When you are building a chicken coop there are a lot of things to keep in mind. One of these things is waterproofing your chicken coop, not only on the outside but on the inside as well. Ensuring the flooring of your chicken coop is waterproof will play a significant role in the life of your coop.
The best way to waterproof a chicken coop is to use a waterproof sealant of some kind. This can be either in the form of a waterproof paint, like the paint that you used on the outside of your chicken coop, or a wood sealant like you might use on the wood of a deck.
But you may be wondering why you need to waterproof your chicken coop and what the best way is to do so. This can help your chicken coop to last as long as possible and will also keep your chickens healthy.
Why You Should Waterproof Your Chicken Coop Inside And Out
If you are new to raising chickens, you may be surprised to learn there are numerous ways for the inside of the chicken coop to get wet. Prolonged moisture to unprotected wood will cause the wood to rot and lose it’s strength over time. This could lead safety issues for your chickens and also require that you replace the damaged wood.
The main reason why your chicken coop should be waterproofed on the inside is for when you clean it. Depending on how many chickens you have and the size of your coop, this is something that may need to be done once a month or more often. It’s very important to keep your coop clean. It can actually have a sizable impact on product of eggs from your chickens. The cleaner the coop the better their production!
One of the easiest ways to clean out the inside of a chicken coop is with a water hose which will obviously expose the interior of your coop to moisture.
Quick tip! – When you do clean your coop, I find it best to use a garden hoe to help scrape the flooring of droppings and anything else that has accumulated on the flooring. I also recommend sprinkling some diatomaceous earth inside your coop. It’s sounds very scientific, but in actuality, it’s just ground up fossilized algae that comes in a very fine powder form.
This stuff is amazing and is proven to get rid of mites, fleas and help control odors. You can also use it to help deworm your chickens. (Another tip – If you start seeing “droppings” on the eggs your chickens are laying, they need to be dewormed). I’ve even rubbed some on our dog before when she had fleas and saw a considerable improvement in just a day or so. Diatomaceous Earth is easy to find, I usually grab this particular brand on Amazon.
Even apart from cleaning your coop, there is still moisture that occurs naturally.
This natural moisture can most often be traced back to the fact that your chickens will leave droppings in the coop. In the heat of the summer, the moisture from these droppings can make it very humid in the coop. Not only can this moisture damage your flooring over time if left uncleaned, it will also cause your coop to begin to stink rather quickly. I highly recommend cleaning your coop at least twice per month, if not more.
The humidity can eventually lead to the wood that you used developing some form of mildew or mold. Though this will take longer to mold than it would if the lower part of your coop actually flooded during a storm, it will still mold sooner than you would want it to.
Molds are just as bad for your chicken’s health as it is for you which is why it is so important to waterproof your whole chicken coop. If the boards of your coop start to mold you will either have to make sure that you clean out the mold or completely replace the molded boards.
The Best Woods To Use For Chicken Coops
Over the last decade or so, raising and maintaining your own chickens has become very popular. As a result, you can choose from many different types of chicken coop design plans online. I elected to go basic on my coop design. Once you decide on a design, it’s important to choose the correct type of wood to avoid any damage that can be caused by rot. Choosing the wrong type of wood can force you to into rebuilding your coop far sooner than you should have to.
Some woods are naturally resistant to rotting, and these are great options since they will last a long time.
A couple of examples of rot-resistant woods are cedar and redwood, with most hardwoods lasting longer. When it comes to softwoods options like fir, hemlock, spruce, and pine. While you can use plywood, if you are going to do so you should make sure that it is designed for exterior use even if it is going on the inside of your coop.
When it comes to pressure-treated wood, this is a matter that has a lot of controversies. One thing that you should know is that pressure-treated lumber used to be treated with a compound that contained arsenic. While it no longer is made that way, it can still have harmful amounts of copper. This copper can make the hinges and fasteners of your coop rust faster especially if they are not galvanized. However, it also prevents pests from being as interested in the wood.
All in all, this pressure treated wood is cheap, easy to find, and tends to last a long time. While hardwoods can often last just as long, these tend to be much more expensive and can sometimes be hard to find in the sizes you need.
Softwoods can last a while if you coat them well to protect the wood, but these are not likely to last as long as cedar, redwood or pressure treated lumber. This does depend some on the grade of the wood. While grades can seem confusing, the one fact to remember is that the smaller the number the stronger and better the wood is.
This means that a #2 is better than a #4-grade piece of wood. You never want to use “green” lumber when you are building your coop. Green lumber is wood that has not fully dried. Green wood can contain a significant amount of moisture. Not only will paint not stick to it well, as the wood dries it will shrink and could crack which could create a need for replacement.
What To Consider When Waterproofing Your Chicken Coop
When you are waterproofing your chicken coop, even if you are only doing so to the outside, you need to keep in mind the fumes. These fumes are the same as any kind of paint fumes and are something that are just as bad for your chickens as they are for you.
For this reason, when you are doing this you need to make sure that your coop is as open as possible in order to let these fumes out so that they are not trapped inside your coop. Make sure that you leave it open until it is not only dry but completely aired out as well.
There are some companies that try to make their products as non-toxic as possible. These may not be as toxic but should still be aired out regardless. If you are in doubt at all as to just how long to keep your coop open, read the label on whatever you are using to waterproof your coop.
The label should tell you important information such as how long you should wait between each layer. It should also tell you how long it should take before the fumes are aired out sufficiently. It is better to wait longer than needed than not long enough since a closed up chicken coop will hold onto these fumes and can make your chickens sick.
How To Waterproof Your Chicken Coop
As mentioned, the best way to waterproof a chicken coop is to paint it with some form of paint that is waterproof. Regular outdoor paint is usually quite sufficient, but if you plan on washing out of your coop with a power washer you may need something more durable.
Wood sealants such as those used on a wooden deck or porch will work well, as will liquid rubber. In any of these cases, you should first put your coop together before you start painting it. Once it is completely assembled or built you can then move on to the next step.
If there are any cracks in the wood on the floor, side, or ceiling you should seal these up before you start to paint. This can be done with some caulk or seam tape. There’s some debate as to whether you should worry about sealing the seams of a coop. Some people argue that NOT sealing seams gives the coop a bit more ventilation which is important to the health of your girls.
Personally, I don’t seal the seams on my coop. Once I paint my coop, I apply marine based sealant to the entire coop. I love the Seal-Once Marine Wood Sealer (Amazon Link). This stuff has done a great job protecting my coops. It’s pet and animal safe and has few if any smells or fumes. It does look a bit odd when you start applying it. It looks very cloudy and milky. The first time I used it, I just knew I had ruined the look of my coop and would be redoing it. I was surprised later once the sealant dried, because it was clear and you couldn’t even tell it was there! It’s held up great over the years. It’s the only sealant I use on any wood that goes outside now.
While you should always waterproof the inside your coop, there are a few other things that you should keep in mind to help your coop to stay as dry as possible. One thing that you definitely want to make sure of is that if your nesting boxes are not flat that they tilt in such a way so that the water drains off of them.
You can also build your coop so that whatever side you open up in order to clean it opens facing the sun. This will not only help you see inside it when you are cleaning it, but it will also be a way for you to help dry out your coop afterward.
While you can paint your wood before you put your coop together, every nail or screw that you use will make an entrance for water to get to the wood. It is for this reason that you should wait to paint your coop until every nail is in so that you can paint over them.
Hopefully you find this article helpful! Please leave any additional tips for your coop in the comment section below!