Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Revit Materials; Painting a Material Parameter

Most Revit users know how to assign a material to geometry in the Family Editor. The result is all faces of the selected element displayed the selected material. A feature I find a lot of people are not aware of is painting a material parameter onto individual faces. Doing so allows us to adjust the material of individual faces within the project environment.

This challenge reveals a fundamental problem with Revit materials... in the real world materials and finishes are not always the same thing. A good example is paint (finish) applied to CMU, Gyp. Bd. Conc (Materials). Revit has no good way to fully account for finishes apart from a material. More on this in a future post.

The following detailed steps show how to create and apply a material parameter, using the Paint tool, in the family editor and then see its result in the project environment.

  • I will start with this base cabinet example were the interior finish if often different than the exposed parts. Currently a wood material is assigned to the geometry and thus it is visible on all surfaces

  • In the family editor, create a new parameter and set the Type of parameter to Material as shown below; name it whatever you want (Interior Finish in this example).

Creating a material parameter in a family

  • Start the Modify (tab) > Paint tool, and select the material Parameter - not the material. Notice material parameters have "(param)" listed after their name.
    • This applies a parameter that can be changed in the project, rather than a material that cannot be changed; obviously a material could be modified, but it cannot be changed.

Paint tool in family editor

  • Click on any face to apply the new material parameter to it.
    • If the material parameter already has a material assigned, the selected faces will immediately change.

Material parameter painted onto three faces in this example

  • Now, when the family is selected in the project, the material parameter is listed in properties and the assigned material can be changed.

Material parameter for selected family

Painted materials have no thickness so its Cut Pattern is irrelevant, but the Surface Pattern and Appearance asset settings are used.

Simple but powerful feature!


  1. Dan,good post. There has been an issue using this painted material technique. You will not be able to match the pattern with any system family. For example, if I have a wood siding material applied to the surface of the family, once it is loaded to project, you can't align that to the wall with the same material. Assuming there is a model pattern associated with the material.

  2. Good point, thanks for commenting, Philip (my first comment on this blog!). Sounds like an idea for another post!