Questions: Roof, Windows, floor and Ventilation

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mammachick, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. mammachick

    mammachick Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 15, 2009
    We are almost done with the frame of our coop, we decided on a 4x6, with the run underneath of it for a smaller footprint. We (I) am hoping to add onto the run in the near future. We are trying to decide what to do for the roof . My husband wants metal, but I thought I read something about condensation problems with that...we have a limited budget.

    Also, what will work best for the floor, burying cinder blocks 6" deep to prevent diggers...we have some stray neighborhood cats...maybe a raccoon, although I have never seen one. Or does it work best putting a layer of chicken wire down?

    Ventilation. What is the minimum needed?

    Does the coop need to have windows?

    We have spent hours looking at different designs, and are combing a couple different ones, that fit our needs.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2009
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Many of us opted to use 1/2" gauge hardware cloth to keep raccoons and other predators from reaching through to get the birds. You can certainly use a metal roof, but you may wish to insulate to prevent condensation, and having vents that you can opena dn close near the peak till help a lot. Windows are very important as the birds need 14 hours of light a day to lay eggs.

    Where are you? How many birds?I think members will give better answers if they know your climate! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2009
  3. mammachick

    mammachick Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 15, 2009
    We are in California. It almost never gets below 30 degrees at night, and winter highs are around 50-55. We have 6 hens, but will be giving 3 to my grandmother once they start laying.
  4. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    With respect to ventilation, check out PatandChickens' famous ventilation page:

    You don't want to find out after you've put in your vents that you need more, since it's a pain to cut through walls after you've put your coop together. Aim for more than you could possibly need, with flaps, covers or doors that you can close up to adjust ventilation to changing weather.

    Ventilation is very important to birds' respiratory health, and critical to avoid frostbite in very cold winter conditions.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:If you get down to freezing or colder in the winter, you don't want a bare metal (nor bare plastic) roof, because yes you will get condensation => humidity problems. However this is pretty easy to fix by gluing or battening some insulation underneath the roof, or in a mildish climate even just putting up some thin plywood under the metal. Can be scrounged, does not need to be bought new [​IMG]

    Also, what will work best for the floor, burying cinder blocks 6" deep to prevent diggers...we have some stray neighborhood cats...maybe a raccoon, although I have never seen one. Or does it work best putting a layer of chicken wire down?

    6" is not deep enough, unless you mean making the entire floor out of cinderblocks but I don't think you do. Actually using large (like 2x2') pavers for the floor is not a terrible option, though. For a small coop like that, you *could* put a layer of hardwarecloth down but that'll be a bit spendy and just chickenwire would EMPHATICALLY NOT be enough. Also unless you top it with pavers or 6-10" of packed earth the chickens will dig down to it and cause problems.

    To me the simplest way to digproof a coop that has an earthen floor is to run an apron of 2x4 or smaller heavy-gauge wire mesh, 2-4' wide,horizontally on the ground around the coop. Secure it strongly to the base of the walls. This will not keep out rats or mice but will keep out most all other diggers.

    If you're going to bury the bottoms of the coop walls it should be at LEAST 12", preferably 18+" to be safe.

    Ventilation. What is the minimum needed?

    You don't want the minimum, though, you want enough to be SURE you will have enough at all times. In California, heat will be the biggest issue not cold. Make it so that as much as possible of the coop walls is openable (covered with hardwarecloth to keep out predators), with flaps or whatever to close it down as weather requires.

    Does the coop need to have windows?

    It needs to have some way of admitting light, and windows are the most multipurpose simple way of doing that. They do not have to be fancy house-style double-hung windows, of course.

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    You've gotten some great advice. Here are some of my thoughts:

    For the roof: I personally really like the look of the metal roof. You'll need to consider how you'll seal up the gaps in the corregations. You don't have to worry about cold/condensation like those of us in the North. Here in Mpls, that heavy tin has to be special ordered, but can be found through Home Depot. I think it's about $1 per square foot. Because of condensation/snow load issues, we have chosen to do a plywood/asphalt shingle roof. No complaints except for the weight. Not a good option for a tractor but it has worked out well for us. The price was about the same by the time you factor in the cost of the plywood. We just finished a 4x8 shingle roof that cost $60.

    For the floor, we made a L.E.V.E.L. pad of 12x8" landscape pavers. This was a PITA and took an entire day. Then we made a "foundation" of concrete blocks. The framing for the floor went on top of this. So far we haven't had ANY problems with diggers and we have a pretty healthy predator population, particularly for being in the City. For true protection, I'd recommend burying hardware wire all the way around the perimeter of the coop 18 inches.


    Ventilation: Pat give the best advice. When she says to put in more than you think you'll need, believe her. I only wish I had made a better plan before the walls were sealed up. It's much easier at that stage. If you can, put it under your eaves so that you don't have rain coming in each time you get weather.

    Windows: Yes yes yes. They are easy to get your hands on. I have found windows on the side of the street. Craigslist is a great place to look. If you have a Habitat store in your city, look there. Since you're in CA, you could even just cut holes, wire them up and make sliders for plexiglass panes that can be slid into place when it rains or if it gets too cold (see Buff Hooligan's coop). I have even seen people using picture frames/glass for their windows. I don't know if I recommend this, but you get the point. If you don't have any spares around your house, ask your friends. I was amazed at how many people came out of the woodwork with building supplies to donate AFTER MY COOP WAS DONE. Aaaarrrrgh! Don't be shy - most people are GLAD to get this stuff out of their garage and every penny counts when you're building. Long story short - windows are a must. I believe every living thing deserves natural sunlight.

    Hope this helps - most important, HAVE FUN.

    ETA: [​IMG] from MN!!
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2009
  7. Country Heart

    Country Heart City Girl With A

    Roofing recommendation...

    I too live in California and not so long ago, while we were having our 50 year storm, I looked into roofing materials for my coop. In general I like to keep things as open and airy as possible, as long as the coop stays dry - given our standard weather the biggest concern is overheating.

    So I pretty much decided against a metal roof, again, the big concern would be overheating. I did find a listing where folks had used a product called SunTuf, a corrugated polycarbonate sheet sometimes used in skylights. I think Home Depot might even carry it.

    I have not actually installed it yet, but it might be worth checking out:
  8. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Elmo, Pat, and Citychook all have good advice. Put in more ventilation than needed and give some thought to electricity at site along with water line. I did and am soooo glad. Double hung windows are really worth it for this reason. You can open the bottom in warm weather, at roost height. In cold weather, then close bottom and crack top half a little for ventilation. Keeps drafts above birds and that is desirable in cool weather. You can find them surplus and salvage if you take the time to look. I did two awning types hinged at top, and two sash types. I even got the rounded top palladium-style windows for those two. Looks great and lets in more light which is good for egg production. They were salvage units, all vinyl and thermopane low-E glass to boot! My awning windows are home made plexiglass units and of course only open at bottom so they stay closed in cold weather, or only a tiny crack. I have a turbine vent at top center with a ceiling fan beneath it, and two gable vents at ends. My coop is 8X 16 for 24 hens. I will soon be putting a garbage bag over the turbine vent for the winter, leaving the soffit and end gable vents to do the job of venting fumes from coop. Poop planks help for that in cold weather, and you can recycle the poop to your garden. Have to clean them every 2nd day in wintertime.
  9. Mr. Peepers

    Mr. Peepers Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 7, 2009
    It's hard to beat galvanized steel roof panels for economy and functionality. They'll work great in California. Just be sure to seal under the corrugations.

    Forget burying blocks. If you're worried about digging predators, either bury welded wire or hardware cloth all around your coop and run and/or consider an electric fence charger and a hot wire or two around everything. You need to dig about 18" deep. A rented trencher can be a life saver for that work.

    You need windows and they can also provide good ventilation. Be sure to screen the windows with welded wire as predators can punch right through a typical screen. Here's a great place to get coop windows:

    California you'll probably need to consider cross ventilation to keep the interior of the coop from getting too hot.

    Good luck.

    P.S. The advice about electricity to the coop is excellent.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2009
  10. norcal

    norcal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2009
    Northern California
    I got my windows off of craigslist (I also got some funky ones off of freecycle for the greenhouse). I have 2 windows & a roof vent, and I think we're going to have to add more vents/windows. In the summer it's hot!! It's treed on the East & South side. Should have the trees on the West going to plant some in the spring (if I have any extra cash in the next couple weeks, maybe this fall).

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