darkroom walls

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Ok, I'm lucky to have a basement that isn't finished so can add water, sink, ect, but adding walls may be tough as the stairwell is not really big enought for sheets of 4x8 anything(probably why never finished before), so what if I use black plastic and staple it to the ceiling and run a board along the bottom. The room is large but would probably need to do other messing things in part of it,so really just leaving it open and covering the equipment with plastic seems a bit scary to me. Thanks for your assistance. LF photographers are such a helpful group of folks.

-- Julie Hancock (jules@cal-net.net), November 23, 2000


Julie: The black plastic will work fine if you can make it truly light proof for negative development. Use the thickest you can find. YOu can also use the roll felt type roofing material. Either ought to work. The black plastic will probably take less framework to support and would be cheaper.

Good luck with it,

-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), November 23, 2000.


Drywall can be purchased in other sizes besides 4'x8'. In fact you can also buy gypsum lath in 2'x4' sheets. I would suggest that you hire a carpenter, build the walls, and enjoy your new darkroom.


-- Michael J. Kravit (mkravit@mindspring.com), November 23, 2000.

Drywall can also be cut to size and shape needed. If you are looking at a long-term setup with a sink and so forth, I'd put up real walls.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), November 23, 2000.

Julie, I agree with Micheal. In the long run, the less make-shift your darkroom is, the more enjoyable it is to be in there. With a little more money and planning, you will have a darkroom to use for years.

-- Dave Anton (daveanton@home.com), November 23, 2000.

If 'drywall' is what we call plasterboard in the UK, then it cuts very easily. Simply lie it flat and cut through the paper part with a craft knife, on both sides. Put a batten of wood under the cut line, and pressure it on both sides. It's a snap!
After it's nailed up, you can cover the joins with masking tape.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), November 24, 2000.

Besides, if you use drywall, you can then paint your darkroom walls a nice reflective color like white or safelight yellow (except right around the enlarger of course) and use bounced safelight for more even illumination. This helps not only to make the darkroom cheerier to work in, but a lot easier to navigate around in. Regards, ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (ScudderLandreth@compuserve.com), November 24, 2000.

I agree with all of the above. And wouldn't black plastic, or plastic sheets of any kind be prone to static electricity, which would attract and hold dust?

-- William Levitt (light-zone@operamail.com), November 24, 2000.

Julie, do you have cats? If so there are two problems with black plastic: they may scratch it making somewhat less than light tight and , for whatever reason, cats like to pee on it. So if you use it, don't leave any loose plastic gathered at the bottom (i.e. on the floor) to attract your cats.

This is just my experience in my basement/garage in San Francisco years ago.

-- John Hennessy (northbay@directcon.net), November 24, 2000.

Everyone had good advice about black plastic. Didn't realize it sucked up dust, but that makes sense, and yes cats do seem drawn to plastic for all the wrong reasons. Think I will go to menards and have a look at more permanent solutions. Thanks again.

-- Julie Hancock (jules@cal-net.net), November 24, 2000.

Here's another idea. I recently needed to build a travelling exhibit for an art exhibition and decided on buying some hollow core mahogany doors. They cost $17 each and are 36" wide by however high the average interior door is. I hinged mine together because I needed to disassemble for transport, but you could take such doors and semi- permanently connect them with firring strips or moulding. The corners will make the structure self-supporting. The surfaces can be painted a neutral gray (paint the area around the enlarger black). Some Duvetine can be purchased through Matthews Studio Equipment (Burbank) and used to create a light trap at the top. Just staple to the joists and trim to an appropriate length. You might even be able to attach some shelf standards to the solid ends of the doors and give yourself the storage space for chemicals, paper, glassware etc. that you'll no doubt need. This system might give you the rigidity of walls without the expense and trouble of working with studs and drywall. Let us know how you make out with this.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (info@razeichner.com), November 24, 2000.

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