Thick walls with the Offset tool

Posted by James Therrien, Lead Training Simian

If you're brand new to SketchUp, one of the first thing you'll notice is that your "walls" are paper-thin. Consider what happens when you build the following:


Deleting the top face (step 3) of a form you've push/pulled into existence results in super-thin, single-surface walls. That's fine if you're building Japanese shōji, but for many applications, you'll want to model your walls with a thickness. The easiest way to go about doing this is to use the Offset tool. You can activate it by choosing Tools > Offset from the menu bar or by clicking on its tool icon. If you haven't set up your own keyboard shortcuts yet, you can switch to the Offset tool by pressing F on your keyboard.

Here's how to use Offset to create walls that look thick:


  1. Start with any face in your SketchUp model.
  2. Activate the Offset tool (choose one of the methods listed above for doing so).
  3. Click once on your face (the one in your model).
  4. Move your mouse (don't drag) toward the center of your face.
  5. Click again when the offset edges you're creating are the right distance from the original perimeter of your face.
  6. If you want to be precise, type an offset distance (such as 6in or 15cm) on your keyboard and press Enter (This Help Center article has more information about entering precise dimensions in SketchUp, as does this video).
  7. Switch to the Push/Pull tool by pressing P on your keyboard.
  8. Click between the two sets of edges on your face to push/pull it into a 3D form.
  9. Click again to stop push/pulling.

Want to learn more about Offset? Check out this video.

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12 comments :

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, a component such as a window or door will make an opening in a paper thin wall. What is the best method for dealing with thick walls and components?

Ralph Kent said...

yep, i'd like to second this question - what's the best way of incorporating windows and doors in walls with thickness? they only seem to work properly on those super-thin, single-surface walls you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Adressing the two previous questions. The best way I myself have encountered. Is placing the window/door in the desired position on either surface on the wall in question. And draw a rectangle around it after that it is easy to push the rectangle through with Push/Pull tool and make an opening for the window/door.
Hope this helps someone and if anyone has a better way to share it to the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Sketchup still doesn't have a single line offset tool. It is the last and primary reason I use AutoCAD.

SketchUp Team said...

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by a "single line offset tool", but you can also use Offset in SketchUp by selecting one or more edges (lines), then activating the Offset tool, then clicking to offset only the edges you selected.

Does that help?

Anonymous said...

I use two separate components. One for the outside face and one for the inside face. Then I can select them both and copy or array them both at once and it cuts both. The inside one can be really simple, just enough to cut the inside wall.

Anonymous said...

I am very new to the SketchUp
I know AutoCad and Vector Works
In both you can draw any thickness of wall. Most of the users are construction related. I am an Architectural Designer and Project Coordinator for a General Contractor. Walls are very important to us. Why is it not possible to use SketchUp and draw more than a single thin line.

ettore said...

Ok.That's easy.
But if you want to build a simple room (4 walls) with a inclined roof?
I mean on a side a wall is higher than the opposite one.
You'll get:
one wall (ex.heigth 4m)
one wall (opposite height 2m)
two walls inclined from 4m to 2m.
How would you solve it?
Thanx

Gabriele from Italy

Anonymous said...

I've been able to successfully build the first floor to my house. However, I cannot seem to add the second floor. What is the best strategy? (Also, is there a way to start a line or box at a precise coordinate?)

Anonymous said...

It shows you in the Sketchup tutorials. You draw a rectangle on the outer wall. Then push it through to the inner wall face. Finally delete the remaining rectangle and it creates a hole in both walls and with four sides. Then For more detail just create a separate window and insert it into the opening. Actually you can do pretty much the same with single paper thin walls. Just draw a rectangle, push it a bit to create the opening sides and then create a window over the top. It gives the illusion of wall thickness from the outside without actually having all the bother of creating an internal wall. Internal walls are only really necessary for sections or internal perspectives anyway.

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shailen.sobhee said...

I have a problem with Push/Pull. I create a simple rectangle, pull it, and I get a cube. Now, if I try to pull the raise surface back to its initial position, the initial simple rectangle disappears. Can anybody advise me what I should do?