How to Build a Chicken Coop
Time Required: Over 1 day
Part of raising chickens involves giving them a cozy, well-sheltered place to roost, such as a DIY chicken coop. Because learning how to build a chicken coop is a multi-step project, consider working on it in stages over three weekends. Don’t have weekends to spare building your own? The Home Depot also sells prefabricated chicken coops.
First, we'll focus on gathering and preparing the pieces you'll need.
Before you can learn how to build a chicken coop, get your materials together. Use boards rated for outdoor construction. We’ll be cutting the pieces for the frame and panels, so start by gathering the following:
With your materials gathered, it’s time to cut the frame. Cut the lumber to the following lengths:
- From the 2- x 2-inch x 8-foot board, cut three lengths, each 32 3/4-inches long. This will eventually become your coop’s rafters.
- From the 2- x 4-inch x 12-foot boards, cut three 31-inch lengths to form the floor frame. For the legs and supports, cut seven 48-inch lengths and two 39 1/2-inch lengths.
- From the 12-foot lengths of siding, measure off six lengths, 55-inches each. Those are your roof slats.
Use the plywood sheets for the walls and floor of the DIY chicken coop. Cut those into the following shapes and dimensions:
- a front panel (33- x 48-inch)
- a back panel (24- x 48-inch)
- two side panels (each 32 1/4- x 27-inch)
- a floor panel (34- x 48-inch)
- three dividers (each 111/2- x 10-inch)
- a sub-roof (10- x 48-inch) for a nesting box inside the coop
- Make a 15 degree cut at one end of each of the 48-inch front legs and each of the 39 3/4-inch rear legs. This creates the pitch of the roof.
- Cut the front panel into five pieces: two 33- x 18-inch side panels, a 26- x 12-inch ramp, a 2 1/2- x 12-inch bottom panel, and a 4 1/2- x 12-inch top panel.
- Cut the back panel into three pieces: a 3 1/2- x 48-inch bottom panel, an 11- x 48-inch nest box door, and a 9 3/8- x 48-inch upper panel.
- On each side panel, mark a point 24 7/8-inches up one side.
- Use a straight edge to connect this mark to the opposite corner, then cut along this line to create the top angle of the side panel.
- Between gathering all those tools and cutting all that lumber, that's plenty for one weekend. Next weekend, you can assemble those pieces to start building the chicken coop. Until you're ready for that, group similar pieces together and store them all some place safe and dry.
- To save more trips to the store later on, read ahead to find out what you'll need for the rest of this project.
When you're ready to build the next part of the chicken coop, you'll assemble the frame of the coop and add a floor panel. The items you'll need, which are also shown in the materials list are:
- Nine 1/4- x 1 5/8- x 8-inch lattice trim
- One box 2 1/2-inch exterior screws
- One box 1 5/8-inch exterior screws
- One box 18 5/8-inch brad nails
- Two 4-inch plastic drain grates
- Two balsa wood
- One 2-inch narrow utility hinge
- Two 2 1/2-inch narrow utility hinges
- Two window bolts
To build the floor of the frame, you’ll need three 2- x 4 boards, each 31-inches long, and two 2 x 4 boards, each 48-inches long.
- In the narrow side of each of the 48-inch lengths, drill vertical holes 3/4-inch from each end, as well as a third hole dead center at 24-inches.
- Arrange those boards parallel to one another and place the 31-inch lengths perpendicular between them, aligning each end with the corresponding holes.
- Secure those three crossbeams with the 41-inch lengths using 2 1/2-inch screws.
- Now attach the floor frame to the legs.
- Measure 15-inches up from the flat end of each leg and use a pencil and square to draw a line.
- Make another mark at 44 1/8-inches as well.
- Lay one front and rear leg on the floor making sure the marked sides face up and the mitered sides are both facing backward.
- Tilt the floor frame onto its narrow side and place it on top of the legs aligning the bottom edge of the frame with the 15-inch guides.
- Pre-drill as before and use 2 1/2-inch screws to secure the frame to the legs.
- Lay the other two legs on the ground, flip the frame and repeat.
- Stand the frame on its legs to attach braces across the top.
- At the 44 1/8-inch marks you made before, attach two of the 48-inch lengths of 2 x 4 between the legs at the front and back of the DIY chicken coop.
- A pair of clamps can help support each 2 × 4 while you pre-drill and drive two 2 1/2-inch screws through the legs and into the brace on each side.
- Make sure the rear brace is flush with back edge of the rear legs.
- Add two additional screws through each of the legs and into the floor frame.
- Set your miter saw to 15 degrees and make parallel cuts at either end of each of the three 32 1/2-inch lengths of 2 x 2 board.
- These will serve as the rafters.
- Using 1 5/8-inch screws, attach two of the rafters to the inside of the legs, flush with the pitch of the roof.
- Measure and mark the center (24-inches) of both the front and rear frame braces.
- Drill starter holes through the center line of each brace and into the 2 x 2, then attach them with a screw.
- Repeat the process through the rear brace.
- Now to add the 34- x 48-inch floor panel.
- Measure across the width of the panel to get its center (24-inches).
- Use the square to draw a line front to back; this mark should align with the central brace so you’ll know where to place your screws.
- To attach the floor to the frame, drive screws at even intervals along the perimeter and center of the panel.
- Optionally, you can use hardware cloth instead of wood for the floor.
- With the frame and the floor of the coop completed, now’s a good time to pause before completing the paneling in the walls, roof and nesting boxes.
- Until you're ready to complete the project, store your frame some place dry or elevate it and keep it covered with a firmly secured tarp or waterproof cloth.
- When you first learned how to build a chicken coop, you cut the front panel into five pieces.
- Now, clamp the left panel to the front left side of the frame.
- Use a pencil to mark a 3-inch border on the panel, then attach it to the frame by driving 1 5/8-inch screws at each corner of the border.
- Aligning them flush against the right side of the newly attached panel, attach the door panels at the top and bottom of the frame, then attach the final panel to the front right side of the frame.
- You should have three pieces for the back panel.
- Clamp the uppermost and lowest panels horizontally with their edges flush with the outer edge of the frame.
- Draw another 3-inch border and drive the screws at the corners.
- Put the middle panel aside for now.
- Ten inches up from the floor of the coop and flush with the back, place the nesting box roof and secure it with 1 5/8-inch screws.
- Clamp together the 11 1/2- x 10-inch divider panels with the edges flush and mark one edge 3 1/2-inches from one corner.
- Cut at the mark to a depth of 1 1/2-inches then along from the adjacent side to remove a rectangular section from the corner.
- Mark the floor at 12-inch intervals and use your square to draw guide lines at a 90-degree angle from each mark.
- Slide the dividers into place, straighten their alignment with the guidelines, then trace their edges along the floor.
- Remove the dividers and use wood glue to fasten 10-inch lengths of balsa wood to the outside edges of the lines you traced.
- Once the glue has dried, you can slide the dividers back into place.
- To provide airflow, cut circular holes in the side panels near the front.
- The holes can be cut either with a 4-inch hole saw or by tracing the perimeter of the plastic drain grates directly onto the wood, then cutting along the line.
- Cut one panel first, then use it to align the hole on the opposite panel.
- Clamp the panels to the side of the frame, and secure them using 1 5/8-inch screws, making sure that the top edge of the panel does not extend above the slope of the roof support.
- If you plan on painting or staining your chicken coop, now’s the time to do it.
- Make sure to apply two coats minimum, using a paint rated for exteriors.
- The trim we applied is made of 1/4- x 1 5/8-inch moulding lattice arranged as a simple border following the perimeter of each panel to mimic the look of a traditional barn.
- To make painting the trim much easier, be sure to measure, make all cuts and paint the trim before attaching to the coop.
- Allow both the interior and exterior of the coop adequate time to thoroughly dry and vent before adding the roof slats or acclimating the chickens to the coop.
- Once the paint has dried, fix the drain grates in the side panels with construction adhesive.
- Attach the front door/ramp to the frame using two 2-inch utility hinges and one 2-inch window bolt.
- Set the hinges into the bottom center panel 1 1/2-inches in from either side using the included screws to attach them to the trim.
- Place the window bolt at the center and top of the door/ramp, vertically aligned.
- The nest box door should be attached in a similar fashion, using three 2 1/2-inch utility hinges evenly spaced along the bottom and one 2-inch window bolt placed vertically at the center of the top edge of the door.
- Before placing the slats, measure and mark a 1 1/2-inch border along the long, thin edge of the bevel.
- Just as you would when shingling, start the roof slats from the bottom and work your way to the top letting each slat overlap the previous one with the line you created as a guide.
- Attach each slat to the 2- x 2-inch roof rafters using 1 5/8-inchscrews.
- The cedar roof slats were cut long to allow an overhang on either side of the coop.
Building a chicken coop is a fun project for backyard chicken keepers. Looking for a tool or materials to complete your project? The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.