Plywood Alterative?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cladano, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. cladano

    cladano Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 6, 2012
    I'm going to be building a large insulated chicken tractor in the future and was just wondering if there is an alternative to plywood that would be lighter? I know they make thinner hardi board or plank board but I have no idea if it would handle getting wet from the rain.
    Any ideas?
  2. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    "Hardi Board" is made of cement, so it's heavier than plywood.

    There's really very little that will be lighter, and still be sturdy enough to keep predators out, other than metal
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    What about that plastic wood they sell for decks? I wonder if it is lighter than wood and sturdy enough??? Might be expensive though.
  4. ll

    ll Chillin' With My Peeps

    the "plastic decking" is heavier --
    I used a few pieces for our roost.
  5. cladano

    cladano Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 6, 2012
    I saw one person was using paneling on the inside of their coop. I imagine that would be lighter than plywood. Assuming that would only work on the inside and not the outside.
  6. bnjrob

    bnjrob Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 31, 2008
    North TX
    Consider what your plans for the tractor look like (skids, hard wheels, air-filled wheels, built on trailer with springs to absorb shocks, etc.) - anything thinner may have an effect on the integrity of the tractor structure itself, since sheathing also helps to stabilize the bones of a structure.

    Using thinner material like 1/4" luan may not be best since you are going to be moving this structure around, subjecting it to humps, bumps, and twisting that a static coop would not be subjected to - but of course that depends on how your structure is going to be built.

    I would not recommend cement fiberboard like HardiPlanks or HardiPanels. We are using these to r-eside our house and they are heavy. In addition, the bumping and jostling of a moving chicken tractor could cause them to crack because of the twisting motion that is possible when you are moving the structure- they are too expensive to replace routinely.

    As far as planks of wood go - remember that you will have to overlap them in order to get them to shed water properly - potentially adding more weight than you would have with a piece of plywood.

    I understand your concern. We are working on fairly large tractors now that will be insulated. Finally decided that to get what we wanted and to have them last, we were going to be stuck with heavy structures that required at the least the riding lawn tractor to move them, if not the truck or big tractor.
  7. cladano

    cladano Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 6, 2012
    It will be a heavy tractor with wheels and have to be towed with a mower/tractor.
    I'm hoping the 2x4 framing will be sturdy enough. I don't know how much the sheathing helps with rigidity.
  8. Tweakster

    Tweakster Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 2, 2012
    Garden Ridge, TX
    I used 15/32 4X8 4IN OC FIR T1-11 Fir Plywood Siding on the outside of my tractor. I primed it, caulked the seams, and painted it so it would shed water better. I used only 2x2 studs trying to reduce the weight. I screwed and glued all the joints to strengthen them knowing they are going to get racked each time I move the tractor. I was sorely tempted to use the nail gun for assembly as it is quicker, but opted for deck screws and wood glue for increased resistance to the racking. If you use 16 inch centers on your framing it will be plenty strong, but somewhat heavy too. You may not want to use 2x2 studs as I did, as it will reduce the insulation space by half. Since I live in south Texas, insulation is not high on my list of worries. My tractor is 4x14 feet, and is all that I can do to move it without the help of a lawn tractor. BTW, sheathing adds a LOT to the rigidity of the structure just make sure you fasten it every 6 inches so it doesn't pop off the studs when it gets racked.

    My tractor is not complete yet, but the chickens are in it as I had to get them out of my garage! Here is a side shot of my yet to be completed tractor:


  9. cladano

    cladano Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 6, 2012

    Good job. That looks just like what I want to do. If you have any pictures of your wheels or how you pull it please post them or send them to me. Thanks!
  10. jdeoliveira74

    jdeoliveira74 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2012
    If your really worried about predators why not use some roofing tin or role flashing typically most won't eat thru metal even if its thin.

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