Can I use Canvas to scan exteriors?

The Short Answer

Canvas is optimized for scanning residential interiors. Scanning and processing exterior scans via Scan To CAD is possible, though there are a few limitations to keep in mind as well as a different pricing structure.

  • Interior Spaces: baseline pricing ($0.15 per sqft for 3D, $0.10 per sqft for 2D)
  • Exterior Facades and Siding: -$0.05 per sqft discount
  • Both: +$0.05 per sqft extra

If your scan includes an area that is technically outdoors, but not a facade or siding (e.g., courtyards, patios, porches, and balconies), you may still choose Interior Spaces as they are still processed similarly to an interior space. If you are trying to create an inside-out model of the whole home (including both the interior rooms and exterior siding and facades), you must choose Both.

If your scans and order choice do not match, your order may be delayed or you may receive a request for additional payment if a balance is owed. 

We do not recommend using Canvas for scanning landscaping, topography, and other natural, non-structural elements you may find outdoors. Scan To CAD will reject such scans unless they are part of a structure (like a retaining wall). Canvas is also not able to generate 2D elevations for exterior siding and facades. 

Please note that square footage is calculated on the basis of floor area covered in your final CAD model. If the space is not closed, such as a single exterior wall, the square footage of the wall or walls will be used to calculate area processed. 

If you have any questions, please contact support@canvas.io.

The Long Answer

There are a number of limitations that can affect the success of using Canvas on exterior and/or outdoor projects, affecting both scanning itself as well as Scan To CAD. However, in many cases they can be worked around.

Sunlight interference

Most 3D sensors can struggle to varying degrees in direct sunlight, but sensitivity may vary. The LiDAR sensor used by LiDAR-enabled iOS devices will struggle most in very bright, direct sunlight, and not be very impacted on overcast days, or when scanning an area shielded from direct sunlight.

Range

The LiDAR sensor’s range is 5m, meaning roofs and second-story exteriors will be very challenging to capture.

Drift on Large Scans

Generally, the larger an area you cover in a scan, the more small, unnoticeable measurement errors can compound, which is why Canvas states an accuracy tolerance in relative percentage terms vs. absolute terms. If you are scanning a very large side of a home, you may experience more drift (or distortion) in your model, which can affect accuracy. 

CAD Oversimplification

Scan To CAD was built and optimized for interior scans, which means that you may find some aspects of an exterior Scan To CAD result oversimplified relative to your needs for a given project — or missing key elements due to range. Scan To CAD will also not convert landscape, fences, driveways, grass, or other items that may be important to your project.

Accuracy

If the limitations above affect the accuracy or quality of your scan data, this can lead to inaccuracies in your Scan To CAD result. If you are requesting a merge of both interior scans and exterior scans, merging low-quality exterior scans with high-quality interior scans can reduce the accuracy of the whole model. This is unlikely to be significant, but may push you outside of our typical accuracy tolerances

Estimation and Pricing

As our in-app square-footage estimation algorithms and pricing are built for interior scans, you may find that your in-app estimates are significantly off from the final square footage processed.