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 Professional Better Understand the Results You Want. Photo by Ezra Bailey/Getty Images (cropped)

Sometimes all a homeowner needs is to draw a simple floor plan to help with remodeling and decorating projects. You might think that you could find some simple tools on the Web, but first you have to wade through all of the software intended for 3-D design. That's overkill to 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 simple online tools out there 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 the 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!  Nothing beats the old graph-paper-and-ruler-made 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. Several easy, digital tools will let you whip together a simple floor plan without any special training.

Here's a new wrinkle: many of today's floor plan programs are "cloud-based" applications. What's that mean? Simply, that means that the floor plan you design is stored on someone else's computer and not your own. There is no cloud that holds information; it's just somebody's computer or memory someplace else. Because you're creating on a "Web-cloud," 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 (e.g., cell phones, tablets):

  • 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 Web site.
  • 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? 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:

    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 contact 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 software guy who made the product?

    See? It's all about communication.