Insulation...walls and ceiling??? for the Northeast

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Penske, Feb 3, 2008.

  1. Penske

    Penske Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My DH has begun the construction of our hen house!
    We expect 9-12 babies in April!! I would rather not heat the coop. Should we insulate all walls and ceiling? Is a vapor barrier still needed (ice and water shield?) The coop is 10 x 12 and 8 feet tall. I know...it's bigger than I need...I just want the girls to be happy when they have to be cooped up during bad weather (& windy weather!) We live on Nantucket, so we have damp, cold weather. We have planned for plenty of natural light to capture sunlight (about 23 sq. feet of windows). We are keeping hens for eggs and they will be pets, so hopefully they will live along time! [​IMG]


    They will have two outdoor runs as well.

    This forum is SO helpful!! My eyes are bloodshot from reading and searching--gathering information from experienced chicken-keepers!![​IMG]

    Thanks in advance for your advice! I can't wait to check back!!

    Lisa
     
  2. ZuniBee

    ZuniBee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not sure what is right but I insulated my coops and put a vapor barrier. I did the walls and ceiling. .... Just make sure there is ventilation. I added vents in the ceiling. My coops are high like yours.

    Coops

    I have noticed that it keeps the coop cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. To me it is worth it.
     
  3. RepoBob

    RepoBob Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I insulated mine with the white styrofoam board between the studs and it helps alot. Only problem the mice love to tunnel through it. Now I have little white balls around the entire perimiter. Got it cheap [​IMG] I didn't use batt insulation because I have seen nests the mice have made out of that. When I build my next coop I plan on using the pink denser insulation board. I don't think I would put a vapor barrier between my wall covering (OSB, plywood) and insulation. If your not heating your coop it may give you problems with ventilation. I would recomend ice and water barrier under the first few rows of shingles on your roof. Might help with leaks. The winddows sound great, natural light is the best. Your coop sounds really cozy. I'm sure they will have a long and happy life.
     
  4. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

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    I'm on the Cape, so we have very similar weather except you are subject to much stronger winds than us. Our coop was a renovation, and when my husband insisted on lining the interior with stiff insulation board, I didn't think it was necessary. But now I'm SO GLAD he did! So many times, it's freezing out, but the coop retains the hen's heat. I highly recommend it!

    In this pic, you can see the silver insulation board between the barnboard lengths.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2008
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    I would probably insulate, myself -- even if only a double wall (that is, plywood on the inside, 'finishing' it so there is a dead airspace within the walls), rather than just exterior sheathing with exposed studs on the inside.

    Because it is a good-sized coop for your # chickens (applause), you might consider putting in less rather than more insulation, if you ask me. You can always build a heat-retaining hover type thing for them to roost under if cold turns out to be a problem, but Massachusetts is not exactly the north pole [​IMG]

    I thinkk if it were me I would pass on the vapor barrier though. (And not any of the rigid board-type insulations, either, as they act as vapor barriers). The reason is that a coop has a lot more humidity issues than a typical house, and I would *think* that it would be advantageous to let humidity 'spikes' be buffered by absorbing into the walls, which will then tend to dry from the outside (except in actual rain or fog). I know this is somewhat counter to How You Should Build A House but after all a coop is not *exactly* the same as a house [​IMG]

    Certainly a vapor barrier will require you to have more ventilation than if you did not have the vapor barrier. The main possible downside of letting humidity move into and out thru the walls is the possibility of mold inside the walls, but I think that is far less likely in a coop than a house, and should also be less of a problem if it did occur. (Pop quiz, how many people do you hear about with damp coop problems, vs how many people do you hear about with mold-inside-of-coop-walls problems?)

    You WILL be in better shape dampness wise than if you had less space per chicken, so even rigid insulation might be ok. (As RepoBob rays, mice can tunnel in any insulation if the sheathing or studs have gaps where cold mice can get in to find shelter, so construct carefully).

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Bob, I've seen mice tunnel thru that, too, in horse barn tackroom walls. Sorry [​IMG]


    Pat
     
  7. mrspie

    mrspie New Egg

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    Quote:First, houses handle a lot more internal moisture than chickens can create. Hot showers in small bathrooms and cooking produce massive amounts of moisture. That's why we have specific design rules about venting those areas in newer homes. But since homeowners are pretty bad about turning on ventilation fans, you have to design for the worst case.

    The point of the vapor barrier is to keep hot, moist air from going into the insulation and condensing, creating pockets of moisture held against the material of the walls and causing rot. Periods of being wet and then drying are what rots wood. So using your walls as a moisture buffer of sorts is fine as long as you don't mind replacing the walls regularly.

    Condensation will happen anywhere that warm air meets a cold surface. You put a vapor barrier on the warm side of the insulation so that no moist air gets into the insulation: the vapor barrier blocks the air from going through and allows only the heat to touch the insulation. So where there is moist air, the surfaces are all warm, and no condensation happens.

    I do agree that you don't need a vapor barrier if you don't have insulation (and empty double walls are not insulation because they have no useful resistivity -- R-value); the moisture will just condense on the vapor barrier because it will be the cold surface and the coop will be wet inside. If you go uninsulated, don't seal up the walls. Let the first cold surface be as far outside as possible, with a way for dripping condensed water to get out of the wall cavity (small weep holes at the bottom are good).
     
  8. RepoBob

    RepoBob Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Buff, Looks nice.

    Pat and Mrspie I've been in the construction trades all my life (electrician) and I have never been able to get my head aroud how air flow, condensation and all that works. I chose not to use vapor barrier to at somedegree allow air flow without any drafts. Thought that would to allow the wall to "breath".

    Pat, thanks for the bad news on the pink board. I'll have to find something else, and maybe there is no way to keep mice out of the wall cavity without totally sealing with foam. Maybe, I just need to learn to accept mice.
     
  9. Quote:No! Mice breed filth and disease. I am in a constant battle with mice in my place up north. Keep up the fight, you may never win...but you wont lose either! They destroy everything. Good Luck!
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Are you suuuuure about that, like with numbers and all? Yes, obviously a kitchen or bathroom can at moments become pretty steamy, but it's an infrequent input and (big thing) the humidity is fairly soon diffused all through the house, which is typically a fairly large volume.

    Chickens put out huge amounts of moisture -- practically all the water a chicken drinks comes right back out with poo and breath, and each chicken drinks between a cup and a liter per day, and in a 'snug' sized coop it's going into a pretty small volume of air. Furthermore, wintertime chicken coops are generally a whole big lot colder than houses, thus the air can't HOLD nearly as much moisture before becoming saturated.

    I can tell you that I have never seen an aboveground house with its inside walls dripping with condensation except if we're talking kitchen or shower during high steam-production moments. (I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it sure would be rare).

    Whereas it is not uncommon to go into an insufficiently ventilated and perhaps slightly overstocked livestock barn, including chicken coops, in the wintertime and have droplets of water coating the walls and sometimes ceiling and other surfaces.

    From that I would have to conclude that humidity IS more often a serious problem with livestock, including chicken coops, than it is with houses. Not to minimize its important in houses of course.

    The point of the vapor barrier is to keep hot, moist air from going into the insulation and condensing, creating pockets of moisture held against the material of the walls and causing rot. Periods of being wet and then drying are what rots wood. So using your walls as a moisture buffer of sorts is fine as long as you don't mind replacing the walls regularly.

    Well, very few people are building chicken coops intended to last anything as long as a house is, though, so this is not really a problem. Also, there is generally a whole big lot better exposure of the insides of walls to the outside air in a coop or barn than in a house, so rot from internally-produced humidity tends NOT to be a problem in actual practice.

    It is interesting how just changing a few construction parameters, and running a building at cold temperatures with a bunch of animals inside, can change the way it behaves as compared to a house [​IMG]


    Pat​
     

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