How to Read a Blueprint

Blueprint symbols are the universal language of builders and contractors. Once you've learned the language, you, too, will be in the know.

The codes shown here are in general use in the building industry but may vary slightly from architect to architect. Consult with your contractor if you don't understand a symbol on your blueprints.

Additional notes:

  • In the kitchen, appliance and door swings are noted on blueprints, which will help you visualize the flow of the space and anticipate any potentially awkward problems.
  • A circled number with a triangle means there is additional information elsewhere in the set of plans, or it indicates a revision.
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1. Casement window hinged left [A] and right [B]; elevation view

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2. Awning window [A] and hopper window [B]; elevation view

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3. Casement window; plan view

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4. Awning window [A] and hopper window [B]; plan view

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5. Double-hung or fixed window

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6. Vent or louver

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7. Horizontal sliding window

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8. Sliding doors

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9. Bifold doors

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10. Pocket door

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11. Accordion-fold door

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12. Recessed light, wall sconce

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13. Arched opening

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14. Exterior door

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15. Interior door

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16. Swinging door

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18. Double electrical outlet

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19. Three-wire range outlet

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20. Special-purpose outlet

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21. Brass floor receptacle

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22. Single-pole (on/off) switch

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23. Dimmer

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24. Three-way switch

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25. Phone jack

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26. Heat-supply duct

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27. Return-air duct

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28. Wiring in wall or above-grade plumbing waste pipe

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29. Wiring concealed under floor or below-grade waste pipe

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30. Hot-water pipe

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31. Cold-water pipe

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32. Compacted earth fill

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33. Gravel fill

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34. Poured-in-place cement

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35. Lightweight concrete

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17. French doors

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37. Brick

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38. Finish wood

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39. Framing lumber

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40. Rigid-board insulation

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41. Batt or loose insulation

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42. Steel-stud framing

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43. Wood-stud framing

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44. Glass block

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45. Glass

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46. Plywood (on small scales)

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47. Plywood (on large scales)

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48. Blocking

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49. Swinging door with two fixed sections

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