Duck house: vinyl tiles

A small update on the duck house project: adding stick-on vinyl tiles.

Although the entire duck house (inside & out) is painted with exterior paint, I thought I’d add vinyl tiles to the floors and base of the walls to make it even more waterproof, since ducks are very damp.

I chose self-adhesive vinyl tiles that have a beachy look, to fit the theme of the duck house.

Here I’m adding them to the inner floor, marking where they need to be cut on the backing paper:

Stick-on vinyl tiles

The tiles are in nesting boxes too:

Vinyl tiles in nesting boxes

And the base of the walls:

Vinyl tiles in duck house

Here’s the inner floor in place; both floor levels are tiled:

Vinyl tiles in duck house

Other than a few minor tweaks, that concludes the construction of the duck house!

Next up: some earth moving at the pond edge where it’ll be installed.

Duck house: electrical & floor joists

A little more on the duck house project: electrical stuff, and floor joists.

I added a strip of LED lights to the central ceiling beam, plus a temporary heat lamp for the first few weeks of the ducklings:

LED lighting & heat lamp

The heat lamp is only needed when the ducklings are very young; they need about 95°F for the first few days, dropping about 5° per week until fully feathered. The lamp is red as that keeps them more calm.

I tested the heat lamp temperature with a couple of thermometers, to measure the temperature directly under the lamp, and a bit further away:

Testing heat lamp

I mounted the power strip and the timer for the LED lights in the cupboard. There’s another mount point for the timer for the pond pump (which is currently outside). The power strip also has an Eero Beacon to help extend the Wi-Fi range to the duck house (for the camera). The wires aren’t arranged tidily yet; I’ll add some hooks to make them a bit tidier later:

Electrical stuff

Next, I built the floor joists; beams that will go under the floor, resting on concrete footing blocks:

Floor joists

The cutout in the foreground is to allow for the plywood panel that the maintenance door roller catches are mounted on.

I also included an angled mount point for the ramp from the duck door into the pond, which will be added later:

Ramp mount

The ramp mount is angled at 20°, which seems a nice gentle slope, but I can tweak that when installing the ramp if necessary.

The ducks won’t be able to go into the pond until they’re old enough to swim without limits, so I could add the ramp after they’re living there, though will probably do it after installing the duck house.

Next up: vinyl floor tiles (I would have done that first, but they were only just delivered).

Duck house: roofing

Next on the duck house project: roofing.

But first, a delivery of materials from Home Depot:

Delivery of materials

This was mostly lumber for future projects, but also stuff needed for the duck house, including roofing shingles, drip edge flashing strips, and treated lumber.

The projects, from left to right, are: greenhouse shelving (some of the 1x2s, plus some spare), spare 2x4s (handy to have), duck house floor joists (treated 2x4s), duck house ramp (treated 2x6s, though most are spare), and bridge over the waterfall stream to the duck house (2x10s and some 2x4s):


When I get a delivery, I always order more than I need, to allow for errors, replenish my stocks, and make the most of the delivery (since they charge a flat fee no matter how much I get). Fun fact: this was the first order from Home Depot for the duck house; all the plywood and boards I used to build it were stuff I already had on hand, spare from the cat house project.

Speaking of plywood, here’s the roof again, back on top:

Roof plywood

The first step for roofing is to add tar paper (also on hand from the chicken coop and cat house projects):

Roofing paper

Then the new drip edge flashing strip; it goes under the paper at the bottom, but over on the sides, so any moisture that reaches this level can run off:

Drip strip

Me attaching the drip strip with my air roofing nailer:

Me attaching drip strip

Next is a starter strip, which is an asphalt strip with an adhesive backing, which helps secure the bottom course of shingles:

Starter strip

On to the asphalt shingles, installed at 6.5″ offsets:

Roofing shingles

One side of the roof done:

Roofing shingles

I actually did the roof and the awning simultaneously, but I’ve grouped them separately for the blog post. So let’s take a look at the awning process, which is like a mini version of the roof.

Firstly the roofing paper:

Awning roofing paper

Awning drip strip:

Awning drip strip

Starter strip:

Awning starter strip

First course of shingles:

Awning shingles

Second course, trimmed a bit at the back:

Awning shingles

The third course is much shorter:

Awning shingles

Finally, I used construction adhesive to attach the trim board at the back of the awning, which hides the nails and prevents water from getting under them at the back:

Finished awning

Here’s me attaching the trim (with the air compressor and hose in the foreground):

Attaching trim

Back to the roof, the final step was the ridge cap, a series of small overlapping shingles along the peak of the roof:

Roof ridge cap

For the last shingle to cover the nails, I used construction adhesive to hold it in place. Once the roof is exposed to sun, the black sealant strips will melt and seal the shingles together, but this will suffice in the meantime:

Last shingle

To hold it in place, I used a bag of cat litter as a weight:


The roofing is now done! That was quicker than I had expected… I guess prior experience, and the right tools, makes all the difference.

Let’s take a look around it; from the northwest corner:

Roofing done

The northeast corner:

Roofing done

The southeast corner:

Roofing done

Finally, the southwest corner:

Roofing done

Next up: vinyl floor tiles for extra waterproofing inside (ducks are damp!), and electrical outfitting. Definitely getting much closer to being done! Good thing, too; it needs to be finished, installed, and ready in about a month.

Duck house: hardware

More progress on the duck house project.

I painted the underside of the floor. It won’t be seen, but the paint will help protect it from ground moisture:

Painting bottom

And painted under the awning:

Painting under awning

Righting it again, captured by the duck (aka Pepper) cam:


We bought a custom-painted sign from Etsy, from the same person that did the chicken coop sign. The sign says “The Boonducks, est. 2019”, with yellow duck images. Jenn chose that as the name of the duck house, as a duck pun on “boondocks”, since the duck house will be in the area of the homestead we refer to as “beyond the pond” or “the back 40”. I also installed the duck door opener:

The opener with the door closed:

Opener with door closed

The opener with the door open:

Opener with door open

Pepper strolling past the duck house while I was having lunch:


I then stapled wire hardware cloth over the two vents:

Attaching hardware cloth

Here’s the hardware cloth on big vent:

Hardware cloth on vent

And the hardware cloth on the small vent above the maintenance doors:

Hardware cloth on vent

The view from outside:

Hardware cloth on vents

The big vent closed:

Vent closed

Partially open:

Vent partially open

A closer view of the vent and cover, showing the bolt and holes to enable opening to various levels:

Closer view of vent

The power cord cover, which is held in place with small tabs:

Cable cover

Next up was attaching hardware to the doors, starting with the small treat door; hinges, handle, and a roller catch to hold it closed:

Treat door

The same for the two cupboard doors; it has roller catches mounted under the shelf. I’m not going to add a bolt or gate latch on these doors, unless the roller catches prove inadequate (raccoons can be very clever, but I think this should be sufficient):


Attaching the four maintenance doors:

Attaching maintenance doors

Me attaching the maintenance doors:

Attaching maintenance doors

The maintenance doors installed and closed:

Maintenance doors closed

They are in four parts to allow a variety of access. Here’s one maintenance door open, by undoing one bolt, enabling a quick peek or dropping in treats etc:

One maintenance door open

The top two maintenance doors open, by undoing two bolts, which will be useful when the ducklings are young, preventing them from escaping:

Top maintenance doors open

The left two maintenance doors open as a single unit, by leaving their bolt closed, and just undoing the lower bolt. This will be useful for quickly reaching eggs not in the nesting boxes (ducks tend to lay anywhere… though admittedly so do our chickens):

Left maintenance doors open

All four maintenance doors open, enabling full access for cleaning out etc:

All maintenance doors open

I then put the inner floor in place, added the waterer, and installed the camera mount. Here’s the view from the camera:

Camera view

The camera & waterer, with the doors closed, and wires routed via hooks into the cupboard:

Camera & waterer

Next up: roofing!

Duck house: starting painting

Over the past few days I started painting the duck house.

But first, I removed the roof, so I could paint to the edges of the walls:

Removed the roof

The roof will be screwed to the walls on installation; it is kept separate for now to make moving it easier. Here’s the underside of the roof:


Some more caulking:


Then it was time to start painting. I started with red paint on the walls. This is the same red as on the cat house (leftover paint):

Red paint

Then blue paint on the doors; again the same as on the cat house:

Blue paint

Then white paint on the trim around the doors:

White paint trim

And the trim and interior of the walls etc; here’s the south and east sides:

White paint

East and north sides:

White paint

North and west sides:

White paint

Inside, looking at the treat door and nesting boxes. I didn’t paint inside the chicken coop or cat house, but ducks are very damp, so I wanted to paint everything here, using outdoor paint, to help protect against moisture. Note that this is only the first coat of white paint, so is still a bit patchy; it’ll get a second coat later:

White paint

Inside, looking at the west wall with the duck door:

White paint

Next up: the second coat of white paint, which will conclude the painting.  Then I can attach the door hardware, and do the roofing. Once I buy some drip strip and shingles.

Duck house: last of the battens

Last Saturday I finished off adding the battens for the fake board-and-batten siding.

Here’s the front (west) wall:


A closer view of that wall.  There’s a gap between the bottom of the battens and the loose board above the awning, as it will be attached after the roofing shingles, which will raise it up a bit:


The north wall, with new battens to the left of the maintenance doors:


The east wall, with the cupboard doors, and new battens below the doors:


The south wall, with the sliding vent.  The wall behind the vent cover is recessed enough to allow for the battens (almost like I planned it, eh):


I drilled a hole through the wall from the cupboard for power cords (power to the house, and from the house to the pond pump).  To make them tidier, I added a conduit with a removable cover for the wires to travel down the wall:

Power cord conduit

Here’s the inside of the power cord hole, and the cover for the inside, with a notch for the wires:

Power cord hole & cover

I also added a surround to screw the cover into:

Power cord hole surround

And a similar surround for the power cord hole between the cupboard and main part:

Power cord hole surround

Finally, I added a couple of boards to the back of the cupboard to enable adding screws to mount the power strip and light timer:

Mounts for electronics

That concludes the construction phase, at least until I build the floor joists and ramp. Next up: starting painting!

Wild ducks visiting pond, and more pond wading

This morning a pair of wild ducks visited our pond for a pitstop of about half an hour.

Wild ducks in pond

Wild ducks in pond

Wild ducks in pond

Wild ducks in pond

Wild ducks in pond

The pond pump fell (or was pushed) over again, so I added a wider pot to hopefully give it more stability:

David in pond

Me in the pond next to the pump:

David in pond

I waded a bit deeper to clean out more debris (and just for the fun of it); this is about two-thirds of the way back towards the deep end:

David in pond

Duck house: building doors

Some more progress on the duck house project.

I bought a special water dispenser for the ducks (when they’re grown). Ducks have slightly different needs than chickens, in that they need to dip their large bills in water to drink and eat. This waterer has three removable cups for drinking (though one will be unreachable in the corner), a reservoir, and a built-in thermostatically-controlled heater, so the water doesn’t freeze in winter:

Duck waterer & camera

Since the waterer was a bit bigger than expected, I also raised the camera up a bit. Here’s the view from the camera:

View from camera

I tried a bag of feed in the cupboard, to see how well it’d fit. Seems to work laying down or standing up, about as well as I expected. Storing a bag or two of food there will make it easier to refill the food jug:

Trying food in cupboard

On to the door trim:

Door trim

Here’s one of the cupboard doors, with 1×2 trim around the edges. The plywood sticks out a bit on the right edge (in the foreground in this orientation), so it covers the gap between the two doors. Which of course means the other (right-hand) door has to be opened first, which is by some strange coincidence the one I expect to open most:

Door trim

Both cupboard doors:

Cupboard doors

I paused for a picnic lunch in the back of the shop (yes, it was still very cold):


Adding trim to the maintenance doors:

Cupboard doors

I changed my mind about the design of the maintenance doors. Originally I was going to have a single large outer door, with a vertically split inner door. I decided that a single outer door would be too large, so considered doing double doors like the cupboard, but then realized I could combine the inner and outer doors into one set. So I made four-part doors, again with plywood covering the gaps between the doors:

Maintenance doors

The way it is configured, I can undo one bolt (to be added after painting) to open just the top-left door for a quick peek, or two bolts to open just the top-left and top-right doors to access the ducks without them able to escape (which I expect will be especially useful when they are ducklings), or one bolt to open just the left two doors together (they’ll be connected with a bolt), or the left two and the right two for full access. I think this will be very versatile.

Here’s just the top-left door open:

Maintenance doors

In addition to the bolts, the doors will be held closed with roller catches. The bottom doors will have theirs mounted under the floor, to be out of the way:

Roller catch

And the top doors will have their roller catches mounted above the doors:

Roller catch

Here’s me using an air finish nailer to attach the board for the top roller catches, captured from the duck camera:


Next up was adding thin strips of wood to make the doors and walls appear like board-&-batten styling, like I did with the cat house. So the first step was to rip (cut lengthwise) some 1×2 boards into 1×0.5 batten strips:

Ripping boards

I started adding the battens on the cupboard doors:

Board & batten on doors

Then the maintenance doors:

Board & batten on doors

I also added an extra bit of plywood to the corner that will cover up the two small holes between the four doors:

Hole cover detail

Finally (for now), battens on the vent cover:

Board & batten on doors

Next up, I will add the batten strips on the walls, do some extra bracing for attaching electrical stuff, and more caulking. Then I’ll be ready to start painting!

Duck house: building tweaks and trim

Three more days on the duck house project.

Firstly, I bought a much more compact cap for the end of the feeder tube. I want a removable cap, so I can clean out the tube every so often. You can see my original notion on the left, basically the same as I used in the chicken coop, but that clearly would take up too much of the length of the pipe in this situation. So I found a different kind, that adds pretty much no length to the pipe, attaching by expanding a rubber gasket inside the pipe. This will work much better:

Pipe cap

Another purchase was an automatic door opener, the same model I use in both chicken coops. It has a light sensor to open the door at dawn, and close it at dusk, so it needs to be outside. I cut a hole through the front (west) wall, and temporarily installed it (I’ll remove it again when painting):

Automatic opener

Here’s the inside view of the automatic opener and duck door. The opener is screwed from the back onto a couple of bits of wood, such that the string from it hangs inside; later it will be tied to the door. An unusual installation, but means I don’t need any pulleys like on the old coop:

Automatic opener

Next, I made the inner floor, a second floor layer that can be pulled out to aid cleaning out the duck house. It has thin runners on the bottom to reduce friction, and prevent any water from being trapped between the two layers:

Inner floor

Here’s the inner floor in place:

Inner floor

I recently mentioned temporarily using the duck house camera to watch the shop cat Pepper. I retrieved the camera and temporarily clamped it to the house, to determine the best mounting location:


Here’s the camera view from my preferred location, just inside the maintenance door. This gives a view into the nesting boxes and almost all of the floor space, except the corner under the camera, which is where the water dispenser will be located. (Enjoy the recursive photo of me capturing the view on my iPad):

Camera view

I also tried other camera positions, like the vent side:

Camera view

And behind the feeder tube:

Camera view

But I think the originally planned location by the maintenance door gives the best view.

Since there will be the camera, a heated water dispenser, and a light in the duck house, I drilled a hole near the roof into the storage cupboard for their wires:

Hole for wires

On to the trim work. I added trim around the internal treat door. You can also see the wire hole in the top-right, and below it a notched bit of plywood to cover the hole:

Treat door

I added trim to the edge of the roof. It’ll later have metal drip strip and shingles, like the cat house:

Roof edge trim

Awning trim; the board at the top of the awning isn’t attached yet, as it’ll go on after the shingles, to hide the nails of the top row:

Awning trim

Duck door trim:

Duck door trim

Opener trim:

Opener trim

The big vent on the south wall has a cover that slides vertically. It will be held at various heights by a slide bolt on either side that slides into holes drilled in the trim:

Holes for vent bolts

I glued bits of plywood to the vent cover, to later mount the bolts onto to get the right depth:

Vent cover

The vent cover installed. The notch out of the trim allows the cover to be slid to the left to be removed entirely (which I probably will never do, other than when painting):

Vent cover installed

All the roof, corner, and door surround trim are now installed. I still need to do the trim on the doors themselves, and the fake board-and-batten styling.

Let’s take spin around the duck house. Here the east and north sides (cupboard and maintenance doors):

Finished trim

The north and west sides (maintenance and duck doors):

Finished trim

The west and south sides (duck door and vent):

Finished trim

The south and east sides (vent and cupboard):

Finished trim

Finally, I did a bit of caulking of the joins:


Duck house: building walls & roof

I spent the last five days working on building the duck house, and finished the primary construction on the walls and roof.

You may recall from last time that I cut the floor, walls, and studs.  So I started work by assembling the front (west) wall and its studs onto the floor, laying it on its side to nail through the floor:

Duck house wall & floor

When I built the cat house, I built the floor, walls, and roof as separate pieces, screwed together on installation, with the floor attached to the floor joists. This time I’m building the floor and walls as a unit, with the roof and floor joists as separate pieces.  The floor joists will be a little heavy, being made out of treated 2x4s, and the roof will be heavy, with the rafters and shingles, but the walls will be heaviest, which is why I attached the thick floor to the joists last time.  But having the floor attached to the walls makes construction easier, and should make transportation when installing easier too, since the floor can rest on the cart, and hold everything together better. That’s the theory, anyway. We’ll see!

Anyway, I next assembled framing for the back (east) and middle walls:


Then attached the framing to the floor:


I joined the studs with top plates, angled to match the slope of the roof:


Next was the nesting boxes, the top of which also serves as the shelf in the storage area:


There is a hole through the shelf for a feeder tube, which is supplied by a jug that will contain food:

Shelf & feeder tube

I made a wall to separate the cupboard from the rest of the duck house, with a 1’ square hole for a “treat hatch”; a small door through which I can toss mealworms to the ducks, without having to open the maintenance door. Plus side walls too:

Shelf & food jug

A view from the other side, showing the treat hatch and nesting boxes:


The hole for the jug is closed with a couple of bits of plywood, that will eventually be screwed into place; these also hold the pipe in position:

Jug hole closure

This is the feeder tube, or will be in due course; I’ll add a cap to the end, and cut large holes on top from which the ducks can eat.  In addition to the above hole closure, the pipe is supported with a brace below:

Feeder tube

To finish the back wall, I added boards to act as doorstops, and plywood for the wall:


I also cut cupboard doors from plywood.  The walls and doors will have trim added later:

Cupboard doors

Here’s me, all bundled up for the cold. The front of the shop isn’t insulated, so it was about freezing temperature in there:


Next up was the south wall, which features a large vent (that will be covered with hardware cloth wire), with a vertically sliding door. Here you can see the vent cover leaning on the wall (which again will have trim later), and a recessed wall below the vent:

Vent recessed wall

The bottom of the recessed wall has a sloped board for drainage:

Bottom of recessed wall

Here is a view from inside of the vent and wall:

Inside vent

I added some extra framing to the front (west) wall, to aid attaching decorations later (to be determined), plus made a vertically sliding door that the ducks will use to access the pond:

Duck door

Time for the roof! I placed some thicker plywood on top, and used scraps of wood to help figure out the desired size of the eaves:

Figuring roof size

Once I determined that, I cut the roof panels, using a jury rigged structure to hold them in place. Here’s one side:

One side of roof

Both sides of roof, held in place with clamps:

Both sides of roof

To help join the two halves of the roof and provide some rigidity, I added a couple of small rafters out of 2x4s. Here’s one:


A view inside, showing both rafters etc (the plywood in the back is the vent cover):

Inside with rafters etc

I realized that my design was missing an important feature: an awning for the duck door. Not sure why I hadn’t included that, having made awnings for both the chicken coop and cat house. Perhaps thinking that the ducks don’t mind the wet, but I still don’t want any more moisture going in the duck house than necessary. So I built a simple awning, much like on the cat house:

Making awning

Here’s the awning installed above the duck door (again, it’ll have trim and roofing later):

Awning installed

Finally, I added a small vent above the maintenance doorway; ducks need lots of ventilation:

Vent above maintenance door

That’s all for now; time to do some paying work. I’ll probably resume working on this next weekend, or thereabouts. Next up is starting on adding the trim. I’m hoping to finish that and get it painted by the end of March, but we’ll see how much time I can spend on it.