Floor plan symbols are a set of standardized icons initially adopted by the American National Standards Institute (
) and the American Institute of Architects (
These symbols are used to represent key elements like windows, doors, and structural walls, as well as building materials, furniture, and appliances.
Done right, floor plans quickly communicate the basic layout of the property, how it’s oriented, and how the different rooms and structural elements work together.
However, effective blueprints often require that a lot of information is placed into a limited amount of space. Floor plan abbreviations and symbols help remodelers, designers, and builders do just that, while also making them easy to read.
10 Common Types of Floor Plan Symbols
Floor plans use a set of standardized symbols to represent various elements like windows, walls, stairs, and furniture.
In these next few sections, we’ll look at ten of the most common floor plan symbols and how they’re used.
1. Compass floor plan symbol and scale measurements
Typically found in the blueprint legend, the scale tells you whether dimensions are measured using feet and inches, or the metric system, and establishes a system for translating measurements.
Floor plan scales are typically represented in one of two ways:
- As equivalent measurements. Think ¼” is equal to 1’
- As a ratio. Think 1: 100 or 1: 48.
Different floor plan drawings might use different scales, depending on what you’re trying to depict--you might zoom out to show site plans and scale up to look at a single level. In any case, scales are represented as “scale bars,” black and white lines with numbers--much like a drawing of a ruler.
While Cedreo doesn’t use scale symbols, it does allow users to download plans to scale with the measurements appearing on the plan.
The compass helps you understand the orientation of a property and is represented by a circle with an arrow pointing toward due north.
Unlike the compass you’d typically see on a map, the floor plan symbol doesn’t include cardinal directions, and instead, aims to help you understand how to navigate through a building from the perspective of someone on the inside.
2. Door floor plan symbols
Doors are represented as gaps between walls with lines that show which way the door opens—curved lines for hinged doors and straight ones for sliding doors.
Door symbols also indicate which way the door swings—depending on the type of door—to give viewers a sense of how much clearance they’ll need.
There are symbols for every kind of door available—from pocket doors to open doorways—each aimed at creating a visual representation of their form and function.
Here’s a quick look at some of the more common examples:
- Open doorway. Open doorways are represented as a space between walls.
- Sliding door. Sliding doors are represented as two thin lines extending from a black rectangle.
- Pocket door. Pocket doors are sliding doors that essentially disappear into the wall when they’re open. The symbol looks a lot like the one used for sliding doors, only here, one set of lines slips inside the other.
- Single door. A single-hinged door is represented by a straight line that runs perpendicular to the wall and a curved line there to indicate which way it opens.
- Double door. The double door symbol looks like a letter “M,” made from two curved lines that join in the center.
- Bifold door. Bifold doors are most commonly used for bedroom layouts
, on closets. The floor plan symbol looks like two peaks, separated by a small space.
3. Window floor plan symbols
Windows are relatively easy to identify. They’re represented as breaks in the wall and are connected by a series of three thin lines—doors on the other hand, are typically represented using just two parallel lines.
- Standard fixed windows.
- Sliding-glass windows. Sliding windows are represented by three parallel lines, used to distinguish the openings from solid walls.
- Casement windows. Casement windows are hinged on the sides and open either inward or outward like a door. Floor plan symbols include arcs that indicate which way they open.
- Bay windows. Bay windows are a combination of three or more windows that angle outward, extending beyond exterior walls.
4. Wall floor plan symbols
Walls are the most common element in a blueprint and are represented by different types of lines. Thicker lines indicate exterior walls, while thin ones are generally used to show interior walls--however, that’s not a hard and fast rule.
Here are some different examples of floor plan symbols used to depict walls.
- Structural walls. Structural walls are typically exterior or load bearing walls and are the first walls to go up when building begins. These walls represent a building’s structural integrity—meaning, you’ll want to nail these down before you start adding in interior walls (which are indicated by thinner lines), windows or doors.
- Bearing walls. Bearing walls are internal or external walls of the building and exist primarily for the purpose of transferring loads. Any modifications made to bearing walls will impact the building’s structure and foundation. In Cedreo, the thickness of the wall will allow users to quickly delineate between a bearing and partition wall.
- Partition walls. Partition walls are internal walls that separate rooms. Unlike bearing walls, partition walls aren’t part of the building’s foundation and can be added, removed, and modified as needed—even later in the design process.
5. Stair floor plan symbols
Stair floor plan symbols use a series of parallel lines and an arrow that indicates which direction is “up” based on which level you’re looking at. As is the case with everything else in the floor plan, stairs are drawn from a top-down, 2D perspective and look like a set of connected rectangles.
- Straight stairs. Straight stairs are represented as a rectangle containing a series of parallel lines.
- Winding stairs. Winding stairs are drawn as an upside-down “U” shape, composed of several small rectangles.
- L-shaped stairs. L-shaped stairs, as you might imagine, looks like a set of rectangles connected in the shape of the letter “L.”
- Spiral stairs. Spiral stairs are an outlier among stair symbols--represented by a circle, with lines radiating from the center (like a wheel or a sliced pie). This symbol features an arrow pointing either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
6. Appliance symbols
In floor plans that include bathrooms, kitchens, or laundry rooms, you’ll typically use symbols to indicate where you’ll find hookups for major appliances—stoves, washers, dryers, refrigerators, and so on.
In most cases, appliance symbols appear alongside plumbing symbols such as drains, sinks, and toilets.
7. Furniture floor plan symbols
Furniture isn’t always included in blueprints, but it can be useful for helping clients envision how a room might be set up.
8. Plumbing floor plan symbols
Plumbing symbols include fixtures like sinks, tubs, and toilets—items you’d typically find in the kitchen or bathroom.
- Bathtub. A rectangle within a rectangle.
- Shower. A square with an “X” running through it and a small circle in the center.
- Toilet. The toilet symbol is an oval with a rectangle attached at the top, like the horizontal part of a letter “T.”
- Sink. There are several different architectural plan symbols for representing sinks. A double sink is a rectangle with two circles.
- Floor drain. A circle with hatching.
Floor plan abbreviations
In addition to the symbols and values we’ve mentioned above, designers often use standard abbreviations to communicate additional details in their floor plans--while maintaining a clean presentation.
While many of these abbreviations are both familiar and straightforward, it can be hard to keep track of the hundreds of items on this list. Here are some of the more common examples: