Sunday, September 6, 2015

Open(ing) Sesame

Few days ago I was answering some questions to a project team and noticed the project has many openings using "Edit Profile" on a wall. I couldn't help but commented this was not a very efficient way to model opening in Revit.

Repetitive openings should be avoided using Edit Profile

Typically there are 3 common ways to create wall openings in Revit. They are "Wall Opening" tool, "Edit Profile" and using family. In this post, I will explain some pros and cons on these tools and offer my perspective on the best practice when it comes to create openings.

Wall Opening Tool

The tool is under Architecture (Current version) or Home (prior 2014) tab --> Opening --> Wall. This is probably the easiest way to make opening in Revit. You pick your target (your wall) then define the area as a rectangle shape, Revit will make that opening for you. The upside is it is very easy to apply, very easy to make adjustment when needed. It can also be copied to multiple instances to the same wall. In addition, you can apply this in a curve wall too. So what's the limitation? There are some. This tool can only make rectangular shape. If you need anything other than that, you won't be able to do it at all. Autodesk, why can't you fix this already?

Edit Profile

This is also a native tool in Revit. You select any wall, the "edit profile" icon will show up via the option bar. You can start editing the shape of the wall in the "sketch mode"; make any changes you need, then click the check icon to "finish". I often found many users misuse this great tool in Revit and left with some unexpected result.


If you use edit profile to make openings, they can't be copied. If you need to "get rid" of the opening, you will have to activate the edit profile and delete the sketch. Plus, it doesn't work on curve wall either. What if you need to schedule the openings as "case opening" for your project? Using this tool will not get you anywhere either. Another reason this tool bothers me so much is that it is hard to tell if the opening is made using this tool. Since you won't be able to "select" it like you would with "wall opening" tool, sometimes it is very hard to locate them when the project fully developed.

Using Family

This is probably my preferred method to make any openings in Revit. The user creates a family (it can be wall hosted, face based or even using the feature "cut void when loaded) usually by using void or "opening" to cut out the family host. You can then load it into the project and cuts the wall with the family.

Why this is better? It really depends on what your purpose is, how you create the family or how you use it. First of all, you will need to have the knowledge to build a proper family, in which case, it will probably be better if this is a parametric family to be flexible to use it in project.

Using family has one advantage that the other two don't. Often times I have a need in a project to make a recess (faux opening) in a wall, I could set a parameter to control the void thickness, thus I can choose to cut the opening with different depth in a wall. If you need the openings to be schedule in a project, this will be come in handy. Besides, you can copy multiple instances of the family on a fly in a project.


If you don't know how to make a proper family, you would end up having more issues using this method. Second, you would have to have different families for different shapes (one for rectangular shape, one with an arch top, etc...).


All of the above methods are valid ways to create openings, it is important to know the differences between the pros and cons. What's more important is you should stick with one method and keep it consistent throughout the project so the team can have a better expectation.


  1. Philip: Another big difference between these tools is how they effect room bounding. Wall openings allow a room to flow through it while an opening family or editing the profile will not.

    Steve Stafford wrote about this several times.

  2. l find osnaps don't work with the wall opening tool. Which makes it hard to draw themaccurately.
    Another trick if you have 2 or more walls close together and you want an opening to go through both (or all) walls.
    Use the Join command.
    This works even if the walls are not touching.

  3. One other comment on the Wall Opening tool... Very easy to use, but also very easy to be unintentionally deleted by other editors that don't know they exist in the model. :)