How to Build a Chicken Coop

Five Parts:Planning the Chicken CoopBuilding the Floor and WallsBuilding the RoofAttaching the doorsRaising the Chicken Coop

It's storming, you're bored, and you've just inherited some chickens. You could sit on your couch and count the minutes. Or, you could dig out the toolkit and those scraps of wood in your garage and put together a home for your new fowl.

Part 1
Planning the Chicken Coop

  1. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 1
    Decide on the size of your chicken coop. The ideal size of a coop changes drastically, depending on the type of coop and how many chickens you have. Below are some rules of thumb for some of the most common types of chicken coops:
    • Coop without an outdoor pen: This is the most basic type of chicken coop, consisting only of the physical indoor structure. The chickens will be confined to the indoor space until someone specifically lets them out, so allow at least 5 square feet per chicken.
    • Outdoor chicken run: This is slightly more difficult to build than the simple coop, but it will allow your chickens more space, as well as the option of being outside. Allow 2 to 3 square feet per chicken for the coop, and at least 4 square feet per chicken for the outside run.
    • Winter only coop: This coop is used to keep chickens inside during the winter months. Since it is unlikely that the chickens will be allowed outside during sad months, allow between 7 and 10 square feet per chicken.
    • Note that egg-laying hens will also require a nesting area of at least 1 square foot per 4 hens, as well as a roosting area of 6 to 10 inches (15.2 to 25.4 cm) per chicken. Roosts should be at least 2 feet (0.6 m) off the ground (the elevation will keep your chickens dry during wet weather).
  2. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 2
    Choose a location for the coop. If possible, place your coop partially underneath a large tree, which will offer shade in the summer and keep your chickens from overheating.[1]
    • Sunlight encourages egg-laying, so try not to place your coop directly in the shade. Alternatively, you can use warm yellow lights inside the coop to increase egg production (white or blue light will have no effect).
  3. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 3
    Know what you will need to put inside the coop. The more you add inside the coop, the less space the chickens will have. Therefore, it is important to have a clear idea of the objects you will be putting inside so that you can account for the loss of space in your building plans.
    • Perching Area. Often just a thick stick or piece of wood hung between the walls in the coop, and elevated perch allows for extra space, as well as a comfortable sleeping area for your chickens.
    • Nesting Area. You can make a nest by stuffing boxes or baskets with straw or sawdust. Without enough nesting space, your chickens will lay eggs on the ground, increasing the likelihood that they will break. Keep in mind that the average chicken will lay an egg every one to two days.[2] The size of your nesting area should reflect both the number of chickens and how often you plan to collect eggs. In general, one nesting area per 4 to 5 hens should be sufficient.[3]
      • Other than the fact that elevated nests will discourage predation, the height of your nests is not as important as the location. Be sure that the nests are placed in a clean, dry place, and that they are separate from the roosting area (or you risk chicken manure on your eggs!).[4]
    • Ventilation. To avoid disease caused by stale air, proper ventilation systems are necessary. If you plan to build a year round, closed coop, be sure to include little windows covered in chicken wire to allow for proper air flow.
    • Dust Boxes. Chickens often clean themselves with dust bathing. To keep your chickens happy and smell-free, consider adding a couple boxes filled with dirt or sand.
  4. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 4
    Decide whether to build a coop from scratch or repurpose an old structure. If you have an unused garage, shed, or even a large dog crate, you may be able to save yourself some work and repurpose it as a chicken coop by adding the amenities mentioned above. If you are building the coop from scratch, choose a plan that fits your needs as described above. The method outlined below will help you build a simple coop, ideal for using in conjunction with an outdoor pen. If that does not fit your needs, you can find hundreds of plans by searching "Chicken coop building plans" in your favorite search engine.
    • Consider convenience. Remember that you will need to clean out the chicken coop, as well as regularly change the food and water. If you do not want to build a coop that is large enough to stand up in, look for a plan that gives you a few options, such as multiple "access doors."
    • If you decide to repurpose an old structure, avoid lumber that's been coated with lead paint or that was used to house harmful chemicals, or you risk damaging the health of both you and your chickens.[5]

Part 2
Building the Floor and Walls

  1. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 5
    Scale the measurements. This basic coop is 4 feet (1.2 m) by 6 feet (24 square feet of floor space). If you need more or less space, feel free to scale the measurements accordingly.
  2. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 6
    Build the floor. To make both building and cleaning as easy as possible, start with a piece of plywood cut to the ideal size (in this case, 4 feet by 6 feet). Be sure that the plywood is between 12 inch (1.3 cm) and 14 inch (0.6 cm) thick.
    • If you are cutting the plywood yourself, use a straight edge and an easy-to-see pen to make lines before you cut.
    • Screw on the frame. To keep the floor sturdy, screw 2x4s around the bottom perimeter. You may also want to screw one across the middle of the floor for extra security. To ensure a tight joint on the corners, use a long pipe clamp.
  3. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 7
    Build the solid wall. This is the only one of the walls that will not have an opening, and thus it is the easiest to build. Use a 6 foot (1.8 m) long, 12 inch (1.3 cm) thick piece of plywood. Screw 2x2s to the underside of the vertical edges. Be sure that the 2x2s stop 4 inches (10.2 cm) from the bottom of the plywood.
  4. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 8
    Connect the floor to the wall. Place the wall on the floor so that the extra 4 inches (10.2 cm) of plywood covers the 2x4s on the underside of the floor. Then, secure the wall in place using 1 12 inch (1.3 cm) screws and construction glue.
  5. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 9
    Make the front panel. Use 1 and 1/2 inch screws and construction glue to attach a 4 foot (1.2 m) long, 12 inch (1.3 cm) thick piece of plywood to the front of the coop. Screw the plywood into the 2x4s on the bottom of the coop and the 2x2s on the solid side wall. Then, cut the door opening.
    • Plan the front door opening before you cut. The door opening should be 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 m) wide. Cut the height according to your preferences, but keep in mind that you should leave 6 to 10 inches (15.2 to 25.4 cm) between the edges of the door and the top and bottom of the plywood panel.
    • Use a Jigsaw to make the cut. This will give you the easiest, smoothest cut. When you are done, reinforce the top of the door using a piece of scrap wood about 20 inches (50.8 cm) long and thick enough to attach using plenty of screws and glue.
  6. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 10
    Build the back wall. Attach the second 4 foot (1.2 m) piece of plywood to the back of the coop using the same method as you did for the front panel. Then, cut and reinforce the door opening, again as you did for the front.
  7. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 11
    Construct the last wall. This will be done using 3 smaller pieces of plywood, rather than one large piece. To begin, cut two 2 foot (0.6 m) long pieces of plywood, and one 4 to 5 foot (1.2 to 1.5 m) long piece of plywood that is 1/2 as wide as your coop is tall. Then, attach a 2x2 to the underside of one of the vertical edges of a 2 foot (0.6 m) long piece of plywood. Repeat this step on the second 2 foot (0.6 m) long piece of plywood.
    • As with the other side, be sure that the 2x2s stop 4 inches (10.2 cm) from the bottom of the plywood. This will allow the plywood to hang down over the 2x4s on the underside of the floor.
  8. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 12
    Attach the wall. Screw one 2 foot (0.6 m) long panel directly next to the front of the coop, and the other directly next to the back. Attach the longer panel between the 2 foot (0.6 m) long panels. Be sure to line the edge up with the tops of the 2 foot (0.6 m) panels so that the opening is near the floor.
    • Reinforce the middle panel by attaching two pieces of scrap wood where the panel joins with the two side panels. Be sure that the scrap wood is as long (vertically) as your middle panel.

Part 3
Building the Roof

  1. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 13
    Cut out your gables. A gable is a triangular piece of wood that sits on top of the front and back walls of the coop, supporting the roof. Therefore, in this case, both gables should be 4 feet (1.2 m) long. Use a Jigsaw to cut the gables out of 34 inch (1.9 cm) thick oriented strand board.
    • Use an angle finder to determine the exact pitch of the roof. If you don't have an angle finder, you can eyeball the pitch (just make sure it's the same for both gables!)
    • Notch the gables. In order for the gables to fit correctly, you'll need to make notches where you reinforced the openings. If the wood you used for the front is exactly the same size as the back, you can make exactly the same cut on both gables. However, if you used scrap wood, you'll need to make unique cuts for each gable.
  2. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 14
    Screw on the gables. Place the front gable against the inside of the front wall and attach it using construction glue and screws. Repeat for the back gable.
    • It's okay if there is a little bit of wiggle room between the reinforcement wood and the notches. The important thing is that the gable is sturdy once attached to the wall.
  3. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 15
    Build a truss. The truss, like a gable, supports the roof. However, rather than supporting the ends of the roof, the truss supports the middle. To ensure that the angle of your truss matches the angle of your gables, clamp two 2x2s to the slanted edges of one of your gables. Be sure that the 2x2s hang slightly longer (2 to 4 inches) than the edges of the gable.
    • Strengthen your truss by cutting a crosstie from 14 inch (0.6 cm) thick plywood. Cut it to the same measurements as your gable, and then screw it to the 2x2s.
  4. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 16
    Notch the truss. Once you've screwed the crosstie to the 2x2s, you can remove the clamps. Rest the truss in the middle of the coop and mark where the side walls intersect the 2x2s of the truss. Then, make a 12 inch (1.3 cm) notch in the wood where you put each mark. This will allow you to slip the truss onto the top of the side walls.
  5. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 17
    Make the roof. To make a simple roof, join two 40 inch (101.6 cm) by 84 inch (213.4 cm) pieces of plywood with some inexpensive hinges. Be sure to join them along the 84 inch (213.4 cm) sides so that the roof with cover the entire chicken coop.
    • Place the roof on top of the coop. Check to see that there is an overhang at both the front and back of the coop. The overhang is necessary for both structural and aesthetic reasons.
  6. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 18
    Build a gable trim. Screw a pair of 2x2s to bottom edge of the front and back overhangs. In addition to looking nice, this will stiffen the roof and help prevent structural failures.
  7. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 19
    Attach and finish the roof. Screw the roof to the truss and gables. Then, add a roof top cap to keep the roof weather-proof. The easiest way to do this is to cover the roof with a layer of tar paper and galvanized roofing. Attach the tar paper with staples and use exterior-grade screws for the galvanized roofing.

Part 4
Attaching the doors

  1. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 20
    Cut the wood. Use a well finished medium-density fiberboard for the doors. The size of the pieces will depend on the chosen height of your chicken coop. Each door should be as tall and half as wide as the door opening.
  2. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 21
    Install a door frame. Screw a 2x2 along each side of each door opening, as well as along the tops. This will give you a sturdy place to screw the the door hinges.
  3. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 22
    Attach the front doors. Screw in two hinges per door—one about four inches from the top of the door and the other about four inches from the bottom. Note that you may need a third hinge directly in the middle, depending on how tall your chicken coop is.
  4. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 23
    Repeat this process for the other two openings. You can use the same measurements for the back of the coop as you did for the front, but remember to take new measurements for the doors on the side of the coop.
  5. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 24
    Add closures. Brass hook catches are an inexpensive, efficient closure to use, but any type of closure will work, so long as it is not easily opened by common predators such as dogs or skunks.

Part 5
Raising the Chicken Coop

  1. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 25
    Add legs. While not necessary, a raised chicken coop with give your flock added protection from predators, as well as help to keep them dry during rain or snow.[6]
    • Use four 2x4s for the legs. Use beefy screws to attach them to the 2x4s on the bottom corners of the chicken coop.
  2. Image titled Build a Chicken Coop Step 26
    Build a ladder. Attach 2x2s to a 2x4 to make a ladder that will be easy for you chickens to use, while still being too narrow for predators. Attach the ladder with a small hinge.


  • Painting your coop to add protection against weathering. This will also make the coop more aesthetically pleasing.
  • Position open windows or vents towards the east so that the morning sun wakes up the hens. This will help both with egg production and overall flock happiness—the more sunlight, the less cooped up (so to speak) they'll feel.


  • Chicken use their gizzards to grind their food. Your soil should therefore have enough grit, if this is not so they will need an additional source of grit.
  • Be sure and build a design that is right for your climate. If you build a primarily wire coop in a location that receives a lot of snow and cold your chickens will suffer from frostbite in the winters. Likewise, a coop designed to keep chickens warm could cause overheating in places with hot summers.

Things You'll Need

  • Building Materials:
    • one 4'x6' sheet of plywood
    • two 6' long sheets of plywood
    • two 4' long sheets of plywood
    • ten 2x4s
    • eight 2x2's
    • twelve inexpensive hinges
    • three hook and eye latches
    • one lb. 1 ½" . Screws
    • one lb. exterior grade screws
    • one lb. 1 ½" . Fencing staples
  • Tools:
    • jigsaw
    • skill saw
    • drill/bits
    • measuring tape
    • pencil
    • design plans

Article Info

Categories: Chickens