Tools for Drawing Simple Floor Plans

Hands pointing to a floor plan on a digital tablet, with architectural drawings being modified behind it.

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'll have to wade through all of the software intended for 3D design. These programs are overkill for a floor plan. Fortunately, there are a variety of easy-to-use online tools to help draw simple floor plans.

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 tenant. A realtor may use a floor plan to sell a property. A 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 spatial 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. 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? In that case, you don't really need high-powered software just to draw these shapes and lines.

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 everyone can edit.

Mobile Apps for Drawing Floor Plans

You won't need a computer to draw floor plans if you have a smartphone or tablet. A few of the most popular floor plan applications work on mobile devices. Browse the applications store for your device, and you'll find a variety of options:

  • 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 calculations are made using the GPS and gyroscope functions. 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. The app also includes a tool to help you estimate the costs and materials for a project.
  • Stanley Smart Connect, from Stanley Black & Decker, is one of the first mobile apps by a major manufacturer. The Bluetooth-enabled program allows you to take measurements and design room plans using your smartphone.

Online Tools for Drawing Floor Plans

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. Online tools will let you create scale drawings to envision your remodeling and decorating projects—and most of these tools are free:

  • FloorPlanner.com is free and allows users to create and save 2D and 3D designs. Pro and business memberships include additional tools for a fee.
  • Gliffy Floor Plan Creator is a simple tool for drawing 2D floor plans that allows users to move around furniture and decor.
  • SmartDraw is a graphics tool for creating flow charts, graphs, floor plans, and other diagrams.
  • RoomSketcher is made for creating 2D and 3D floor plans. Basic features are free, but you have to pay a fee to use the advanced tools.
  • EZ Blueprint is a simple program for Windows computers that allows users to generate basic floor plans and layouts.

Designing on the 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 the cloud. Cloud-based programs and applications are wonderful for creating designs that can be easily shared. Some tools allow multiple users to work on the same design, so you can ask friends and family to make suggestions and changes.