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Digital Floor Plan Vs. Printed Drawings: Which Is Better for Architects?

Digital floor plans and printed drawings are two methods that architects use to put their ideas for what a project they are working on will ultimately look like on paper or on a computer. Many architects find that both options can have their place, especially when working on a complex project. Keep reading for an overview of:

  • What digital floor plans and printed drawings are
  • Some of the most significant benefits and drawbacks of each option
  • Which option is ultimately the most beneficial for architects

What Are Digital Floor Plans?

Digital floor plans involve using a software program to create a rendition of what an architect wants a final product to look like. Using these programs can be time-consuming. But they result in more detailed and professional images of a future room or building.

The Pros

Digital floor plans provide the most professional and high-quality renditions of what the end result of a project will look like. This makes them an excellent fit for many architects.

3D Imaging

Digital floor plans provide a cutting-edge 3D rendition of your vision that printed drawings simply cannot compare to. Printed drawings can have their place during the early stages of drafting your design. But digital floor plans can show you a significantly more accurate model of what every side of your project will look like. This gives your team a more thorough idea of what your entire finished space will look like. It also makes it easier for your team and your client to visualise exactly what being in a completed room will feel like. That’s better than even the most detailed 2D drawing.

More Realistic Designs

Many digital floor plan software programs can also produce images that come close to what a photograph of the finished room or building will look like. This provides a significantly more realistic idea of your project's potential. These brightly-coloured, photo-realistic designs provide your design team, client, contractors, and any additional parties involved with your project with a much more eye-catching rendition of what the completed project will look like than even the best drawings are capable of. As a result, it’s easier to help everyone involved visualise the end result of your design.

Unlimited Changes

Small adjustments can be just as easy to make with a printed drawing as they are with a digital floor plan. But digital floor plans make it much easier to make any more significant changes to your design. Making major changes to a drawing involves:

  • A significant amount of erasing
  • Potentially losing the wrong details by mistake
  • Having to restart sections from scratch

But digital floor plan software makes it much easier to undo and redo one specific change at a time. This means that architects have more options for controlling specific details. Simultaneously, they can make as many changes as needed to fine-tune their designs to best meet their clients' expectations.

The Cons

Having some understanding of how to get the most out of digital floor plan software is a must for the vast majority of architects. But this software does come with drawbacks that mean that it may not be the best fit in every situation.


Digital floor plans can provide exceptionally high-quality renditions of your designs, but doing so can be a very time-consuming process. These programs involve understanding and using a wide range of complex settings, especially higher-end options. Architects may not always want to spend this amount of time on something they could do in seconds by hand. Also, it is not always necessary to spend extra time creating a more complex version of every aspect of every floor plan, especially during the early stages of the design process.

Disrupts Creative Flow

The complex and time-consuming nature of digital floor plans means that it can be difficult for architects to be as efficient throughout the creative process. Getting an idea on paper can be more difficult when an architect needs to constantly stop and find specific tools when using a digital floor plan software program. This is rarely the most effective option for allowing an architect to work without losing their creativity flow.

What Are Printed Drawings?

Printed drawings are a quicker and simpler alternative to digital floor plans. They involve sketching the concept you have in mind instead of using complex software to create it. They are often a helpful option for getting initial ideas on paper in the early stages of creating a design. But most architects prefer not to only use this option.

The Pros

Printed drawings do not produce images at the same level as digital floor plans. But their ease of use means that they still have a place for many architects.

**More Accessible to Your Client **

Printed drawings can be easier for your clients to understand and interpret, especially if you are not with them when they view your designs. Even if your digital floor plan software is easy for you to use and understand, some clients may run into technical difficulties. You cannot simply send them a link or file and expect them to know how to interpret the information.

Drawings of the same rendition generally appear simpler. They can also provide a better level of overall accessibility. They are typically less complicated and easier for every potential viewer to understand and visualise.

More Room for Creativity

Printed drawings make it significantly easier for architects to be as creative as they want to be. This is vital, especially in the early stages of the design process. It is possible to eventually make a digital floor plan reach the level of a drawing using a high-end software program. But this is generally only after incorporating a series of complex settings. The right digital blueprints settings can take a significant amount of time to locate, set up, and input.

Printed drawings, however, often provide a more streamlined and less time-consuming option. They're ideal for architects who are interested in experimenting with more complex details. As a result, they can generate a more creative final product than if they had stuck to what can be done easily using a digital floor plan software program.

**The Cons **

Printed drawings can work well for certain purposes. But most architects will have a difficult time reaching their potential if they only use this option.

Less Capacity for Revisions

Digital floor plan software programs maintain a detailed record of every change that has been made. This makes it easier to:

  • Backtrack
  • Redo changes that were made by mistake
  • Generally include more rounds of editing in each project

Ultimately, they aren't the right tool to make your end result come as close as possible to what the client has in mind.

Less Professionalism

Drawings naturally convey a less professional appearance than high-quality images created with a high-end digital floor plan software program. Not all clients will mind this, especially in the early stages of your project.

But it is important to keep in mind that clients used to working with top architects may expect the results digital floor plans provide. A handful of clients may be less interested in working with an architect that uses a somewhat less professional-looking method than what they are used to.

So, Which Is Better for Architects? Digital Floor Plans or Printed Drawings?

Most architects use both digital floor plans and printed drawings. Both have their place when it comes to creating the highest-quality designs possible. Printed drawings provide a much quicker option that is often a good fit for brainstorming ideas. In contrast, digital blueprints provide a more detailed and professional version that generally works better for later stages of your design process.

Reach Out to HP to Discuss Your Printing Needs

At HP, we are here to help you understand your options for designing floor plans and determine which is the best fit for your situation. Many architects benefit from combining the best features and qualities of both options to create the best end results and overall experience for their clients.

Our products can also provide quality printing to help you ensure that paper copies of the floor plans you create look as good on paper as they do on your computer. Reach out to us to learn more about which option might be best for you and how we can help you get the best possible results!

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