Making Sense of Autodesk Revit® Materials

July 23, 2020

The Revit Materials library can seem like a black hole of confusion especially for new users of Revit. Changing a material property can change other materials if not done properly. We will break down the Materials Library in Revit to clear up the confusion and keep your Materials Library concise.


Access the Materials Library on the Manage tab, Settings panel. Take a look at one of the Materials, in our case, “Glass, Clear Glazing”. All of the materials that are currently loaded into the project are listed in the Project Materials list on the left side of the dialog box. Below the Project Materials are the Material Libraries. These are the files that the Project Materials were pulled from. Below the Material Libraries are options to Open or Create a new Material Library and Create or Duplicate a Material. The last icon opens the Asset Browser. We will look at that in a moment.

On the right side of the dialog box are several tabs – Identity, Graphics, Appearance, Physical and Thermal. The Identity tab holds parameters for the Material that can be scheduled. Keynotes can also be used with Materials by using the Revit Annotation Information section.


The Graphics tab contains information that will be used in Shaded and Consistent Colors view settings. Colors, Surface Patterns and Cut Patterns can be applied to the Material. Likewise Transparency is controlled under the Shading section. The option to Use Render Appearance at the top will apply the same RGB color used in the Appearance asset – we will get to that next.

So far, so good, right? The Appearance tab is where things get a little more complicated. The Appearance tab controls the way things look in a rendered or Realistic view. The Appearance tab uses Assets (I told you we would get there!) that are shared between Materials. In this instance there is one other Material that is also using the “Clear” asset (blue oval). Therefore if we make a change to this Material Appearance, those changes will be made to the other Material that is also using the “Clear” asset.

In order to keep the integrity of the Clear asset, and eliminate frustration from coworkers who have claimed the Clear asset as their own, we need to Duplicate the Asset for this material (the pages icon) and then Replace the Asset (the white box/blue box swap icon…yes, they should probably be reversed). This will open the Asset Browser where we can select from a myriad of Appearance Assets. To replace the Asset, hove the mouse over the Asset, and click the double-arrow icon on the right side. Then close the Asset Browser by clicking the “X” in the upper right corner.

The Asset indicator now shows a zero, meaning no other materials are using the asset, and changes can be made without affecting other materials. One thing to note, the Assets showing a yellow triangle in the lower left corner of the Appearance Asset preview indicate that there is a newer Asset available in the Autodesk Materials Library.


The final two tabs, Physical and Thermal, have information associated with the Material for BIM and analysis purposes. Again this is based on an Asset, and this Asset may or may not be the same as the Appearance Asset. The Physical Assets are part of a separate library within the Asset Browser.

 This is just a glimpse of the inner workings of Revit Materials. ZenTek Consultants provides services and training for all AEC industry software users. Check our website for our latest class offerings.




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