Lean To Chicken Coops – The Simple Yet Beautifully Functional Design!

Wanting to save some dough but still have a sweet chicken coop? Consider looking into lean to chicken coops! They are a common chicken coop design and for good reason. The single pitched roof and 3 walled design allows you to save time and money.

We will discuss the possibilities of this amazing option in this article. The following will be covered:

  • Definition of a Lean-to
  • Roof types
  • Types of Lean-to Chicken Coops
    • Leaning (attached or directly next to a wall)
      • Customizing the Attached Lean-to Chicken House
    • Stand alone – has a lean-to roof but not attached or next to a building
  • Where to find Lean-to Chicken Coop Plans
  • Can I attach a Run to a Lean-to Chicken Coop
  • Flooring Considerations for Lean-to Coops
  • Roofing Materials
  • Closing Thoughts

Definition of a Lean To

There are a few variations of a lean to which we’ll define first to make it easier for you to decide which type of lean to chicken coop will work best for you. Wikipedia defines it this way:

lean-to is a type of simple structure originally added to an existing building with the rafters “leaning” against another wall. Free-standing lean-to structures are generally used as shelters.


So in the case of lean-to chicken coops, we’ll discuss both the free-standing and leaning types.

Roof Types

Briefly, we want to show you a quick look at different roof types so it’s clear what type of roof a lean-to coop has vs other designs.

Any of these roof types can be used for chicken coops. The lean-to roof style, also knows as a shed roof, is what we’re focusing on in this article.

lean to chicken coop plans
Roof Types with Lean-To Style Circled

As you can see, there are many different types of roofs that can be used for a chicken coop. One of the simplest designs is the single pitched shed roof for lean to sheds (or chicken coops).

It’s the simplest to build and very effective in shedding water, snow, and other debris like leaves.

Types Of Lean To Chicken Coops

As you’re reading this, you probably already know which type of lean-to design you’re “leaning” toward (sorry, couldn’t resist). There is no right or wrong answer here since both the free standing and attached leaning types of coops have their advantages and disadvantages.

It really depends more on what type of chicken coop will work best in your yard design. If you already have an existing shed you can build a lean-to against, you’re all set.

But if you won’t like the placement or look of a chicken coop added to an existing building, consider the free standing option which allows you to position it anywhere you like.

lean to chicken coops

Leaning Chicken Coop

This lean-to option is great for it’s simplicity! The above image shows the concept nicely. The lean-to can be built directly next to an existing shed, or attached directly to the wall.

If you live in town and have a wood fence in your yard between you and a neighbor, it could be built against it, using the fence as the back wall!

The roof is a simple single pitch roof, slanted at least enough for rain to wash downward. The steeper the slant, the less the elements like rain and snow stay on it.


  • Easier to build
  • Can be scaled to whatever length/width you like
  • Takes less time and planning than stand alone lean-to design
  • Saves money in the cost of materials – no back wall needed.
  • Easy to customize for chickens by adding roosts, nest boxes, and another wall or chicken wire across the open front.
  • Convenient
  • Can be a very large space for your flock!


  • Less room for design creativity
  • It may not look as nice as a free standing design – If using this design, try to blend the look of the lean-to into the current design and color scheme of the existing building it’s being attached to
  • Not as easy to disassemble or move later
  • Unless you use a dirt floor, one will have to be added or built. Flooring options can be found here
lean-to chicken coop

Customizing the Attached Lean-to Chicken House

The above illustration shows an example of how a lean to could be revised to make a sweet chicken coop. There are many other ways it can be modified as well. It mostly depends on your design preference or what YOU want for your flock.

You could also use wire mesh (hardware cloth) all the way across with no wall. The design possibilities are many! Use your creativity in designing what’s best for you.

lean chicken coop plans
Free Standing Chicken Coop with Lean-to Roof

Stand Alone (or Free-standing) Lean To Chicken Coop

The stand alone lean to chicken coop design offers more flexibility in that it can be moved and placed in your yard wherever you like since it’s not attached to a wall.

Some (many actually) chicken coops you can build or buy are lean to style if the roof is a single pitch roof vs gable roof, hip roof, or others (see roof types image above).


  • More placement options – can be mobile if desired, by adding wheels
  • Easier to customize the size and design
  • Looks better than the attached lean to design
  • Easier to find. Available to purchase online or in farm stores


  • More expensive than lean-to’s attached to side of a building
  • Takes longer to build than the attached lean-to because a back wall needs to be built

Where to Find Lean-to Chicken Coop Plans

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of online sites to find lean-to chicken coop blueprints. If you want to get detailed plans, expect to pay more.

If you do a simple search in your favorite search engine for “free lean to chicken coop plans,” you’ll find a few that should work nicely. We have several free plans on our site as well, and they can be found here.

To see a great example of a lean-to being built, check out this video!

Can I Attach a Run to a Lean-to Coop?

Absolutely! In either design (leaning vs stand alone), a run can be added. It will give your chucks added space to roam, pick at the ground, take dust baths, and simply do what chickens do.

The run can be attached to the lean-to, jutting out as big as you’d like to make it.

lean to chicken coop
Electric Poultry Netting makes an easy, effective run

Materials for building the run can be hardware cloth, electric poultry netting (a favorite of ours), or 2×2 or 2×4 woven wire farm fencing.

Flooring Considerations for Lean-to Coops

For many stand alone lean to coop designs, a floor will already be incorporated into the design, often made of plywood, tongue and groove, hardware cloth, or others. For more on chicken coop flooring ideas, read this article.

In the leaning (attached) design, where you’re building your coop against an existing building, flooring options will need to be considered. In most cases, the existing flooring will be dirt or grass.

Although dirt flooring is convenient, it is not the most ideal option. It tends to retain moisture, harbor diseases, and more. The best options to consider are sand, wood, or concrete. They may cost more upfront, but fare best over the long haul, and your chickens are less likely to get sick.

Roofing Materials

We wanted to cover this topic briefly, mainly to say that it truly doesn’t matter what type of roofing material you choose!

Asphalt, metal, tiles, Roll roofing, Cedar shakes, are but a few of the most common materials used. And any of these will work great for the lean-to coop, regardless of whether it’s a stand alone or leaning/attached lean-to design. We discuss more on chicken coop roof ideas in this article.

If you plan to build a leaning design, we suggest you match it to the roofing materials used on the building it’ll be attached to. Otherwise it may look odd.

For example, if you’re existing shed has black asphalt shingles and you use red metal roofing for the attached lean-to, it may be a bit of an eye sore. Just sayin’. But hey, it’s YOUR coop and you may do whatever your heart desires!

Closing Thoughts

We hope you’ve learned whether or not a leaning or stand alone lean-to will work for you. In summary, you’ll need to consider the pros and cons of both lean-to styles. Your overall design preference will dictate your decision.

And, if after reading this article, you decide the lean-to style isn’t your cup of tea, no worries! The coops with the fancy gambrel roofs, salt box, hip, or other designs may be more up your alley. Just be prepared to pay more for these more complex designs, whether you are building or buying them since you’ll be paying more for materials.

Thanks for checking out this article. Happy ‘chickening!’

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