7 Easy Steps to Create a Floor Plan With Sketchup Free – Today, I’m gonna walk you through seven easy steps to create your first 2D floor plan using SketchUp Free. We’ll go over the right way to use SketchUp’s tools and features to avoid the most common mistakes that people struggle with when they set out to draw a floor plan using SketchUp. Plus, I’ll show you how to style and export your floor plan for presentation.
Well, as you’ll learn by following along with the steps we’re about to cover, SketchUp Free can be a great way to accomplish this piece of the design process. And the best part of all, you don’t need to worry about investing in an expensive and difficult to learn drafting program like AutoCAD. Now, before we dive into the steps, I should quickly mention two things, first, we’ll be focusing on SketchUp Free in this article.
If you’re using SketchUp Pro, be sure to check out the pro version of this article instead. And second, this article isn’t for complete beginners, so if you haven’t already, I recommend you read our, “Getting Started With SketchUp Free” article and be sure you’re familiar with everything that we cover there.
7 Easy Steps to Create a Floor Plan With Sketchup Free
OK, ready to create your first floor plan in SketchUp Free? Let’s bring up our list and start with step number one :
Get SketchUp Free setup for 2D.
As you know from our, “Getting Started with SketchUp Free” article, SketchUp Free is a web based application, meaning it runs in your web browser, like Chrome or Safari, and you’ll need to be connected to the internet in order to use it, which is different than SketchUp Pro, the more traditional desktop application version. You’ll also remember from that article that I always recommend you pick a view that starts you with a plan view or a top-down view for all your projects in SketchUp.
Of course, this is even more important when you set up to create a 2D floor plan. As a quick refresher on how to do that, once you launch the SketchUp Free web app, we’ll delete the scale figure, then, switch to a top view from the scenes panel on the right of your screen. Now that we’re in a plan view, the next step is, number two,
Draw the floor plan.
While we cover the workflow for starting from a PDF or CAD file in our SketchUp for interiors course on our website, you can only import those types of files if you’re using SketchUp Pro. Since we’re using SketchUp Free in this article, we’ll focus on this scenario where we’re starting from field measurements and need to draw out our floor plan from scratch. Once we’ve got all our measurements, we’ll wanna start by drawing the floor plan.
To do this, we’ll need to use SketchUp’s basic drawing tools, typically, either the line tool or the rectangle tool. The line tool is the most versatile as we can go dimension by dimension around the floor to draw it out. To do that, let’s click and begin drawing in either the red or green direction. The edge highlights red or green to let us know we’re drawing precisely in that direction. This is what’s known as an inference in SketchUp, and it will help us draw accurately as we go.
Once we have the red or green inference, we can type the desired length of line on our keyboard then press the enter or return key. SketchUp will automatically create the line with the exact length we specified. You can enter feet, inches, metric units, fractions, decimals, you name it. We cover more about how to enter dimensions with SketchUp’s drawing tools in our, “How to Model a House with SketchUp Free” article.
For now, let’s focus on drawing our floor plan. Once we’ve drawn the first edge, we’ll just continue on around in that fashion, entering the dimensions one by one until we have the entire footprint drawn in. The rectangle tool can be a quicker choice in situations where you have a more straightforward, rectangular shaped to your floor plan. In that case, we’d start with a bigger rectangle for the overall width and length of the space, and then use either the line tool or the rectangle tool along with the eraser tool to either add areas to, or subtract areas from the main footprint.
Now remember, in SketchUp, we’re drawing at a one-to-one scale, meaning that if we draw a larger rectangle and it appears small, it’s just because our SketchUp camera is zoomed out.
If that’s the case, we can simply roll our center mouse wheel forward to zoom in and get closer, or, if we’ve entered our dimensions and can’t see the entire footprint, we can roll the center mouse wheel back to zoom out. Okay, we’re starting to get a sense of the overall shape of our floor plan. Before we get too far, I wanted to quickly mention, we’re just creating a simple example for this article, but every step we cover can be applied to your own project, big or small.
To help you do that, I put together some notes for you that will make it easy to review all the steps we’re covering. All right, we’re ready for the next step.
Draw the exterior walls.
Once we’ve drawn the floor plan, the easiest way to create our exterior walls is by using the offset tool. To do that, let’s pick the offset tool, click once on the face of the floor plan, then move the mouse to begin offsetting the wall. We’ll type in the dimension for our wall thickness on our keyboard and press enter or return.
Next, we’ll need to create our exterior doorway openings. There are a few ways to go about this, but when you’re new to SketchUp, I recommend you use the tape measure tool to set up guidelines to show you exactly where the openings need to be.
To do this, using the tape measure tool, let’s click once on the inside edge of an exterior wall, then move the mouse towards where the opening will be. We’ll type the dimension on our keyboard and press the Enter or Return key, and we’ll have our first guideline. For the second guide, we’ll repeat the steps, only this time, our first click is from the existing guide, and our dimension is for the width of the opening.
Now, we can take the rectangle tool and draw a rectangle that snaps to the intersection points of the guidelines on our walls, and then take the eraser tool and erase away the outside edge. And we can repeat these same steps for all of the door openings around our exterior walls. Note that we shouldn’t worry about the window openings just yet, ’cause we’ll handle those later.
Now, as you know from our, “Getting Started With SketchUp Free” article, hands down, one of the most important things to learn in SketchUp is to group almost everything. If you don’t group things at this stage, you might find yourself with a huge mess later when you wanna move anything or make adjustments, so group now.
OK, before we move on, here’s something new, after you turned something into a group, it’s often a good idea to assign a tag to that group. Tags allow us to control the visibility of things in our model. We’ll get into more reasons for why this will come in handy later, but for now, to assign a tag, let’s open the tax panel, then click the plus to create new tag and name it, then, right click on the group we just made, pick entity info, let’s click where it says untagged, then select the tag we just created.
Now that tag is assigned to the group, and you can toggle on and off it’s visibility. OK, we’ve got our floor plan and exterior walls grouped, and we’ve assigned a tag, now, we’re ready for the next step. Number four:
Draw the interior walls.
Again, for new SketchUp users, I recommend using the tape measure tool to create guidelines for the interior walls based on the dimensions from your field measurements, then use the rectangle tool to trace in each wall segment. As we go, we can use the eraser tool to delete any unnecessary edges and just repeat these steps again and again to draw in all of the interior walls. If at any point along the way we end up with too many guidelines getting in the way, we have two options.
In some cases, we may only need to get rid of one or two. To do that, we can just erase them with the eraser tool. But in cases where we don’t want any of the guides we’ve created anymore, we can open the display panel and select the option for delete all guides, that will clear all of them out so we can start again from a blank slate.
All right, once we’ve drawn all of the interior walls, don’t forget our previous tip and do yourself a huge favor and make them into a group, that way you’ll avoid all the headaches of struggling with an ungrouped plan where everything is stuck together. Just be careful not to select the floor plan in exterior walls group.
In fact, to make it easier, we can turn off the tag for that group, so all we see are the interior walls. And we won’t stop there, once we’ve made the interior walls into a group, let’s go ahead and create a tag for them and assign the tag to that group. Somewhere, your future self just thanked you. Okay, we’re at an important crossroads with this example. If your plan is to create a 3D model of this space, then at this point, you can move on and begin building your 3D model on top of what you’ve created so far.
You can cover the rest of that workflow in our, “How to Model a House in SketchUp Free” article. But in this example, I wanna show you what you need to do to finish a simplified floor plan in 2D without having to build a 3D model.
Add the windows and doors.
Just like with the door openings, for the windows, I recommend starting with the tape measure tool to set up two guidelines that represent the width of the window. Since we’re just setting up a basic reference plan for this example, and not worrying about adding all the details you may want for say, construction documents, we’ll just draw basic window symbol.
But you’re free to use SketchUp’s drawing strong tools to add as much detailed to the window as you’d like. With our window drawn, we can select it all with the select tool.
This time, instead of creating a group, I’m going to recommend selecting the option for make component. A component in SketchUp is similar to a block or symbol in other CAD programs, that is geometry drawn to represent objects in your design, such as windows, doors, fixtures, and furniture. In general, components are for elements or objects that occur more than once in a design, or that might be used again in a future design.
All right, we’ve created our first window component. To save time when we have more than one of something in our plan, such as multiple windows with the same dimensions, we can make a copy of it. The easiest way to do that is by using the move tool. On a Mac, press and let go of the Option key, on a PC, press and let go of the Control key to turn on the copy function.
You’ll see a plus icon appear next to the move tool to indicate that it’s in copy mode, then, let’s click on the corner of the window and move our cursor to the corresponding intersection where the copied window belongs, and click to complete the move.
The best part about copies of the same component, and it’s what differentiates a component from a group, is that when we need to make a change to the component, we can edit one of them and all the copies of the component will update, which can be a huge time saver. To do that, let’s right click and select the option for edit component.
And when we’re done making changes, we can right click outside the component and select the option for close component. Just like that, both instances of our window component have been updated. But what about the case where we have another window that’s a different size.
Of course, we could create a new component from scratch that’s the correct size, and in some cases, that may be the quickest option. But it’s also worth pointing out that we can modify our existing component to fit. Here’s how. We’ll start by using the tape measure to set up guidelines for the new window and follow the steps from before to move another copy of the window component. Next, we’ll right click on the component and select the option for make unique.
Then, we’ll right click on the component and select the option for edit component. We can modify the window to fit our new guides, and because we made it unique from the original component, the changes we make to it won’t update the other instances of the component. All right, let’s use the same process to create the doors. First, let’s draw a rectangle with the correct width and thickness, then we’ll use the art tool to draw the swing. We can make it into a component and use the move tool to copy it around the model.
Sometimes it’ll be oriented the wrong way for the opening. In that case, with the move tool, we can hover over the component. When we do that, we’ll see it actively highlights blue, and four red plus signs will appear. If we hover over one of the red pluses, the cursor turns into a rotate icon.
Then, we can click and let go of our mouse button on that red plus to begin rotating.
Now, we can move the mouse and hover over the tick marks on the rotate cursor to rotate in 15 degree increments until we’ve rotated the proper amount, then, click and let go of the mouse to finish the rotation. Other times, the door will need to be mirrored or flipped. To do that, we can right click on the component and choose flip along, and then we’ll either need to flip along the components screen axis or the components red axis, depending on its orientation.
If you’re not sure which one to choose, just try one. If the result isn’t right, you can undo back and try the other option.
And when we come to a door that has a different width, it’s probably fastest to just draw a new one. Okay. Once we’ve created all our windows and doors, it’s time to add our furniture and fixtures. But we don’t have to draw everything by hand, there’s a faster way to add 2D symbols that we’re ready to cover in our next step.
Import furniture and fixtures.
It’s true that we can draw all of our own 2D components for the things we need to show in our floor plan. But a great thing about components, is that once they’ve been drawn by someone, they can be easily shared and reused again and again. If you’re looking for 2D components that have been shared by others, a good place to start is SketchUp’s 3D warehouse. To access the 3D warehouse in SketchUp Free, click on the 3D warehouse icon on the right side of the screen. In the 3D warehouse search box, let’s type 2D and the name of the object we’re looking for, and press enter.
There may not be many or any matching products, but, if we toggle over to the models tab, we’ll see a bunch of results. Some of them won’t be what we’re looking for, but there should be plenty of usable options as well. When we find a component we like, we can click on the download button and download it directly into our model.
When it finishes downloading, we can click anywhere in white space to set it down. If the component isn’t oriented properly after we import it, we can always rotate it or flip it.
Then, we’ll move it into place with the move tool. And remember, we need to click on a precise point of the component and then click on a precise point in the floor plan to match things up perfectly. In many cases, the component you choose won’t work quite as it’s been drawn. For example, often you’ll find that the component is the wrong size to fit in your design. When that happens, you have a couple options, first, you can always delete the component and go looking for another one on the 3D warehouse.
Another option is to scale your component with the scale tool. Just know that when you need your symbols to be accurate, this may create distortions. For example, if you scale a real world product, you might unintentionally warp key dimensions. Now, instead of using the scale tool, there is a third option, you can edit the component.
That’s right, you can edit a component you download from the 3D warehouse, just like you would if you had made it yourself.
To do this, right click on the component and pick the option for edit component, then, use SketchUp’s drawing and editing tools to make the changes you need. Now as you build your own components or find quality ones on the warehouse, one thing I always recommend is to add the best ones to a collection to use on future projects.
To save you some time, we’ve already put together a starter collection for you and put a link to it in the notes for this video, along with directions on how to use it. As I mentioned, you can find a link to download those in the carts. Whether you find symbols on the 3D warehouse or you use the ones we’ve created for you, remember to assign tags to the components as you go.
Organizing your tasks correctly now will save a ton of time and frustration later if you need to create different views or try out different schemes with your floor plan.
All right, we have all our 2D symbol components in place, now we’re ready for the last step.
Style the plan for presentation.
We’ve got our floor plan completely laid out, but it’s not looking exactly like a finished product that we’d share with a client or colleague just yet. If we were using SketchUp Pro, this might be the point where we’d wanna take our plan into layout, where we could easily add a title block, labels or dimensions.
And while we cover how to do all of that in the courses on our website, we don’t have those same options available to us here in SketchUp Free, but we can still do a lot to improve the look of our floor plan.
First, unless we’re adding color and materials, we’ll probably want our floor plan to be black and white. To do that, let’s open the styles panel, then pick default styles, then click on the hidden line style icon. At this point, we may also want to hide the axis. To do that, we can open the display panel and uncheck the box next to axis.
Then we can open the scenes panel and click on the plus icon to save as a scene. If you get a warning, just pick the option to save as a new style and click okay. Now we can get back to that exact view anytime we need.
And of course, our final step will be to export an image of our floor plan. To do that, we’ll click on the top left menu icon and select the option for download PNG.
We can set the dimensions for our final image and then click export as PNG. Note that PNG files will be rasterize or have set pixel dimension, which means that the line work may not be crisp depending on how you plan to size and present the final image.
If you need more crisp line work that looks perfect at any size, you’ll need a vector format like a PDF, which you can only export using SketchUp Pro. Also be aware that any image you export out of SketchUp Free will have SketchUp’s logo watermarked in the corner. All right, so now that you’ve made it through all seven steps to create a floor plan using SketchUp Free, what’s next?
If you’re thinking about building out your floor plan in 3D, make sure to read our, “How to Model a House in SketchUp Free” article, which will help you avoid the biggest and most costly mistakes that cause people to struggle when they set out to model in SketchUp Free.
All right, so now you’ve made it through all 7 Easy Steps to Create a Floor Plan With Sketchup Free. What’s next? Do me a speedy spare and tell us which tip you liked “the world’s largest” in the comments below right now.