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In a previous apartment, I converted the bathroom to a darkroom. Light-proofing the door and window proved to be a huge challenge. Fast forward to today, and now my wife and I own a house and I'm going to be building a darkroom in the garage.

In thinking about the doorway, and given that I get to build my own space, I'm wondering if a door is, in fact, the best solution. Would building a zig-zag entrance with floor to ceiling light-proof material work out better (less hassle, easier to construct and use, still light-proof)?

My thought is something like the image below, where the red lines represent lightproof drapery. enter image description here

I should add - this is going to be constructed as a fake room in the garage - I will not have access to plumbing. So, I'll have a temp wash station but eventually I'll be going in and out to properly wash prints.

  • im microscopy room we usually get away with 1 door followed by small space (2-3 feet most) and a curtain. I would say, that is more than enough: our cameras and optics are single-photon sensitive. You can put extra storage into that space. – aaaaaa Jan 19 '18 at 20:40
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    Congratulations on getting a space of your own - I know how special it feels! By chance I am in the process of finishing lightproofing of a basement room. Revolving door was out of the question (I am retrofitting an old laundry room - at least I had water here) and I settled on light traps on the door and shutter on window. So far no problem... – Jindra Lacko Jan 21 '18 at 20:38
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A U-turn entrance works if the walls are painted flat black and the legs of the "U" are deep. Better is a revolving circular door. This work even if space is at a premium. Google "revolving darkroom door". These are the designs I used in many photofinishing locations I designed.

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    @ Caleb -- Thanks for finding my spelling error. I am challenged when it come to spelling. It would be a kindness if you deleted your comment! – Alan Marcus Jan 19 '18 at 21:06
  • The revolving door option looks interesting - though they are out of budget and look more complex to build. I shoot objects on film, code web pages, and play at being a chemist. Building complex things is not a skill that I've acquired. But, maybe I'm overestimating the complexity? – Hueco Jan 19 '18 at 21:13
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    @ Caleb -- Your are right about that. I must use Word first and then copy into the proper section. I make lots of mistakes. – Alan Marcus Jan 19 '18 at 21:18
  • No worries, @AlanMarcus . I have seen many of your posts, and your english and spelling is in the top 10 % here. – Aganju Jan 19 '18 at 22:44
  • What does "...legs of the 'U' are deed" mean? – Michael C Jan 20 '18 at 1:58
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Would building a zig-zag entrance with floor to ceiling light-proof material work out better

That works well for cases where you have people entering and exiting the space while work is in progress, like darkrooms in schools. It's nice not to need a "Darkroom in Use" sign or a lock on the door, and it's nice not to have to worry about someone opening the door at the wrong moment.

The drawback, of course, is that the zig-zag entrance uses a lot more space than a simple door does. Also, in the places I've seen this style of entranced used (again, in schools), they haven't really been 100% lightproof. That's probably because they didn't have light-proof set up to block light, but just relied on black paint and the fact that light won't bend around a U-shaped path. Still, some small amount of light was able to bounce off the walls and get in. For that reason, we handled undeveloped film in a separate room that was completely dark.

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    Yea, my highschool room was more similar to aaaaaa's comment with the addition of a 90 degree bend. But, the room held ~25 enlarger stations - by the time you got into it light wasn't too big an issue. In thinking about the garage - it'll be dark with the door shut - but I want to avoid my wife opening the garage at noon suddenly exposing some light leaks. I'm not going to have running water - so going in and out is a must. – Hueco Jan 19 '18 at 20:51

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