Sketchup Tutorial | How to create a quick floor plan

Matt Donley News, Sketchup Tutorials 10 Comments

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. Floor plan sketch

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:

  1. Start the line tool action by clicking once.
  2. Drag the mouse toward the general direction you want to go.
  3. Type in the length of the wall like this 18' 5" and press ENTER.

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:

  1. (After pressing ENTER from previous line) Move mouse and snap to new axis
  2. Type in the length of the wall 9' 11" and press ENTER

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.

About the Author

Matt Donley

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Matt has been creating SketchUp tutorials since 2012. After writing the book SketchUp to LayOut, he conducted the "Intro to LayOut" seminar at the official SketchUp conference in Colorado. Matt writes about how to use SketchUp for design, construction and 3D printing.

Comments 10

  1. Flooring Installer

    Good little tutorial- but be careful. Roll flooring is typically sold in 12′ widths and you have to allow for the pattern match – and then you have to consider where the seam(s) will fall – one direction may be better than the other for traffic. You may be able to turn one piece 90 degrees to save SF but probably not… etc etc…

    My point – just knowing the SF of the room shape is nowhere near enough information to give you an accurate estimate of the flooring you need to purchase and will almost always leave you way short. Example – if these rooms were carpeted, depending on how it laid out you might need as much as 54 LF off the 12′ roll, which is 648 SF – considerably more (almost twice!) than the 358 “actual” measurement. If you could turn the carpet the other direction, and put up with more seams – you could get closer, but that totally depends on the product, the pattern match, and the traffic flow. Even if you were doing something modular like hardwood – the 358 SF number would have to be adjusted up for waste, cuts, potential turns in direction ,etc.

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      Matt Donley

      Great info! Whenever installing a floor, you must consider the type of flooring and which direction you will be laying it. Also, planning out where the seams fall is important too.

      In my situation, I was using a floating laminate floor product from Formica. It actually comes in random lengths, which I thought was unique. I had always seen laminate in one length only. But anyways, it allowed me to use the cutoff from one row to start the next row most of the time. So I knew I would only have about 5% waste. By having an accurate calculation of the floor area, I could be confident in knowing how many boxes to purchase.

      If you wanted to, you could take this a step further and lay out the flooring in Sketchup and figure out when seams would go, etc. This would be great for the examples you gave, like carpet and roll flooring.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. Matt Jackson

    Very useful dialog here.
    The statement “Make sure you take some time before modeling to think about the purpose of the model.” is exactly right. If the determined purpose for a drawing is to determine quantity of sheet goods or carpet with directional and pattern match considerations its simply a matter of adding some dimensions to the model. With an accurate, dimensioned “floor plan” in hand, any knowledgeable flooring installer (like Flooring Installer above) can determine the proper quantity to order without making a site visit.
    Another great feature of the “Quick Floorplan Method” is that by using the process Matt describes, any significant measuring errors will show up. After all, who hasn’t written down 48″ on a sketch when the measurement was actually 4′-8″?
    Good stuff!

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      Matt Donley

      Matt, that’s a really excellent point about this method catching measurement errors automatically for you! If the points don’t connect at the end, you know you have a problem somewhere with one of your dimensions. You know that everything is laid out to scale in Sketchup as you type the measurements in. So most times you can find the error pretty easily just by looking at the model and judging the proportions.

  3. Steve McNeice

    I would like to add another point. Use the dimension tool to show the length of each line.
    Print this out and show this to the retailer. With no site visit, they can accurately figure exactly how much material you need.

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  5. Monika

    Hi there,
    I have sketchup pro, but I still need a program to create fast, easy 2D floor plan, do you know of any that would be good and even better compatible with sketch up ?
    thank you so much,

  6. Lewis Ratliff

    Good basic info. I use a hand drawn sketch placed in a printer & scanned into SU, and thereafter “traced and dimensioned”.

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