When I used to hear the word “whitewash” I would think of watered-down white paint (which I love also!). Now, I think of an amazing way to coat a chicken coop and add mild antibiotic/mite protection as well. The whitewashing technique I’m referring to is using hydrated lime. This coats the inside of the chicken coop and will not only add a neat looking white layer to the wood, but will also brighten the inside. And the best part is it is non-toxic and may be a better choice for the inside of a chicken coop than regular paint.
Hydrated lime (as in lime from limestone, not lime the fruit), or calcium hydroxide, is different than agricultural lime or garden lime. It can be called Builder’s or Mason’s lime as well. It’s important to make sure the correct form is bought. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the proper lime in my area so I ordered it online. For under $15, I was able to get a 5-pound bag which when mixed, made a gallon of whitewash. Conveniently enough, the hydrated lime I ordered had a “recipe” on the back for the whitewash mixture. If the hydrated lime you purchase doesn’t have a recipe don’t worry the recipes are all similar and you can follow the one below:
5 lbs of hydrated lime
1.5 lbs of salt
1 gallon of water
- Mix hydrated lime and water (gloves and mask recommended as the lime dust should not be breathed in). Mix well.
- Allow this mixture to dissolve for several hours (the brand I purchased recommended 24 hours). It seemed to be well dissolved after about 3 or 4 hours.
- Dissolve salt in about 2 quarts of water then add this mixture to the lime/water and mix well. It will be a thinner consistency than paint.
Before painting the inside of your chicken coop, try to clean it the best that you can. I recommend whitewashing your coop when there is no litter or bedding in the coop (and no chickens obviously while you are painting…do I really need to tell you that??). It is important for me to add that this whitewash is not waterproof. Once dry, it can be washed, scratched or rubbed off. I would personally recommend it be redone at least yearly but you may want to do it seasonally dependent on how long the coating lasts for you and your chickens. It goes hand-in-hand with a deep clean anyways, as the coating will prevent mites from hiding within the inperfections of the wood and provide a light and airy feeling for your coop.
Make sure to wear gloves while painting it on. It is a watery consistency and will drip inside the coop and on you. If it stays on your skin for long, the “burn” feels just like really dry and scaly skin (trust me I know from experience). It was not painful but a little annoying for a day or two.
Now just coat the inside of your chicken coop. I used a regular ol’ paintbrush and it’s up to you where you want to paint. I love the look of this whitewash so I painted it everywhere: walls, ceiling, roosts, etc.. When it is first applied, it will look gray. Don’t worry, just walk away for an hour and you will come back to a beautiful bright whitewash. Allow the whitewash to dry completely before allowing the chickens inside. You may want to air the coop out a bit afterwards also as the lime mixture has a slight smell.
Now when you are done, make sure you step back and admire the amazing old-school whitewashing look and give yourself a little pat on the back for going the extra mile to protect your chickens. Maybe they’ll lay an extra egg or two for you in appreciation. We can hope anyways.