Painting and preserving your chicken coop.

What should you be using as a paint or preservative on your chicken coop.

I have to confess that nearly all of my chickens coops have been stained with a wood preservative and that the inside are only stained once before the birds move in. I have used varnish, paint and creosote on chicken coops in the past.

Below: You can see the varnished wood behind this broody hen.

Wooden coops need some sort of exterior preservative coating every year or two to stop the wood rotting.

What is the best paint or preservative for chicken coops?

Any exterior, marine or wood preservative or paint will work for chicken coops. Choose one that is safe for the environment and low in VOC's or volatile organic compounds as they could affect the chickens respiratory system. Make sure the paint is dry and cured before the flock move in.

Should I paint the chicken coop?

As most chicken coops are made of wood they all benefit from sort of wood preservative, the choice is really up to what you want it to look like.

Below: Wooden coops need some sort of paint, varnish or preservative.

The rules for painting and preserving chicken coops:

  • Always use a non-toxic paint or wood preservative.
  • Paint while the chickens are out.
  • Make sure it is dry and odour free before moving chickens back in to the coop.
  • Use the correct paint or stain for the job.

As they don't sell lead based paints any more, so few are toxic as such but quite a number of paints have high VOC (volatile Organic Compound) levels which can easily upset the respiratory system of a chicken.

What kind of paint do you use for a chicken coop?

The paint you use on a chicken coop needs to be animal safe and non toxic as chickens have habit of pecking at things and will eat whatever they can fit in their beaks.

Any water based non toxic paint or preservative is suitable for hen houses.

Varnish is fine for hen houses and coops but often doesn't cover well on rough sawn timber.

Is it OK to paint the inside of a chicken coop?

It is fine to paint the inside of the chickens coop as long as you use non toxic paints and let it dry completely before the hens go back in. 

I know quite few backyard chickens keepers that paint the inside of the coop to make it easier to clean. Painted surfaces can be swept much more easily than rough wood.

Any colour is fine except red, chickens peck at red. When it comes top painting the inside of the hen house you should go for a light colour if it is a bit dark and a darker colour if it bright inside. Also matt paint is a better choice rather than a shiny reflective gloss or enamels.

Paint for chicken coop floor needs to be robust as it has to deal with being scratched at by claws day after day as chickens scratch about in the bedding.

Pinterest is the best place for getting colour and paint ideas for hen houses.

Paint vs stain for coops:

Whether you use paint or a stain to preserve the wood on your chickens coop is a matter of personal choice. Wood stains are quicker drying and easier to apply and tend to soak into the grain of the wood leaving a more natural finish.

Below: Don't leave it too long before you paint!

Stains do not flake off like some paint does which means it will never be eaten like paint chips might be.

Should I use creosote for my chicken coop?

Creosote is banned for sale to the general public in some parts of the world so you might not be able to get hold of it but it can be used to treat a chicken coop.

Some keepers swear by creosote as it is supposed to keep away red mite and the genuine product will kill mites and help keep them away. Modern creosote products in hardware stores will not effectively treat or prevent red mite in chickens coops.

You will need personal protective equipment including a respirator for applying creosote and it will need to dry completely before the hens move in.

Does painting help with red mite?

Red mite is the bane of backyard keepers and were always looking for ways to get rid of them and make exterminating parasites easier.

A decent coat of varnish or paint will help with clearing out red mite but won't prevent them.

Painting on it's own won't keep red mite out of your chicken coop but it can make the coop easier to clean and the red mite easier to see.

How do you seal a chicken coop?

One of the best products I have seen for sealing wood on chicken coops is marine wood sealer. It is low in VOC and completely safe for fish and wildlife and is an excellent choice.