7 Free Masonry WordPress Themes – No Bricks Here!
Despite being popularized by Pinterest, the laying out posts using a “masonry grid” can be effective for numerous types of sites, not just photographic.
There’s only a handful of masonry-specific themes in the free WordPress theme repository, so I took them for a spin to see if any are worth considering.
And found an absolute gem.
The masonry grid approach has plenty of appeal especially for sites that post frequently, want to expose as many posts as possible, often use featured images and don’t want to worry about always having featured images of the same dimensions.
I recently wrote a tutorial on how to lay out your post listings in a masonry grid with just CSS but this, of course, relies heavily on the underlying theme and will only work on modern browsers. So I was interested to see what the purpose-built masonry themes in the WordPress theme repository were like.
Having tested the themes on both desktop, tablet and mobile, the range in quality of what are free themes was quite wide. One theme, though, stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Before we get to the overall verdict, here’s 7 themes from the free WordPress theme repository that made the shortlist.
The Free Masonry WordPress Themes Shortlist
Last Updated: 2013-12-04
Unresolved Support: None
Celebrate is a responsive theme built on top of Hybrid Core, featuring a full range of post formats, masonry layout, custom header and background.
Verdict: Celebrate won’t get your heart racing but it’s a solid theme albeit with limited customization options.
All post listings are displayed in a masonry style but the only layout customizations are whether to have a sidebar (two-column) or not (one-column).
You cannot control how many columns the masonry uses.
Further customizations allow setting the header text color, the background color, the header image and custom footer content (HTML allowed).
The theme does respond pretty well – the sidebar, if active, becomes a footer – and looks good across tablets and mobiles.
Last Updated: 2014-06-15
Unresolved Support: 9 of 10
Jkreativ Lite is 100% Responsive also featured masonry blog layout. This themes is retina ready so your themes will seems perfect on every modern device and cross browser compatibility.
Verdict: Jkreative Lite is a great looking theme that makes a few odd choices.
This theme makes a great first impression: the layout is clean, the number of columns responds to the screen size and the type is crisp.
But there are a few oddities such as the title only being displayed on tablets and mobiles; the single post content width not being full-width even with no widgets in the sidebar (you wouldn’t want a sidebar anyway); the permanent sidebar (the left margin) not being widget-ready; and, tablets only have 2 columns even in landscape orientation when 3 would fit quite easily.
The page loading animation is a gimmick that becomes annoying pretty quickly.
It does have some nice touches though such as a mobile-specific menu and a slide-out menu for non-desktops (although the styling would need some tweaking).
It also looks great on a tablet.
Worth a look if you don’t mind doing a little post-installation tweaking.
Last Updated: 2014-03-27
Unresolved Support: 4 of 5
Pinterest like personal blogging theme powered by jQuery Masonry. Beautiful retina-ready and responsive theme with flexible layout. Tons of options to customize the theme according to your needs.
Verdict: An attractive and well thought-out theme that does almost exactly what it says on the tin without any fuss or fanfare.
Gridz’s effectiveness is due to its simplicity. Whilst the “tons of options to customize” is a slight exaggeration there are enough to make this theme your own.
You can choose the the number of content columns, colors, fonts (type and size) and the location and appearance of the sidebar.
The scroll-to-top is a nice touch as is the addition of 3 footer widget areas is a nice touch and is preferable to using a sidebar when thinking about the implications of smaller devices.
Responsiveness is not bad, the selected number of grid columns is respected on a landscape-orientated tablet but the design becomes single column for all devices in portrait and mobiles in landscape mode.
If I was to be picky then I would prefer 2 columns on a tablet (portrait) and I’d also want to lose the RSS icon on a mobile to reduce the amount of space being taken up by the header.
Last Updated: 2013-12-11
Unresolved Support: 7 of 7
A responsive theme with neat masonry layout similar to pinterest with infinite scroll. If you need a perfect mobile theme, then pinpress might be the right option.
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Verdict: If the thought of masonry and infinite scroll gets you all in a lather then this is the theme for you.
Pinpress is a no-frills themes that implements a truly responsive masonry grid across all platforms. The customization options are limited to the standard list (there’s 1 menu location) so there’s little chance to get creative.
The infinite scroll works although the rearranging of the bricks can be distracting as they jump around.
Definitely one for the purists or to use as the basis for a more sophisticated solution.
Last Updated: 2014-01-04
Unresolved Support: None
Verdict: Minimalist theme that lets itself down on mobile devices.
Alpha Trinity, the barebones theme with the ironically long-winded name, is another responsive masonry theme where the number of columns, rather than the column width, changes with the screen size.
The scheme is monochrome (except for an unexpected mouseover effect on the featured images) and with little scope to change this through the basic customizations, this theme is best viewed as a foundation to a more elaborate theme.
One area that definitely requires attention is how it responds to being viewed on a mobile phone: putting the content after the left sidebar can mean plenty of scrolling before hitting anything that a visitor will be interested in.
Last Updated: 2014-06-25
Ratings: Not Rated
Unresolved Support: 1 of 5
Baskerville is a beautiful, responsive and retina-ready masonry theme for hoarders. It’s the perfect way to showcase your posts, videos, images and galleries, and share your favorite quotes and links. Features responsive design, retina-ready assets, full-width header image, support for all post formats, custom logo upload, custom widgets (video, Flickr and Dribbble), four page templates (including a contributors template), editor styling, like functionality via the ZillaLikes plugin and translation-ready code.
Verdict: A high-impact theme with impressive attention to detail.
I’m not sure what the “hoarders” reference is about but Baskerville is a theme that could and should be of interest to any WordPress site that publishes frequently.
A polished theme with some great attention to detail such as the sticky icons, the pointers on the headings, the mouseover bounce effect on the featured images, even the somewhat revealing of the search form doesn’t detract from the overall impression that this is a very solid theme indeed.
Working well across all the platforms, the use of footer widgets rather than a sidebar allows for an easy and consistent transition from desktop to tablet and mobile; my only gripe would be a preference for 3, rather than 2, columns on a landscape-orientated tablet.
Last Updated: 2014-02-02
Unresolved Support: 4 of 5
Create a truly unique design with Carton, a lightweight and fully responsive HTML5 theme built using jQuery Masonry.
Verdict: A theme that holds plenty of promise but has too many issues, in the free version at least, for serious consideration.
Carton looks like a great theme and I was particularly interested in its handling of the featured post (either sticky or the most recent post) which is unique amongst the masonry themes.
However, the theme has some problems, particularly with the handling of featured images which on the home page don’t fill the brick’s width (because of a max height?) which results in text from the excerpt trying to fill the gap, and on the post pages don’t seem to be displayed at all. The theme also has a distinctly plain single-column look when displaying on a portrait-orientated tablet when 2 columns would have been better.
Of course, these could be fixed by changing the column width in the customization options or diving into the CSS (it allows custom CSS to be added) but none of the other themes have these issues so it’s a little frustrating to say the least..
There is a premium version of the theme ($69) which add more features (such as infinite scroll) and customization options.
The Final Verdict
So, which theme stands head and shoulders above the rest?
Baskerville, from Anders Norén, truly lives up to its description as a “beautiful, responsive and retina-ready masonry theme” which is perhaps not surprising when you realize that Anders is also responsible for other notable themes such as Hemingway and Wilson.
Apart from looking fantastic across all the platforms, what really sets this theme apart from the others in the category is the attention to detail: the pointers on the headings, the mouseover bounce effect on the feature images, the great looking post metadata, the unusual way the search form is revealed.
Being free does not guarantee that a product is a bargain. For Baskerville, though, it’s an absolute steal.
What do you think of Baskerville or any of the other themes listed here? Do you have a favorite masonry theme that’s not listed?