etc). Count on your white walls to distribute the light evenly. Hock them all up to one switch, so, you can turn them off and on together.
- evaluation light. As Mat indicates, also no use for fluorescent lighting. They are too bright, tricking you into believing that highlights and contrast is OK. A print-evaluation light should be dimmer then actual print viewing conditions. If a print looks OK in dim lighting, it will look great in proper lighting!
Glad to see I'm not the only one using "horse" mats. I have several in my workshop. Made of recycled tires and sold at the local farm store. They do have a strong rubber smell at first but that seems to go away in a month or so.
Originally Posted by mgb74