As an early and active participant in Urban Chicken Advocates of Nashville, artist Megan Lightell helped with the push to make backyard chickens legal in Tennessee’s capital. And when the ordinance finally passed in early 2012, she celebrated right away by building her dream coop. The rest of this post comes directly from her. . . . (more…)
Posts tagged with ‘Wood’
Abby and John used The Garden Coop chicken coop plans to build this gorgeous coop for their California backyard. It’s a wonderful example of how something as functional as a chicken coop, when done right, can add beauty to an already beautiful outdoor garden space.
I’ve actually been meaning to post this coop profile for some time, so without further delay. . . (more…)
For visitors to TheGardenCoop.com, I’ve arranged a discount from Portland’s own Timber Pro UV on their non-toxic wood treatments and stains.
In particular, their Internal Wood Stabilizer product is ideally suited for chicken coops like The Garden Coop and The Garden Ark, safely protecting exposed exterior softwoods from rot and moisture damage in a way that stain or paint alone cannot.
Learn more and get the Timber Pro UV discount code here.
Whether you’re building The Garden Coop, The Garden Ark, or pretty much any other chicken coop, the instructions that follow will show you in detail how to add external nesting boxes to your coop.
First, a little background. I designed The Garden Coop and The Garden Ark to make efficient use of space, be easy to build, and to have everything under one roof — including the nesting boxes. Personally, I prefer the simplicity of having the boxes in the henhouse, and it has worked well for us and many others for years.
So if you’re new to chicken keeping or coop building, please do not feel as though you have to add exterior nest boxes to your coop.
That said, there’s something about external nesting boxes that just captures the fancy of backyard chicken keepers. . . . (more…)
Lila K. and her husband live on the Gulf Coastal Plain of Texas. This is their chicken coop, built using The Garden Coop chicken coop design plans. It’s remarkable, not only for what you can see, but also for what you can’t. At least, not unless you’re looking for it.
The Garden Coop chicken coop design plan calls for a pier-on-grade foundation that works well just about anywhere. But if you need to adapt the design to suit local building codes or seasonal weather events, it’s quite flexible. Lila chose to modify the design by setting 4×4 posts at each corner of the coop and securing the frame to those.
Her primary reason for adapting the design was to give even more stability to their chicken coop, anchoring it firmly should it be buffeted by treacherous Gulf Coast weather. Aesthetically, Lila also liked the beefier look the posts gave to the frame.
She paid great attention to other details as well. She added a small window on the front, and she painted the trim, door stops, and roof structure a light green color that stands out against the natural wood tone of the frame. By doing this, she created really nice outlines that give her chicken coop a smart, finished look.
You know you need to protect your chicken coop from the elements outside. Wind and sun, rain and snow take their toll on your poultry pen over time, and a good wood sealer or exterior paint on the outside of the hen house goes a long way toward preventing this damage.
But what about protection from the “elements” inside the henhouse? Face it, a lot more comes out of a hen’s vent than just fresh eggs. And depending on the design of your henhouse — whether you have a special poop tray, a slotted floor, or a bare floor covered in bedding — you have to consider whether you want to paint the hen house walls and floor to make cleaning up their droppings easier. Listen in and/or read on for our thoughts. . .
Should you paint the floor of your hen house?
The Garden Coop and Garden Ark chicken coop plans call for a simple henhouse floor. That is, there’s no poop tray or slotted floor in these designs, though you could certainly add them. What you have, then, is a basic plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) floor. Both of these are bare wood products, which means that if they get wet, they will begin to absorb moisture.
+ Read more about the henhouse design in The Garden Coop and The Garden Ark chicken coop plans.
+ Read more about choosing the right kind of sheet wood for a chicken coop.
Painting the floor will protect it from moisture and everything that can come with it — rot, mold, mildew. Even just the swollen and raised fibers of the wood can make brushing out debris go less smoothly. Seal the surface well, and any soiled bedding should brush right out.
That said, painting the henhouse floor is not a must. Your choice may come down to cost. If you have the right paint handy, by all means use it. But if you’re trying to save on the cost of building a chicken coop, a quart or gallon of quality paint may cost more than the piece of wood you’re trying to protect.
Whether you decide to paint or not, what is a must is that you maintain a layer of carbonaceous bedding (straw, pine shavings, shredded paper, dried leaves, etc.) to collect the chickens’ droppings. This is important for both absorbing moisture and keeping odors down. As the chicken manure collects in the bedding, the mixture of the two is a lot easier to remove and add to the compost.
Painted vs. unpainted
We have a coop in which we painted the floor and another in which we left the hen house floor unfinished. We keep a layer of fresh bedding in both, and since the hens’ droppings fall onto this bedding, the moisture doesn’t readily soak into the plywood. (A bit of chicken trivia, not that you asked for it: A chicken’s urine comes out the vent with its feces. It’s the whitish stuff mixed in with the droppings.)
Here are a couple pictures of those hen house floors. The first is of the unfinished floor. The second is of the painted one.
Now, while the floors in both these coops are holding up quite well, we do find that the painted floor is easier to clean. It’s definitely easier to tell when it’s clean, and my guess is that the painted surface will outlast the unpainted one.
Painting the henhouse floor
To paint the floor of your chicken coop, simply apply two coats (or more) of a durable exterior latex paint. The coop should be so well ventilated that any gradual off-gassing from your paint won’t harm the chickens, but you may still prefer to use a low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, especially if you’re painting the floor piece indoors. If you have a primer, applying that first will improve the adhesion and coverage of the paint.
Hens like to go barefoot and rarely trim their nails, so plan to use a paint that’s tough enough to hold up to the constant scratching. As for color, white or a pale shade is best, as it will make it more obvious when the chicken coop floor needs to be cleaned.
What about the hen house walls?
Since the interior walls don’t get soiled like the floor, we’ve left them bare on all of our family’s coops. But if you have the paint or a durable flooring material like vinyl or linoleum and the time, you might cover them anyway just to brighten things up.
Some final tips on painting the inside of your chicken coop:
- Your choice may come down to cost. If you have the materials and the time, you might as well paint or cover the floor of the henhouse.
- Make sure you apply any paint or floor covering to the henhouse floor before the chickens move in.
- Also, paint the floor and walls at the right time in the construction process. If you’re using our chicken coop construction plans, we note in there when it’s a good time to paint. If you’re building without a plan, keep in mind that it may be easier to paint the floor or wall sections before you install them.
- Let the paint dry or cure well — and then some — before inviting the girls in. They’ll tear it up without a second thought (without a first thought, actually). Refer to your product’s literature for proper drying times.
- Our coop designs call for raised henhouses. If the floor in your coop design will be subject to both human and chicken foot traffic, consider the most durable hen house flooring option first, then work back based on what you can afford.
Let us know what has worked for you. Did you paint your henhouse floor or not? Any particular paints or sealers work well on your chicken coop floor? Leave your comment below!
I’ve got a guest article up at The Urban Garden Project offering seven tips for building a garden-friendly backyard chicken coop. Check it out, then click around The Urban Garden Project site for more tips on backyard gardening, square foot gardening, chickens, and more.
Thanks, Ben, for inviting me to post!
There’s something about sandpaper. In the excitement of building the ideal chicken coop, DIY coop builders often either don’t realize or underestimate the role of sandpaper in building a coop that lasts. But if you’re planning to apply a preservative, stain, paint, or other sealer to your chicken coop lumber, sanding it first is a must. Especially if the wood you’re working with is new and smooth.
I should mention first that most plywood should be ready to go as is. What I’m talking about here is dimensional lumber (2x2s, 2x4s, etc., called “timber” outside of the U.S.). The reason that lumber needs to be sanded first has to do with how it is milled and something called “mill glaze.” (more…)
I got this question from a coop builder a few months ago:
“A friend saw that I had bought OSB [oriented strand board] and mentioned that this was a potential hazard due to formaldehyde emissions. What are your thoughts on this? Am I better off returning it and going with plywood?”
Some background first. Formaldehyde is used in the resins (glues) of some manufactured wood products like plywood and particle board. The emissions the builder was concerned about are often referred to as “offgassing” or “outgassing,” which is the gradual release or evaporation of chemicals from a building material. If these vapors build up in an enclosed space, like a car or home, it could lead to a problem. But what about in a chicken coop?
Most chicken coops are made of wood, and all wood eventually rots. You can deal with this fact in a number of ways:
- Build with wood that’s infused with pesticides (pressure-treated “PT”)
- Use a naturally rot-resistant wood (like cedar, redwood, or tropical hardwoods)
- Choose a softwood (like Douglas-fir, hemlock, or pine) and apply a sealer
- Use a composite material instead of wood
Many factors will weigh into your choice, but I’ll deal with the two biggies: toxicity and cost. (more…)