Why we use Cedar in your Round-Top Chicken Coop™
It’s certainly not the cheapest wood coop builders could use, in fact, its one of the most expensive. But just like a fine chef, its impossible for a coop builder to end up with a great product if the ingredients aren’t the best.
Cedar (more accurately what we use is called appearance grade rough cut Western Red cedar) is one of three woods commonly found in North America that without chemical treatments are suitable for exterior use. The other two are redwood and cypress. Here are some of the reasons cedar is desirable for chicken coops…
• Cedar is lightweight and dimensionally stable. It lies flat and stays pretty much straight, which means it resists the natural tendency to crack and bow as you might find in many other wood species if used outdoors. Its special cell structure fights moisture rot by allowing it to dry out faster than almost any other wood, time and time again.
• Western Red cedar is incredibly thermally efficient, meaning even on hot days it is cool to the touch and does not transmit heat to areas inside the roost, or for that matter, cold either. Its warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
• Cedar is naturally bacterial and fungal resistant. Cedar is 80% the strength of oak which one of the strongest hardwoods. These facts coupled with its rot resistance make it the most desirable wood to build outdoor structures from… like coops!
• Western Red cedar fibers contain oils that act as natural preservatives to help the wood resist rot and decay making it excellent even in humid climates. Even without special treatment, cedar will easily last outdoors 10-15 years and in some circumstances, much longer.
• Naturally occurring organic compounds called (thujaplicins) give off that distinct cedar aroma that is pleasant to humans but a deterrent to insects, moths and other wood pests. These oils are locked into the boards and are what makes the wood so resistant to bugs and also rot. Don’t confuse western red cedar lumber with eastern white cedar (aromatic cedar) shavings. Western Red Cedar Lumber is absolutely, 100%, NOT DANGEROUS TO CHICKS or FULL GROWN HENS.
And the advantages go on…
Unlike Chinese fir, plastic or painted pine coops, Western Red cedar will not bow or sag over time and will stay looking great. Your cedar chicken coop will hold its handsome appearance year after year with very little maintenance. Cedar products are an all around safer, healthier, natural material for coops and better than almost any other wood in the world. CEDAR PRODUCTS ARE A GREAT NATURAL ALTERNATIVE TO CHEMICALLY TREATED WOODS. The only other woods that are even close to cedar in its suitability for use as a chicken coop, are redwood and cypress. However, since cedar is more commercially available it is the most cost effective of the three.
Want to paint it? Great… cedar holds paint better than almost any wood you can find and better than any other outdoor rated wood. Just pick any Big Box available semitransparent, transparent, or solid wood stain of any color you like, and it will last 8-10 years or more before you have to even think about repainting it. Buy the lowest VOC rated stain you can find. We do not recommend products like Thompson’s Water Seal around chickens.
Don’t want to paint it? Great… no domestic wood outperforms cedar outdoors, even outdoor ground contact conditions. Left unsealed and unpainted, cedar will patina to that natural grey/silver look that people are familiar with over time and last up to 10-15 years or more depending on your locale.
Want to seal it? Great… If you like the fresh Golden look of unweathered cedar, put a transparent non-colored wood stain on and slop it into the wood. Repeat every 6-8 years or when you see it fading. Wash up your coop before resealing, and it will come very, very close to looking brand new again, like the day it arrived.
Update March 2020: As of Spring 2020 the cedar market for 1×6 board lumber in the US is predominantly Japanese sourced cedar. This wood performs identically to a domesticate sourced cedar. We are told later in the year that the supply of 1×6 cedar may indeed return to the Western Red Cedar species. Our dimensional board lumber in our products remains Western Red Cedar.