Roll with it! Covering the henhouse floor with vinyl, linoleum, or marmoleum

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A step up from painting the floor of your poultry house is covering it with vinyl, marmoleum, or linoleum flooring. These materials are exceptionally durable and will resist standing moisture far longer than even the best exterior paint. I’ve heard from several people who’ve used our chicken coop plans that they’ve added linoleum, marmoleum, or vinyl to the floors and love it.

Here are a few pictures of chicken coops where the floor of the henhouse is lined with a durable flooring material:

Tony J. (Portland, Oregon) lined the floor of his Garden Ark portable chicken coop with vinyl flooring left over from another project.

Tony J. (Portland, Oregon) lined the floor of his Garden Ark portable chicken coop with vinyl flooring left over from another project.

Bill G. lined the floors and walls of his Garden Coop with vinyl flooring to make cleaning up after his chickens easy.

Bill G. (San Francisco Bay area, California) lined the floors and walls of his Garden Coop with vinyl flooring to make cleaning up after his chickens easy.

The cost factor

As with many of the decisions you’ll make when building your own chicken coop, this one may come down to cost. If you have a scrap roll of flooring material or some vinyl tiles leftover from another project, putting those to use in your chicken coop is a good plan.

But if you have to buy these products new — also factoring in any adhesive you might need — the cost may far exceed the cost of a quart or gallon of paint. And even that may go beyond what’s required to keep your backyard chickens healthy, happy, and laying eggs.

Tips for covering your chicken coop floor with linoleum

  • Avoid using the self-stick tiles. They don’t often adhere well to a bare plywood coop floor. And they expand/contract at a different rate than wood, exacerbating the problem of poor adhesion. The roll type (wall-to-wall) flooring is better.
  • Look around for remnants or scraps of vinyl or linoleum at flooring stores or “rebuilding” centers. Don’t worry if the pieces you get don’t match. Once you lay bedding down overtop, no one will notice.
  • Staple the material down around the edges of your chicken coop floor to keep it from curling up and to prevent bedding from getting caught in the gap at the edge.
  • Use moulding or 1×2 lumber to cover the gap at the edges for a more finished look and feel.
  • Still plan to cover it with bedding (straw, wood shavings, etc.). Even though a durable floor resists moisture, it does nothing to stop odors or flies. A few inches of carbonaceous bedding will catch the chicken’s poop and start the composting process. It’ll also help keep your chickens from sliding around.
  • While our backyard chicken coop plans call for raised henhouses, not all chicken coop designs are the same. If your hen house floor will be subject to both chicken and human foot traffic, durable flooring is an especially smart idea.

Have you lined the floor of the henhouse on your backyard chicken coop? What about other flooring options (tile, metal, marble, gold leaf. . . )? Leave a comment with any tips or suggestions.

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15 Responses to “Roll with it! Covering the henhouse floor with vinyl, linoleum, or marmoleum”

  1. Shannon McDonald says:

    I have a prefab coop from a local farm store. But I am looking at building my own. I currently have to “floor” in the screen area on this prefab coop. I put DE doen, pine shavings and hay. The nesting area has a removable tray and thats covered with shavings. When I build my new coop can I use just the ground? Use DE, pine and hay to cover up the ground.? The “floor” of my coop is my only thing I am unsure of. If I use plywood, do you treat it, then put shavings and hay on it? Or Cover it with linoleum? I don’t plan on raising it. Thanks!

    • Shannon, having a floor in the henhouse helps you limit drafts in winter, but you do not have to have a floor. As long as the space they are in is secure from predators and your chickens are protected from the elements, they can roost with nothing but the ground (covered with litter) below them.

  2. Kevin says:

    Ive been doing chickens for about 10 years. I built a coop off my shed it is 16
    x 10. I have a 55 gallon plastic drum on its side for water with the cups. It doubles in the winter as the heating source when i put an oil heater underneath it which works out great. Now my big problem is rats! they seem to dig a hole in every corner of the coop and are eating all the food. I have 3/4 inch plywood floor in one day they have another hole somewhere else after i repair the last hole. Ive thought of ripping everything out of the coop and putting down a layer of Tin. Any Ideas? Yes then plywood over the tin hoping that the rats cant chew thru the TIN.

    • Kevin, thanks for your comment. All of our chicken coop designs have no entry point larger than 1/2″. On our coops that have integrated runs, the perimeter is protected at the base with 1/2″ hardware cloth. This level of protection is easier to create when you build a coop from scratch — more challenging when you retrofit an existing shed or other structure to serve as a coop.

      It does sound like your problem is that the rats are chewing through the wood floor. Adding the layer of tin sounds like a stop-gap measure. I’m not sure exactly what your setup is, but you could attach a perimeter of hardware cloth around the base of the structure and trench it down a foot or so into the ground — or just take it down a couple inches, flare it out over the ground, stake it down, and put sod on top of it. Rats won’t be able to get through that. Thing is, they can also climb, so it’s important that you make sure there are no openings anywhere else (door, ceiling, etc.) larger than 1/2″.

      Another option is to raise your coop high enough that cats could get under it. This way, rats have no safe haven under there. Five or six inches should do at a minimum.

      Otherwise, you should remove all their feed from the coop every night and secure it in a pest- and predator-proof container. Only put it out during the day when the chickens are feeding. You can also refrain from feeding scraps or scratch in the afternoon, that way your chickens have time to get every last bit before they roost for the night.

      Hope this helps.

  3. Mike says:

    I’m sure I’m going to get some controversy with this one, but I would really like to use roofing felt for the middle of my coop between my nesting boxes. My chickens will be free range and except for at night they will be able to run free. I was planning on using stick tiles in the bottom of each of the nesting box and using a complete roll of roofing felt on one end similar to the roll of paper used at the doctor’s office. I will have a pull-out drawer. I plan for the area between the nesting boxes to be exactly the same width as the roofing felt… I have also considered house wrap or Tyvek for this purpose. When I pull out the drawer it will pull the fresh felt from the roll… I will then start rolling up the bedding and felt kind of like a sushi roll until all of the nastiness is in the role I will then run a razor blade across to cut the old from the new and push the drawer back into place I plan on doing this every month to keep the smell down I will then take the gigantic sushi roll log and burn it in my wood pallet boiler that we use to heat our house our shop our domestic hot water and our swimming pool… we used the ash from the boiler for our garden and Lawn.. My only concern is that the chickens may often come in contact with the felt and that this could be an issue.. It has however been commonly used on coupes as roofing and siding for years so I do not see it being an issue. I plan on there being several inches of bedding on top of the felt and then planning on possibly using snowmobile hyfax or HDPE (plastic cutting board material) as the guides or hold Downs for the felt… I chose felt over Tyvek because it was the cheapest and most viable option, it will burn hotter/cleaner then the house wrap as well. Please tell me what you think.

    • Mike, if your goal is the easy disposal of chicken poop, your solution is unnecessarily complex. Try the deep-litter method (sorta what you’re doing with the inches of bedding) or the sand bed method instead. Or simply brush the litter out every week or so and let it compost naturally in a pile. Odor will not be an issue if you regularly apply enough straw, wood shavings, etc. and have adequate ventilation. I wouldn’t be concerned about the chickens contacting the roofing felt other than that they might tear it up, but it sounds like you’d have it covered with plenty of bedding.

      Beyond the complexity of this process, I’d be concerned about a few things. First, when you roll up the poop/litter into the felt, it will begin to decompose anaerobically, rather than aerobically, so the odor will be intensified. It will also hinder the contents from drying. Second, you’d be burning roofing felt, which is made of inorganic materials like polyester, fiberglass, and who knows what kind of resins. You’ll want to look carefully into what effect burning this material would have on both your air and on the components of your stove. Third, burning chicken poop is generally a bad idea — properly prepared, which is a process all its own, it does burn and release energy, but it also releases dioxins and more CO2 than coal.

      Thing is, by the time you dry chicken manure and mix it with sawdust or other carbonaceous material so that it will burn effectively, you’ve already not only neutralized the odor, but essentially you’re well on you way to having an amazing nitrogen-rich compost. I’m not sure the size of your poultry operation, but unless it’s industrial sized, you’d do better for your farm/garden and for your air quality to compost the poop and use it or share it with your neighbors.

  4. missy rogers says:

    I put linoleum down on the floor of my chicken coop. Now the chicks are sliding on it. What can I do to stop the sliding. I have about 4 inches of shavings on it.

    • Missy, it’s better if there’s some texture to the flooring, as fresh bedding can be slippery atop a smooth surface. If you have an issue with this, try scuffing the surface with coarse sandpaper. I’ve noticed that as bedding material gets used it stays put better. Many people have success with a sand floor as well. Hope this helps.

  5. Karen says:

    We used old vinyl flooring from various people, (love FREECYCLE!). Makes cleanup so much easier. Just nailed it down. Then today, we heard a comment about vinyl flooring letting off toxic fumes, and “you can’t claim your eggs are organic, I certainly wouldn’t buy eggs from anyone with vinyl flooring”… (we feed only organic, and the chickens free range all day). So, anyone have any thoughts on that?

    • Karen, linoleum is a natural product, so no issues there. New vinyl flooring does off-gas VOCs (volatile organic compounds), though it’s my understanding that this takes place primarily in the first couple weeks after installation. This could be a problem if vinyl is installed in a poorly ventilated area. Given that you’re using old flooring and that most properly built chicken coops allow plenty of ventilation, I think it’s safe to say you’re in the clear.

      It could be that the issue for the person you overheard is more about the overall environmental impact of vinyl — there are concerns about how it is produced, worker safety, and what chemicals are released when it is burned. If these are the concerns, then by giving it a longer life, you’re turning a negative into a positive. It’s each person’s call, of course. You can read more about the vinyl debate here and here.

      I’m not sure whether you’re actually going for organic certification, but if you review the rules for the USDA National Organic Program, you won’t see vinyl mentioned as a problem material. PVC (polyvinyl chloride, one type of vinyl) is listed, however, as not suitable for use as a mulch cover.

      Hope this helps.

  6. Mleduc34@gmail.com says:

    Hi, all. I am new to the chicken thing, and I am having a good time. I just finished my coop. After installing tile for 27 years it seem fitting to tile my coop, so I tiled the walls and floor. I also installed a floor drain as well as warm floors (in-floor heating) and, yes, epoxy grout. It makes cleaning easy.

  7. Dana says:

    I just finished working on an old raised 18×25 coop that I separated in two sections with a wall. The front 300 sq. ft. for farm storage and the back 150 for the chickens where the original chicken doors can be utilized. I had the thought of linoleum flooring thinking it would be far easier to keep clean and much more durable than painting the treated 3/4 inch plywood. I was thrilled to find these postings to learn my idea was already tested and true.
    What type of flooring would you say is the most durable since it’s such a small area I would rather front the cost to have the longest lasting flooring.
    Thanks:)!
    Dana

    • I don’t know, Dana. Hopefully, other readers will chime in with their experiences. Compared to the best paint, though, all these options will be more durable. But you might ask at your flooring retailer for a comparison among linoleum, marmoleum, and vinyl. It may depend on what other kind of traffic and moisture it will be exposed to beyond just chicken feet.

    • Dawn says:

      Marmoleum is a brand-name for linoleum tiles (as is Marmorette). ;)

      Vinyl is probably a cheaper option and the only one you’ll find in rolls at most home improvement stores (even if you specify you want lineoleum, because the term ‘linoleum’ has come to indicate a range of resilient-type flooring options in common parlance). Usually when people say they are using linoleum in a coop they mean sheet vinyl.

      Vinyl is made from pvc plastics with a soft backing, a printed decorative layer, and a clear wear layer on top, whereas linoleum is made primarily from linseed oil and natural fillers like cork or stone dust and its color is usually all the way through. Linoleum is also porous and needs to be sealed for proper maintenance, and though it has antimicrobial properties I’m not sure I’d use it in a coop where you’d have to clean it out every year or so, wash it down and re-seal it. Vinyl does not need sealing as it’s impervious to water (at least until it rips) and you don’t have to glue it down as you would with linoleum. You can also cut it larger and fold it up your walls for extra protection at the base of the wall, whereas tiling up a wall is a bit more work.

      Vinyl seems the easier and less time-consuming choice here; linoleum is the more environmentally-friendly option. Both should be installed a week or so before you get your hens in the coop because of off-gassing (the linseed-oil smell of new lineoleum, while not strictly harmful, may irritate people or animals who are sensitive).

      When shopping for vinyl you really want to pay attention to the wear layers on top of the flooring. They are what protect the flooring and thicker wear layers will last longer and perform better. That said, if you’re scavenging for scraps you just want something thick enough overall that it won’t rip like paper the second you fold or bend it to get it in your coop.

      Hope that helps someone! Personally I like the idea of linoleum as a nice green flooring option but I’d probably go with the sheet vinyl because it’s cheaper, there are few/no seams to worry about, and I can get remnants at Home Depot.

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