Battening up rafters..........and insulation.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by tenderkat, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. tenderkat

    tenderkat Songster

    Hello Everyone,

    I know there a ton of posts right now regarding cold weather-proofing our coops, and I will read each and every one of them this evening;) I have a couple of hours today to work on the coop, so I'm hoping to spend as little time as possible reading long posts.

    Our coop is 4x8, has a standard pitched roof, with the higher portion in the south side. Here is a pic:


    The rafters are completely open, and hardware clothed in. I am hoping to batten up the rafters for the cold nights and any lingering cold days. But, I'm not sure how to go about doing this. Should I focus on closing up the southern higher rafters, or the lower northern side? The girls perch runs along in front of the window in the coop. Perhaps I should close up both the north and south side rafters, and leave the coop vented on the door half of the coop? I guess what's confusing me is, I'm not sure about the air movement within the coop, and how to provide the ventilation at the top, without letting all the internal heat out. Here are some more pics, specific to the rafter situation:

    Exterior South High Side:

    Facing West Perch/Nestbox side of Coop:

    Interior South High Side:

    Interior North Low side:

    Facing East - Doors/window/run Side:

    I'm also gonna need to do some insulating. I think the roof is going to be kinda tricky, because of my ventilated rafters, so any suggestion on this would be greatly appreciated. From my understanding, I could lose alot of heat through the roof, but if I insulate the walls, will it still be so important to insulate the roof? Also, must I insulate ALL the walls, or could I leave a couple open? If this was an option, are there any walls that would be more critical?

    Seriously, I do plan on doing my homework off other posts, but I am just hoping to get sosme specifics regarding the setup of my specific coop. Thankyou so much!!!

  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    First off, from my understanding, if you insultate ANYTHING, it should be the ceiling. Heat rises, so insulating the walls w/out the ceiling would be pointless. I guess ideally, the vent openings would have been on the low side of the roof. But things are rarely ideal. Based on your pics, you could still insulate over close to the front (south) edge of your coop...maybe stop a few inches short. You want the warm, moist air to flow up and out, but it looks like you have a LOT of ventilation (which is good), so you could possibly cover some of that up for the winter (maybe just with thick cardboard duct taped??). That may depend on how many birds you have. I only have 5 birds in a 6 x 8, so I'm keeping one vent closed all winter (I only have 2 actual vents plus my windows). Our walls are insulated too, and I love having it. It allows me to go out in the coop to sit with my girls sometimes without freezing my butt off. You'll get better advise than mine when you take time to browse later...
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Well, you're going to lose heat with your ventilation, that's just the way it is, I would not stress over it. It is the warmest air that you WANT to be losing, because that carries proportionately the highest amount of water vapor.

    If it were me, priority #1 would be making a way to close the north eaves, assuming that's where most of your bad weather comes from. You may also want a way of closing off the south eaves though. Hinged exterior flaps, hinged interior flaps, pieces of 2x4 cut to length and wrapped in feedbag scraps then shoved into the spaces between rafters, or whatever works for you.

    Obviously it is best if you can insulate the whole thing. If you want to do it piecemeal, as material and ambition become available, I guess personally I would do the N side first, then the ceiling and E/W sides, then the S side... although I am not sure the exact details make a whole lot of difference.

    Good luck, have fun,

  4. CityChook

    CityChook Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    Quote:You know, this is what I was thinking, too, when I was looking at the photos. I'd make it so you can close up EITHER or BOTH the North or South sides of your soffets. I'd make two long soffet flaps that reach from side to side and then divide each of those in half. Basically, so you'd end up with four exterior flaps. These could be attached easily and attractively with hinges on the ceiling framing of the house and hasps or hook/eyes at the edge of the soffet, and very easily operated from the exterior of the coop. When they're open, they could hang from a little chain so that they don't block the window/door. Then you can leave some open and close some up as need be. It's not an all or nothing sort of deal. I can't imagine that this sort of a fix would cost more than $25 for your plywood and hardware.

    Yes, you'll lose some heat. But that's okay. The vents are right up over their heads, where it belongs. It looks pretty good to me.

    I don't close up my vents until the daytime highs stay below 0F or we're getting a big storm. The coop will be cold - even with a heat source - but if your drafts are closed up, it will *feel* much warmer inside. Last winter, my coop averaged 10-15F inside, even with heat provided. It got as cold as -5F at it's worst and we made it through with no frostbite, I think because the air inside was dry.

    I am pro-insulation. You could always insulate the ceiling and just not run the insulation all the way to the end so that it doesn't block your vents. Remember, if you do the walls, and I would recommend it, they will need to be sealed so that the silly birds don't eat the insulation. It can be cheap, thin plywood -- just has to be a firm barrier.
  5. It makes a lot of sense to deal with your ventilation issues first, then decide if you will insulate the roof. If you choose closeable vents you will always have the choice of closing one or more, and make sure they can easily be reached from inside the coop. Since our coop is inside a barn and there is hay overhead, we did not insulate our roof, and we have lots of ventilation there. You won't want to lose your predator protection, either, since you have gone to lengths to keep the threats out. Here is how we did our walls. We have old horse planks on a concrete floor so when we put bedding in, the floor is warm for the hens' feet. Keep in mind though that we have no rodents, thanks to a feral cat colony that we support in the other part of the barn. We also host a raccoon (Mary) who was presumably stolen from a nest and brought home by a female cat, and who lives among them, so we used Mary as our model for predator protection and it has worked well. Lots of pics here-

    More thoughts on winter, with pics-
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2009
  6. Slofr8

    Slofr8 In the Brooder

    Oct 16, 2009
    Northern Maine
    tenderkat, my setup is similar to yours and this is what I decided to do.
    keep in mind this is not proven as of yet. This winter will be the test.
    We see minus 20 F every year and even as low as -40 once and a while.
    I have straping on top of my rafters and sheet metal on top of that. I then added 1" foam between the rafters.
    This left me with 2" x 21" vents between every rafter. 4 on the north side, and 4 on the south. It did a great job of keeping it cool in there this summer and no condensation.
    I was trying to come up with a way to block these in cold weather and decided to suspend another layer of 1" foam under the rafters, closer to but out of reach of the chickens.
    2 ' wide for cold, and 4' for real cold.

    There is about 16 inches left on the south side for the moist air to rise up into and be carried out. Thats the plan anyway. It should keep a flow of air up above the birds, managing moisture, much like the attic of my house works.
    Also, all walls and doors are insulated.
    I'm using the DLM and so far 5 or 6 other chicken owners have visited and can't believe how my coop doesn't smell, hardly at all. Two even told me that I had to seal them up tight in the winter or they'll freeze. That's what they did when they had chickens.
    "What, you don't have them any more?".
    "No, they stunk to much." !!!! [​IMG]
    Good luck!

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