Light-sealing darkroom doors

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by David Nebenzahl, Oct 16, 2003.

  1. Since this subject comes up from time to time, I thought I'd share my solution
    to this problem. It's fairly simple, doesn't look funky, and works well. It
    does require some basic carpentry skills (or enough money to hire someone with

    What I did was to seal around the inside of the door with strips of black
    felt. These were glued to the surface of the door stop (the small pieces
    nailed to the inside of the door jamb that the door closes against).

    I had to rip (cut long strips of) my own door stop. What a guy would want to
    do is to nail them so that they're not tight against the door, but leaving a
    very small gap to accomodate the felt strip that will go between the face of
    the door stop and the door.

    If your door doesn't shut tightly, you may only need to glue in the felt
    strips to make a good seal.

    The felt strips are easily cut on a desktop paper trimmer (the type with a
    large pivoting blade), using a fence (a piece of cardboard) taped to the top
    to cut strips all the same width. (In my case, they were 9/16" wide.) The felt
    doesn't have to be in one continuous strip: I had a piece about 9" wide, so I
    cut 9" long strips. I glued them on with ordinary white glue (Elmer's).

    This sealed the sides and top of the door. Since there was still a major gap
    at the bottom, I sealed this in a similar way. I cut a piece of paneling about
    1-1/2" wide and the width of the door. I glued a strip of felt across the
    bottom, with the felt overhanging the paneling by about half its width. I then
    screwed this homemade door sweep to the bottom of the door, with the felt
    tight enough against the floor to keep the dark from leaking out of the darkroom.

    This may or may not work for you, but it now allows me to work in the darkroom
    during the day, something I couldn't do before.

    The most common hoax promoted the false concept that light bulbs
    emitted light; in actuality, these 'light' bulbs actually absorb DARK
    which is then transported back to the power generation stations via
    wire networks. A more descriptive name has now been coined; the new
    scientific name for the device is DARKSUCKER.

    - Flotsam collected from Usenet (probably alt.alien.visitors)
    David Nebenzahl, Oct 16, 2003
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  2. David Nebenzahl

    Mike King Guest

    The hardware store used to sell wooden strips with felt glued on them that
    you could nail to the stops. I hung my own darkroom door and it does not
    leak around the stops. (Not braggin" just lucky!)
    Mike King, Oct 16, 2003
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  3. David Nebenzahl

    Alexis Neel Guest

    That seems like a lot of work. I just purchased those foam window
    strips, that have the glue strip/tape on the other side, from the
    hardware store, and put them on either the door or in the door jam.
    There are 2 or 3 different sizes and thicknesses, so making sure you
    get the right one helps. It does take a little bit more to shut the
    door, more than just a gentle push, but they stop the light. There is
    also this plastic strip that folds in half width wise to make a "V",
    with the glue strip on one side. They ar dark brown, and in addition
    to the foam tape, will kil any light.

    Alexis Neel, Oct 16, 2003
  4. David Nebenzahl

    Andrew Price Guest

    I also did that.
    Works fine for me, too.
    Andrew Price, Oct 16, 2003
  5. David Nebenzahl

    10x Guest

    Weather stripping for doors that stop drafts also stop the light
    leaks. Check your local hardware store. The best is a rubber edge
    about 5/8" wide on a metal strip that screws to the frame of the door.
    You do have to make sure the corners don' t leak light when you
    install this.
    10x, Nov 23, 2003
  6. Another option, if you have the luxury of hanging your own door, is to
    go with a permanently sealed exterior weather door. I did this for my
    basement darkroom.

    The door and frame assembly (originally made by Stanley) is solid wood
    with the door itself covered by sheet steel on both sides. The door
    stops attached to the door jamb have preinstalled flexible magnetic
    sealer strips exactly the same as refrigerator door seals. When the
    door is closed the strips "stick" to the steel door making for a
    perfect light-tight (and air-tight) seal, same as a fridge. Since
    this is an exterior door there is a threshold along the bottom as
    well. Fortunately it is triple sealed with built in sweeps and also
    perfectly light-tight.

    My only modification was to paint the edges of the door and facing
    door jamb flat black. I tested by placing bright lights directly
    outside the door, closing it and sitting inside in the dark for 20-30
    minutes for eye adjustment. Result? Total darkness--even as I ran my
    eyes along the interior edges of the magnetic seals.

    With this arrangement all I need do is enter the darkroom and close
    the door normally for a perfect light seal.

    Hope this helps a bit,

    Ken Nadvornick, Nov 24, 2003
  7. David Nebenzahl

    Dick Guest

    Actually, that last, painting the jamb, stop and door edges of an ordinary
    well fitting door suffices in my case. If you use a paper safe especially,
    absolute "no light leaks" is not necessary (unless you have a "spotlight."

    Dick, Nov 25, 2003
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