Building floor plan symbols

Updated April 17, 2017

The construction of a new building, whether a small one-bedroom home or a huge shopping mall, is a demanding and labour-intensive process that takes a good deal of preplanning and forethought. All buildings need floor plans drawn before construction begins that contain a series of symbols that indicate where rooms are to be placed, how large they are, and what sort of objects will be placed inside them.


Building floor plan diagrams are maps that indicate the relative position, in a specific scale decided on beforehand, of where all of the parts of a building are placed. The plan is used so that a construction foreman can let a crew know what to build and where to build it. Specific symbols are used in the floor plans to indicate walls, objects and doorways.


Nearly every type of object that can be found in a building has a corresponding symbol for a floor plan. A single solid line general indicates a wall, while a solid line with another line sticking out of it will indicate a doorway. More complex images that accurately reflect the type of object include tubs, showers, toilets, sinks, stoves, washers and dryers, refrigerators, heaters, wall shelves and counters. There are also symbols to indicate small objects such as outlets, cable jacks and light fixtures, as well as objects found outside the building such as trees, bushes and flower plots.


The direction and features of a symbol on a floor plan are just as important as the symbols themselves. Symbols for doors will show which direction the floor is meant to swing and where the door knob will be placed, as well as distinguishing between a normal wood door and a sliding glass panel door. Bi-folding doors for closets are also slightly different than other door symbols. The symbol for a shower will change based on whether it also includes a bathtub or if it is a single standing shower. Symbols can also be changed to indicate differences between objects such as partial height or full height walls, baseboard or water heaters, and regular sinks or drop-in sinks that also have a vanity attached.


While many floor plans are drawn by hand on graph paper, there are many different software programs that automate the drawing of symbols. Drawing symbols with a software program will not only speed up the floor plan creation process but also ensure that every symbol is uniform and easy to understand. Most software programs for drawing floor plans include symbols for buildings other than just homes such as offices, warehouses, schools and places of business.


Nearly every object that can be built into a building has a standardised symbol that is meant to be used on a floor plan. It is highly recommended that you always use the standard symbols, even though most software programs will allow you to draw your own, to prevent confusion with contractors and construction crew.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Ty Arthur has been writing technical and entertainment-related articles for a variety of online sources since 2008. His articles have appeared on and many other websites. Arthur attended the Great Falls College of Technology and studied both computer science and creative writing.