Painting your chicken coop is a great idea to make it weatherproof, durable, and easy to clean. You can paint the outside as well as the inside. On top of that, it has a deterrent effect on red mites and other parasites.
But don’t start running to the basement to see what you have dribs and drabs of. These scrap tins of paint might not be the most suitable for the job, especially regarding the health and safety of your birds.
We’ve done the research for you, and we’ll discuss everything you need to know.
If you are only interested in the results, we’ll start with are our top choices that you can’t go wrong with.
Best Chicken Coop Paints
The outside of the coop must survive weather conditions and temperatures. The interior must be easy to clean and provide a safe place for your chickens to eat and roost. For the nesting boxes, use the inside paint.
Best Chicken Coop Paint for Outside
- KILZ Exterior Siding, Fence, and Barn Paint, Red
- BEHR Red Exterior Barn and Fence Paint
- ECOS Zero VOC Non-Toxic Paints
- Zinsser RUST-OLEUM Zero VOC Bullseye Interior/Exterior Water-Based
Best Chicken Coop Paint for the Interior
- ECOS Eggshell Pet Dwellings Paint
- ECOS Zero VOC Wood Stains
- BEHR Premium Plus Ultra Interior
- Valspar Duramax Exterior Latex Flat Paint
- Rubio Monocoat Linseed Oil Finish
Best Chicken Coop Paint Primers
- ECOS Paints Wood Primer
- Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 All Surface Primer
- Linseed Oil
Chicken Coop Paint Runner Ups
These did not make it to the list but are considered great alternatives:
- Boiled Linseed Oil (no VOC)
- Tung Oil (no VOC)
While boiled linseed oil and tung oil do not contain any VOC, they do contain small toxic compounds like aldehydes. If you decide to use oil, make sure to let it dry out long enough. You can also opt for polymerized linseed oil, which is also non-toxic but dries quicker than raw linseed oil.
Make sure always to check the datasheet (PDS) and safety data sheet (SDS) of the products you are working with. We did thorough research, but the composition of these products can change over time or have regional differences.
Chicken Coop Paint vs Oil vs Stain
Whether it’s for the inside or the outside, you have three options at your disposal: paint, natural oils, or wood stains.
Paint will form a coating on top of the wood as a protective skin. Oil will penetrate deep into the pores of the wood, creating an enamel-type layer that keeps the natural look of the wood. Stains are similar to oils but won’t penetrate as much and stay on the surface, changing the color of the wood, so the final chicken coop look will have less of the original wood structure.
Modern outdoor paints will last long on the coop, even with rain, sun, and chickens. Traditional paint also needs a good primer, so you will need to paint the coop twice or more. You could also opt for paint-and-primer in one solution.
Latex paint dries quicker than oil-based alternatives, so go for paint if you want to get the job done quickly. If you are painting the chicken coop before you are getting chickens, oil might be the preferred solution.
If you want to keep the natural look of wood, oil is your friend. A word of warning here, oils can come with a high concentration of VOCs, that are toxic and can lead to chronic health issues for your chickens. Make sure to use zero VOC oils.
Popular food-safe oils used in poultry are linseed oil and tung oil. Linseed oil is easy to apply but a little less durable, so you might need a couple of layers. Tung oil is more difficult to apply correctly, but it’s naturally water-resistant and dries faster than raw linseed oil. If it’s durable enough for ships, it’s probably suitable for the chicken coop too. One of the downsides of oil is that you should re-apply it every year. It can also become greyish over time.
Boiled linseed oil dries faster and does not contain any VOC, but can contain other toxins like aldehydes. An alternative is polymerized linseed oil, which is another non-toxic oil that dries a little quicker.
Oil is easier to apply than paint, but it has a penetrating odor and needs a lot of time (a couple of days) to dry out completely. You will also need to clean up your brushes with turps or white spirit. Always make sure it’s completely dry before you let the chickens inside the coop.
Wood stain does not penetrate as deep as oil and changes the color of the coop. A good stain helps to revitalize the look of the wood. It does not preserve the condition of the wood as well as oil, but unless you are raising chickens on the deck of a luxury superyacht, that should not matter too much. A last advantage of stain is that you don’t need a primer.
Paint for the Chicken Coop Outside
For the outside of the coop, self-priming barn paint is an excellent animal-safe option.
If the paint is not self-priming, make sure to apply a primer or have the first layer in waterproof wood stain, so the paint will stick. You don’t want to skip the primer and find your coop back a couple of months later with the paint coming off. If you can peel the paint like skin on a sunburn, your chickens will start pecking it. And you won’t like it when they suddenly start pooping red. They won’t ever peck at sound painted wood.
You can choose a primer specific for wood or a generic one for all surfaces, such as Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3. If your chicken coop needs to survive extreme weather conditions, Kilz has an excellent oil-based all-weather primer that will seal stains. If you live in a rainy region, you might want to caulk all the cracks and nails in the coop before you apply the primer.
Top Coat Chicken Coop Paint
Most people choose gloss or semi-gloss for the paint, as it will be easier to wash off the dirt. Semi-gloss might be easier to repaint if you ever need to give it an extra layer.
You can find red barn paint in any Home Depot or Walmart (or other retailers in your region). It doesn’t need to be barn paint, but make sure it’s exterior paint that can survive cold and warm temperatures and rain. Examples would be exterior latex paint from Sherwin Williams or Behr Marquee Exterior paint, a low VOC paint-and-primer-in-one that is GREENGUARD Gold certified.
Paint for the Chicken Coop Interior
You want to have less toxic, low-VOC paints, primers, and stains for the interior.
Chickens have very sensitive respiratory systems. Birds are much smaller than us and are much more susceptible to toxins in the air. Miners used to take sentinel canaries into coal mines: if the canaries died, they knew there were dangerous gases. When you are finished painting or staining the coop, let it dry. Make sure you don’t put the birds back in when there are still solvent aromas and paint fumes in the coop.
Also, make sure to use an appropriate primer when you decide to paint. If the paint is dry, the chemicals are evaporated and the paint layer should be inert. The chickens will leave it alone. They don’t have the instinct to chew wood like a parrot. But if the paint starts to peel off, it’s a whole other story, and you don’t want to find your chickens chewing on paint chips.
Is Paint Toxic for Chickens?
Yes, most paint is toxic for chickens. You want Low VOC or Zero VOC paints. These paints are low in Volatile Organic Compounds, which are incredibly unhealthy for birds.
Green Seal paint standards limit the VOC concentration to 100g/L and prohibit the use of heavy metals and phthalates in paint. MPI’s GPS2 is the most stringent in North America since 2007 and puts the maximum on 50g/L.
In the seventies, there used to be some concern about lead in paint, but that time has long passed. However, low VOC does not necessarily mean there are completely no harmful chemicals to be found in the paint. Some paints contain other toxins and carcinogens like phthalates.
Non-toxic chicken coop paints for chicken coop interiors
An example of a low VOC chicken coop paint is BEHR Premium Plus Ultra Interior. It contains less than 50g/L VOC, has no undesirable chemical compounds such as phthalates or carcinogenic ingredients, and guarantees premium indoor air quality and environmental safety.
Another example is Valspar Duramax Exterior Latex Flat Paint. This self-priming paint contains less than 50g/L VOC and is MPI GPS2 certified and LEED-certified (US & Canada), a standard for healthy and green buildings.
The people of ECOS PAINTS also make excellent chicken coop paint. They produce non-toxic, zero-VOC water-based paints and stains that are especially suitable for a chicken coop and animal shelters.
Cheapest Chicken Coop Paint
We’ve tackled a couple of painting options, but what if you are on a budget? A large coop will quickly ask for a gallon of paint after all.
For the interior paints, we would not immediately recommend the zero VOC paints at Home Depot or low-budget retailers, as they sometimes contain other chemicals to compensate for the low VOC concentration, but you can always check the labels. For the exterior paints, you can look at the cheaper barn paints. They might not give that glossy, shiny slick finish, but it is a chicken coop after all.
To cut the painting costs of the chicken coop even further, you can check out with friends and family if they happen to have some eco-friendly paint leftovers in their basements. As long as the paint tins are tightly sealed, they should be okay. Other options can be recycling centers and recycling yards with drop-off points for old paint.
Chicken Coop Paint Color
For the inside, white or a light color is very popular. The light color makes the coop brighter, which is great when the days are shortening in the winter. It also makes it difficult for parasites like the red mite to hide, as they will be visible when crawling over the white walls. Some people use darker colors for the nesting boxes, so it creates a cozy place for the chickens to lay their eggs.
For the outside, red is such a popular color that some manufacturers even stopped building coops in other colors.
Why are Chicken Coops Red?
Chicken coops are red because people love it when their chicken coop looks like a red and white mini barn in the backyard. That’s why Barn Red and Barn White are very popular choices.
Back in the day, farmers mixed rust in their linseed oils because it kills fungi like mold and moss that grew on the wood. It was a cheap way to keep the moss away and protect the wood from rot. When manufacturers started to produce chemical paints, red was the most affordable pigment, so the tradition continued.
Do you have to paint a chicken coop?
No. You don’t have to paint a chicken coop. The chickens will be fine.
But it will last longer if you paint the outside, and you can clean it easier when it’s painted rather than raw wood. It’s easier to remove the chicken’s cecal poo from painted surfaces than bare plywood.
Does painting a chicken coop help in prevention of red mite and other parasites?
Painting or staining will not immediately kill the red mites but will take away a lot of the rough wood seams for mites to hide. It’s not that they won’t find other places to hide, but it certainly helps to get things under control. If the coop’s interior is glossy white, you will see all the little critters crawling around in case of a mite infestation.
If you need to fight red mites or poultry ticks, clean the coop thoroughly, seal any crevices by caulking the cracks, and paint. A thick primer like Zinsser 123 can fill the nooks and crannies of the coop. We’ve seen people reaching out to more extreme solutions like masonry primer or urethane deck paints for rough surfaces.
Whatever you are painting the interior with, always make sure it’s safe for the birds. They are predisposed to poor respiratory responses on any paint with high VOC levels or toxins. Not just any paint makes an excellent chicken coop paint.
Oil will also discourage any parasite from settling on the wood, as it penetrates the upper layers of the wood. You might have heard of coop paint for mites, but people are usually just referring to insecticide or other oils to apply after the coop is already fully painted.
It’s scientifically proven that some oils are effective against the annoying poultry red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae). However, we won’t recommend using anything like petroleum, diesel, or burnt motor oil as these all carry carcinogens. If anything, stick with the oils we mentioned, like linseed oil, or use mineral oils to treat the coop after finishing your paint job.