How To Make A Digital Floorplan With SketchUp

Since we get tons of requests from our readers for floorplans of the spaces we show here on Apartment Therapy, we thought we'd share a simple and painless way to create your own floorplan drawings with Google SketchUp.

You can do amazing things with this free, downloadable, and user-friendly program. It's incredibly easy to draw any 2D shape and then extrude its surfaces into 3D. But for the purpose of creating a bird's eye view of an architectural space, or a floorplan, we will only be working in two dimensions. If you're interested in learning 3D, you can check out video tutorials here.

First thing's first. You must download SketchUp in order to play along with this post. Do so here.

Once you've got the program installed, upon opening choose Plan View - Feet and Inches to select the style of drawing that we're going to be using.

Then, be sure to go to View ---> Tool Palettes ---> Large Tool Set to have access to all the tools we will be discussing.

We recommend starting the process of drawing a floorplan by doing a rough hand-sketch of your space and then measuring the lengths of all the walls. Make sure you know where your doorways sit and how wide they are. This way, it will be easy for you to copy your information into the program. If you're measuring an entire apartment or other large space, it's not important for our purposes to include wall thicknesses and other complex details.

Here are the three tools you'll need to navigate around Sketchup:

Orbit

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Click this icon and then drag your cursor in the drawing space to rotate in 3D. We won't be using this tool in our tutorial, but you should know it's there.

Zoom

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Click this icon and then drag your cursor to move your view closer to or further away from the drawing space.

Pan

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Click this icon and then drag your cursor across the screen to move to different areas of the drawing space.

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Quadrant
To make a floorplan, use the upper right quadrant of the drawing space. Pan so it fills your screen. If you think way back to high school math, you'll remember that it is this area in the quadratic plane where all coordinates are positive numbers. If you start the lower-left corner of your drawing where the axes intersect at (0,0), it will be very easy for you to draw accurate lines.

Line

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Click on the pencil icon to activate your line tool. To start drawing a line, click anywhere (we recommend at the origin). Then, move your cursor parallel to the X or Y axis. Type the desired length of your line into your keyboard (i.e. 10' 4 3/16"), and hit enter. The program will have created a line of the desired length, and your cursor will now rest at your new endpoint. Repeat the same process to create another line that begins at the endpoint of the first line.

We're going to recommend drawing shapes in this manner, although there are many other ways in SketchUp to accomplish the same goal.

Erase

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We like drawing doorways in the following manner. Draw them as their own lines with endpoints, even though they will appear to be contained within your walls. Once you're finished drawing, you can go back and erase the doorway segments to signify that there is passage in those areas. Click on the erase tool, then click on the segment that is to be deleted.

For example, in the drawing of my bedroom, the door is on the upper right wall. I drew a 2' line, then a 3' line for the doorway, and finished the wall with the remaining 2'11" segment. Later, I went back and erased the 3' piece where the doorway sits.

Tips and Tricks

The program will tell you when you've reached the endpoint of another line. If you're trying to draw connected lines, make sure you click only on these called-out green endpoints when the program "snaps to" them. You can also find the midpoint of a line by hovering over that approximate location and waiting for a blue dot to appear on your screen.

If you make a mistake while drawing your shape, you don't have to start over from the beginning. Go to Edit ---> Undo Draw Line to backtrack a step. Then simply click on the point from which you wish to begin drawing again.

Dimension

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Use the dimensioning tool to note the lengths of the lines you have drawn. Click on an edge, or click on the two endpoints of a line, then pull your cursor outward. The dimension line will travel until you settle on where you want it placed. Click to secure.

Text

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Click on the text tool, then click where you want your text placed. A box to type into will appear. You can use this method to label the rooms in your floorplan.

Save
When you're all done, go to File ---> Export ---> 2D Graphic to save the plan as a regular image file that you can then use in Photoshop, open in any picture viewing software, or attach in an email to us at Apartment Therapy.