Need advice on insulating the external nesting boxes.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by photo chick, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. photo chick

    photo chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 4, 2009
    Essex, VT
    We built our new coop this fall. The girls were still young and I got busy with work so I never finished the nesting boxes. I've left a space which is currently covered over with wood for the nesting boxes to go. I've decided on external boxes since my coop is pretty small (4x6) and while I only have 6 birds now, I just know that I'll be wanting more and will need the space. I'm quite sure I have the design down but I'd really like to insulate them. I'm thinking of using that insulating foam on the inside of the box but will obviously need to cover it so the chickens won't peck at it. What would you recommend to cover it? I'm already a little tight for space so I want to use something as thin as I can get away with. Should I use a thin layer of plywood or perhaps linoleum? I'm just wondering what my options are. Any ideas?
     
  2. Ahab

    Ahab Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 28, 2010
    Maine
    You'd need to skin the foam insulation to protect it. Were it me, I'd make the nest boxes using foam-sandwich construction--works for superstructures on boats around here, fishing offshore year-round.

    After carefully drawing out your plan on graph paper, you just make the nest box the size it needs to be, using, say, 1/4-inch smooth exterior-glue plywood (I don't like Aspenite or Advantech sheathing for this: too heavy, and no rigidity at thin dimensions). If you're going to paint the inside of the box, do that now, saving a final coat for after its assembled. Test-fit the assembly to make sure that everything works per your drawings. Make two sets of everything, for an inner and outer layer. Note that, depending on how you draw it out, the outer layer of plywood will be slightly larger than the inner layer. Leave some slack in the outer layer if you're unsure of your measurement; you can trim it off later.

    Next, outline the box parts with furring strips the same thickness as your insulation (one inch of Tuff-R or blue or pink Styro is plenty) and about 1.5 inches wide. Glue and screw these down on the _outside_ of the box. Also, run one furring strip across the center of the bottom, back, and lid. Cut and tightly fit the insulation into these cavities, gluing down the Styro with a product called Styrobond, or if you're using Tuff-R, any kind of construction adhesive in a tube will work.

    Fit the box together, and glue and screw it together. When the glue completely sets, smear the furring strips and insulation with more glue, then screw down the outer layers of plywood. Now you can paint the interior, and finish off the exterior after screwing it into the coop wall and caulking all the seams. Be especially careful to paint any exposed plywood edges, as these will wick in moisture and ultimately delaminate the ply.

    I'm sure there are simpler ways of building an insulated next box (including just building a simply board or plywood box and covering it with spray foam insulation covered with a thick smear of aluminum mobile-home roof cement to prevent photodegradation and chicken-pecking). But with foam-sandwich construction, the bond between inner and outer skin and inner insulation forms a continuous I-beam, for great strength with minimal weight (and effective insulation). I've used it for many projects around the house (and for much of the house, for that matter), and there are scallop draggers and lobsterboats up and down the Maine coast with topsides built this way.
     
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I think thin sheet pieces of foam insulation covered with any paneling type material...luan maybe???
     
  4. mgw

    mgw Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2010
    Eastern Wa.
    I did not insulate ours or the coop, and it works fine. You can use 1/4" sheeting over the top of the foam insulation though it would work fine.
     
  5. photo chick

    photo chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 4, 2009
    Essex, VT
    Thanks Ahab, that sounds pretty complex but I think I got it.. I don't have the rest of the coop insulated and it's fine but since we live in Northern Vermont and temps can get to -20 I figured I'd try to minimize the nesting boxes from totally freezing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  6. Ahab

    Ahab Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 28, 2010
    Maine
    If the rest of the coop isn't insulated, I'm not sure I'd bother insulating the nest boxes. I'd just make them very tight with construction adhesive and caulk so there are no drafts; body heat, in the small space of a nest box, should be sufficient.
     
  7. RIBill

    RIBill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 7, 2010
    My nest boxes aren't insulated. They seem to be the warmest. They get sun for about 3/4 of the day plus the chickens warm them when they're laying. I've pulled eggs out that are still warmish hours after laying. They get the added benefit of being freeze proof down to an internal temp of 28. If you collect 2 or 3 times a day there shouldn't be an issue. That said, you could easily sandwich a piece of foam to get some extra R-value. The roof is the most important.
     

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