Deciding on the best paint or stain for chicken coops is something many people think about when deciding to decorate their coop. The most important things to remember when choosing a paint or stain is to choose a product that is non-toxic to your flock whilst also being hardy in the weather elements. We have discussed both paint and stain choices as well as the best colors for your coop in this article.
There are so many types of paint to take into consideration when choosing something safe for your flock. As an environmental scientist and chicken keeper, my chickens’ health is always at the top of my priorities when conducting hours of research on the products I use for their care.
If you are curious about learning more about the differences of using paint vs stain or about the different types of safe paint and stain on the market that can be used on your coop, then continue to read through this article to learn more.
What this article covers
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Why choose a paint or stain that is safe for your chicken coop?
Unfortunately using leftover paint or stain may not be the best idea when it comes to decorating your chicken coop. Commercial paints and stains are generally are full of toxic ingredients that are not good for your chickens.
Chickens are more sensitive and susceptible to toxic ingredients and paint fumes due to being small lightweight animals. They also like to peck at things so ingesting these toxic ingredients is not what you want for your beloved pets or the eggs you and your loved ones are planning to eat.
Off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in Paints or Stains
Many paints contain VOCs that can be toxic. The main ones to consider are formaldehyde and benzene.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, some VOCs are suspected carcinogens (1).
Formaldehyde is a highly toxic systemic poison that is absorbed well by inhalation. The vapor is a severe respiratory tract and skin irritant and may cause dizziness or suffocation. Contact with formaldehyde solution may cause severe burns to the eyes and skin (2).
Benzene has been found to cause harmful effects on the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and can affect the immune system, increasing the chance for infection (3).
The effects on formaldehyde and benzene discussed above are in relation to humans, so you can imagine how the susceptibility increases for a small chicken.
VOCs will also “off-gas” which means that the fumes from the paint will continue to release from the paint over time, prolonging exposure. Off-gassing from paint has been found to occur for years after the paint has been applied (4).
This is why it’s important to choose the safest paint for painting your chicken coop. Your chickens will thank you for keeping them healthy and it also has a positive impact for your own exposure when painting the coop as well as eating the delicious eggs your chickens lay.
Why is it important to paint your chicken coop?
Why go the effort of painting your chickens coop? After all they are just chickens right? They don’t need a fancy looking home!
Not only does painting the chicken coop make it look better, it also protects the wood from weather elements such as UV radiation and moisture damage.
When left raw and exposed to the elements wood will eventually rot over time and break down.
Rotting wood not only damages the structure of the coop but can also attract like mice and termites.
Painting will significantly slow down the process of the wood becoming damaged, lengthening the life of your chicken coop.
A little bit of extra work at the beginning of setting up the coop makes sense to enhance and extend the life of your chicken coop.
Paint vs Stain – What should you use?
There are some key benefits to using paint over stain and vice versa.
Paint is thick, non-transparent and will cover the surface it is being applied to. Stain is thin, tends to be transparent and usually soaks into the wood when its being applied. This results in a very different look, the paint will hide the wood your coop is made of while stain will color the wood but the wood will still be transparent underneath.
Use stain for your coop if the below points sound appealing:
- Less work – no priming required.
- Gives the coop a natural look
- Less maintenance over time with wear and tear up keep
- It doesn’t look obvious if you mess up while applying it
Use paint for your coop if you like the sound of the following:
- More color choices available
- Can be used on multiple surfaces, not only wood
- You can get as colorful, creative and vibrant as you want
The safest types of paint or stain for your chickens and their coop
Non-toxic, water based paints are the best paints to choose when considering the health and wellbeing of your chickens. After hours of research we have found the four best brands on the market and can highly recommend using these choices for the safe painting of your chicken coop. These paints deliver a high quality finish, can be used on the inside or outside of the coop and come in an excellent array of color choices.
1. The Real Milk Paint Co. Paints and Wood Oils
The Real Milk Paint Company comes in as our favorite pick. They produce paints and varnishes that are 100% organic, food contact safe, VOC free and compostable! The paints come in a huge range of 56 colors. The paints come in a powdered form and you mix them yourself. Although there is an extra element of DIY involved, the benefit to this is less wasted paint as you only mix the amount you require. The paint comes in Sample, Pint, Quart, and Gallon sizes. The Real Milk Paint Company also has a variety of wood oils available for a natural stain enhancement.
2. General Finishes Milk Paints and Wood Stains
General Finishes Milk Paint is a premium low VOC, self-sealing interior/exterior mineral-based paint with a low-luster sheen. This paint pick comes in as a close second in our research. The paint is low tox and made with more than 50% renewable resources which are formulated from sustainable materials that decrease the carbon footprint. The paint is available in 25 different colors and comes in containers of 1 quart of half pint. General finishes also make a variety of different wood stains which are all low voc and water based as well.
3. Cuprinol Garden Shades Paints and Woodcare
Cuprinol makes water based paints for outdoor needs. These paints come in a variety of colors and finishes. The paint is water-based, and therefore a safer alternative to other brands on the market. The paints come in a range of sizes with options from quarter gallon, half gallon and 1 gallon containers. Cuprinol paints are purposed for exterior use however there’s no reason these cannot be used on the inside of the chicken coop either.
4. Backdrop Paints
Backdrop paints are low voc, low odor, green certified and are the first climate neutral certified paint brand. The paints come in a range of 36 colors. The paints are both exterior and interior and come in a semi-gloss or eggshell finish. Size options are 0.5, 1 or 5 gallon containers. This is an acrylic based rather than water based option, so not as good as the others in terms of ingredients however we like that its low odor and low voc.
Does painting the coop help prevent mite infestations?
Painting or staining the coop won’t prevent a mite infestation unfortunately.
However, painting the coop a light color such as white, which is in contrast to the color of a mite, will enable mites to be seen much easier and therefore treatment can be triggered more quickly and effectively.
Chicken Coop Color Schemes
The colors you choose for your chicken coop are going to be based on personal preference and intention. Color can be chosen based on blending in with the surrounding environment, based on color therapy or just whatever is practical for maintenance and up keep! Below we have outlined some colors that are said to be therapeutic and can have a positive influence on chickens and their behavior.
- Yellow – bright and happy.
- Orange – attractive to chickens and reminds them of daylight, may encourage egg laying.
- Red – chickens are attracted to the color red and this color may also have a positive impact on egg laying.
- Purple – regal and relaxing.
- Blue – calming and promotes tranquility.
- Greens – promotes calm and serenity.
Now you know some colors that chickens like, let’s talk about some color schemes that compliment each other for the exterior and interior of the coop.
- Rusty red with white trim
- Baby blue with white trim
- Sunflower yellow with white trim
- White with a gray trim
- Gray with a white trim
- Light green with a white trim
- Light green
- Rusty red
- Baby blue
- Lilac purple
We hope that you have picked your paint or stain of choice or at least have a few shortlisted now. Just remember to have fun decorating your coop and don’t overthink it too much! Picking a chicken safe paint from the list above will enable your flock to be the healthiest they can. And lastly, be proud that you have done your research in choosing the safest and best paint or stain for your chicken coop.
Chicken Care Shopping List
Are you looking for a shopping list of everything you need when caring for your precious flock? We have put together an easy reference of items for your convenience.
- Chicken coop
- Wood shavings bale
- Nesting Box
- Layer pellets
- Chicken scratch/grain
- Shell grit
- Chicken Safe Disinfectant
- Coop cleaner
- Chicken dust
- Calcium supplement
Looking for a unique, cute or hilarious name for your flock members? Check out our article on chicken names.
- Carcinogens – https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2008/04/what-are-vocs-in-paint-and-is-more-or-less-of-them-better/index.htm
- Formaldehyde – https://wwwn.cdc.gov/TSP/MMG/MMGDetails.aspx?mmgid=216&toxid=39#:~:text=Formaldehyde%20is%20a%20highly%20toxic,to%20the%20eyes%20and%20skin.
- Benzene – https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/benzene/basics/facts.asp#:~:text=Long%2Dterm%20health%20effects%20of%20exposure%20to%20benzene&text=Benzene%20causes%20harmful%20effects%20on,increasing%20the%20chance%20for%20infection.
- VOCs – https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/what-is-off-gassing