Using Grid Paper

Using grid paper to lay out your property works as well as it does when laying out furniture placement in a room.  You can really save your back when using it to set up furniture in a room.  And you’ll save time and money when setting up your burbstead plan.

measure 1

my office chair


“snip” “snip”

First, let’s look at a room plan.  It’s very simple to do.  All you need is a sheet of grid paper, pencil (markers, pens whatever you like), and a pair of scissors.  If you don’t already have grid paper, you can download my grid example at the end of this post and print it.  Anyway, measure the furniture you want to put in the room and draw the shape on the grid paper.  In this example, I’m using the scale 1 block = 1 square foot.  The chair is 20 x 22 inches, so it’s just shy of 2×2′ square.  Then cut out your shapes.


grid drawing of a 10′ x 12′ foot room

Using the same size grid paper and the same size scale for the blocks, mark off the dimensions of your room.  Be sure to include doors, windows, electrical outlets and any permanent objects such as a support beam or a floor vent you don’t want to cover.  My example shows that the window is 3 feet from the left corner of that wall and 4 feet from the right corner, and the window itself is 3 feet wide.  The dots around the door opening shows the path of movement of the door.  That way you know where not to place a piece of furniture.  Because the “furniture” pieces are not drawn directly on the grid, it will be easier to move them around to see how well they will fit into the room.  Be sure to leave walking space between your furniture pieces.  A good way to figure how much walking space you need is by measuring the width of whoever will be likely to use the room and adding a few inches.  Obviously children will need less walking space than adults and wheelchairs will need more.  So, keep in mind who will be traversing this area.

When drawing your property, also remember to include space for foot traffic.  In the example of our property I needed to make our half acre  fit onto a small piece of paper, so I used a very small grid and each block equals 2 square feet.  I didn’t bother including the road and about 15 feet of wooded area on the north side because I don’t plan on altering it.  We’re hoping to be able to purchase about 1/5 of an acre from our neighbor on the south side of the property.  I’ve scanned this grid to my computer and printed it at least a dozen times for multiple “plan A” and “plan B” design ideas.  It’s a great time saver to not have to draw the house repeatedly.

property grid

messy, but valuable

tool shed

needs painting

Using a grid is also helpful when designing vertical projects.  In this “lean-to” example, I was able make sure the structure would be tall enough to walk under and also get an idea how it would look when finished.  The scale for this drawing is 1 block = 1 sq.ft.

Hopefully we'll be able to add the arbor/gate next summer

Hopefully we’ll be able to add the arbor/gate next summer

You’ll notice my bracings are different on the drawing and photo.  I used the drawn beams for support until the project was finished, then removed them.  We’d never put up a tin roof before, so drawing it out helped me visualize how to space the support rafters using scrap wood we already had.

I hope this information is useful when making your own project plans.  If you have any questions, please feel free to let me know.  I’d be happy to help!

grid 001

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Filed under "This Old House" on a shoestring, Red Clay Garden

2 responses to “Using Grid Paper

  1. Do you know if they make rolls of graph paper? I am trying to lay out my property on a large paper, but have only found small graphing paper. It would be much better done on the graph paper, you are so right.

    • This may be a repeat reply, but since what I replied on my ipad mini didn’t show up here I thought I’d try it again. Sorry so slow in getting back to you. My computer died and it took a while to replace it.

      I’m sure rolls of grid paper must exist for architect work. Maybe you could find it on the web? I have taped several sheets together (putting the tape on the back) to make a large map, but it was cumbersome. These days I just have a small “overview” map of the property and separate pages for each section. I use my copier to reduce/enlarge the sizes as needed. And I have several pads of different types of graph paper. Love the stuff!

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