Building a chicken coop may seem so simple at first.
You already have an idea of what it will look like; now it’s just a matter of putting it together.
But, if you’re anything like me, getting to the part where you put that chicken coop roof together can feel like a massive project.
Especially if you’ve never done this before and are afraid of heights.
(Hi, me too, I can jump and scare me.)
Lucky for you, this article has just about everything you need to know and consider before making the chicken coop roof.
This will ensure you love your chicken coop for years to come and will hold up well to whatever mother nature throws at it.
I’ll cover considerations, suggestions, materials, roof styles, and more.
Let’s get started.
Chicken Coop Roof Considerations
I love an extended roof or porch eave because:
- They provide shade in hot weather
- Keep snow from falling onto you from the roof when you open and close the door in the winter
- They give you and your birds a dry outdoor space and will keep the coop from getting quite as muddy
- Give you another area to keep food and water in a covered area without taking up precious interior space
- Add another space for chickens to hide from flying predators, especially birds of prey
For rainy climates, go with a tin roof because it overlaps with fewer seams than other building materials.
Consider adding a layer of plywood beneath the tin to prevent excess moisture from dripping down on your hens, though this is optional.
Just make sure you have long eaves for the sides of the building and a way for the water to disperse away without causing flooding in the coop area.
You can use rain gutters, rain chains, or slope a hillside to keep the space dry.
Remember to lay down rock, too, to prevent excess mud.
I suggest adding a small porch over the door too.
Hens will appreciate the outdoor space and fresh air that doesn’t drench them.
You may also like it because it allows you to open and close doors and collect eggs without getting wet.
If you live in a hot area, you should look into these chicken breeds that thrive in the heat.
When planning and building your chicken coop roof, you must consider the potential snow load.
Plan for the heaviest possible snow your area could receive so that your coop won’t collapse during an unexpected winter event.
In my area, the snow accumulates from November through late May and sticks around until mid-July.
We can have six feet of snow at my elevation of 4,200 feet; places at 7,000 feet or above routinely have 16 feet of settled snowpack.
The snow load per square foot here is 127.8 psf, though it ranges up to 410.7 psf for Region 1 of Northwestern Montana.
For snowy climates, use heavier beams, solid wood, and metal on top to help shed the snow better.
Do not use metal as your only roof covering, as the snow could rip the metal from the screws and collapse.
You need something stronger beneath the tin as support.
The roof should have a steep pitch, with some overhanging eaves, and the eaves should direct the snow to a side (or sides) of the coop where snow buildup is okay.
You don’t want the snow to pile up in the way of your or your chickens’ access points.
And while this doesn’t relate to the roof, ensure your egg collection box is situated so you can access it all year, even with deeper snow.
I made the mistake of putting the box too low, so I have to shovel snow away regularly or lay on my stomach in the snow to reach down into the box.
It’s hip-high in the summer and ankle-high in the winter.
Cold climates may require added insulation in your chicken coop’s roof (and walls).
If you need a few inches of insulation in the roof, account for that in your building plan, so you still have the headspace you desire.
It’s easy to end up with less space than anticipated if you don’t carefully plan.
If you live in a cold area, you should consider these chicken breeds that do well in the frigid cold.
Prevailing Winds and High Wind Speeds
Always consider the prevailing wind direction before starting the roof.
For instance, when you lay tin down, it’s wise to lay the first piece of tin opposite the prevailing wind and all subsequent going towards the wind.
This makes it more difficult for the roof to be destroyed in a straight-line windstorm.
If one side of the roof is perpendicular to the wind (rather than running parallel with the wind), I recommend making that side of the roof overlap the other side instead of coming to a perfect point.
Having the roof overhang dip down more (so it is more difficult for the wind to get beneath it) is another idea you may find helpful.
Roof Pitch (and Direction)
How do you want the snow and rain to be shed off the chicken coop?
Ensure it doesn’t interfere with access points, and ensure there is a way for the water to fall away from the coop so it doesn’t flood or muddy the space.
Areas with more snow need a steeper roof pitch.
Desert areas may use a (nearly) flat roof to reduce building costs and even give more space.
You can utilize the top of the coop for solar panels or even a tiny garden.
Hey, you could even grow feed for your chickens right there.
Chicken Coop Roof Styles
Shed roofs are the most common type for smaller chicken coops and chicken barns.
It only uses one slope and is the easiest installation option.
To plan for a shed roof, all you need to do is make the front of your building a few feet (or a few inches if it’s small) taller than the back of the building.
The side walls of the coop will have a slant on them.
Once your walls are built, you can lay boards that run from front to back of the building and then put your roofing materials on.
These take the least amount of materials, effort, and time to make.
You can use almost any roofing material with shed roofs.
They hold up well to rain, snow, and most wind storms.
This is the best style for skylights or plexiglass for additional light.
The only downside is that the building needs to be smaller.
These are not structurally safe for larger buildings, at least not without a few floor-to-ceiling support beams in the center.
An open gable roof, sometimes called a pyramid roof, has two sloping roof sides that meet in the middle at the top of the pitch.
There, it has two triangular open sides and at least one gable to bring the two sloping sides together.
These roof types are easy to design and build, affordable, and easily shed snow and rain.
However, they are very common and prone to damage from high-speed winds, so if you want a unique coop, this isn’t ideal for you.
Box gables are similar to the open gable.
The only exception is that each end (the triangle) is closed off rather than open.
Box gables allow you to add more insulation and look more unique than a box gable.
On the downside, they are still susceptible to wind damage and may look bulky or out of place on smaller coops.
Gambrel is likely the roof shape you imagine when you hear of an old-fashioned wooden barn.
This type has a low-pitch slope that leads down to two panels below that with a steeper pitch.
It looks like a roof with four sides to it (two pieces per side).
They give you plenty of space inside that the triangular gables do not.
You can have more headspace or a spacious loft for feeds, hay, and supplies.
Gambrels have a traditional barn aesthetic. They are surprisingly easy to install and work with any roofing material you desire.
The cons to gambrel chicken coop roofs are their poor wind, snow, and rain resistance.
They are also more difficult to ventilate, making them problematic for warmer climates.
Mansard roofs, sometimes called French roofs, are another variation of the traditional gambrel.
This type has four sides that are wide, boxy, and spacious inside.
These roofs are designed to create nearly another floor (or at least a few more feet of usable space in your coop) without making the walls taller.
These are beautiful but are difficult and expensive to build.
They also take a bit of maintenance, and like the gambrel, they don’t hold up to snow, rain, or high winds very well.
Flat rooves are not completely flat; most are similar to a shed roof but with a one to two-degree pitch (rather than zero degrees).
They aren’t a common coop choice, but I see their potential in desert climates where snow and rain seldom occur.
Many tiny homes, the size of some chicken coops, utilize flat roofs for sitting spaces, solar panels, and even gardens.
A-frame roofs make the majority of your chicken coop in one fell swoop.
This steeply pitched chicken coop can tolerate high levels of snowfall.
They are easy to insulate and build, and the roof cost will be almost your only expense for the entire coop build.
These are unique and aesthetically pleasing designs, especially from the outside.
On the inside, the space may be a bit more cramped (depending on your selected size) and more challenging to lay out.
You probably won’t have a lot of light in this coop unless you install skylights or clear translucent roof panels.
Chicken Coop Roof Materials
Plywood should only be used beneath your roof rather than as the only top cover for your coop.
In a pinch, it will hold up for a year or two without protection.
Nails vs. Screws
Nails are cheaper than screws and offer the best shear strength.
They will bend rather than snap if the two surfaces they have fastened together are moving.
However, nails can pull apart over time.
On the other hand, screws are higher cost but have better tensile strength.
If something is weight-bearing, it needs screws.
Screws will not come out of place until you tell them to with a drill or impact.
You can use nails for attaching roofing materials, like shingles. They should also be used for framing roofs and walls too.
Use screws for the support beams and any wood pieces you want to be driven close and tight together.
In some regions, wooden or tin siding provides enough protection for chicken coops.
While in other areas, insulation can be a serious relief from harsh weather temperatures.
You can purchase new insulation, recycle used insulation, or make your own.
The key is to create something that holds space for stagnant air to keep the drafts out and the warm air inside.
Use what’s lying around your homestead, hit up yard sales, Restore shops, or check Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for cheap or free materials.
Here are common insulation upcycles you can use for your chicken coop:
- Old gymnastics mats
- Interior panels
- Bubble wrap
- Plastic bottles
- Scrap fabrics
- Cellulose spray
Place any of these items (or any combination) between the boards or sheets of plywood (sheathing) on the sides and your coop ceiling.
With these, the coop is guaranteed to stay warm all year long.
But if you go shopping for insulation, pay attention to the R-Values. The higher the R-Value, the better the insulation.
Remember that fiberglass insulation is not always the best option because it will be exposed to more moisture than if installed in a house.
It can get soggy and moldy or mildewy.
Foam board insulation is usually a better choice for outbuildings like coops.
Oh, and cover your foam 100% where it cannot be seen or accessed by the chickens.
Chickens will pick foam apart for the fun of it.
Steel, tin, and metal sheets are the most common roof materials because they are affordable.
They also come in various colors, are durable, need no maintenance, and can be found anywhere.
The downside to metal is that it will create condensation inside the coop, which is not ideal.
You’ll need sheathing on the interior ceiling to ensure this isn’t an issue for your flock.
Wet coop interiors lead to frostbite when temperatures drop, which is incredibly dangerous and harmful for the birds.
Plastic panels are even more affordable than tin or metal sheets, which can appeal to new chicken hobbyists.
Be warned that if you do not have a plywood base beneath it for added support, wind, hail, and heavy snow can snap these panels down the middle.
On the upside, plastic panels are easy to find and install, they last a decent amount of time, and the snow and rain shed off of them easily.
The cons of plastic panels are that it breaks down rapidly in direct sunlight due to UV light.
It also is a weaker defense against predators and can make the coop really warm on sunny days (this could be helpful in colder areas).
Nearly every issue you would face with a plastic panel can be mitigated by adding wood planks or plywood underneath it as a base.
Plexiglass, or clear plastic panels, will give the coop more light during the day and may heat the coop considerably in direct sunlight.
The issue with plexiglass is that you probably won’t want to put wood beneath it to stabilize it as a roof.
So if you live in a cold climate with a lot of snow, it won’t be as durable as you need.
Plexiglass is better suited as a wall piece rather than a roofing material.
Asphalt roofs come in rolls of “paper” to be rolled onto wood and corrugated panels, called Ondura panels.
They are easy to find, cheap to purchase, and easy to put on your chicken coop’s roof.
Asphalt does not hold up well to the elements, no matter your climate.
It takes damage easily and may or may not be waterproof.
Between the paper and panels, I would be much more inclined to go for the panels because they are more durable than the paper.
Still, the asphalt panels are weaker than plastic ones and don’t even shed snow well.
Shingles are available everywhere, in a vast range of colors. They are incredibly durable and quiet during rain and hailstorms.
They are more expensive and time-consuming (and overall more difficult) to install, but once they are up, they last a long time.
Unlike a panel, when shingles need to be replaced, you can often swap out smaller sections that need it rather than replacing the entire roof.
Where to Find Cheap Building Materials for a Chicken Coop Roof
Visit Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, estate sales, yard/garage sales, and online auction houses.
You can also politely call demolition sites or ask local Facebook groups about materials.
Some dumps will allow you to scavenge for materials for a nominal fee.
You’ll be surprised by the generosity and sheer quantity of building materials that are next to free or completely free.
In my case, our property had a dilapidated house trailer from the 80s and the main cabin.
The trailer was too far gone to restore or even give away, so we salvaged as many materials from it as possible.
Our chicken coop roof, goat house roof, and A-frame wood shed all used the tin from the house trailer.
When we went to pull up the tin, we were shocked to find a shingle roof hiding under it in near-perfect condition.
These two roofs, which only had about a six to eight-inch gap in between them, protected the place from heavy snow and added a ton of insulation.
If heavy snow is a concern, consider doing something similar.
Chicken Coop Roof Pitch
Today is the day you finally get to use the Pythagorean theorem in the real world for something useful.
Just bear with me here, as this is about to get a little too technical.
Pitch is the slope of the roof; it is the angle between the roof and the flat horizontal ground.
The pitch is expressed as __:__, like 3:12 or 4:12.
The first number represents the rise, and the second refers to the run.
So for a coop roof with a pitch of 3:12, the roof raises three inches for every twelve inches of run.
For every foot long the coop roof is, another three inches must be added to the height.
If a coop is ten feet long with a very steep pitch of 10:12 on a shed-style roof, then the front of the coop will be 100 inches, or eight feet and four inches, taller than the back of the coop.
- Flat coop roofs have a pitch between 0.5:12 and 2:12.
- Low-pitch coop roofs are between 2:12 to 4:12
- Conventional roofs are 4:12 to 9:12
- High-pitch roofs are 9:12 to 21:12.
Building a Chicken Coop Roof: Final Thoughts
Building the roof of the chicken coop is the most important aspect of your entire project.
Simply because it is responsible for handling so many elements, protecting your flock, and holding in the heat (because heat rises) in the colder months.
It may seem daunting initially, but building a functional coop roof is easier than you think.
You might surprise yourself with how capable you are during the process.
Are you still planning to build other parts of your chicken coop?
Check out these other helpful resources we’ve created just for you.