Some people think that when you create a model in Sketchup, it needs to be a big complex monster model in order for it to be anything of value. But a lot of times I find I can use Sketchup to solve little problems very quickly and effectively.
For example, I recently installed new flooring in my house, and I needed to calculate the square footage of the rooms I needed flooring in. In a typical room this is fairly easy. You measure the width and length of the room, and multiply them together to get the area.
But in my case, I needed to calculate the area of my living room that is open to my kitchen so I had a lot of funny corners and cabinets to measure around. Then the task of figuring out the area meant trying to split up the dimensions into logical squares so I could easily calculate the square footage; It was starting to look like a homework assignment from back in high school. Instead, I turned to Sketchup to draw my floor plan.
Use Sketchup to Create a Floor Plan
Sketchup is a great tool for creating a floor plan, especially if you are just looking to calculate the area of the floor. But before you open up Sketchup, you’re going to want to go and measure the room. Take as many measurements as possible. It’s better to have more information than not enough.
Step 1 – Measure the Room
So just grab a piece of paper, a tape measure and maybe a helper to hold the other end of the tape. On the piece of paper, draw a rough outline of the room. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just try to draw each of the corners of the walls as you see them. You’ll probably notice that you don’t get the proportions just right, and that’s OK! Sketchup will take care of that later.
Measure each length of wall and write down the measurement. I would measure to the nearest half inch. Go around the room until you have measured each wall.
You can see from the image to the right how complex this layout would have been to calculate the area. Granted, I could’ve just over estimated instead of trying to be so detailed, but I didn’t want to have to buy more flooring than I needed. Plus I knew it would be easy to figure it out in Sketchup, so that’s what I did.
Once you’ve created your sketch and have collected all of your dimensions, go ahead and open up Sketchup.
Step 2 – Recreate the Floor Plan in Sketchup
QUICK TIP: One thing I like to do every time I open Sketchup is just create one big rectangle group to create a “floor”. This makes it easier to orbit when you have something solid to reference from. It also makes it easier for the inference system to know what you are trying to draw. Try it out and see if you like it.
In this case, a rectangle about 50′ x 40′ will be plenty big enough for what I need. I like to create it a little bigger than the model I need to create. So after creating a big rectangle group to give me a surface to reference, I start drawing an outline of the walls. Now, I don’t care about the wall thickness or anything. I just want to know the area so we’re not going to get fancy at all. This will strictly be a 2D flat drawing.
So just start at one corner of your model with the line tool and start drawing. Click once to start the line, then drag your mouse over until you lock into the axis you want. To start your floor plan, you would do this:
- Start the line tool action by clicking once.
- Drag the mouse toward the general direction you want to go.
- Type in the length of the wall like this
18' 5"and press
Once you’ve created your first line, Sketchup will be ready to draw another line from the endpoint of your first one. So it’s as easy as nudging the mouse over to the direction you want to go to lock the axis, and typing in your next dimension. Just keep repeating that process until you’ve returned to your starting position. So creating additional lines would be like this:
- (After pressing
ENTERfrom previous line) Move mouse and snap to new axis
- Type in the length of the wall
9' 11"and press
This will start to go pretty fast, and you’ll be done in no time.
When you get back to your starting point, things might not line up just perfectly. You will probably find that you are off by a few inches or so depending on how precise your measurements were, and how squarely you house was built. Check you measurements if you think you made a mistake, but you can also make a small adjustment somewhere in order to keep your Sketchup model square.
Once your floor plan is complete, delete the “floor group” you created at the beginning of this tutorial. You’ll end up with just your floor plan outline.
Step 3 – Calculate Area
Well, really Sketchup does all the calculating, so this step is super easy. You just go to Window –> and select “Entity Info”. Then, with the select tool, highlight/select the face and you’ll see the area of the face pop up in the Entity Info Window.
Piece of cake!
So now I know I have exactly 358 sq ft of flooring area. So when I go to buy the flooring I can be confident in knowing what I’ll need and not buy too much. Of course you have to figure in a little extra material for cut-offs and waste, so I’ll get a little extra.
No Fancy stuff
This is a great example of how to use Sketchup to solve a problem quickly, without getting fancy or complicated with your model. Could I have drawn 3D walls, and the kitchen cabinets, and the doors, etc? Yes. But would it have provided any more value to me in calculating the area of the floor? No.
Make sure you take some time before modeling to think about the purpose of the model. You don’t always have to create detailed models to create something useful. Sometimes the simplest models are the best ways to leverage the amazing power of Sketchup.