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.
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!