Light-proofing an open doorway

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Niltiac, Jun 27, 2006.

  1. Niltiac

    Niltiac TPF Noob!

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    I have an alcove which I plan to convert into a darkroom. It has a pretty good setup for one already. There's a counter along one wall with a sink at one end, and I'm going to set up another counter on the opposite wall for my dry space.
    The problem is that there's no real door to the alcove, just an archway with a roll down (and definitely not lightproof) wooden shutter-type thing (I can't think how else to describe it). I've browsed through these forums and found the suggestion of using thick black fabric to seal off light (as well as several other suggestions if that doesn't work), but that was pertaining to sealing off windows, and I have a whole doorway which I have to be able to get through when I'm done working.
    So here's what I was thinking, and I was wondering if someone with more experience doing this would let me know if it sounds like a good idea:
    I was thinking of covering the wooden shutters (which go all the way to the ground and overlap the wall on either side of the doorway) in a lightproof material, that way if I bump into the door on accident light won't flood in. Then, since light might get in through the edges, I was thinking of hanging another layer of the material on the other side of the doorway.
    With that setup I should be able to roll up the material and let the room air out when I'm not using it. But since both layers would be just hanging there, not really secured, I'm not sure it's enough. Should I maybe put a strip of velcro along the doorway to keep the fabric in place? If the fabric is on the long side and hangs on the ground, do I still have to worry about a light leak at the bottom of the doorway?

    Sorry for the long post, but I want to have a good idea whether or not this will work before I go and spend money and time rigging it up. If anyone has another suggestion of how I might do this, that would be helpful as well, as long as it's not terribly expensive or intrusive to set up (the alcove is attached to the family livingroom and I don't want to make it into a construction zone while I'm doing this).

    Thanks for reading through that, any advice or input would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Black plastic lawn/leaf bags for the curtain and long dowel rods to support it. Garden stakes can also be used. You'll need two hooks to support the rod. You can put one rod/curtain on each side of the door. Black plastic electrician's tape will allow you to make a large-enough panel by seaming bags together. Fold over the top edge about 1 1/2 inches and tape to make a tube for the rod. Each curtain can be rolled up and stowed when not in use. Use the bags un-opened. In other words, don't open a side seam to make a single layer. You'll have 4 layers of black plastic sheet working for you.

    A few minutes of work, true. But cheap? You betcha. Worked for me.
     
  3. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    I set up a darkroom when first starting out bw/colour, I had the advantage of having a father in law that was an upholsterer who donated blackout material, where from I dont know, I blacked out a door and window with this to great effect with velcro glued round both door and window with the other sticky side stitched to the fabric. worked a treat for the four years I was in that house hand printing colour mostly in complete blackness, I also loaded film for dev in there. It used to get a little fumy at times but no big deal, never saw the wife though.
     
  4. Niltiac

    Niltiac TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the tips!
    I'll give the lawn bags a try first since they're so inexpensive. I'm a little worried about people walking through the livingroom and the bags getting moved/blown out of place, but if I have any problems I can always use the fabric/velcro option. I'm glad to see that similar solutions have worked for others, and I should be able to make it work.
     
  5. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Feedback on what you tried and how it worked would be great!
     
  6. morydd

    morydd TPF Noob!

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    I'd say place some weight at the bottom of whatever you use to block the light, and if you're doing two layers (each side of the door way) you could hang some empty cans or something between them so they'd make noise if someone moved the outer layer so you can yell and stop them from breaking your light-seal.

    Maybe I'm over McGyvering this.
     
  7. D-50

    D-50 TPF Noob!

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    Tin foil is 100% light proof line anything with it and no light will pass through.
     
  8. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Get something like light-proof vinyl. Line the edges with velcro, and put velcro around your door and windows. When you are done you just pull it off, and roll it up.

    For the bottom of my darkroom door I just use a rolled up towel that I kick into place when I close the door.

    EDIT: A source for cheap light-proof material is your local photo lab. The bags their rolls of paper come in are light proof. I asked them to save me some, then cut them so they'd lay flat, and duct taped them together to black out the windows in my darkroom. It's not as durable as sheets of thick plastic, but it's usually free.
     
  9. Niltiac

    Niltiac TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the tips! I'll post the results when I have them, but it might not be for a long time because the room needs a bit more work and the school semester is about to start.
     

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