Where Can You Find 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 architect or designer better understand the results you want. Ezra Bailey / Taxi / Getty Images

A new homeowner writes that she would like to draw a simple floor plan to help with remodeling and decorating projects. "I figured I could find some simple tools on the web, but all I can find is software intended for 3-D design," she says. "Most do not make drawing to some scale or designating distance easily."

Where can she find reasonably-priced floor plan software? Are there simple online tools to help draw floor plans?

Why a Floor Plan?

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 draws a floor plan to better formulate remodeling ideas. In all of these cases, a floor plan is used for communication—to visually express a use of space.

Don't think that a floor plan will let you build a house or even 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 get across ideas from one person to another but not every idea.

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 all you really want is a basic floor plan? Do you really need high-powered software just to draw shapes and lines?

Absolutely not! Several easy, digital tools will let you whip together a simple floor plan without any special training. Nothing beats the old graph paper and ruler floor plans or the pen sketch on a napkin.

Don't all great ideas happen that way? But how do you share a napkin sketch? Communicating ideas has changed in the 21st century. So, go digital.

Many of today's floor plan programs are cloud-based applications. Because you're creating on the Web, you can easily share your work on Facebook, Twitter, by e-mail, or with most any Web-based application. The downside is always security and the personal information you give up, so choose the tool you're most comfortable with.

Isn't There an App for that?

Tablet and smartphone mobile devices are just more fun than sitting at your computer all day. And every day clever programmers are inventing more applications than you could possibly use—including using your phone to create a floor plan.

Here are a couple of the most popular and favorite floor plan applications for mobile devices:

  • 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 by Sensopia uses the camera function of your mobile device to turn a 3D room into a 2D floor plan—Survey & Transform your Space 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—is 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?

Favorite Online Floor Plan Software:

For the more sedentary folks among us, computer software applications allow a great degree of spacial fiddling in the comfort of your own home. A variety of easy online tools will let you draw scale drawings to envision your remodeling and decorating projects—and most are free!

Also, our friend Daniel McQuillen wants you to know about his "humble program." He calls it SimpleDiagrams or "Simple D" and he seems receptive to ideas on how to improve the desktop app. If you're in Melbourne, Australia, give Dan a shout out. Or, you could more easily email him from the info at About Simple Diagrams. Tell him the plugin libraries you need for your project! He even wants to know if he's wasting his time with this product. Now, how often to you get to send your gripes to the source?

See? It's all about communication.

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