Tools to Draw a Simple Floor Plan

The Easiest Way to Draw Floor Plans

Hands pointing to a floor plan on a digital tablet, with architectural drawings being modified behind it.
Floor plans can help your professional better understand the results you want. Photo by Ezra Bailey/Getty Images (cropped)

Sometimes all a homeowner needs is a simple floor plan to help with remodeling and decorating projects. You might think that you could find some easy tools on the web, but first, you have to wade through all of the software intended for 3-D design. That's overkill for a simple floor plan. You just want to make a drawing to some scale. Where can you find reasonably-priced floor plan software? Are there easy online tools to help draw simple floor plans?

Communicate With Floor Plans

First, determine your needs. Why do you want to draw a floor plan? A landlord may want to show the setup of an apartment to a prospective renter. A realtor will use a floor plan to sell property. The homeowner may draw a floor plan to better formulate remodeling ideas or to decide where to place furniture. In all of these cases, a floor plan is used for communication—to visually express the use of space.

Don't think that a floor plan will let you build a house or make extensive remodeling decisions. A floor plan sketch can communicate spacial ideas from a homeowner to a contractor, but the person doing the construction is the one who knows where the bearing walls and shear walls are located—structurally important for vertical and horizontal loads. Floor plans suggest general ideas, not detailed specifications.

Use the Right Tool

A good home design software program will let you create some pretty fancy renderings with elevation drawings and 3D views. But, what if you only require a general idea of where the walls and windows go? Do you really need high-powered software just to draw shapes and lines?

Absolutely not!  Using inexpensive (or free) apps and online tools, you can whip together a simple floor plan—the digital equivalent of a napkin sketch—and share your plan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks. Some tools will even let you collaborate with family and friends, providing an online page that they can edit.

There's an App for That

You won't need a computer to draw floor plans if you have a smart phone or tablet. Here are a few of the most popular floor plan applications for mobile devices (e.g., cell phones, tablets). Browse the applications store for your device, and you'll find even more.

  • ROOMSCAN by Locometric would be fun to use even if you didn't need to draw a floor plan! Simply hold your iPhone or iPad up to an existing wall, wait for the beep, and the calculations apparently are made using the GPS and gyroscope functions. Or maybe it's Siri's new skill.... Like all apps, Roomscan is an evolving work-in-progress, moving toward its marketing goal of being "The App That Draws Floor Plans By Itself."
  • MagicPlan uses the camera and gyroscope functions of your mobile device to turn a 3D room into a 2D floor plan—It is a simple as 1-2-3, says their website.
  • Stanley Floor Plan App—Yes, that Stanley Black & Decker, Inc.who makes the hammers, tape measures, and other equipment in your tool belt—it's one of the first mobile apps by a major manufacturer. We can expect most construction-related industries to jump on the bandwagon in the near future. But, if you like their tools, will you like their apps? You decide.
  • Roomle—The bandwagon is moving along and more and more "start-up" companies are jumping on that wagon with new ideas for the latest technologies. This Austrian firm uses "the augmented reality function" or AR to conveniently place furniture into your floor plan. Which begs the question, is this a floor plan app or a convenient tool for the furniture industry? Beware.

    Favorite Online Floor Plan Software

    If you'd rather work from a computer, the possibilities are almost limitless. Drawing floor plans on a big screen can make it easier to fiddle with the design. Here's just a sampling of easy online tools you can access from your laptop or home computer. These will let you create scale drawings to envision your remodeling and decorating projects—and most of these tools are free!

    Designing on a Cloud

    Many of today's floor plan programs and applications are "cloud-based." Simply, "cloud-based" means that the floor plan you design is stored on someone else's computer, not your own. When you use a cloud-based tool, you provide details such as your name, email address, and where you live. Never give out information that you feel violates your safety or privacy. Choose tools that you're comfortable with.

    As you explore cloud-based tools for drawing floor plans, also think about whether you'd like to print out a copy of your design. Some cloud-based tools can be viewed online only. If you'd like to make copies, look for software or apps that will allow you to download projects onto your own computer. 

    Despite these concerns, there's a lot to love about drawing on a cloud. Cloud-based programs and applications are wonderful for creating designs that can be easily shared. Some tools allow multiple users, so you can ask friends and family to make suggestions and changes. Watch out for those edits though—You might find your dream house design is growing a few extra rooms... and perhaps a swimming pool.